Letter from the Editors

During our discussions of possible topics for this issue, we came up with a variety of ideas, but a common thread was our interest in discussing what we saw as significant changes across society. Topics of interest ranged from elections in the U.S. and Latin America, immigration policy at the national, state, and local level, art and social transformation, and the role of Latin America and Latin@s in framing those changes and upheavals. As we started to narrow down our topics, many of the themes and shared concerns helped us better understand the relationship between our personal and academic lives, and our role as USF students and citizens of the Americas. Something that became clear during this process was the role of our generation in affecting social change and the importance of learning from that which came before us. We are changing the conversation; but as Freire said, in order to achieve true transformative dialogue we must make our actions and our consciousness become one. This is an exercise in presenting a true word based on our commitment to remembering the past, having a voice in the present, and becoming subjects of history in the making. To achieve this we need to have the courage to share our stories with our peers, to have the curiosity to look at the world around us, and to have an open mind to comprehend everyone’s point of view even when they do not coincide with our own.

Connecting historical legacies with recent shifts in political participation, Amanda Savasky’s article seeks to situate the changes in voter participation by Latin@s in the past decade and discusses the harsh opposition such participation has received. In a time of many important changes, she presents this article as an example of the strength people hold when they demand to be heard and counted as participants in the conversation. Marisela Esparza’s article focuses on the realities that the immigrant community face today and how immigration policies in the Bay Area have changed and are harming innocent people. She hopes her own story will allow those who resonate with it to be able to take courage and share their own story.  We have been silent too long and now our voices need to rise up and make a change; the time for action is now. Monica Alcantar writes on education and Latinos: When I was in high school, I witnessed one of my closest friends struggle to find the financial resources to cover the cost of her college education because of her legal status. At that time, I did not know how to help, but as time progressed, I realized that she was not alone and neither was I. There are many people who want to help undocumented students reach their goals and this article focuses on how their hopes and needs are being met through the California DREAM Act, private universities, and other organizations, specifically "College Track", the non-profit organization which helped my friend to reach her dreams. Marcelo Rios Muñoz’ article features an interview with Arizona native, author, activist, and Huffington Post contributor Jeff Biggers. Marcelo re-iterates the strength of solidarity, and what is necessary to preserve Ethnic Studies in Arizona. This includes re-gaining a sense of respect and dignity to the communities of color affected by state laws.

Lisa Giarratano’s interview with activist, writer, and playwright Cherrie Moraga is based on her own studies and interests in transnational feminist and queer solidarity. Marie Shier’s article focuses on something that is a part of San Francisco and was inspired by her art history courses at USF. She chose Muralismo as her subject to bring ideas and concepts together. In her article, she gives a brief history of how Muralismo has changed and discusses where it is headed in the future. In her article titled “Welcome the Brazilians,” Cindy Venerio discusses the recent changes made on Brazilian tourist visas. The changes are aimed at helping the economy of the US, mainly in the South Florida area. She shows how the rise of Brazil as an economic force has translated into their invitation to spend money in the US. Residents of other Latin American countries are not receiving the same treatment and this shows the change that economic interest can bring. Genesis Ibarra’s article on Latina Feminist Theology gives a new perspective on Latinas and their relationship with their religious beliefs. She demonstrates how the equation of women plus religions does not necessarily always equal religious life. The piece also gives insight to how Genesis herself was attracted to Theology and Religious studies and the importance of having Latinas studying theology. 

We would like to thank the writers, artists, USF professors and staff (including Father Privett!) who offered their time to be interviewed for this issue. We also want to thank the Latin American Studies Program for creating a space where we could come together and share our work with the larger community.

Finally, we would like to thank Tom Henke and Web Communications & Services for helping us change this conversation into digital form and for all their work and advice during the semester.

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Monica Alcantar, Marisela Esparza, Lisa Giarratano, Genesis Ibarra, Marcelo Muñoz, Amanda Savasky, Marie Shier, Cindy Venerio and Prof. Karina Hodoyan.