"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Presumed Alliance by Nicolas Vaca


For those of you that wouldn’t think about reading a book like this, that it wouldn’t be interesting and maybe too much like reading statistics or a schoolbook, stop thinking and read it anyway.

When this book first came to my attention, I knew I had to review it but dreaded doing it because it seemed so studious and dry. I wondered if I could do it justice or that I’d become bored and not write a good enough review of it. I dragged along for a few months just avoiding doing it. However, upon reading the first page of the introduction, I became so fascinated and enthralled that I finished the book on the train ride into work.

Nicolas Vaca explores the political alliance between Latinos and African American as supposed by White America. It was amazing to me. He also explores racial tensions, population growth and unveiled hatred between the two groups. The statistics that Mr. Vaca quotes are astounding in terms of population growth among the Mexican American community. I couldn’t believe how much our community had grown in twenty years. Mr. Vaca also delineates points of conflict and issues that he feels will arise. He cites the L.A. Riots and how many of the incidents that occurred were African American against Mexicans, not Caucasians.

I’m a Xicana women and have always known about the racial tensions between these two groups because I have lived but I never really got a good sense of just how deep and hw damaging those tensions are to both groups until I read this book. It’s a controversial book and bound to incite a lot of bad feeling and anger among many groups, not least White America. I think as Xicanos, we are obligated to read this book and see how potentially powerful we can be politically and economically. The statistics and numbers are simply powerful. I know I felt tremendously empowered just reading the percentages of us in different states across the union.

It is important to understand these tensions and challenges that present themselves to us. We must educate our children and ourselves for the future. Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the United States and the numbers are mind numbing.

Nicolas Vaca, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and also holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley is a Mexican American practicing attorney in the Bay area.

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