Text on image of farm worker reads: I told mama that I wanted to come to the United State to find work so that we could better our lives. Now with this virus I am terrified at the thought I may never see her again. It’s not just that I feel a fever coming on or that without papers I don’;t feel safe going to the doctor. I just found out that the virus has hit mam’s pueblito. Without monet or help I don’t know if she will make it

Panel from Dr. Alberto Ledesma’s book, Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer.

A series of art pieces and lectures will help celebrate 2020 Latinx Heritage Month at Illinois State University.

Artist and writer Dr. Alberto Ledesma (University of California, Berkeley) is a virtual visiting artist to open this year’s events.

boy sleeping under a U.S. flag

Cover of Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life by Dr. Alberto Ledesma.

Ledesma’s Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life (2017) uses art to help illustrate the multitude of feelings, fears, and experiences that immigrant youths struggle with while simultaneously trying to understand their sense of identity in the United States given their undocumented status. In the opening pages of the introduction, Dr. Ledesma wrote, “These doodles represent a sort of therapy that helped me grapple with my shifting identities. In the process, what I found was a way to help those who are still undocumented and who are afflicted, as I was, by a profound ambivalence about our Americanness.”

headshot of Dr. Alberto Ledesma

Dr. Alberto Ledesma

The first illustration we are sharing of his work, captures the predicaments of Latino workers in the fields and food-processing industry in this moment in history when we are facing a world pandemic. The caption captures a young man’s predicament having to work without papers to support his family here and in his country of origin, knowing that COVID-19 has also hit his “mama’s pueblito” (his mother’s town).

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that infections amongst Latinos far outpace the rest of the nation, partly because they make up a large percentage of the nation’s essential workforce.

ISU’s Latin American and Latino/a Studies (LALS) program marks Latinx Heritage Month as a moment to reflect about the economic and political contributions of Latinos who during the lockdown in earlier months kept the U.S. economy running. As the pandemic continues, so does the plight and worry of many of our workers.