Book in Common

2024-25 Book in Common

Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino," by Héctor Tobar

 Tobar Book in Common

  • Announcement

    We are excited to announce that the Book in Common for 2024-2025 is Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of ‘Latino’ by Héctor Tobar (2023).


    The publisher describes the book as “a direct address to the young people who identify or have been classified as ‘Latino’… [that] decodes the meaning of ‘Latino’ as a racial and ethnic identity in the modern United States, and gives voice to the anger and the hopes of young Latino people who have seen Latinidad transformed into hateful tropes and who have faced insult and division—a story as old as this country itself. Tobar translates his experience as not only a journalist and novelist but also a mentor, leader, and educator. He interweaves his own story, and that of his parents’ migration to the United States from Guatemala, into his account of his journey across the country to uncover something expansive, inspiring, true, and alive about the meaning of ‘Latino’ in the 21st century.”

    Why this book?

    We believe Tobar’s Our Migrant Souls will be deeply engaging to students and to a broad audience.  Latinx students make up 37% of Chico State’s student body and over 30% of Butte College’s students identify as Latinx.  Both of our campuses are Hispanic Serving Institutions, and this book will help center the experiences of many of our students, and anchor the servingness of our responsibility as HSIs. This book meaningfully aligns with our strategic priorities, and authentically amplifies our commitments to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. 

    We received feedback from faculty, staff, students, administrators, and community members, and the enthusiasm to select Tobar’s Our Migrant Souls was robust, passionate, and compelling.  Our Migrant Souls was the strong favorite of respondents to our survey, receiving 43% more recommendations to select as Book in Common than the second-place book.

    Here is a sample of the feedback we received on the public survey and from student focus group readers:

    • This is a beautiful book, written in a poetic style that is equally accessible to faculty, staff, and students. Héctor Tobar provides so many points of access - some tender and some fierce - that will open up crucial conversations at Chico State, Butte College, and in the wider community. We need this book.
    • Hector Tobar’s Our Migrant Souls is an opportunity for us as a campus community to weave together a conversation about Latinidad and what it means to serve our Latinx students at a Hispanic Serving Institution. Too often, we have a conversation about race in a black/white binary and fail to understand that this is a starting point. Latinx communities (of which we are many), as Tobar so cleverly illustrates, do not “fit into a box.” In class I acknowledge that conversations about race/ethnicity and identity are uncomfortable and invite students to see discomfort as a place for growth because they are not alone. As a faculty member of color this feels like a risky position to take every time, but…this is where Tobar will shine. It will help students grow and ask questions. For students who identify as Latinx on our campus, they will be able to see their experiences centered in a way that is not the norm on our campus. Latinx students are in the minority and they feel it every day. So let's take this opportunity to see what it looks like to serve and enrich the opportunity of our "Hispanic" students.
    • We are an HSI with a significant population of students identifying as Latinx. There will be a robust audience for the book--and I believe it is important for ALL readers to be informed about the discussion & complexity of the "Latino/Latina/Latin@/Latinx" set of concepts, the history, and where the conversation is right now.

    Here is a sample of the feedback we received from the Executive Board of Chico State’s Chicano/Latino Council:

    • Tobar’s Our Migrant Souls does not just teach us about the complexities of race, immigration policy, (mis)representation in the media. It goes a step further to create space for students to voice their self-identity assertively; it explores the messiness of how mixed-status families and mixed-race families navigate their place in this country; it combats the erasures of Latinx culture and identity in U.S. history. For our Latinx students, this is an opportunity to ‘see’ themselves (their families, their guardians, and their ancestors) as individuals whose experiences hold a great deal of cultural capital and see it be celebrated. For the rest of our students, this is an opportunity to reflect and nurture awareness of the experiences of their Latinx peers and find common ground.  The personal narratives and examples contained in this book are relatable and accessible for a wide-ranging audience and will allow readers to inch one step closer to being comfortable engaging with questions of race and identity. For all of us, this is an opportunity to question our assumptions, discover something about how we serve our Latinx students, expand our understanding about race past a white-black binary and what it means to describe someone or self-identity as ‘Latino.’
  • Join a Team to Plan Resources and Events
    Everyone is invited to join the Planning Team for campus and community events related to Our Migrant Souls. You can indicate your interest in adopting all or part of the book or being part of the Book in Common planning team here.(opens in new window)

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We acknowledge and are mindful that Chico State stands on lands that were originally occupied by the first people of this area, the Mechoopda, and we recognize their distinctive spiritual relationship with this land, the flora, the fauna, and the waters that run through campus. We are humbled that our campus resides upon sacred lands that since time immemorial have sustained the Mechoopda people and continue to do so today.