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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

Rambler Read

A teaching and learning toolkit for the Rambler Read: Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

Articles and Scholarship

The Articles and Scholarship section is meant to provide a starting point for conducting secondary research into the issues and ideas ideas found in Dear America. As and example, Vargas briefly mentions Kipling’s famous poem The White Man’s Burden, which is reputed to have been written to encourage President Theodore Roosevelt to invade and colonize the Philippines — an action whose long term consequences would lead to Vargas’ eventual arrival in the United States. The articles provided may thus serve as an entry point into research on U.S. involvement in the Philippines.

Audio/Video Resources

In Dear America Vargas references writer and activist James Baldwin on more than one occasion. Baldwin’s writings clearly created a lasting impression on Vargas as a boy. In this clip, James Baldwin has an open discussion of racial prejudice, civil rights activism and policing.

This is the full audio book of James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time (1963) read by Jesse L. Martin. The Fire Next Time contains two essays: "My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation," (0:00-12:00) and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind" (12:00-2:25:32).

Toni Morrison is another of Vargas’ literary heroes. In Dear America he makes specific reference to her first novel The Bluest Eye. Vargas was particularly concerned with Morrison’s conception of “the master narrative,” which shaped his own understanding of race and racial construction in America. In celebration of her new book, A Mercy, the National Visionary Leadership Project presents this 2004 clip of Morrison speaking about what motivates her to write.