Racism in “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea

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The novel, Into the Beautiful North, by Luis Alberto Urrea, encompasses numerous themes. Said themes range from the idealization of the United States to the characters’ new experiences facing discrimination in the United States. The setting of the novel takes place right after the terrorist attack on 9/11, which in turn, instilled a fear and animosity in people in the states, especially Whites, towards any brown individual, but especially to those of Middle Eastern or Persian descent. Two of the characters, Nayeli and Tacho, are able to pass as Pakistani, which means that they are the ones to receive the most discrimination. The concepts of immigration and racism are prevalent during this time period in the United States and the 9/11 terrorist attack influenced a negative general idea of non-white immigrants within the country.

First and foremost, political parties in the United States have taken advantage of the generalized fear of non-white immigrants and decided to include the topic of border security in their slogans and campaigns. This political generalization of brown individuals led to hostility and violence towards them, and even the non-brown children followed in their parent’s footsteps. However, this type of treatment is not the image the U.S. portrays when immigrants learn about the U.S. Specifically, the characters Nayeli, Tacho, Vampi, and Yolo are fed the liberal notion of the opportunities the U.S. offers. This liberal and safe image of the U.S. was projected through the movies and novels the characters would watch and read about, believing the false tale of successful opportunities for everyone. Once the characters arrive in the United States, their perspective is changed through their new experience. They come to realize the lack of opportunity and the discrimination brown individuals encounter every day. Like many individuals, the notion of racism is viewed as dramatic and not harmful, and should just be something to laugh at. Unfortunately, when Nayeli experiences this first hand, she realizes that racism has a deep effect on the individual and their family.

As Nayeli, Tacho, Vampi, and Yolo were on their way, they were all met with this conflicting issue of their Aunt Irma’s campaign. In which Aunt Irma was showing the same hostility towards Central American immigrants as the U.S. was of Mexican immigrants. She even specified that the Central American immigrants are receiving a pass on free education in Mexico, and that is the view most Americans have on immigrants. The notion that immigrants take up that country’s resources of welfare, education or healthcare influences the way citizens view the immigrants. When the country has ceased to see people as human beings, the people of that country lack their ability to empathize with one.

In the instance of the U.S., it does not help that students are taught the manipulated version of the country and are not taught all the damage the U.S. military and/or government implemented in these countries. From the railroads to the banana production in Central America, which left the Central American workers with IOU’S instead of wages,

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