Thursday, April 12, 2012

There and Back by Bike

In the summer of 2007 history professor Louis Mendoza set out from Santa Cruz on a bicycle with the idea of seeing first-hand the extent of the growing Latino population in the United States. Over the course of a year he covered 8,500 miles around the entire perimeter of the country, talking to people about their experiences as immigrants or as non-Latino residents who have seen a steady increase of immigrants into their communities. When asked what his motivation was for taking a bike instead of taking a car, he said taking a bike would let him meet people in a happenstance way, and he would be forced to go inside communities he might have passed if he were inside a car.

"A bike took me off the beaten path and made me encounter people in a different way," he said.

Four years later, Mendoza has published A Journey Around Our America, offering his hard won understanding of what it means to be Latino in the United States in the twenty-first century. “I witnessed, first hand, what it was like to be considered a problem.” With a blend of first-person narratives, accounts from other writers, blog entries and excerpts from conversations he had along his ride, Mendoza presents stories of manual laborers, students, activists, and intellectuals. This book, and the journey that inspired it, represents a unique attempt to gain a broad perspective on a persistent and vital American question.

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