The murder of George Floyd in 2020 was an event not only witnessed around the globe but one that sparked a global movement against systemic racism in all its manifestations. This mini-reader gathers together a series of short statements, dialogues, analyses, reflections, and one poem first published on our site that voice solidarity with Black struggles against racism worldwide as they analyze the connections among Latinxs, African Americans and other struggles of minoritized groups. Our platform is dedicated to the publication of research and commentary in short form, that is, under 2000 words per piece, therefore, although this reader has eleven chapters, they are all short chapters. While the essays collected here reflect the ongoing work of our interdisciplinary field to cultivate critical knowledge about the full range of experiences, arts, and histories of Latinx peoples and our interconnections with other minoritized populations, they are also examples of scholars generating analyses to understand particular contemporary moments and events or to question frameworks and directions both in everyday discourse and in academic research. Most importantly, they reflect a concerted effort to think the category of Latinx as a multiracial one, to consider historical and contemporary alliances with African Americans and other minoritized groups, and to construct an understanding of social justice that is inclusive rather than exclusive. The work collected here also strives to creates solidarities in the face of institutionalized racism.
Solidarities, Challenges and Lacunae
This mini-reader opens with the 2020 statement by the Editorial and Advisory Board of Latinx Talk in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others whose lives have been lifted up by the Black Lives Matter movement to demand justice. BLM has exercised extraordinary leadership in recognizing and addressing this ongoing injustice, bringing millions together to collectively mourn the lives lost to police violence and to organize to end systemic racism. The Latinx Talk statement expresses solidarity with this movement as it takes up a topic that is addressed in multiple chapters of this mini-reader: anti-Black racism among Latinxs. We follow this with the 2014 discussion by the Mujeres Talk Editorial Board members following the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Black Lives Matter calls for justice in that case. The 2014 statement, like the 2020 statement, considers the shared situation of Latinx and African Americans as targets of police violence and detention/incarceration but also considers how state violence in our hemisphere might create new solidarities. In Chapter Three, Rachel F. Gómez, Michelle Rascon-Canales and Andrea Romero examine how pervasive anti-Black bias collides with racialized notions of womanhood and motherhood in affecting sports figure Serena Williams. Both chapters echo the call by Petra Rivera-Rideau, Omaris Z. Zamora, Sandy Plácido and Dixa Ramirez in Chapter Four to combat anti-Black racism among Latinxs — one that also reverberates in the essays by Michaela Machicote (Chapter Six), Gabriela Spears-Rico (Chapter Seven), Oriel María Siu (Chapter Ten), and Jesus G. Smith (Chapter Eleven) in this collection. Rivera-Rideau, Zamora, Plácido and Ramirez draw from their own experience and research in advocating for the development of greater knowledge about important Afro-Latinx figures and movements in Latinx, Gender, and African American Studies, as they also consider conceptual frameworks that can encompass a multiracial Latinidad.
Historical and Conceptual Challenges
Questions about the limits and nuances of popular discourses of race and gender with respect to Latina visibility and representation emerge in María Elena Cepeda’s analysis of the NFL halftime show in Chapter Five. In Chapter Six, Michaela Machicote questions Latinx proximity to whiteness, and critically examines Latin American discourses of mestizaje as well as anti-Black racism that circulate within Latinx communities, considering how exclusion operates through national self-conceptions. In Chapter Seven, Gabriela Spears-Rico considers how U.S. Latinx critical conceptions of nepantla and mestizaje work as weapons against anti-Blackness as they call us to enact a more inclusive vision of social justice. Inés Hernández-Ávila’s poem in Chapter Eight embodies a critical Chicana and indigenous solidarity with global black struggle, recognizing Mandela as an indigenous leader, as it returns to themes raised in Chapters One and Two of parallels between varied incarcerated populations.
Struggles in Higher Education and Beyond
The final set of essays resonate with earlier chapters in considering the exclusion of minoritized populations from the spaces of higher education as they also demonstrate the multiple kinds of actions taken to combat systemic racism both in higher education and in wider communities. In Chapter Nine, Linda Garcia Merchant discusses her support for Black film students struggling to end racism at their school and her participation in that effort as an influence in her ongoing film and educational work. Oriel Maria Siu in Chapter Ten considers the legacies of racism rooted in academia as she celebrates the achievement of graduating students of color and encourages them on the road of continue transformation. Finally, in Chapter Eleven, Jesus G. Smith offers a personal account of working to create greater connections among Black, Latinx, and queer communities. Smith’s essay is an example of enacting solidarity that is attentive to the multiple subjectivities encompassed by the term Latinx. We hope this collection generates much fruitful discussion and dialogue in your classroom or group.