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Students in the course Latinos and U.S. Culture—An Introduction will present perspectives on the Latino population growth in the United States and its effect on American culture, identity, and politics noon today in Limburg Theater, Farinon College Center.

Free lunch will be provided at the brown bag, entitled “Teach-In on U.S. Latinos: Challenges and Promise.”

“The students in my class hope to inform the campus community about U.S. Latinos and spark interest in what has recently become the largest minority population in the United States,” says David Luis-Brown, assistant professor of English.

He notes that the Census Bureau reported in summer 2003 that Hispanics became the largest minority group in the United States. Considered by some to be “one of the most neglected groups among U.S. minorities,” U.S. Latinos are under attack from groups such as nativists and Samuel Huntington, Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor and Chair of the Harvard Academy of International and Area Studies, according to Luis-Brown. They view U.S. Latinos as threats to the nation’s cultural identity and think their immigration from Mexico will cause a divide of “two peoples, two cultures, and two languages,” he notes.

“In this teach-in, my students will dispute what Huntington terms ‘The Hispanic Challenge’ and instead explore the contributions and promise of Latinos to U.S. society,” Luis-Brown says.

Although each student will address a separate issue, Kim Arditte ’08 (Princeton, N.J.) says the overall presentation creates an interconnected web that gives a bigger picture of life as a Latino.

“We will discuss the positive impacts that Latinos have on the United States as well as challenge the very conservative views of a man named Samuel Huntington and his beliefs that Latinos are nothing but a nuisance to our nation and a problem which must be taken care of,” she says.

Arditte admits that she was nervous about taking the course because she did not have much background in this area.

“Over the semester, I have become aware of many of the issues that Latinos face and have seen both American history and our current culture and society in a way that I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise,” she says. “My goal, and the goal for the entire class as well, is to bring this same sort of awareness and realization to the rest of the campus, many of whom I am sure are in the same position as I was before I took this course.”

Stefany Feliciano ’06 (Forest Hills, N.Y.), a double major in art and English, says her part of the presentation is quite personal. Born in Colombia, Feliciano’s family immigrated to the United States when she was 11 years old.

“Throughout my life, I have experienced through my parents what it means to struggle as an immigrant and what it means to group up in a household based on fear, frustration, and abuse,” she says. “I also, more personally, will talk about how I struggle with questions of race and identity. ‘Where do I belong?’ is a challenging question for me.”

In addition, she will read two poems: an original and “Check One” by Regie Cabico.

Categorized in: Academic News