A Journey Around Our America: A Memoir on Cycling, Immigration, and the Latinoization of the U. S.

Overview

Immigration and the growing Latino population of the United States have become such contentious issues that it can be hard to have a civil conversation about how Latinoization is changing the face of America. So in the summer of 2007, Louis Mendoza set out to do just that. Starting from Santa Cruz, California, he bicycled 8,500 miles around the entire perimeter of the country, talking to people in large cities and small towns about their experiences either as immigrants or as residents who have welcomed—or ...

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A Journey Around Our America: A Memoir on Cycling, Immigration, and the Latinoization of the U.S.

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Overview

Immigration and the growing Latino population of the United States have become such contentious issues that it can be hard to have a civil conversation about how Latinoization is changing the face of America. So in the summer of 2007, Louis Mendoza set out to do just that. Starting from Santa Cruz, California, he bicycled 8,500 miles around the entire perimeter of the country, talking to people in large cities and small towns about their experiences either as immigrants or as residents who have welcomed—or not—Latino immigrants into their communities. He presented their enlightening, sometimes surprising, firsthand accounts in Conversations Across Our America: Talking About Immigration and the Latinoization of the United States.

Now, in A Journey Around Our America, Mendoza offers his own account of the visceral, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions of traveling the country in search of a deeper, broader understanding of what it means to be Latino in the United States in the twenty-first century. With a blend of first- and second-person narratives, blog entries, poetry, and excerpts from conversations he had along the way, Mendoza presents his own aspirations for and critique of social relations, political ruminations, personal experiences, and emotional vulnerability alongside the stories of people from all walks of life, including students, activists, manual laborers, and intellectuals. His conversations and his experiences as a Latino on the road reveal the multilayered complexity of Latino life today as no academic study or newspaper report ever could.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Riding his bike more than 8000 miles, literally around the United States—that's how Mendoza (coeditor, Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration) spent his sabbatical from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he chairs the Department of Chicano Studies. His purpose: to document his discussions with Latin@s (his term for people of Latin American descent) about their experiences in 21st-century America. Mendoza divides the book into four parts: Preparation, The Start of a Journey, Redeparture, and Redefining the Borderlands. Throughout, he introduces the reader to Latin@s from both small towns and big cities, discussing their livelihoods, families, and the chances they have taken. He includes references to newspaper articles addressing the ongoing national and local immigration debates as well as snippets from the blog he maintained during his journey. Mendoza engages the reader and humanizes the politically charged immigration debate, revealing that the experiences of Latin@s in the United States are as diverse as the places they came from and have traveled to. VERDICT This engaging book will be enjoyed by those studying the U.S. Latin@ experience as well as by readers of travel memoir and adventures.—Susan E. Montgomery, Rollins Coll. Lib., Winter Park, FL
Publishers Weekly
Deeply troubled by the gathering backlash against Latino immigration in recent years, Mendoza, a Mexican-American academic (Univ. of Minn.) and author (Crossing into America), took his outrage on the road, crossing the continent over five months in 2007 in an attempt to gain insight into the experience of Latinos from shore to shore. Choosing a bike over a car was a way to get in shape during his sabbatical year, though cycling also proved a key to gaining trust among the people he needed to meet: the often shunned, invisible, disenfranchised immigrant workers who made the shops, factories, fields, mines, and dairies run every day. From Santa Cruz, Calif., he headed northward in July, toward Eugene, Ore., then due east, hitting his midway point of Minneapolis six weeks later. Then, from Chicago and Detroit he traveled to Boston and New York, then pressing down the coast to Florida and across to Houston, Tex., where his family lived. He offers reflections from his blog on the personal toll the arduous journey took, and records interviews with many of the locals he met and who offered him acts of kindness. The snapshots of these myriad lives are relevant and moving. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292743878
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2012
  • Pages: 222
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis G. Mendoza is Associate Vice Provost in the Office for Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, where he is also Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Chicano Studies. He is coeditor of Crossing Into America: The New Literature of Immigration and author of Historia: The Literary Making of Chicana and Chicano History.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part One: Preparation
Part Two: The Start of a Journey: Ready, Set, Go!
Part Three: Redeparture: From the Heartland to the New South
Part Four: Redefining the Borderlands: Uncharted Waters in Familiar Territory
Epilogue
Notes
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