Abisko, Sweden (Summer 2012).
A twentieth-century U.S. historian and global historian of U.S. philanthropy, I am working on two book projects facilitated by an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship during the 2016-18 academic years. The first book focuses on the global and imperial roots of Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944), a text commissioned and funded by the Carnegie Corporation and one of the most famous works identified with the post-World-War-II transformation of U.S. civil rights. Detailing networks of U.S. philanthropic managers and their advisers and social researchers analyzing white-black relations in colonial Africa and the United States, the book provides a genesis story to Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma that is less about racial equality in the United States (as many Americans would like to remember the study) and more about racial control across the Atlantic. My second book explores when and why elite foundations such as the Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford foundations became especially invested in the U.S. civil rights movement. Much as with the first book, this second project moves beyond idealized and hegemonic images of these private foundations to provide the human, fallible, and imperfect reasons why, when, and how these organizations became particularly engaged with white-black relations in the 20th century.
My parents immigrated to Miami from Havana as teenagers in the late 1960s; and little over a decade later, I was born. At sixteen, I moved up 'North', and since then, have analyzed what it means for a minority group member such as myself to be an equal participant of the national community. Research into the African American experience not only has provided me with counsel, but with the greatest historical context for understanding majority-minority group dynamics in the United States.
I learned Spanish at home, throughout grade school, and in college.
Alongside Spanish, I studied French at university. After a few years of language learning, I enrolled at Sciences Po Paris; and living in the Left Bank, came to learn about Simone de Beauvoir. Subsequently, I became interested in the history of feminism, and after a few afternoons at la Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand, I learned how intellectually-engaging archival research could be.
My interest in Simone de Beauvoir's race/sex analogy in The Second Sex (1949) led me to read further on the Swede Gunnar Myrdal and the Americans Richard Wright, Ralph Bunche, and W.E.B. Du Bois. I thought about these scholars throughout law school and into graduate school. When my focus turned to Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944) in graduate school (and finding comfort in Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's own acquisition of Swedish after law school), I embarked on a journey to learn this fourth language.