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Mi Familia Discussion Guide
Mi Familia is the story of the Sanchez family's experience of life in the United States. Spanning three generations, this film shows the various relationships that each family member has toward their cultural identities and their desire to become "Americans."
This film also deals with the systemic oppression that people of color, specifically Mexican Americans, face in the United States. Set in East Los Angeles from 1920 to the present, Mi Familia traces the immigration policies, police brutality, and cultural ostracism that mark the experiences of the Sanchez family.
In Mi Familia, we find a complex understanding of how identity and systemic oppression shape individual and community life. The first generation of the Sanchez family, who immigrate from Mexico, desire both to hold on to their cultural traditions and values, as well as succeed in the American Dream. The second generation, the children of the Sanchez family, find that this ideal is impossible. They are faced with the choice of becoming either Mexican or American (which means Anglo) in their identities, while the outside institutions continue to define them.
Things to Think About
All people who immigrated to the United States faced these issues to a certain degree. While watching this movie, think about your own family's heritage(s) and it's history in America.
- What is your cultural heritage? What does that mean to you? Have members of your own family faced cultural assimilation here in the United States? How did your family deal with that assimilation? What was their means of survival? What did you gain and what did you lose through that means of survival?
- What are some examples of institutional racism in this movie? What are some examples of cultural racism in this movie? How do these examples impact the Sanchez family?
- What do you think are the defining characteristics of Anglo American culture? What part of the Sanchez's family's culture does not fit with American Anglo culture? What part does?
- What makes it difficult for the Sanchez family to assimilate into American Anglo culture? Why do some of the children resist assimilating? What is the experience like for those who do assimilate?