Urban Latinx Communities

Produced by

Aránzazu Borrachero, Valeria Belmonti, and Katherine Entigar

Objectives

Students will work individually and with their peers from C1 and C2 in order to:

  1. Compare and analyze Latinx urban spaces in different parts of the country
  2. Learn about the political activism of Latinxs in different parts of the country
  3. Design an entry for an imaginary “Latinx Guide” of their city of residence

 Materials

  1. Latinx Urban Spaces (videos & readings)
  2. Materials for Latinx Guide:

​Technology Resources/Requirements

  1. Class website
  2. Video conferencing platform such as Zoom, Skype or Facetime [to be used with Mac/Apple users]

​Notes for Instructors

For the culminating task of this module — an entry for a Latinx guide to the students’ city — students should work in small groups (2–3 students) according to their interests. Groups should be formed during or after Activity 2, during which students explore places that might be interesting for their research. Ideally, each group should work on a different site so that the whole class can produce a diversified guide that covers a large amount of territory within the same city.

Pacing is important to the successful execution of this module. Therefore, some of the activities in this module are designed to divide the students’ fieldwork into small, progressive steps in order to avoid last-minute, rushed guides.

  1. ​This Module is inspired by Professor Andrea Morell’s lesson “The Young Lords in Gentrifying East Harlem: A Radical Walking Tour” (Bridging Historias, https://bridginghistorias.gc.cuny.edu/social-sciences/).
  2. Note: This article and the other resources included in the Materials list are appropriate to the New York context and are offered as an example of the kind of videos/readings that instructors can use for this Module. The materials used to explore the concept of “Latinx urban spaces” should be adjusted according to the class’s specific regional context, class demographics, and any other factors that may be deemed relevant.
  3. This resource is available in full via EBSCO/JSTOR and can be accessed through your university library.

This activity is designed to help students explore the social phenomenon of gentrification and to place it in the context of their own community observations and experiences.

Preparation for Community Exploration: Building Context

Assign a reading that is appropriate to your city for students to read on their own prior to class.  The example given here is for New York, “Latinx New York: An Introduction”. Create discussion of the article in class or on the project home site. Sample questions:

  1.  According to the article, what is the demographic trend of Latinxs in New York? What about the socioeconomic trend? Is there a connection between the two? Explain.
  2. Cite some of the variables that have had an impact on the presence and proportion of different Latinx groups in New York.
  3. What are some recent political and advocacy efforts of Latinxs in New York? What kinds of issues did they address?
  4.  What is a “transnational life”? Have you or your relatives experienced “transnational lives”?
  5. Comment on the racial/ethnic identity issues of New York Caribbean Latinxs compared with African American New Yorkers. How have these communities come to collaborate and find common ground over the course of the last 50–60 years?
  6. How has the widening income gap in New York affected Latinxs?

Preparation for Community Exploration: Gentrification

Gentrification is one of the most important issues that Latinx communities face nowadays in large urban cities. Watch Whose Barrio? or El Barrio Tours with students and discuss the concepts of urban gentrification and displacement. Discuss the consequences of gentrification for Latinx culture and the history of different communities.

Have students read the two articles on gentrification dynamics in your city and at least one article on the gentrification process of another city (the “Materials” list includes Los Angeles and San Francisco). Discuss the articles in class (small groups or whole group). Sample questions for discussion:

  1. Do you know or live in any of the neighborhoods discussed in the articles? Do you think the ways in which these neighborhoods are depicted are accurate? Explain. What information, if any, might be missing?
  2. According to the articles, what are the factors that cause gentrification?
  3. What are some common signs of gentrification in the places you have read about? Have you encountered these signs in your neighborhood? Give examples.
  4. What might happen to you or your family if your neighborhood became completely gentrified? What is already happening to individuals and families living there?

Task: Community Exploration, Exchange/Commentary with Students at C2

Ask students to walk around the neighborhoods where they work, live or study and take photos of objects, signs, stores, etc. that may indicate a process of gentrification. Inform them that they will upload their findings, photos, and any other artifacts they would like to share on the project home site with their peers at C2.

Create blog post in which students upload images of their explorations. Ask students to comment substantively on one post by a peer at C2.

Post-Exchange Step: Reflection

Ask students to imagine that they are journalists who have to write a short report for their local newspaper explaining the issue of gentrification to the community, providing examples from the neighborhood. They should write 300–400 words in a direct, journalistic style, add the images they have used during the Task and/or find new ones, and post their short reports.

This activity is intended to introduce students to urban Latinx activism through historical and local examples and through comparison of Latinx activism in their city with that of the city where their peers study.

Preparation for Videoconference: Watching ¡Pa’lante, siempre pa’lante!, Class Discussion

Watch with students or have students watch ¡Pa’lante, siempre pa’lante! The Young Lords. (The film duration, as stated in the Materials list, is 48 minutes.), or replace it with a video that is pertinent to the city where your class takes place.

​After students have watched the documentary, conduct a class discussion to analyze the film. Ask students to answer the following questions as completely and accurately as possible and take notes during class in order to post their responses on the project home site at home:

  1. Why was the Young Lords party founded?
  2. What were the goals of the Young Lords party? What was the party’s ideology?
  3. What were some of the Young Lords’ actions in New York City?
  4. Some of the interviewees said that during their militancy in the YL party, they developed a Latinx identity “deeper” or “different” from the one they had before. Explain some of the identity experiences that members of the YL had.
  5. In their actions, the YL often clashed with the authorities of New York City and even with the federal government. In reflecting on these confrontations, would you say were they necessary or justified? Explain.
  6. The name “Young Lords” excludes references to women, which its female members experienced as a form of “machismo.” Explain how the women of the party responded to the different forms of “machismo” of their male comrades.
  7. Why did the Young Lords disappear?
  8. Do you know if there are groups like the Young Lords today? If so, who are they?
  9. The story of the Young Lords is not in school textbooks. Most of you had probably never heard of them prior to watching Pa’lante. Do you think that young Latinxs should know about the history of the YL and, in general, about the history of Latinxs in this country? Why do you think the education system does not teach students about the Young Lords or other similar groups? What would change if Latinxs, and minority students in general, had more information about the activism of their people in this country?

​Preparation for Videoconference: Research, Post

Ask students whether they are active in their communities, and what particular issue(s) they have been involved with. Invite students to choose an issue that they are familiar with or one they would like to learn more about. Examples may include housing, labor rights, education, immigration, etc. There are some examples under the Materials list: “Washeros,” Dreamers,” cleaning workers, and so on.

Ask students to conduct research on the history/background of this issue. Guiding questions may include the following:

  1. What is the issue you’ve selected and how did it come about?
  2. How do the groups who have been active in this issue come together to respond to this issue, and how did this organizing begin?
  3. Where did this activism start? Was there a specific city site for the organized actions?
  4. What were the results of the collective actions by activist groups, and what were the responses from local, state, and/or federal authorities?
  5. What happened to these activist groups, and are they still around today?

Have students write a summary of the information they found and post it on the project home site (200–300 words). Ask them to read and comment on at least one summary of similar research done by a student at C2 in preparation for videoconference discussion.

Task: Videoconference

Ask students to form small groups. Inform them that they will collaborate to discuss their work and the work of their peers at C2 via the videoconference, comparing the research they’ve done about Latinx community activism and how this compares with the work of their counterparts at C2. Suggested questions for the exchange:

  1. Why did you choose this specific issue? Why was it interesting and/or important to you?
  2. What did you know about it before you conducted the research, and what new information did you find out?
  3. Have you been active in any type of social justice group or actions, whether related to Latinx issues or to something else? Would you consider being active in a group or action like the one you conducted research on?
  4. After your research on Latinx activist groups, what have you learned about current activism in your city/community? How has this been presented in the news, if at all? What organizations have you seen associated with this? How are certain media outlets, politicians, and others speaking about this?
  5. The story of the Young Lords is not in most school textbooks, and most of you had probably never heard of them before we watched ¡Pa’lante, siempre pa’lante!. Do you think that young Latinxs should know about the history of the YL and, in general, about the history of Latinxs and their activism in this country? Why do you think the education system does not teach students about the Young Lords or other similar groups? What might change if Latinxs, and minority students in general, had more information about the activism of their people in this country?

For the telecollaboration, instruct students to take note of ideas discussed with their peers at C2 that they find interesting, surprising, provocative, etc. Provide your students with a graphic organizer to support note-taking if needed.

​Post-Videoconference Step: Debrief, Creation of Group Summary

After finishing the telecollaboration with students at C2, bring the class back together to discuss this experience in small groups. The questions below can be used as guidance. Additional questions for discussion may be generated by the whole class.

  1. When you heard about the research done by your peers at C2, what did you think? What are your general observations?
  2. Discuss the similarities and differences that emerged in comparing the stories of urban activism. What connections can you make across the two urban contexts? What common struggles and similar political organizing of Latinxs in the United States emerge from this comparison, if any?
  3. What can we learn from our shared – and regionally different – history as Latinx people?

Using student responses to the questions above, work with the class to create a group summary (1–3 paragraphs) of their telecollaboration experience. Inform students that this summary will be shared with the students at C2 as a class post. Post this summary to the project home site and invite students from C2 to comment.

This activity is designed to help students explore the social phenomenon of gentrification and to place it in the context of their own community observations and experiences.

Preparation for Videoconference: Class Discussion, Review of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles

Discuss the concept of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles with the class. Highlight the format and the elements that each entry contains (address, directions, images, etc.). Have students analyze the guide by asking them the following suggested guiding questions:

  1. Reflect on our in-class discussion of how A People’s Guide to Los Angeles is not a typical travel guide. What aspects of the guide indicate this?
  2. Based on the names of the three authors, do you think this guide is designed to show a multicultural city? Why or why not?
  3. Look at the first photograph of the guide (“Lupita Market” sign) and compare it to the following from the TimeOut magazine guide of Los Angeles.
    What differences do you see? What conclusions can you draw from the differences in the purposes of each guide?
  4. Reread the prologue of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles (pp. 1–8) and consider the following:
    • The authors provide several examples of places with a story that is hardly visible nowadays but which is nonetheless important. Choose two of these examples and summarize them.
    • Locate the part of the prologue where you think that the authors’ goals in writing this guide are most clearly expressed.
  5. Explain the following statement: “A People’s Guide to Los Angeles is a deliberate political disruption of the way Los Angeles is commonly known and experienced” (p. 4).
  6. Read several entries and make a list of the elements they contain (for example, photography, historical description, etc.).
  7. Think about the Pa’lante documentary and the history of the Young Lords. What parts of their story should be included in an imaginary guide called A People’s Guide to New York?

Preparation for Exchange, Videoconference: Blog

Have students explore the list of places like the one they will find under Resources at the beginning of this module, which includes a variety of resources for the two cities being studied, in this case New York and Los Angeles. (Instructors should put together a short list of resources which are relevant for their city/region.) The sites provided by the instructor should give students background information that will help them decide which place, neighborhood, organization, or historical event they might be interested in researching. Inform students that they may research a place/event that is not on the list provided, but remind them that their focus is to investigate the history of Latinx communities in their city.

Invite students to investigate as much as they can about the place/event they have chosen, including (but not limited to) using the Internet and looking for information about its history in local libraries. Inform students that they will continue investigating next week; at this time, they are just beginning to collect information.

In preparation for the videochat, have students submit the following information to the project home site using their initial findings:

  1. Name of the place, neighborhood, organization or historical event they are going to investigate
  2. Reasons why they want to investigate this place/event
  3. Information they have found
  4. A starting bibliography section, in which students must cite their sources according to the standard styles of APA, MLA, or Chicago

Task: Videoconference, Blog

Ask students to form small groups (3–4 students). Inform students that they will work together to discuss their ongoing research and the research of their peers at C2 via videoconference. Guiding questions for the telecollaborative discussion may be generated by the whole class. Students should discuss in the exchange the following ideas:

  1. Why they have chosen the place/event they are researching
  2. What methodology they are using (why they have chosen this place/event, how they plan to collect their data, how they will review/analyze the data they’ve collected, etc.)
  3. What they have learned so far and what they will look for when they conduct their field work

​Ask students to take notes on the information shared by the group from C2 and upload these notes to the project home site in the form of individual blogs.

Post-Videoconference Step: Debrief, Creation of Group Summary

After finishing the telecollaboration with students at C2, bring the class back together to discuss this experience in small groups. The questions below can be used as guidance for the chat, but additional questions for discussion may be generated by the whole class.

  1. When you saw the starting research conducted by your colleagues from C1 and C2, what were your general observations?
  2. What similarities or differences exist between the places/events you have chosen to research and those of your peers? Why are these places/events important to you, to the Latinx community, and/or to your city?
  3. How do you and your peers plan to continue the data collection process? What challenges do you think you’ll run into? How might you resolve these issues?

Using student responses to the questions above, work with the class to create a group summary (1–3 paragraphs) of their telecollaboration experience. Inform students that this summary will be shared with the students at C2 as a class post. Post this summary to the class website and invite students from C2 to comment.

This activity is intended to introduce students to the concept of field work, and to have students create a city guide entry about a specific neighborhood in their city which includes any activist histories that have contributed to this neighborhood and their city as a whole.

Preparation for Exchange with Students at C2: Field Work

Inform students that they will visit the Latinx place, neighborhood, organization, or area associated with a historical event they have selected in order to conduct their field work. Give a brief overview of what field work entails as needed. A suggested resource can be found on the USC Libraries website Writing a Field Report. Adapt it to meet your needs.

Inform students that they should take photographs of things they th ink may be interesting for a tourist guide about Latinx in their city. Remind students that your class is doing a guide about the history of the people, like the one created by the authors of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles.

When students have finished collecting data and taking pictures of their selected place/event, have them choose up to three photographs and upload them to the home site of the project, as well as their answers for the following questions. (Note: It may support students’ investigations to provide them with this list of questions before they conduct their visit.) Remind students that they will be using this information to create their city guide entries.

  1. What are the defining characteristics of the place/neighborhood/organization/area associated with the historical event you are exploring?
  2. What public displays of Spanish language and/or Latinx culture can you find in signs, storefronts, window advertisements, graffiti, etc.? What language(s) can you hear as you walk through the neighborhood?
  3. What kinds of businesses are in the community? Which businesses seem to be most common? What types of businesses are missing?
  4. What is the racial, ethnic, and/or religious makeup of the people of this community? Ages? Abilities? Who do you see and who do you not see? What cultures are evident in and surrounding the place/event you are exploring? Is there more than one? Is any one more visible than the others?
  5. How long have the Latinx inhabitants been living in the community you are investigating? Do they have transnational ties? If so, to which countries?
  6. What community organizations are in the neighborhood? Who do they serve? What benefits do they provide the community?
  7. Think of the Young Lords’ actions in Harlem. Is there any specific events or actions related to the presence of Latinxs in the community you are investigating? Explain.
  8. Optional: Record an interview with one or more people in the neighborhood on your phone. Save the interview for later use.

Preparation for Exchange with Students at C2: Creation of City Guide Entries

Discuss the rubric with students prior to their preparation of the final city guide entries. Have students write their entries for the tourist guide and upload them to the project home site.

Ensure that students meet all of the final requirements for their submissions (see below).

Name and exact location of the place investigated. If possible: web page, phone number, & map that shows location and surrounding areas.

  1. Description of the place (using A People’s Guide to Los Angeles as a model).
  2. Student Photographs. Remind students that in a tourist guide, visual presentation matters as much as content. Check the links in the Los Angeles guide to see examples. Invite students to be creative; their guides have to be attractive to visitors!

Create a blog post in which students upload their final entry guides.

Task: Exchange/Commentary on Final City Guides with Students at C2

Ask students to comment on guide entries created by two of their peers at C2, ensuring that they identify by name the entries they are going to discuss and their authors. Have students focus on discussing the most positive aspects of their colleagues’ work and remind them to keep their suggestions or criticisms constructive. Examples of the aspects they can comment on:

  1. The quality of the work: content, format of presentation, clarity of the information, etc. Is there enough information to give you a good idea of the place?
  2. As a visitor to the city, would you be interested in seeing this place? Why?
  3. After reading your peers’ work, do you have questions about the Latinx community in that city? Post these questions for your peers at C2 to respond to on the project home site.
  4. What conclusions can you draw about your city in relation to its Latinx and activist histories, and how does this connect to similar ideas about where your peers at C2 live?
  5. Do you think that activist history should be a part of a city guide in general? What about histories of activism of groups like Latinx people? If so, what elements of these histories should be included? If not, why not?

Post-Exchange Step: Reflection

Have students write two or three pages to reflect upon what they learned during this experience. How has their field work, their city guide entry creation and their exchange with their peers at C2 contributed to new insights about how a “people’s history” of Latinx New York (or Latinx LA or Latinx Chicago, etc.) might incorporate activist history and the voices of the communities where this history was written?

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