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20 Stories, Films, & Essays on Identity & Race

Posted on June 15, 2020

Mexican American scholar and author Gloria Anzaldua. By K. Kendall. CC by 2.0 license.

At our June 1st #LunchGlobally session, during the first wave of protests against police racism, our group spontaneously brainstormed a list of books, films, and organizations to help students make sense of the issues. Because we were reading Marco Avilés' powerful essay “I Am Not Your Cholo," many (but not all) of these resources depicted Latinx experiences -- an important and sometimes under-discussed element in the discussion of biased law enforcement. 

We also looked at some of the intersections between different groups' experiences of racism -- something Avilés' essay also does, as it describes the author's responses to the James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro

Here are all the recommendations -- and for an invitation to the next #LunchGlobally and #TeaGlobally sessions, resuming in August, sign up for the Words Without Borders Campus newsletter here. 

Recommended Books 
  1. Work from Chicano scholar Gloria Anzaldua, author of Borderlands and other works
  2. Cuba 15, by Nancy Osa
  3. I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by  Erika Sánchez
  4. 87 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border by Juan Felipe Herrera
  5. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
  6. All the Stars Denied, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
  7. Undocumented,  by Dan-el Peralta Padilla
  8. All They Will Call You, by Tim Z. Hernandez
  9.  China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston  
  10. Maxine Hong Kingston in New York City, 2006. By David Shankbone, CC by 2.5 license.
Recommended Online Readings 
Langston Hughes by Carl Van Vechten 1936. (No known copyright; available from the Library of Congress.)
  1. "The Gringo Champion," by Aura Xilonen: in this chapter from the bestselling Mexican novel, written when the author was just nineteen years old, a young migrant worker's night on the town ends in a terrifying encounter with "La Migra."   
  2. "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes
  3. I Am Not Your Cholo," a powerful personal essay by Marco Avilés, available online in both Spanish and English. (Resources and suggestions for teaching the essay.)
  4. "The Fat of the Land," a 1919 short story by Anzia Yezierska, a Jewish immigrant from Poland
  5. Depression-Era Expulsion of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, an article from Re-Imagining Migration
  6. Cheryl Harris’s “Whiteness as Property," first published in the Harvard Law Review; discussed here and available to jstor subscribers here 
Recommended Organizations  
  1. Voices Breaking Boundaries, a non-profit founded in Houston by Sehba Sarwar
  2. CENTRO (Center for Puerto Rican Studies), which offers resources on Puerto Rican immigrants in New York City
Recommended Films
  1. I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary about an unfinished James Baldwin memoir about his murdered friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King
  2. Lucy Walker and Vik Muniz’s Waste Land, a documentary about garbage pickers in the world's largest landfill

Thank you to everyone who participated! Interested in brainstorming with us at future #LunchGlobally and #TeaGlobally sessions? Sign up for the Words Without Borders Campus newsletter here