Forging the path as we go: Latinxs Transforming Democracy


Suzanne Oboler

Document Id: OC-78

This presentation was prepared for the 30th anniversary celebration of the Julian Samora Research Institute. The presentation responds to the theme of the conference: “Latinxs and the Renewal of U.S. Democracy.” Oboler challenges us in her speech to avoid visualizing democracy as a renewal and to envision the transformation of American Democracy by turning to both the history of Latinx movements and of alliance-building with other groups in the struggle to achieve inclusion and representation of all members of society. Oboler argues that the use of the word renewal paints a picture of a return to a time when U.S. democracy was not in a good place and, at times, goes backwards. Specifically, she discusses how other instances in American history paved the way for the current administration, providing examples of how the Reagan era influenced our current politics. She moves on to describe several instances in American history that have shaped the narrative of how America defines and views people of Latinx origin. The primary argument is that White supremacists are driving the current political climate. One way to combat the attendant ignorance and fear, she says, is to spread knowledge of the Latinx community and by working with other minority groups. To conclude, Oboler, urges us to think about new ways by which we can transform democracy through our scholarship and teaching by engaging with displaced members of the community and/or engaging our students more in social justice oriented conversations.

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