Raul Yzaguirre chair shares plans for advancing discussion of Latina/o politics

By

Matt Oxford

Rodney Hero, a political science professor and the Raul Yzaguirre chair in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University, led a community conversation Nov. 28 where he talked about his plans to advance the discussion of Latina/o politics.

The event, hosted by Educational Outreach and Student Services, started with a special thanks to the support received from the Latina/o community from Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle.

“We are indebted to the active support and encouragement that we have received from many in the Latino community as we were trying to establish this chair,” Searle said as he individually recognized each supporter in attendance who helped fund the chair.

The Raul H. Yzaguirre chair was established in the spring to honor the life work of Yzaguirre as an advocate for educational equality and quality within the Latina/o community.

“The kind of work that I’ve been undertaking for some number of years now, I think and I certainly hope, both respects and reflects the spirit of what Raul Yzaguirre represented,” said Hero, the inaugural chair holder.

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Patrick Kenney spoke about what ASU can do to match at least some of the legacy that Yzaguirre left.

“I do think there is a common thread to almost everything that [Yzaguirre] was doing, and that was to bring access, or in his case driving access to democratic institutions,” Kenney said.

Hero is a leader in the field of racial and ethnic diversity in American politics. In his conversation he shared with the audience — which consisted of alumni, administration and community leaders — some of his plans to advance the discussion of Latina/o politics.

The Center for Latina/os and American Politics Research is the center Hero will be forming while at ASU. As director, he plans to use the center as a vehicle to create an ongoing discussion with students, faculty and the community at large through a speaker series, large-scale conferences and collaborative research.

During the discussion, Hero shared some of the reasons he got into Latina/o politics early on in his career.

“It occurred to me that there was something missing that was important and needed scholarly attention,” Hero said. “I look at Latinos in U.S. politics, and it seemed to me they were clearly interwoven in American politics but weren’t necessarily integral to American politics.”

Hero referenced that while he was completing his education from Purdue University, he could count the number of scholars working on Latina/o politics on one hand. He believed what was missing was “adequate and appropriate analysis” of important questions in American politics.

“A guiding idea that I’ve had with regard to my scholarship,” Hero said, “is that you cannot understand American politics without understanding Latino politics, and you cannot understand Latino politics without understanding American politics.”