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Z is for Zapatazo, by Ruben Rivera

Ruben Rivera, Ph.D., was born in New York City to a mixed-race Puerto Rican family and raised in southern California in that time “when children should be seen and not heard.” As a working-class brown Latino boy, Ruben was invisible in the public school curriculum, on TV and media – except for anomalies like Tonto whose name in Spanish meant Dummy – and America as a whole, even as the long-ignored were struggling to be seen and heard in the era of Jim Crow, Civil Rights, the Chicano movement, anti-war marches, and the threat of cold war doom.

In Z is for Zapatazo, Ruben’s poetry depicts family upheaval, social injustice, and suffering summarized by the Spanish word Zapatazo. But his writing also elaborates on the joys of love, family, faith, and hope for a better world. Experiences in the spaces between freedom and favoritism, ideals and reality, suffering and hope are rendered in a range of poetical forms with vivid imagery, deadly seriousness, and humor. Although his poetry has won awards in various contests, Z is for Zapatazo is Ruben’s first published collection.

Ruben is Emeritus VP for DE&I and Associate Professor of History at Bethel University in Saint Paul, MN. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Anita.

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