Mexicans and Mexican Americans

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In our educational system we are taught about American history and the struggles that African Americans have gone through, even to this day. Yet there has always been a question in the back of my mind, “ When are we going to move onto the topic about Mexicans and Mexican Americans?” The only memory I can recollect that circles around this topic goes back to middle school. A brief discussion about Cezar Chavez and Frida Khalo. Being honest, I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about them or any other significant person. Majority of the population wouldn’t be able to tell you either and that’s the problem. The history of Mexican Americans should be taught alongside American history. Not only for equality but mainly because their struggles play a role in American history as a whole.

The role of race in the lives of Mexican Americans has always been debated. There is one side that argues that Mexican Americans have been racialized throughout their history. Their prolonged and constant history as labor migrants who work jobs that are at the bottom of the economic and racial hierarchy. Though they may not be heavily excluded from economic and social integration as African Americans, people of Mexican origin have experienced severe racial barriers. By being limited to working class jobs, and as a result being treated as second-class citizens. Unfair and discriminatory treatment against Mexican Americans had also extended beyond economics and into school segregation. In 1842 ‘Mexican’ public schools were created in areas that held a sizable community. Those who spoke english were separated from those who did not, placing them into different classrooms. It was in 1945 when Gonzalo Mendez, father of Sylvia Mendez, decided to team up with other latino parents to sue four school districts in Orange County through the federal district court in Los Angeles. Mendez and the others brought up the discrimination based on race and national origin. The school districts argued that public schools were segregated because the students spoke a foriegn language, that it was a benefit in their favor. These school districts said non-english speaking students should attend separate schools until they are able to speak english with some expertise. The court was in favor of Mendez, therefore leading them to establish the 14th Amendment’s equal protection provision over the equality of education..The court further stated that under this provision, segregation based solely on national origin was unconstitutional. Although this did not bring about the reversal of Plessy, it did lay the groundworks.

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The issue of colorism is still apparent to this day, to outsiders the color of one’s skin is seen as a sort of ‘group membership key.’ The darker the skin the more stereotypical mexican they are and the more discrimination they experience compared to lighter men and women. This is consistent with the minority who often come into obstacles in education, the labor market, and criminal justice system. In 1950, Pete Hernandez was arrested and accused of homicide, he was found guilty by an all white jury in Jackson County, Texas. Mexican American civil rights lawyer, Gustavo Garcia, had agreed to represent Hernandez’s appeal. After the guilty verdict was maintained by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Attorney Garcia went on to argue that the Fourteenth Amendment ensured protection not only on the premise of races but class as well. At that time Mexican Americans were classified as white, the discrimination against them proved they were also a social class apart from others. The State of Texas justified their all white jury by arguing that the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause only covered whites and black, not Mexican Americans – because remember, at this time they’re white. In the end the court held that Mexican Americans were a social class apart. Noticing that they were entitled to the same constitutional protections as other minorities under the Fourteenth Amendment. In the end, Pete Hernandez did receive a new trial with a jury that included Mexican Americans but was still found guilty of homicide. Regardless, the Supreme Court’s decision set an example that led to successful challenges of employment and school segregation, housing discrimination, and voting barriers that were set against Mexican Americans. This also questioned the use of Jim Crow laws that were implemented among other Americans, determining that Americans of Asian, Inut, Middle Eastern and other non-white and African American decent should also be included in the equality treatment.

The colorism issue also carries its way into social media. Many kids, teens and young adults fall victim of colorism from their own race. I have seen many videos of people telling others that the shade that they are doesn’t permit them to respectfully enjoy certain cultural things.For example, you’re mixed? Well you can’t call yourself mexican because you’re half white or what have you. And you can’t claim to be the other half because you are not “100% pure blood.” Yes, they use that derogatory phrase more often than you think. People are openly stripping individuals of their ethnic roots because they do not fit the race stereotype that was created by society in movies and music. We have progressed from not being one nor the other to being considered white and have made a full circle back. The rise of colorism on social media stems from cultural appropriation and the created term ‘cancel culture’. Cancel culture is essentially when a ton of people group together to call you out on something, doxing people and sometimes getting them fired from their job or expelled from their schools. Though, not everyone who gets cancelled for cultural appropriation actually deserves it in the first place. The problem is that everyone throws that term around too loosely without taking the time to truly understand what it means and when it is appropriate to use it. They assume that someone wearing large hoops or accessorizing a bandanna a certain way is bad. It can only be cultural appropriating of a person if they utilize a religious aspect in the name of fashion or the latest trend.

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Mexicans and Mexican Americans. (2021, Mar 08). Retrieved from

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