A new understanding of the impoverishment of Puerto Ricans living on the mainland
Understanding Mainland Puerto Rican Poverty
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Susan S. Baker
For too long the study of impoverished Puerto Ricans living in the fifty states has been undermined by the use of broad generalizations. Puerto Ricans have been statistically grouped with all Latinos, studied with models developed for understanding African-American life, and written about as if New York's Puerto Rican community was the only such community worthy of detailed study. This book changes all that. In this important new work, Susan Baker looks beyond the traditional models and rewrites the origins, current state, and reasons behind Puerto Rican poverty.
The book tells the story of how Puerto Ricans have left the Rustbelt cities to return to the island or to seek job opportunities elsewhere. Those left behind are predominantly poor women with dependents who live in segregated neighborhoods with little chance of finding low-skilled jobs because of competition from non-citizen, non-politicized workers.
In her alternative explanation, the author presents data from across the country and puts forth an explanation that is grounded in Puerto Rican history and sensitive not only to the interconnectedness of the island and mainland population, but also the increasing distress faced by Puerto Rican women and the sad truth that Puerto Rican citizenship in this country is a second class one.
"Susan Baker has written a noteworthy volume. To her extensive personal experience she brings an academic perspective that is thorough and well thought out. Much has been written about the Puerto Rican Diaspora focusing on New York City. Baker contributes to our understanding by tackling internal migration and terms of incorporation that vary from place to place. She makes a further contribution by comparing this population to other Latinos, exploring the role of segregation (including a cogent discussion of the dissimilarity index), and the impact of the larger U.S. economic structure."
"This illuminating examination of poverty within the Puerto Rican population in mainland U.S.A. provides a readable resource with many applications. Baker carefully employs a methodology to examine Puerto Ricans that acknowledges the regional, class, gender, and generational diversity that exists within this group, as well as emphasizing the necessity of studying all Latino groups individually and within their own particular contexts. This work is significant not only for scholars in Puerto Rican studies but also for anyone seeking a better understanding of the distinct Latino populations within the United States."
Part I: Viewing Puerto Ricans as Hispanic
Part II: Viewing Puerto Ricans Across the United States
Part III: Viewing Puerto Ricans Within the US. Economic Structure
Appendix A: Selected MSAs by Region
Susan S. Baker is Assistant Practical Theology Coordinator and Instructor at Westminster Theological Seminary.