Q. Why don't we have a simple umbrella term for people whose ancestry is from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean?
A. Because those are all different people! And it isn't simple.
Let's begin with a few terms:
|Derived from the Latin word for Spain, "Hispanic" refers to people whose language, or whose ancestors' language, is Spanish. Hispanic is not a race, but a linguistic group. There are Black, indigenous, white, and mixed-race people whose language is Spanish. The term excludes Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, some indigenous people from Central and South America, and those from non-Spanish speaking places in the Caribbean.|
|Latinx, a gender-neutral replacement for Latino/Latina, refers to people whose origins are in Latin America. ("Latin America" means the part of the Americas whose languages are derived from Latin--Spanish, French, and Portuguese. In other words, these are the areas once colonized by Spain, France, and Portugal.)|
|Afro-Latinos are about 25% of the Latinx population in the United States. They are people of African descent, many of whose ancestors were enslaved in Spanish colonies.|
Many people of these ancestries do not identify with the terms above. They prefer to describe their identities in terms of specific countries, just as many people of European descent refer to themselves as Italian-American or Irish-American.
Those whom demographers call Hispanic or Latino are much likelier to identify themselves as Mexican-American, Chicano, Salvadoran, Puerto Rican, Dominican-American, or Cuban-American, to name a few. Indigenous people from Central and South America may identify primarily with their ethnic (a.k.a. tribal) group, rather than with their country of origin.
Therefore, we can't generalize about people from dozens of countries with different cultures and distinct histories in the United States. For example, some Mexican-American families have lived on their land in Texas since it was a part of Mexico. Puerto Ricans have all been American citizens since 1940. Many Cuban Americans arrived as refugees within the past 40 years. Latinx people are racially, religiously, culturally, and ethnically diverse. However, one experience many have in common is discrimination based on their names, accents, or skin color.
The books, videos, podcasts, websites, articles, and other information in this LibGuide are a sampling of the resources available to you in your school library and online. Fiction is included because literature helps readers understand others' perspectives. Click on the tabs to explore the collection.This list will grow over time, so if you have suggestions about resources to include, please share them!
Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture by Jay Kinsbruner (Editor); Erick Detlef Langer
This comprehensive e-book reference source provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary view of Latin American history and culture from prehistoric times to the present. [Requires library password]
Finding Latinx by Paola Ramos
In this empowering cross-country travelogue, a journalist and activist embarks on a journey to find the communities of people defining the controversial term, “Latinx.” Drawing on intensive field research as well as her own personal story, Ramos chronicles how “Latinx” has given rise to a sense of collectivity and solidarity among Latinos unseen in this country for decades.
Living Beyond Borders by Margarita Longoria
An anthology of short stories, essays, poetry, and comics about the Mexican American experience. This superlative collection of fiction, essays, poetry, and graphic vignettes is as varied as its contributors.
Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell
Sparking dialogue and hope, 15 original stories by best-selling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices question the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora.
Central America's Forgotten History by Aviva Chomsky
Places Central American migration to the United States in the context of the region's history of conquest, colonialism, revolution, and neoliberalism, looking especially at the revolutionary experiments of the 1980s and their aftermath.
Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky by David Bowles
A contemporary retelling of the origin myths of Mexico, crafted as a single concrete narrative. The stories in Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky trace the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god, Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan. In this book's beautiful language, we learn the history of the Creator Twins―Feathered Serpent and Dark Heart of Sky―and how they built the world on a leviathan's back; of the shape-shifting nahualli; and the aluxes, elfish beings known to help out the occasional wanderer. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Moctezuma and destroy the very stories we are reading.
The History of Latin America by Marshall C. Eakin
This narrative history of Latin America surveys five centuries in less than five hundred pages. The first third of the book moves from the Americas before Columbus to the wars for independence in the early nineteenth century. The construction of new nations and peoples in the nineteenth century forms the middle third, and the final section analyzes economic development, rising political participation, and the search of identity over the last century. The collision of peoples and cultures--Native Americans, Europeans, Africans--that defines Latin America, and gives it both its unity and diversity, provides the central theme of this concise, synthetic history.
Modern Latin American Literature: a Very Short Introduction by Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria
In the 1960s, Latin American literature became known worldwide as never before. Writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Mario Vargas Llosa all became part of the general culture of educated readers of English, French, German, and Italian. But few know about the literary tradition from which these writers emerged. Modern Latin American Literature: A Very Short Introduction remedies this situation, providing an overview of Latin American literature from the late eighteenth century to the present.
We Are Not Beasts of Burden by Stuart A. Kallen
Cesar Chavez and others fight corruption and violence to organize agricultural workers striving to win decent pay and safe working conditions.
The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor
The memoir of a woman who rose from the housing projects in New York City's South Bronx to become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham
Identical twins Ernesto and Raul Flores, seventeen, must flee El Salvador, make a harrowing journey across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, face capture by immigration authorities, and struggle to navigate life in America.
The Other Side by Juan Pablo Villalobos
Award-winning Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos explores illegal immigration with this emotionally raw and timely nonfiction book about 10 Central American teens and their journeys to the United States.
App Kid by Michael Sayman
A memoir from one of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, who taught himself how to code as a thirteen-year-old and claimed his share of the American Dream.
Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano
Set in the 1950s in the Bronx, this is the story of a girl with a dream. Emmy award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano plunges us into the daily lives of a Latino family that is loving--and troubled
We Fed an Island by José Andrés
Chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico four days after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island. The economy was destroyed and for most people there was no clean water, no food, no power, no gas, and no way to communicate with the outside world. Andrés addressed the humanitarian crisis the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time.
A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros
From the beloved author of The House on Mango Street: a richly illustrated compilation of true stories and nonfiction pieces that, taken together, form a jigsaw autobiography: an intimate album of a literary legend's life and career.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Living with an old-world mother and rebellious sister, an urban New Jersey misfit dreams of becoming the next J. R. R. Tolkien and believes that a long-standing family curse is thwarting his efforts to find love and happiness.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel, a trans boy, summons the angry spirit of his high school's bad boy, and agrees to help him learn how he died, thereby proving himself a brujo, not a bruja, to his conservative family.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
When Xiomara Batista, who pours all her frustrations and passion into poetry, is invited to join the school slam poetry club, she struggles with her mother's expectations and her need to be heard.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Navigating the challenges of finishing high school while caring for a daughter, talented cook Emoni Santiago struggles with a lack of time and money that complicate her dream of working in a professional kitchen.
Indivisible by Daniel Aleman
New York City high school student Mateo dreams of becoming a Broadway star, but his life is transformed after his parents are deported to Mexico.
Unearthed: a Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera; Steph C. (Illustrator)
Jessica is a dedicated student and part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but as xenophobia in Coast City increases and her father is detained by I.C.E. Jessica must fight her fears and become a voice for her community.
Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz
As a Chicano boy living in the unglamorous town of Hollywood, New Mexico, and a member of the graduating class of 1969, Sammy Santos faces the challenges of gringo racism, unpopular dress codes, the Vietnam War, barrio violence, and poverty.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.
The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
After escaping a detention center at the U.S. border, seventeen-year-old Marisol agrees to participate in a medical experiment hoping to keep her and her younger sister, Gabi, from being deported to El Salvador.
Keeper by Mal Peet
In an interview with a young journalist, World Cup hero, El Gato, describes his youth in the Brazilian rain forest and the events, experiences, and people that helped make him a great goalkeeper and renowned soccer star.
The Queen of Water by Laura Resau; Maria Virginia Farinango
Living in a village in Ecuador, a Quechua Indian girl is sent to work as an indentured servant for an upper class mestizo family.
We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But, none of them have illusions about the town they've grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people. In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance -- and Papi's secrets -- the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Timeline of Important Dates
A linked timeline of important dates in the history of Latinx people in the United states, from 1565 to the 21st century
(requires school password) Who were the Olmec? The Aztecs? The Maya? What did pre-1492 Central America look like? Who lived there? What did they create, believe, and accomplish? This article introduces you to the ancestral history of some Latin Americans.
Key Facts about U.S. Latinos
Key demographic data about American Latinos: population, language, educational achievement, and citizenship. Learn more about one of the nation's fastest-growing populations.
Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano: The History Behind the Terms
The history of what people who originate in 20+ Latin American countries, as well as those whose ancestry in the U.S. predates the country itself is long and complicated. This article attempts to explain what these terms mean, when they originated, and why.
Latino Civil Rights Timeline, 1903 to 2006
"When reading this timeline, it's important to remember that the fight for civil rights doesn't happen in a vacuum. In many cases, the events listed below have fueled—and have been fueled by—other social justice movements, like the African American Civil Rights Movement and the fight for equal employment and education among Chinese and Japanese immigrants."
Note: Documentaries are available from a variety of sources, including your local public library, YouTube, PBS, Vimeo, Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and other streaming services. However, it's important to note that availability is subject to change due to copyright and license issues. These resources are not always available for free.
"Latino Americans" is a landmark three-part, six-hour documentary series that is set to air nationally on PBS in the fall of 2013. It is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last 500-plus years and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S."
|“Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population - and among the most diverse (with origins to more than 20 countries) – accounting for one in six adults and one in four children. Yet across the media landscape, from the broadcast airwaves to cable television and Hollywood film, the reality and richness of the Latino experience is rarely depicted in mainstream media.
In LATINOS BEYOND REEL, filmmakers Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun examine how U.S. news and entertainment media portray – and do not portray – Latinos. Drawing on the insights of Latino scholars, journalists, community leaders, actors, directors, and producers, they uncover a pattern of gross misrepresentation and gross under-representation – a world in which Latinos tend to appear, if at all, as gangsters and Mexican bandits, harlots and prostitutes, drug dealers, welfare-leeching illegals, and ultimately as a drain and threat to American society. In the end, the film shows us how a narrow range of distorted images allowed to stand for an entire population can blind us to the full humanity of the real people they represent, and ultimately challenges viewers to consider what alternatives are necessary.”
|"The Immigration Paradox takes a critical and in depth look at one of the most divisive issues in human global history-immigration. After encountering an immigrant crossing the Arizona desert, Emmy Award Winner and Filmmaker Lourdes Lee Vasquez set out to understand why people would risk their lives to come to the U.S. Her quest takes a shocking twist when she musters enough courage to cross the line at a protest and has an encounter with whom she believed was her enemy. From there on her journey, spanning 7 years searching for answers and solutions to this complex social issue, takes her and the audience to places never before considered in the immigration debate..”|
|“Get an inside look at the high-stakes effort to get out the Latino vote in the 2020 election. Political candidates are focused on maximizing turnout and support from Latinos, poised to be the largest non-white voting bloc.”|
|"This two-part, bilingual documentary explores pressing issues in education today through the eyes of six Latino and Latina adolescents from across the United States, offering first-hand perspectives on the barriers they have to overcome in order to make their dreams come true."|
|"Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, Landfall is a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance as Puerto Ricans navigate dismantled social services and newcomers eager to profit."|
|"Latino USA offers insight into the lived experiences of Latino communities and is a window on the current and merging cultural, political and social ideas impacting Latinos and the nation."|
"La brega" has no direct translation into English. It's used in Puerto Rican Spanish to mean "a challenge we can’t really solve, so you have to hustle to get around it." La Brega is "a seven-part podcast series that uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico. Available in English and Spanish. Created by a team of Puerto Rican journalists, producers, musicians, and artists from the island and diaspora."
|"First launched in 2014, Julio Ricardo Varela’s program bills itself as “humor, commentary and analysis of the US Latino world,” and the varied range of topics covered reflects what a wide world that is. A deeply curious interviewer, Varela knows that Latino culture is no monolith, and when highlighting a range of opinions, he doesn’t shy away from civil discourse. Don’t miss the episode “The Manufactured Debate About LATINX,” which first aired in 2019, but remains relevant today."|
"Tres Cuentos is a bilingual literary podcast dedicated to Latin America's narratives. Each episode is in Spanish and English. The podcast narrates a piece of literature and later reflects on the author, culture, or history behind the story. Our goal is to make our literature accessible."
|"Alt.Latino is a spotlight on the world of Latinx arts and culture through music, stories and conversation."|
Because these resources are in our school library's online subscription databases, you will need passwords to access them from home. You can find the passwords here.