Latinx are often referred to as the “Sleeping Giant” of American politics. Students who complete this course can critically analyze this metaphor, which treats Latinx as a homogenous and unified group that is politically apathetic and inactive. They can explain why Latinx are not a “giant” but rather a diverse political group, and not “asleep” but rather that their political activities and choices are shaped by over a century of persistent racialization and institutional exclusion.
We being the course by examining Latinx as an ever-changing social and racial category composed of black, brown, indigenous, and white individuals who immigrated from, or have heritage ties to, over a dozen countries in Latin America. We then explore the presence of Latinx people in United States territory and its relation to US nation building and imperialism, as well as its foreign and immigration policies since the 1800s. Subsequently, we turn to how US political and government leaders have, for nearly 175 years, limited the political rights and power of Latinx by framing them as culturally inferior people who threaten the health, wealth, safety, and culture of “true” American citizens. With these foundations, we turn to how Latinx have organized to resist and overcome political disenfranchisement through social movements (e.g. nationalist, labor, immigrant youth, and intersectional); interest groups (veterans; chambers of commerce; neighborhood self-help organizations); and myriad drives for citizenship acquisition and voter registration and turnout. Finally, the course considers contemporary Latino electoral participation, partisanship, and public opinion, including the impact of Latino voters on recent campaigns and elections, and the election of Latinos to public office. Although the primary focus of the course is Latinos, the course also serves as an introduction to the broader study of ethnic and immigrant politics in the United States. Recommended background: PLTC 115. Course Attributes: (PLTC: Identities & Interests), LAS Program major and GEC (072).