An Other's Mind
by Luis Quiros, M.P.A., M.S.W.
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Among all the human and societal challenges evident over the ages and even to this day, our struggle with difference and intolerance must rank among the most complex and impenetrable. Difference adds luster to our lives. Difference also haunts us in the form of stereotypical and antisocial assumptions about race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, class, culture, politics,... In the midst of our struggle is the temptation to conclude that no one is freed from the risk of discrimination on the basis of difference. As Luis Quiros laments in this thoughtful and passionate literary journey chronicling a life filled with vestigial and present day discrimination, his quest to both understand and mitigate discrimination, especially racial and ethnic discrimination, has always been met with moral rationalization in the form of "We all suffer from discrimination, so move on".
It is true. Our propensity for choice and preference and discrimination is a fundamental human behavior. We choose friends and lifelong partners and in doing so we may reject others—all part of the Darwinian dance we seem programmed to pursue. But, for some, the consequence of choice and outright discrimination is more burdensome and inescapable. For those facing racial and ethnic discrimination (especially among non-English speakers), such circumstance is dramatically different from discrimination based on other differences. One cannot disguise the color of one's skin nor the form of one's language. And, that is at the heart of Luis Quiro's inquiry: can we ever get beyond hateful, unquestioned discrimination, especially that based on race and ethnicity?
Quiros' query is not a simple one. Writing about discrimination typically assumes one of two rhetorical styles. One often emerges as an abstract and sometimes pedantic exercise devoid of the very real, emotional, and visceral nature of everyday discriminatory experiences. Another is the often painful and even vitriolic cry for understanding conveyed by the portrayal of very personal experiences absent the capability to pause, reflect, examine, and allow for objective assessment. Luis Quiros has managed to navigate this dichotomous stylistic dilemma as he weaves a narrative which strives to bring meaning to his sometimes painful personal experience as a Latino through introspective connections with the scholarly work of others. In doing so he succeeds in marrying emotional and moral outrage with reason, with the result that the reader is offered a literary experience steeped in feeling and studied reflection.
--Joseph M. Pastore, Jr., is currently Professor Emeritus in Residence at Pace University, having spent more than four decades in higher education at St. Bonaventure University, Saint Louis University, Boston College, and Pace. He also served for two decades as the U.S. District Court Special Master and Monitor in U.S. v. Yonkers overseeing the Order to Desegregate the Yonkers (NY) Public Schools.