Hola, bienvenidos, and welcome to another episode of the Latinx Identity Project This is a podcast where we tell stories for us and by us. I am your host, Elsa Iris Reyes
In today’s episode we will get to know Natalia Molina, the author of a Place at the Nayarit and Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, and a 2020 MacArthur "Genius" Fellow
As a child, Molina spent her evenings at the Nayarit, a Mexican restaurant and neighborhood staple her grandmother Doña Natalia Barraza founded in 1951 that was frequented by a cross-section of the city and owned by her mother at a time when L.A. was so segregated, it was known as "America's white spot." The Nayarit was much more than a popular eating spot for Hollywood stars and restaurant workers from across the city: it served as an urban anchor for a robust community, a gathering space where ethnic Mexican workers and customers connected with their patria chica (their “small country”) and most importantly, a place where ethnic Mexicans and other Latinx L.A. residents could step into the fullness of their lives, nourishing themselves and one another in the city they now called home. Through deep research and vivid storytelling, Molina follows restaurant workers from the kitchen and the front of the house across borders and through the decades.
A Place at the Nayarit illuminates the many facets of the immigrant experience, from the pressures of racism and segregation to the complex networks of family and the various cross-currents of gender and sexuality, as well as the small but essential pleasures of daily (immigrant) life. The question of "who gets to belong" or how racialized minorities create a sense of belonging, one still haunting Mexican immigrants, is also central to the book's themes. For these reasons and more, Molina's work has been praised by historians of Los Angeles, feminist scholars, foodies, and famous Angelenos, including Gustavo Arellano, David Ulin, Jaime Jarrín, and more.
All 2022 proceeds from the sale of her book, A Place at the Nayarit, will go to No Us Without You, a 501c3 charity that provides food relief for the hospitality workers who have been disenfranchised in the pandemic.
To donate, click here:https://www.nouswithoutyou.la/donate
Follow Natalia on Twitter: @Prof_NataliaM
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