Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE OTHER FACE OF AMERICA by Jorge Ramos

THE OTHER FACE OF AMERICA

Chronicles of the Immigrants Shaping Our Future

By Jorge Ramos

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-621416-5
Publisher: Rayo/HarperCollins

Voices and experiences from the great Hispanic emigration to the US, gathered and put into appropriate context by the levelheaded yet passionate journalist Ramos.

There is not a corner in the US—from baseball to education, music to the agricultural sector—where the presence and cultural influence of Hispanics has not made itself felt, and this in the face of widespread racism, discrimination, and exploitation. Univision newscaster Ramos states the obvious—though much of it is also denied by a majority of non-Hispanic citizens: namely, that the racial and ethnic fibers of the country now reflect Latinization, definitively and irrevocably and for the good. This, says Ramos, is because Hispanics have not melted into the mainstream, but have diverted that stream into their own identity, retaining their language and traditions. Here, Ramos presents a sampling of the Hispanic immigrant experience, legal and illegal, detailing not just the value they have added to the US economy, the de facto population numbers, how young kids must grow up fast (translating and mediating all kinds of business), and the problem of the INS, but also a clear understanding of the factors pushing people out of each specific Latin American country and the big pull for coming to the US: jobs. Despite all the setbacks that Hispanics face—from INS raids that shatter families to the relentless snubs from the white population, with plenty of misery and challenges in between—Ramos chronicles the survival of strong families, their drive and pride and relish in their new circumstances. He also brings a balanced perspective to his reporting, best seen at work in the Elián González case, where he is able to make sense of both the Cuban exile population's position and the legal and ethical position of the Clinton administration.

Accept a multicultural society and embrace diversity, says Ramos, or beat your head against the wall. Truer words were never spoken, even if they are still fighting words for too many.