One Book: Illegal

Transgressing Borders: Spiritual Mestizaje in Mexican and Chicana/o/Arts

Faculty member Dr. Randy Conner explores ways that Mexicans and Mexican Americans/Chicana/os have interwoven Abrahamic, primarily Catholic, beliefs and practices with ancient, Indigenous ones, with this mixing or hybridity often referred to as “spiritual mestizaje.” Examples of this mixture include the reverence of the Virgin of Guadalupe alongside the ancient goddess Tonantzin and practice of the healing art of curanderismo. 20th- and 21st-century writers, painters, musicians, filmmakers, and other artists, together with historians and theorists, including Francisco Alarcón, Juana Alicia, Rudolfo Anaya, Gloria Anzaldúa, David Carrasco, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Lila Downs, Jorge R. Gutiérrez, Ester Hernández, Frida Kahlo, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Cherríe Moraga, Laura E. Pérez, Chavela Vargas, and others have imbued their works with spiritual mestizaje. This even is part of the One Book program and the Celebrating Latino Americans program.

Transgressing Borders: Spiritual Mestizaje in Mexican and Chicana/o/Arts

The audio of this discussion is available below:

The Ways that Race, Gender, and Sexuality Have Shaped U.S. Immigration Policy

Debanuj DasGupta discusses the ways in which gender & sexuality have historically shaped US immigration policy. Debanuj will begin by discussing the Chinese Exclusion Act, followed by conversations about a series of restrictive legislation that were passed in order to regulate gender and sexuality through immigration procedures. Utilizing his own life narrative and immigration activist archives, Debanuj will highlight the present day intersections of HIV/LGBTQ and immigrant rights activism. This even is part of the One Book program and the Celebrating Latino Americans program.

The Ways that Race, Gender, and Sexuality Have Shaped U.S. Immigration Policy
The audio of this discussion is available below:

Determined in a World of Uncertainty: Latina/o Undocumented Students Striving for Success

Featured Guest Maria Luna-Duarte, Interim Director of Northeastern Illinois University’s El Centro. She will discusses issues relating to community outreach and Latinos in higher education as part of the One Book Program organized in partnership with the MVCC Democracy Commitment.

Determined in a World of Uncertainty: Latina/o Undocumented DACAmented Students Striving for Success

The audio of this discussion is available below:

Talking Immigration in the Land of Lincoln with Celina Villanueva (online video)

Celina Villanueva, from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, will discuss immigration issues in the Chicago region and across Illinois. She will present a regional view of this national view and consider how state and local policy impacts the lives of those arriving from abroad. This event is part of the One Book, One College program.

Talking Immigration in the Land of Lincoln with Celina Villanueva

The audio of this discussion is available below:

Ellis Island

old ellis

Immigration is one the topics that we’re focusing on as part of our One Book, One College discussion this year. No treatment of the history of immigration in this country would be complete without a look at Ellis Island. Between 1892 and 1954, over 12 million immigrants entered the United States through this station in New York Harbor.

Ellis video pics

Two DVDs from our collection will bring Ellis Island history to life for you. The first is Remembering Ellis Island. This takes us through the history of the immigration station to its becoming a national museum. We see what the immigrants experienced while on the island, waiting for their chance to start a new life in a new land.

Forgotten Ellis Island tells the story of the hospital on Ellis Island where tens of thousands of immigrants spent time inside its walls, hoping to be cured and therefore not deported. In the three decades of its existence, “where the germs of the world converged,” the hospital saw the birth of 350 babies and the death of ten times that many immigrants.

If you want to explore this topic even further, these books from our collection can tell you even more about the interesting history of the island. For further exploration, you can also visit the The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation website. Here you will find extensive history, many photographs, oral histories, a searchable passenger database, and much more.


Diversity & Inclusion @ Moraine Valley

I am a newly hired adjunct Public Services Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. In another role outside of MVCC, I am a consultant and thought leader in the area of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). As an outside observer and now as a current employee, I have been- and continue to be impressed and inspired by the range of diversity, inclusion, and cross-cultural appreciation present within the MVCC community.

In this blog post I want to achieve two goals; 1) present information from the vantage point of both librarian as well as diversity and inclusion professional, and; 2) support Moraine Valley’s upcoming sixth annual community dialogue on promoting diversity and leadership on Friday, October 9th. This year’s topic is “Managing Opportunities for All: My Role, Your Role, Our Role.”


To achieve the first goal I offer a reading list of materials available in the MVCC library connected to D&I.

Using the keyword search diversity and inclusion as a single term I located the following:

Bridging the diversity divide: globalization and reciprocal empowerment in higher educationby Edna Chun and Alvin Evans (2009).

Diversity and motivation: culturally responsive teaching in college – by Margery B. Ginsberg and Raymond J. Wlodkowski (2009).

Inclusion and diversity: meeting the needs of all students – by Sue Grace and Phil Gravestock (2009).

Multicultural education: issues and perspectives – edited by James A. Banks, Cherry A. McGee Banks (2010).

Ouch! That stereotype hurts: communicating respectfully in a diverse world – by Leslie C. Aguilar (2006).


Using the keyword search cultural identity as a single term I located the following:

Arab cinema: history and cultural identity – by Viola Shafik (2007).

Framing Muslims: stereotyping and representation after 9/11 – by Peter Morey and Amina Yaqin (2011).

Intercultural communication: an introduction – by Fred E. Jandt (2001).

Jewishness: expression, identity, and representation – edited by Simon J. Bronner

Who we be: the colorization of America – by Jeff Chang (2014)

Other keyword terms to locate a broader range of MVCC library materials that may be intriguing on the subject: same sex, gender identity, religious diversity, cultural inclusion, generational, stereotypes, biasas well as power and privilege to name a limited handful.


Diversity Best Practices is a membership and information resource organization. In 2013, Diversity Best Practices (DBP) posted 5 books every diversity professional should read. According to DBP, “these books will challenge your conventional way of thinking and help you grow in your diversity and inclusion work.” I suggest these books also align in the area of thought leadership connected to diversity and inclusion, which can generate and/or promote creative inclusion possibilities along with cross cultural connectedness. Thus, embarking on this reading list will contribute to the personal growth of any one of us currently living in an increasingly more diverse planet. Now the connection to the MVCC library. You can find three of the five DBP must reads within the MVCC collection.

Thinking, fast and slowby Daniel Kahneman (2011)

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talkingby Susan Cain (2012)

Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everythingby Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2006 –book & cd)

The final addition to this reading list is the Moraine Valley Community College, “One Book One College” monograph, Illegal: reflections of an undocumented immigrant – by José Ángel N (2014)

Before concluding let me again mention  Moraine Valley’s annual Diversity Dialogue event on Friday October 9th from 7:30 and – noon being held in Building M. Attend and share best practices, learn from your colleagues, develop a shared strategy, commit to furthering MVCC efforts, and continue the diversity and inclusion dialogue.

For more information: MVCC DIVERSITY DIALOGUE


A Message to Moraine Valley Faculty and Staff from José Ángel N.

(The following message is from our One Book author and MVCC Alumni José Ángel N, which he read to the participants in a workshop held for faculty and staff. During his visit to campus, José expressed his gratitude for the impact that Moraine Valley had on his life. This piece expresses his feelings and is shared with his permission.)

A Message to Moraine Valley Faculty and Staff from José Ángel N.

A four-year old child sits down to read. She flips through a book. She puts it down and quickly moves on to another one. The first one is in English, the second one, in Spanish. From his office at Oracle, a 28-year old young man holds daily videoconferences with colleagues from places like Brazil, India, China, the United States, and Canada. Even though he has never left the state where he was born, he holds such meetings in English, a foreign language in his native country. A 60 year-old woman, who barely had a chance to finish elementary school, picks up 100 Years of Solitude for the first time and loses herself in that magical world. Those people are, respectively, my daughter, my brother, and my mother.

Do not underestimate the power that each one of you (at Moraine Valley) has to transform the lives of people. People you might not even know or ever come in contact with; people who have not yet been born; people whose prospects in life might’ve been truncated otherwise; people who rather late in life have discovered the complexities and the pleasures of literature.

Many years ago, when working in a restaurant not too far from campus, I used to hear people say that they were the first person in their families to go to college, and I wondered what that meant. I especially wondered why that seemed to be so important for them. That was about fifteen years ago, and now I know why going to college is such a transformative experience in a person’s life—a college education has the power to touch lives in ways you can’t really imagine or articulate when you haven’t had access to higher education.

When I entered the doors of the Student Services Center to sign up for classes I didn’t know any of that. All I knew was that I was excited. After all, what I was doing was something completely unprecedented in the whole history of my family. But I was also terrified—how on earth would I manage to get through college? I was about 28 years old when I first came in through those doors barely knowing how to write in complete sentences, having only very basic reading skills and nothing more than a rudimentary knowledge of math.

In many ways, I was still the same 13 year-old Mexican child who was forced to abandon his formal education and help his family make ends meet. And this is not uncommon in my native country. I have recently read that 48% of children and teenagers ages 12 to 17 in Mexico have never been inside a library. Not that the Mexican government doesn’t care about education—the children of governors and senators attend schools like Cambridge and Harvard and Princeton and the University of Chicago—but that’s a different story, or perhaps it is the same story: a story—a history, I should say—of inequality and injustice that people like me only learn about once we have a chance to enter places like Moraine Valley.

Anyway, it took me many years, but I finally understood the pride in my coworkers’ faces when they shared with me their enthusiasm about being the first person in their families to go to college. They meant making a decent living, discovering their intellectual potential. They meant human growth—a chance to become a person in full possession of his or her own destiny.

Without the work that you do here at Moraine Valley, the life of many people who are now professionals or those for whom the simple act of reading a book has become a true revelation would not be possible. So today I come here to say thank you, to express my gratitude and to say that the border that divides our nations is not everything that we share. We share something far greater and more intimate than that: we share something that transcends arbitrary lines, languages, and political systems, something that is common and dear to all of us.

September 15, 2015

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