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‘The Xenophobic Era of Trump and Beyond:’ This New Book Shows All the Historical Biases Against Latinos in the U.S.

3:40 PM PDT on April 22, 2020

Defending Latina/o Immigrant Communities: The Xenophobic Era of Trump and Beyond is a well-crafted and scholarly book that provides a plethora of insights, perspectives, and well-documented research on the persistent prejudices that challenge Latinos in our country.

Its author, Dr. Álvaro Huerta, has crafted an impressive and valuable collection of essays that speak directly and poignantly to the long-lived biases against Latinos in the United States. His collection also proffers a strong personal testimonial about prejudices developed against this community.  

What sets this collage of materials aside from other accounts of the bigotry against Latinos is the way Dr. Huerta blends scholarly documentation with poignant anecdotal information. The detachment most academic use to prepare their books results in a cold and lifeless chronicle of attitudes and events. Dr. Huerta has, instead, injected much of his keen observations and personal experiences to underscore the problems and challenges.  

Dr. Huerta has clearly done extensive research, most of it well documented, to prepare a series of essays that meticulously focus on the existential phenomenon that projects an undesirable portrait of an abused part of the American society. But at the same time, he has provided an important introspective and personal account and perspective of what Latinos face and endure. 

Both are used as filters to study and report on the way different structures in American society deal with this oppressed minority. This form of subjugation leads to personal and economic disenfranchisement, and in too many cases, poverty.  

The schools, the police, and the media are examined to reveal their complicity as elements that force an external socialization on Latinos. As a result, Dr. Huerta discusses from a personal vantage point how counter forces in the Latino community develop to challenge and resist abusive assimilation tactics. 

Yes, gangs and illegal activities arise, but so do positive mores by which Latinos and their families cope with the challenges they face, often from a very hostile larger society. Family life that is strong, healing, and supportive is well presented by Dr. Huerta as part of his upbringing.  Despite the barriers, the larger society places in the path of capable Latinos, Dr. Huerta through family, friends, and mentors, succeeds. That success is critical, and something that needs to be shared with a broad audience.

Built into the fabric of the book are the structural problems identified by Dr. Huerta that condition and perpetuate the dangers and damages to Latinos. To this day, the xenophobic, mendacious, and malicious rantings of an American president contribute to the injustice Latinos face in this country.

Dr. Huerta is to be admired for raising these unpleasant attitudes that result in prejudicial and even violent behavior toward Latinos and other minorities. But to his credit, he offers different ways to overcome these challenges and find common ground among the different groups in our society. He offers positive and constructive ways to construct an encompassing societal compact that benefits all. 

Dr. Álvaro Huerta is the author behind L.A. Taco’s ‘Barrio Wisdom’ column. You can purchase and support his academic work on Latino populations in the U.S. here.

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