I’m re-reading Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. This is a collection of essays and poems by Anzaldua, reflecting on her experiences as a female, Chicana, lesbian, activist and writer. It is extremely powerful and moving at the same time.
Multicultural & Community Engagement Center
The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump by Geraldo L. Cadava
After many friends said, "I don't know how a Latinx could vote for Trump," I searched for information because I want to understand. I think we have to dig deeper into how people construct their political identity and behavior. With so many diverse ideologies, religious interpretations and misinformation, we shouldn't be surprised when there is diversity within ethnic groups. Briefly there are three themes that run through Latinx conservatives, even though they have very diverse countries of origin. They are: motivation to advance economically, Catholic values, and aligning their "family values" with politically conservative values. Knowing the issues this way affects how I present and ask my students to reflect on issues.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
As an introvert, this book was recommended to me, but I find it too much science with a lot of brain chemistry. I have worked with psychology students for 30 years, so I'm familiar with many of the researchers and their work, but it got a bit tedious at times. For a student, this can be really useful for a research project about introversion. The author describes various traits of introverts as she describes the research, and sometimes it fits me perfectly, and sometimes, I think I must be an extrovert. It's an interesting book to read right now, because so many of us are home alone and that situation may be difficult for some people but not for others; how you are dealing with the isolation may be determined by whether or not you are an introvert.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
This is a quick read and an interesting story with likeable characters and plenty of action. It takes place in the 1870s in Texas about a man who is returning a girl to her aunt and uncle who had been captured by the Kiowa at age 6 and lives with them until she is recaptured at age 10. An older man who used to publish a newspaper in San Antonio is paid to take the girl from Wichita Falls on the Texas/Oklahoma border to Castroville near San Antonio. The relationship between the man and the girl is very touching, and the ending, though predictable is wonderful. The man, a widower with two grown daughters, makes his living reading newspapers to roomfuls of people from small Texas town to small Texas town, and the girl, who thinks and behaves like an Indian, must change to return to the white world's expectations. The scrapes they get into as they travel through Texas are very exciting.
Is This Anything? By Jerry Seinfeld
If you are looking for a departure from all the 2020 angst this is a great escape. Highly recommended for those with a sense of humor and especially if you just need a chuckle. The book is a compilation of all the author’s stand-up material from a young age. But the most interesting part is Jerry’s reflections on the mind & inner workings of a great comedian.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu and Mulan: Before the Sword by Grace Lin
Coincidently, both of these books are written by Asian American authors who are master storytellers. I'm reading Mulan: Before the Sword to my kids and it is beautifully written with lots of twists and turns, magic, and adventure. There are many references to Chinese culture, food, and mythology. They love it.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is, so far, an engaging and thought-provoking read. Each story is relatable while addressing issues of people within future societies, their relationship to technology, and/or the supernatural in what would be considered the science fiction or speculative fiction genre. I would highly recommend both books.
I am reading Homewreckers by Aaron Glantz. It’s an outstanding book. Its subtitle describes well what is in the book: “How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Managers, Crooked Banks and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes…”
Glantz traces the history of how home loans got transformed over the last few decades. They used to be held by local banks which watched over them and required responsible behavior on the part of the borrowers. But some banks started to bundle the loans and sell them to Wall Street, so the incentive became to get as many loans as possible by pushing them aggressively even to people who could not afford them. The interest rates were usually low at first and would go up a few years later and the selling pitch was usually that the house would go up in value so the borrower could easily cash in and refinance if need be.
Of course that didn’t work as well as promoted and eventually there were a lot of borrowers in default and the firms that held too many bad loans crashed. That’s when the government came to the rescue and the homewreckers moved in, bought the houses from the government for pennies, ejected the occupants and resold the houses at a good profit or turned them into rentals. In the process some of these vultures became billionaires. The worst part is to see that some of them are now part of the government, like Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, and Ross the Commerce Secretary.
It’s not a pretty story but anyone who wants to understand what is happening to this country should read this book. I highly recommend it.
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