Sunday, April 21, 2013

Barrio Writers: Challenging Stereotypes

Dear Orange County,

On Friday, April 26th, Hibbleton Gallery and The Magoski Arts Colony will be hosting a special book release and live reading event for a local publication called Barrio Writers, a non-profit reading and writing program that aims to empower teens through creative writing, higher education, and cultural arts.

I'm an English teacher who has taught at local community colleges like Santa Ana College and Fullerton College, and this event, and the whole Barrio Writers program, is near and dear to my heart.  The hopes, dreams, and ongoing struggles of Latino youth in Orange County is something that deserves to be talked about, and Barrio Writers provides a creative outlet to do just that.  

As a white kid who grew up in a middle-class Orange County suburb, I managed to be fairly oblivious to the real struggles of immigrant youths and families for a long time.  Most of what I heard came from mainstream media, who often portrayed Mexican immigrants as a host of abstract, sometimes menacing, stereotypes.  It was not until I befriended actual Mexican Americans, and began teaching and reading their writing, that I began to see that I'd never heard the full story.

The Latinos I know, documented and undocumented alike, do not fit any media stereotype.  They are as eclectic, diverse, and human as anyone.  Often, the struggles, discrimination, and legal obstacles they face has made them some of the most inspiring and profound human beings I know.

The publication Barrio Writers eloquently demonstrates this.  It is a collection of poetry, stories, and essays written by real Orange County students about their specific, real-life struggles.  To often, discussion of topics like immigration and education become abstract political debates.  What Barrio Writers does is take these abstract issues and humanizes them, makes them about specific, real human beings and their real lives, which are as complex, painful, and beautiful as anyones.

This event is Friday, April 26th from 6:30-9:30pm at the Magoski Arts Colony.  It is free and open to the public.  I sincerely hope to see you there.  Stereotypes may be left at the door.

Love,

Jesse La Tour
Co-Owner, Hibbleton Gallery
English Instructor, Fullerton College


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  1. You're a great man Professor! Very inspirational and proof that critical thinking skills matter.

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