Where Are the Latinos?

Despite constituting some 15 percent of the U.S. population, it’s generally pretty hard to find any information about the ethnic group in U.S. college textbooks. According to an article by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed:

It’s easy to make a case for the increasing importance of Latino issues in understanding U.S. politics. But are college freshmen getting any context for considering these and other developments?

The odds are against it, according to a survey of introductory political science textbooks. The study, published in the journal PS, did page by page analysis of the 29 introductory textbooks in use at American colleges today. Latinos’ “overall contributions to the political development of the United States are largely ignored,” says the study, by Jessica Lavariega Monforti and Adam McGlynn.

Many of the texts discuss César Chávez, but for most that’s about it for sustained discussion of Latino civil rights leaders or movements.

Now, granted, for most of American history the contributions of Latinos were pretty limited. But, according to the study, the vast majority of textbooks surveyed spent less than 1 percent of the pages focused on Latino political issues. It was very rare to find a textbook that explained concepts like “Chicano” or “Brown power.”

It’s unclear which textbooks, or schools, do a particularly good job presenting Latino history.

View a summary of the full study here.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer