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From Russia and Mexico, 5 Stories and Poems at the Intersection of Race and Class

Posted on August 10, 2020

Bakiya: “An acquaintance told me the conditions and pay would be good.” From Slaves of Moscow.

Over the past few weeks in the U.S., anti-racist protests have brought some much-needed reforms; at the same time, with many people out of work and no federal solution forthcoming, economic uncertainty continues to rise. 

Below, you'll find five works of literature that can help students think about the ways in which issues of race and class are interwoven in the lives of ordinary people. These pieces come from two countries located on opposite sides of the globe, but you and your students will able to find commonalities among the characters' experiences. 

  • The Stone Guest: An  Uzbek sculptor living in Moscow gets some unwanted teenage visitors, reminders of a past he'd hoped to shed.
  • Slaves of Moscow: Graphic reportage about a recent human trafficking case involving women from Kazakhstan. 
  • The Gringo Champion: A novel excerpt about a teenage migrant worker trying to survive on the U.S.-Mexico border. 
  • Dreams and Memories of a Common Man: A prose poem about indigenous migrant workers, their reasons for coming to cities, and the environmental inequities they experience. 
  • Purépecha Mother: A poem about a the life of an indigenous street vendor in a Mexican city. 

Thanks to Ian Singleton of Baruch College for asking a question that led to this post.