By Juniper Rose
Following is an interview with Ray Suarez, broadcast journalist, PBS Newshour senior correspondent and author of “Latino Americans” by Hispanic Link reporter, Juniper Rose.
“Latino Americans” is the first major documentary series to highlight the history of the more than 50 million Latinos who live in the United States today. This series and book show not only the history of Latino Americans, but fill in the gaps of American history.
Q: Latino Americans is first book and documentary to take on these aspects of history in the depth that you have — What changes do expect will stem from this effort?
A: “I hope people who read the book, and I hope people who watch the television show, will have their curiosity sparked enough to learn more about some of these episodes in history. It is a 250 page book talking about the lives of tens of millions of people over centuries. So you can give an overview — you can give people a framework for thinking about Latino history and how it is part of American history — but there is so much more to know.”
Q: How do you think the U.S. would be different today in relation to the way minority groups in the U.S. are treated if the history your book describes had been taught along side traditional American history?
A: “Instead of being treated like intruders, or new arrivals, in some of the more emotional debates over immigrations and over assimilation, I think more people would recognize that Latinos have always been part of the history of the United States from its very earliest days. It might change the way we think about our country and we think about these 53 million people, if this history was taught differently.”
Q: What inspired you to be involved in this project?
A: “The producers of the documentary series approached me and said, ‘Would you write the book to be the companion to the series?’ I was looking to start a new book, it seemed like great timing, it landed right in my lap, so I said, ‘Yeah, sure, let’s get started.’”
Q: Latino Americans focuses on this history being important to all Americans, not directed specifically at Latinos. How do you think your book and the PBS series will reach and affect the public?
A: “I have a lot of confidence in Americans being curious, interested people. I think many of them will have their interests drawn to wanting to learn more about things in history that they think they already know about — like the Alamo, like the second world war, like the depression. We reconsider the way we look at events, and if you can add new information into the mix, great, you understand the country even better.”
Q: What do you think are important historical aspects of the U.S. that this project will reveal to readers or viewers…