The Ghost of Carlos Bulosan

A placard featuring an artist's portrait of Carlos Bulosan along with a quote.

By Guest Contributor: Billy Yates

Editor’s Note: Carlos Bulosan’s birthday was November 24.

The ghost of Carlos Bulosan lives in the Los Angeles Public Library. I have no way to prove it, but I trust in coincidence. 

In 2018, the New Americans Initiative center opened, offering citizenship and ESL classes along with multilingual resources for immigrants from the over 140 countries that call LA home. It was launched on the first floor’s International Languages Department, where many enter with hopes of constructing their own America Dream; it is one of the floors that radical Filipino writer, organizer, and dreamer Carlos Bulosan frequented in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Here, Bulosan explored the world’s stories through books, absorbing authors that would influence his own reflections of the immigrant experience at the peak of the Great Depression. Rereading a worn copy of Bulosan’s America is in the Heart, sitting next to a stack of N-400 citizenship applications and multilingual Know Your Rights! Pamphlets, I am torn by the prophetic poignancy of it all. In a time when official policy is to “Make America Great Again,” Bulosan begs the question: What is America, and who is it great for?

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