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Latinas/os on the East Coast

A Critical Reader

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Edited By Yolanda Medina and Ángeles Donoso Macaya

Latinas/os on the East Coast: A Critical Reader provides a comprehensive overview of established and contemporary research and essays written about communities that represent the Latina/o diaspora on the East Coast of the United States. Collectively, it contributes to the historical, cultural, political, and economic dynamics that affect the Latinas/os’ lived experience of the country. Analyzed through an interdisciplinary lens, this reader offers a critical examination of the policies and the practices that affect the following current and emerging themes and topics: History; Ethnicity and culture; Immigration, transnationalism, and civil rights; Education; Health; Women’s studies; Film and media studies; Queer studies; Literature; Visual and performing arts.
This book is an indispensable resource for scholars, researchers, educators, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as any individual, group, or organization interested in issues that affect Latinas/os in the United States in current times.
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Introduction

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Yolanda (Jolie) Medina

Historically, the Latina/o population living in the United States has predominantly resided in large cities, many of them located in western states such as California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The Latina/o diaspora widely represented in this book, and more specifically in this section, reflects a different trend. According to data provided by the Pew Hispanic Center (2010), an increasing number of Latina/os are settling in smaller, more rural communities throughout the East Coast in states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

Two scenarios can occur with this migratory shift. First is the possibility that families will experience isolation when relocating to areas where the Latina/o presence is limited, and resources that were available for them in larger cities, such as bilingual educational services, are close to non-existent. In many of these locations the children from this diaspora face an unprepared educational system that has not established structures to serve them, as well as untrained teachers and counselors who now have to meet the needs of children who look and speak differently from them. My main concern here is that many studies conducted on Latina/o youth focus on what I perceive to be a “needs-based” model, and they utilize a deficit lens to describe what Latina/o children bring to their new learning environments. Typical words used to describe these children are “lacking,” “needing,” and “at risk,” leaving little space for critical understandings and discussions about the cultural resources and...

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