Transgressing Borders: Spiritual Mestizaje in Mexican and Chicana/o/Arts

Faculty member Dr. Randy Conner explores ways that Mexicans and Mexican Americans/Chicana/os have interwoven Abrahamic, primarily Catholic, beliefs and practices with ancient, Indigenous ones, with this mixing or hybridity often referred to as “spiritual mestizaje.” Examples of this mixture include the reverence of the Virgin of Guadalupe alongside the ancient goddess Tonantzin and practice of the healing art of curanderismo. 20th- and 21st-century writers, painters, musicians, filmmakers, and other artists, together with historians and theorists, including Francisco Alarcón, Juana Alicia, Rudolfo Anaya, Gloria Anzaldúa, David Carrasco, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Lila Downs, Jorge R. Gutiérrez, Ester Hernández, Frida Kahlo, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Cherríe Moraga, Laura E. Pérez, Chavela Vargas, and others have imbued their works with spiritual mestizaje. This even is part of the One Book program and the Celebrating Latino Americans program.

Transgressing Borders: Spiritual Mestizaje in Mexican and Chicana/o/Arts

The audio of this discussion is available below:

Civic Engagement, Participation, and the 2016 Election featuring Juan Salgado

MacArthur Fellow (Genius Grant Recipient) Juan Salgado offers perspectives on participation in the upcoming 2016 election. Mr. Salgado is the president of Instituto del Progreso Latino and a leading voice on issues impacting immigrants in the United States. He is an educational pioneer and visionary for our transforming county. This even is part of the One Book program and the Celebrating Latino Americans program.

Civic Engagement, Participation, and the 2016 Election featuring Juan Salgado

The audio of this discussion is available below:

MacArthur Genius Reciptient Speaking in Library Feb 17th

MacArthur Fellow (Genius Grant Recipient) Juan Salgado will offer perspectives on participation in the upcoming 2016 election on February 17th at 11am in the MVCC Library. Mr. Salgado is the president of Instituto del Progreso Latino and a leading voice on issues impacting immigrants in the United States. He is an educational pioneer and visionary for our transforming county. This even is part of the One Book program and the Celebrating Latino Americans program. You can learn more about Mr. Salgado’s work in this video:

Community Leader Juan Salgado, 2015 MacArthur Fellow

Determined in a World of Uncertainty: Latina/o Undocumented Students Striving for Success

Featured Guest Maria Luna-Duarte, Interim Director of Northeastern Illinois University’s El Centro. She will discusses issues relating to community outreach and Latinos in higher education as part of the One Book Program organized in partnership with the MVCC Democracy Commitment.

Determined in a World of Uncertainty: Latina/o Undocumented DACAmented Students Striving for Success

The audio of this discussion is available below:

Talking Immigration in the Land of Lincoln with Celina Villanueva (online video)

Celina Villanueva, from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, will discuss immigration issues in the Chicago region and across Illinois. She will present a regional view of this national view and consider how state and local policy impacts the lives of those arriving from abroad. This event is part of the One Book, One College program.

Talking Immigration in the Land of Lincoln with Celina Villanueva

The audio of this discussion is available below:

Celebrated Author Ana Castillo: Chicano/Chicana: Identity and Oppression

Ana Castillo is a celebrated poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar. Castillo was born and raised in Chicago. Ana Castillo holds an M.A from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D., University of Bremen, Germany in American Studies and an honorary doctorate from Colby College. She received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her first novel, The Mixquiahuala Letters. This event is part of the Celebrating Latino Americans programming https://latinoamericans.apps.morainevalley.edu/.

Celebrated Author Ana Castillo: Chicano/Chicana: Identity and Oppression

The audio of this discussion is available below:

US Politics and Immigration: Political Science Panel Discussion (video)

As the presidential election gains momentum toward the primaries, Moraine Valley political science faculty discussed issues relating to immigration as part of the One Book program. This discussion covered topics including reform efforts aimed at immigration policy, the impact immigration will have on the upcoming election, and the changing demographics that will shape our nation. This event featured Merri Fefles, Kevin Navratil, and Deron Schreck This event is part of the One Book, One College program. Learn more at our website at https://latinoamericans.apps.morainevalley.edu/.

US Politics and Immigration: Political Science Panel Discussion

The audio of this discussion is available below:

A Message to Moraine Valley Faculty and Staff from José Ángel N.

(The following message is from our One Book author and MVCC Alumni José Ángel N, which he read to the participants in a workshop held for faculty and staff. During his visit to campus, José expressed his gratitude for the impact that Moraine Valley had on his life. This piece expresses his feelings and is shared with his permission.)

A Message to Moraine Valley Faculty and Staff from José Ángel N.

A four-year old child sits down to read. She flips through a book. She puts it down and quickly moves on to another one. The first one is in English, the second one, in Spanish. From his office at Oracle, a 28-year old young man holds daily videoconferences with colleagues from places like Brazil, India, China, the United States, and Canada. Even though he has never left the state where he was born, he holds such meetings in English, a foreign language in his native country. A 60 year-old woman, who barely had a chance to finish elementary school, picks up 100 Years of Solitude for the first time and loses herself in that magical world. Those people are, respectively, my daughter, my brother, and my mother.

Do not underestimate the power that each one of you (at Moraine Valley) has to transform the lives of people. People you might not even know or ever come in contact with; people who have not yet been born; people whose prospects in life might’ve been truncated otherwise; people who rather late in life have discovered the complexities and the pleasures of literature.

Many years ago, when working in a restaurant not too far from campus, I used to hear people say that they were the first person in their families to go to college, and I wondered what that meant. I especially wondered why that seemed to be so important for them. That was about fifteen years ago, and now I know why going to college is such a transformative experience in a person’s life—a college education has the power to touch lives in ways you can’t really imagine or articulate when you haven’t had access to higher education.

When I entered the doors of the Student Services Center to sign up for classes I didn’t know any of that. All I knew was that I was excited. After all, what I was doing was something completely unprecedented in the whole history of my family. But I was also terrified—how on earth would I manage to get through college? I was about 28 years old when I first came in through those doors barely knowing how to write in complete sentences, having only very basic reading skills and nothing more than a rudimentary knowledge of math.

In many ways, I was still the same 13 year-old Mexican child who was forced to abandon his formal education and help his family make ends meet. And this is not uncommon in my native country. I have recently read that 48% of children and teenagers ages 12 to 17 in Mexico have never been inside a library. Not that the Mexican government doesn’t care about education—the children of governors and senators attend schools like Cambridge and Harvard and Princeton and the University of Chicago—but that’s a different story, or perhaps it is the same story: a story—a history, I should say—of inequality and injustice that people like me only learn about once we have a chance to enter places like Moraine Valley.

Anyway, it took me many years, but I finally understood the pride in my coworkers’ faces when they shared with me their enthusiasm about being the first person in their families to go to college. They meant making a decent living, discovering their intellectual potential. They meant human growth—a chance to become a person in full possession of his or her own destiny.

Without the work that you do here at Moraine Valley, the life of many people who are now professionals or those for whom the simple act of reading a book has become a true revelation would not be possible. So today I come here to say thank you, to express my gratitude and to say that the border that divides our nations is not everything that we share. We share something far greater and more intimate than that: we share something that transcends arbitrary lines, languages, and political systems, something that is common and dear to all of us.

September 15, 2015

Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant (a conversation with the Author José Ángel N.)

We were honored to welcome our One Book, One College author José Ángel N. to campus! MVCC alumni, José Ángel N. read from and discussed his book Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant and his life as an undocumented immigrant in Chicagoland. His story presents a human face to the political and economic debates. This event is part of the One Book, One College program. You can learn more at: https://latinoamericans.apps.morainevalley.edu/

Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant (a conversation with the Author José Ángel N.)

The audio of this discussion is available below:

Mexican Chicago

Mexican Chicago Books

This coming Thursday, Sept. 17th, the MVCC Library and the Green Hills Public Library are partnering to present the program Mexican Chicago: A History in Pictures. The presentation will take place at 7pm at the Green Hills Public Library on 103rd St. in Palos Hills. Through photographs, storyteller Rita Jirasek will shares stories of the lives and experiences of Mexicans in Chicago.

If the presentation inspires you to enjoy more resources with this special focus, a few books from our collection are great ways to explore this topic further. The first is Barrio: Photographs from Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village. This is a collection of photographs and journal entries by photographer Paul D’Amato that capture life, both public and private, in these Mexican communities in Chicago.  You can also view more of this artist’s work at his website.

Another interesting book is Pots of Promise: Mexicans and Pottery at Hull-House, 1920-40. This is a photograph and essay collection that brings us the story of Mexican artisans in Chicago as well as the history of the Hull-House. From the forward, “If only these pots could talk…the pots speak volumes about Hull-House, its Mexican neighborhood, and transnational material culture.”

Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago is another book that portrays the Mexican experience in Chicago. This is the autobiography of Jóse Gamaliel González, a Mexico born artist, who came to call Chicago home. Illustrations and recollections depict his community advocacy and struggle to bring arts programming to Chicago.

Also, don’t forget that next Tuesday the 15th, Jose Angel N., the author of this year’s One Book, One College selection Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant will be at the library to discuss his book and his life.