Frederick Luis Aldama




She was 18, recently emancipated, and on her way to visit relatives in Guatemala City—all the primos and primas, tios and tias, and the rest she’d only ever hear about.

This was my mother, Carlotta or Charlotte. Born in L.A.—the Boyle Heights barrio—as a first gen. Guatemalan-Irish American. To guarantee that the next generation wouldn’t work the factory lines, Alicia or Alice, married the first tall white guy she could lasso. He happened to be one of the neighbors—an Irish-American orphaned at birth and who’d come up in the world as an electrician.

But Charlotte never made it to GC. The bus stopped in Mexico City—a city filled with culture and a vitality that she’d never even dreamed was possible—and she never got back on.

Instead, she got a job, enrolled in Spanish classes and MesoAmerican anthro courses at UNAM. Through a friend of a friend, she met the puro chilango who would become my dad; autodidact through and through who spoke fluent English—he had the advantage.

The short of the long:

Kids. Separations. ’67 Rambler crisscrossing the US/Mexico border. California and city, towns, farm living. Deux ex machina arrival of my madrina or godmother and a transatlantic crossing—London. Then with a BA from Berkeley and a PhD from Stanford in the back pocket, now a professor at the Ohio State University.

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Oct 6th 2014

Latino Popular Culture for the Clueless is a seven-session class about the everyday lives, unique traditions, and media depictions of various Latino ethnic groups residing in the United States. All your questions answered in seven exciting episodes!

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