Review: An African American and Latinx History of the United States

An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if we reframed the history of the United States through social, cultural, and political lens of Latin America and African history. That is, most U.S. histories work from a European lens, invoking the influences, historical contexts, and politics of Europe in the making of the U.S. It's to be expected given how much U.S. history has been told in a way to appease white people at the cost of marginalizing and ignoring people of color. But Ortiz takes this approach and crafts a powerful narrative that draws upon a great many primary sources that show just how much things like the Haitian Revolution, the political landscape of Mexico, and the strives for freedom throughout Latin American and Africa were intertwined with the struggle for freedom in the US. He moves from the Revolution to the election of Trump to show the ways in which the struggle continues today and how Latinx and African Americans have been at the forefront of workers rights and protections, political fights for freedom, and engaging in the often violent response from white people throughout.

There are moments throughout this book that are just so intriguing and open up an understanding of the struggle for freedom and equality by Latinx and African Americans that I have not found elsewhere. What left an indelible mark upon me was how Ortiz illustrated how conscious and aware such freedom fighters were of their work in the U.S. in relation to other struggles throughout the world and how scared white people were about these types of connections and coalitions. What I love about this book is that I could easily see it being used in a class wherein a supplemental reader compliments a mixture of the primary sources he calls upon with those that are traditionally used in such history courses. There's such an opportunity to draw out the tension between the two.

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