When I attended my first academic conferences as a graduate student between 2003 and 2005, people reacted with bewilderment when I told them I wanted to study Latinas/os in the US South. Then they reacted with incredulity when I clarified that I was going to study the Latina/o communities in Arkansas. “But the community must be tiny,” one of them said. “The last census counted ninety thousand Latinas/os,” I responded. Many of the graduate students, and even some faculty, including Latinas/os, were unaware of the growing communities in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and other southern states. My family’s migration from California to Arkansas is what led me to study our community and to understand reactions to us. Like so many others, my family moved for work.

My research about race in the South, about how Asians and Latinas/os are understood in the region, is a direct result of moving...

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