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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Latin Americanisms: FIN

The life of an opinion writer is not what you might expect. Sure there are the initial dreams of print-fame and glory (not really) coupled with the undying adoration that is to be expected from faithful and attentive readers (I remain hopeful). But these well-intending illusions of grandeur quickly give way to the more unassuming reality that is student journalism at a place like UC Davis.

It’s a job that is done for the love of journalism itself. When all is said and done, we columnists have it fairly easy. We write our thoughts (for better or worse), go through the editing process, and then wait patiently for that most glorious of days, print Thursday. Editors and non-Opinion writers (read: actual journalists — or anyone outside of the wondrous twilight zone that is the Opinion section) on the other hand tend to do the important work while allowing us to further indulge in our navel-gazing. For that, we thank you.

Any column that deals with culture or its interweaving fabrics, be it art, sports, religion or crime — as this column has done — will have to inevitably broach questions of identity and belonging. This was something I fully expected when I signed up for the job. Partially because they are questions which have mediated my own college experience — along with informing issues I take interest in and would presumably write on — but also because they are questions which are universal. Anyone and everyone reaches a point in life where the issue of being an outsider in a strange land presents itself at once as an insurmountable obstacle, and also as a mythical demon to be defeated (this one’s for you Joseph Campbell, wherever you are). Some might point to the trauma of the first day of school as a point where the divide between people first manifests (I’ve met some pretty insightful toddlers). Others might see leaving behind their homeland in search of a better future as the ultimate test in their lives. No matter the finer details, everyone can find common humanity in difference.

This is the heart of community. While a place like Davis might not be as readily-identified with difference or cultural diversity as say, a city only a few miles away like Sacramento, as students of the world and as wide-eyed scholars it is our task (you’re not going to leave the crazed columnist shouting by himself are you) to invite discussion on cultural diversity and to work towards creating and maintaining the respect which it is owed.

What I didn’t expect in this journey was the difficulty that came in exploring such issues. Recounting my thoughts on such and matter was not difficult. The difficult part came in finding an adequate link to the Davis community in a column devoted almost exclusively to Latin American issue while fronting the aptly-named title of Latin Americanisms. But this anxiety in topicality yielded something of a greater truth for me both as a writer and as an immigrant from Latin America.

These are questions which millions of other immigrants from around the world have struggled to come to terms with in their own lives, and will undoubtedly continue to come to terms with as long as we continue living in an imperfect world (which seems to be for the foreseeable future).


If after a quarter of columns you’ve yet to be convinced of a trip to Latin America, please contact JORGE JUAREZ at jnjuarez@ucdavis.edu to let him know what he did wrong. Too much of a focus on drug violence? Too little focus on the poetics of Gucci Mane?


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