Last Updated on January 30, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1287
Chapter 12: Speak Spanish, You’re in America!: El Huracán over Language and Culture
Gonzalez disputes the historical myth that the United States has always been a monolingual nation, pointing to the annexation of non-English speaking people in the Southwest states, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico. While some of the newly annexed citizens retained their native languages without intervention, others were forced to learn English. For Gonzalez, the fear that English will be eclipsed by Spanish as the dominant language in the US is the foundation of all Anglo anxieties about Latino immigration.
He explains how various pushes to eliminate Spanish instruction in schools contributed to illiteracy and low education among American Latinos into the twentieth century, in addition to a cultural devaluation of Spanish-language arts.
Gonzalez discusses the various contributions of Latino artists to the worlds of literature, theater, cinema, and music, the latter of which he argues has had the greatest impact on mainstream culture. Latino musicians and singers across all genres have experienced success among Anglo audiences, from Carlos Santana to Shakira to Daddy Yankee. Furthermore, Gonzalez argues that Latinos helped create entirely new hybrid genres in the US, including reggaeton and Latin jazz.
Despite their many achievements, Latinos are disproportionately excluded as the subjects of social studies, Hollywood films, or television programs. This lack of representation, Gonzalez argues, further contributes to Anglo attitudes about Latinos.
Gonzalez then shifts his attention to bilingual education, which he views as the cure to Anglos’ language anxiety. Favoring the “transitional” model, Gonzalez recommends that Latino students be given instruction in their native Spanish for a limited time while learning English. Gonzalez says that most Latino immigrants see mastery of English as a key to their success in the US, but American policies that forbid Spanish instruction or simply don’t provide it prevent young Latinos from ever gaining proficiency.
Throughout Latin America, schools often teach English as a second language beginning in primary grades, as English is still the global “language of empire.” This fact, Gonzalez says, stands in opposition to Anglo fears about Spanish overtaking English in the US.
Finally, Gonzalez laments that Anglos’ treatment of the Spanish language has caused many young Latinos to internalize negative messages about their native tongue. Gonzalez believes that encouraging Latinos to maintain their Spanish language alongside English and codifying multicultural depictions of literature and music in schools will mitigate the negative public perception of the Spanish language.
Chapter 13: Free Trade: The Final Conquests of Latin America
Gonzalez explains how United States trade policies that began in the twentieth century contributed to Latino immigration. After World War II, manufacturers began to move their operations to developing countries in an effort to maximize profits via cheap labor. To curb some of the economic problems caused by this exodus of the manufacturing industry, the US established free trade agreements, including NAFTA. Gonzalez calls this the “Washington Consensus,” which promised to incentivize Latinos to remain in their home countries to fulfill growing vacancies in factories.
As Gonzalez says, however, these policies actually crippled local economies and widened the gap between the rich and the poor at rates higher than anywhere in the world. In turn, Latinos flocked to the US in search of the upward mobility they could not achieve at home. Furthermore, citizens eventually grew tired of this inequality, and democratic uprisings upended the governments who maintained the status quo in favor of...
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