In the fall of 2016, Rubén Martinez and Juan Coronado proposed a special issue of Diálogo, an interdisciplinary-refereed journal published by the Center for Latino Research at DePaul University in Chicago, that would focus on “Latinas and Latinos in the Midwest: Historic and Contemporary Issues”.  The editor, Elizabeth Martínez, and her editorial board accepted the proposal, and she worked closely in the final stages with Drs. Martinez and Coronado to produce an issue that makes substantive contributions to our understanding of Latinas and Latinos in the Midwest.  The special issue is scheduled to be out in April 2018.
The special issue consists of seven original studies and essays, a book review of The Latina/o Midwest Reader, an interview with Omar Valerio-Jimenez, a co-editor with Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez and Claire F. Fox of the Reader, along with other works included by Elizabeth Martínez. Authors from various fields responded to a “call for manuscripts” focusing on the Latina/o experience in the Midwest.  Manuscripts were blind-reviewed by scholars across the country.
Among the final contributors are Onésimo J. Sandoval who provides a demographic overview of Latino-majority neighborhoods in Chicago from 1980 to 2010. He highlights the rapid growth of the Latino population in Chicago including what he calls hyper barrios, neighborhoods in which Latinos comprise more than 75% of the population. Daniel Gonzales in his study on Mexican immigration to St. Louis sheds light on the Latino populations during the early decades of the twentieth-century. His work provides an insightful perspective on what made the city unique from other Latina/o enclaves in the Midwest.
Historian Ray Rast focuses on the impact Mexican Americans had on the built environment in Kansas City, Kansas, and how the flood of 1951 had a devastating impact on and reshaped the barrios of the city. Coronado and Martinez contribute the results of a qualitative study that explores the challenges and needs of Michigan’s Latino business owners. This study is part of a project the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University has undertaken for several years.
Hinda Seif has a piece focusing on visual artist, art educator, and cultural organizer Diana Solis from Chicago. Her essay gives attention to Chicano and Mexican spaces of empowerment within Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhoods. Julia Albarracín and Michael Kohler lend a quantitative study of Mexican and Mexican American women’s access to healthcare in Chicago. They argue that structural factors have a stronger influence on accessing health insurance than on the use of medical services. Jordan A. Arellanes and Kimberly Greder provide a qualitative study concentrating on the educational needs of first-generation Mexican immigrant families in two Midwestern communities.
This special issue of Diálogo is timely as Latinos now account for 7.6 percent of the Midwest’s population. As the Latina/o population continues to grow, it is important that the issues raised by the contributing scholars be addressed as that will only strengthen the lives of Latinos and the vitality of the region in numerous areas. A copy of the special issue of Diálogo, “Latinas and Latinos in the Midwest: Historic and Contemporary Issues,” can be purchased here:álogo.