When Pulitzer Prize nominated author Richard Rodriguez published his autobiography, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez in 1982, he received much criticism due to his views on issues such as assimilation, bilingual education, and affirmative action. Polemically, since... Rodriguez’s publication, a book length revisiting of some of his ideas is for the most part non-existent.
Inspired by Rodriguez’s work, Barrio Nerds: Latino Males, Schooling, and the Beautiful Struggle presents a compelling window into the schooling trajectories of Latino males, while also providing critical and alternative views. These portraits of working-class students and academics that achieved academic success move beyond clean victory narratives and thus complicate our notions of “success” and “rising up.” Blending versus separating the exploration of street kid/school kid identities, we get a glimpse into the merging and collision of multiple cultural worlds in ways that are liberating and often painful and full of ambivalence. Additionally, we get provocative takes on giftedness, the philosophical and political dimensions of “home,” and masculinities.
Ultimately, Barrio Nerds: Latino Males, Schooling, and the Beautiful Struggle is a reminder of how academic achievement is often embedded in gain and in loss and it is a thoughtful meditation on how many Latino males of working-class origins do not reject the past, but instead use this precious knowledge to holistically live out the present.
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