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Chicano While Mormon

Activism, War, and Keeping the Faith

Ignacio M. García

This is a memoir of the early years of a well-known Chicano scholar whose work and activism were motivated by his Mormon faith. The narrative follows him as an immigrant boy in San Antonio, Texas, who finds religion, goes to segregated schools, participates in the first major school boycott of the modern era in Texas, goes to Viet Nam where he heads an emergency room in the Mekong Delta, and then to college where he becomes involved in the Chicano Movement. Throughout this time he juggles, struggles, and comes to terms with the religious principles that provide him the foundation for his civil rights activism and form the core of his moral compass and spiritual beliefs. In the process he pushes back against those religious traditions and customs that he sees as contrary to the most profound aspects of being a Mormon Christian. This memoir is about activism and religion on the ground and reflects the militancy of people of color whose faith drives them to engage in social action that defies simple political terminology. « less more »
University Press Copublishing Division / Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Pages: 260Size: 6 x 9
978-1-61147-818-1 • Hardback • May 2015 • $75.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-61147-820-4 • Paperback • April 2017 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-61147-819-8 • eBook • May 2015 • $41.99 • (£27.95)
Ignacio M. García is the Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. Professor of Western and Latino History at Brigham Young University, and a former bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Table of Contents
Coming to America
Growing Up Brown in Texas
El Grito: Becoming Mexican
Mormonismo: A Home for My Spiritual Yearnings
Sidney Lanier High School: La Garra
La Vida (not too) Loca of High School
El Army
Going to El Norte: Entering the Homefront
Going to Viet Nam: the Brown Warrior
Romance, Buddies, and Disillusionment
Providing Mercy and Finding Death Again
Flying Back to the Barrio
Another Part of Texas: Another Part of the Spirit
Two Steps Back into a Chicano World
The College Life: Beyond the Activist Trenches
United We Win: Politics in the Time of Chicanos
El Final: Politics of Self-Destruction
Final Thoughts on This Phase of My Life
About the Author
To some, the identities of Chicano and Mormon may seem contradictory or oxymoronic. . . .[Yet] in this deeply personal narrative, Dr. Garcia addresses the tension of navigating two seemingly contradictory social groups while growing up in a segregated barrio, fighting for America abroad, and organizing for la raza at home.
New Books Network

Chicano While Mormon will help many readers understand the intersectional nature of American ethnic and religious identities, and Garcia is to be applauded for sharing this necessarily complicated story. Garcia’s book is a welcome addition to the emergent literature by Latinos outside traditional religious (read Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal) affiliations.
Mormon Studies Review

Garcia demonstrates, through a personal and highly revealing work, how religious affiliation and belief can sustain an individual in trying social (including political)and personal circumstances. . . . .All of these situations Garcia details beautifully and extensively in his work and documents how his Mormon faith served as a bulwark against all manner of depravations and temptations. . . .In summary, I highly recommend this excellent and revealing book to individuals who are interested in Mormon biography and autobiography as well as the broad and expanding topic of Latino/Chicano biography/history. Readers will find much validation of their faith (Mormon or others) within the pages of Chicano While Mormon. . . .As Dr. Garcia notes, his worldview came into focus when ‘I remembered that life was about developing character, being tested by fire, and forgiving,’ and that is the true message presented in his life and careers, as well as in this inspiring autobiography.
BYU Studies Quarterly

Written as memoir, García's life provides readers with a fascinating experience that joins religion with civic participation, Chicano identity with surviving Vietnam, racism with reconciliation. García's book is especially poignant for Mormon Studies audiences whose vision of Mormon history must begin to include these complex and increasingly diverse voices.... García's life stories are a treasure for both Chicano and Mormon Studies scholars who are interested in engaging how someone negotiates both worlds seamlessly. Chicano While Mormon would make an excellent addition to those interested in Chicano History, Religious Studies, Ethnic Studies, Mormon Studies and Military History. It effortlessly brings the reader into a world unknown to many and might just enliven a hunger for history, stories, narrative, and lifeways that are sure to reach across various interests .
Journal of Mormon History

A unique, powerful, and inspiring memoir on the complexities of becoming a Chicano Mormon by one of the accomplished historians of his generation.
Mario T. Garcia, University of California, Santa Barbara and author of "The Chicano Generation: Testimonios of the Movement"

Think you know what it means to be Mormon? In this tough, tender memoir, Ignacio García reminds us that Mormon barrio girls with hair teased high, walkouts, grape boycotts, urban congregations run by tough-minded working-class women, soulful contemplations in the Vietnam barracks—these too belong to the modern LDS experience. His story reminds us that the Mormon faith can fuel a hunger for social justice, and that the Mormon people have a great deal to learn by turning the time over to our brothers and sisters of color. Thank you for the wisdom, Brother García. Adelante, and amen.
Joanna Brooks, author, The Book of Mormon Girl

Beautifully written and insightful, Chicano While Mormon weaves personal narrative with history through rich, deeply inspiring, moments of struggle and perseverance. García’s prose draws readers into his exhilarating odyssey across ethnicity, Chicano activism, working-class struggles, spirituality, el army, and academia. A treasure for multiple audiences, García’s refreshing journey into faith and complex is as captivating as it is insightful.
Sujey Vega, assistant professor in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University

As we experience the browning of twenty-first-century Mormonism, Ignacio Garcia’s memoir will be remembered and appreciated as being perhaps the first of its kind: a poignant, unflinching, and deeply humane story of the complexities of identity and belonging for Hispanic Mormons (or Mormon Hispanics). For all those who have come to reflexively equate Mormonism with white American conservatism, behold here a very different, yet deeply authentic, kind of Mormonism—one equally committed not only to faith, morality, and individual achievement but also to grassroots activism for peace and social justice and solidarity with immigrants and the poor. “Pioneer” is a hackneyed term in Mormonism, but this memoir reminds us that Mormon pioneering truly did not end in the nineteenth century.
Patrick Q. Mason, Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University