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Rising Power? Latinos in California

  • Author(s): Yamada, Gayle K.
  • Advisor(s): Camfield, Gregg
  • et al.
Abstract

Demographic data from the 2010 U.S. Census indicate a sea change in the demographics of the United States and, specifically, of California. The growth of the Latino population has risen dramatically from 9.1 million in 1970 to 50.5 million in 2010, and is projected to be 132.8 million by 2050. I examine whether the growth in numbers is leading to a change in power for Latinos in California. Concluding that it is, I then look at power through narrative. Power shapes who we are, and the ability to define oneself, that is, tell one’s own story, is an indicator of power.

In the past, the narratives of people of color have been marginalized as demonstrated through their literary histories; they have not been part of America’s largely Eurocentric master narrative. With the transformation of society evidenced by the demographics, I argue that the master narrative is evolving by including and incorporating the perspectives of the narratives of people of color, which is power. This is different from the counter narrative, which is in opposition to the master narrative, not part of it.

I examine this evolution through a microcosm of a select cross-section of successful Mexican Americans in the Central Valley whose stories illustrate patterns of family, values, and cultural heritage. My sample is of trailing indicators that may predict a trajectory of leading indicators, i.e., the next and subsequent generations of Latinos. Demographic data are laid over how the sample subjects perceive important themes.

This study is interdisciplinary. It combines perspectives from many disciplines, including literature, sociology, anthropology, history, ethnography, migration studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, economics, psychology, geography, and technology. It is on the cusp of new research, drawing together strands from many areas and examining them through a broader and more inclusive lens, and thus contributes to the body of existing scholarship.

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