Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race

Arlene M. Davila, Author . New York Univ. $19 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8147-2007-3

According to Dávila (Barrio Dreams ), the huge and heterogeneous Latino population has been treated to facile and contradictory representations in the public sphere as both “problem” (immigrant) and “opportunity” (voters, consumers). Her invaluable scholarly treatment unearths the competing interests and race-inflected ideological tendencies behind characterizations of Latino political identity in the mainstream media. Those scholars, pollsters, marketers and policymakers hitching Latinos to an image of the American middle class have larger motivations and interests to satisfy, the more partisan of which use Latinos to narrow the permissible definition of the “patriotic American” in the first place. Obscured in pervasive media portraits of the “equation-altering” Latino vote is the fact that only 18% of Latinos went to the polls in 2004 and their relative lack of representation in government points to their overwhelming disenfranchisement. The image of the “Latino middle class” masks as much as it reveals, not least the embattled state of the American middle class as a whole. Latinos are indeed “at the heart of the remaking of America,” argues Dávila shrewdly, “[b]ut not in the optimistic ways described by political pundits” (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-8147-2006-6
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