Last Updated 11 Jul 2021

Subordinate group: I have chosen the Mexican-Americans

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Subordinate group

I have chosen the Mexican-Americans

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  • Creation: This group migrated to the United States from Mexico.
  • Expulsion: Mexicans who are considered to be here illegally are often deported from the country.
  • Segregation: The majority of Mexicans are finding themselves segregated within the United States. While there is no official law requiring this group to live separately, they often live in communities with other Mexicans where they have services in which employees speak Spanish and stores that offer items they were used to having in Mexico. There is a large Mexican population in Los Angeles; appropriately, it is listed in Figure 1.5 as one of the most segregated areas.
  • Fusion: Using the form of amalgamation, fusion has occurred between  Mexicans and whites. The frequent intermarriage has led to an entirely new group where traditions are borrowed from both  cultures.
  • Assimilation: Not all Mexicans live separately and maintain a traditional culture. Many live in neighborhoods that aren’t predominantly Mexican, speak English just as well or better than those who were born here,and live as most Americans do.

Journal

    I come from a Mexican-American family. My parents emigrated from Mexico as children and had to learn English as well as an entirely new way of life when they arrived here. If they had come to the United States just after 1848, they would have been considered white and immediately naturalized upon arrival. This peaceful policy was eradicated in 1930 when my great-grandparents and others like them were considered “non-whites” and their ability to immigrate was limited.  This happened in light of the Great Depression, when jobs were limited and the Whites looked for any means possible to eliminate their competition from the workforce. My great-grandparents had been here for years, but were deported back to Mexico in order to make room for the Whites to have jobs. They never got over it, and they refuse to return to the United States for any reason. When I was born, my parents discovered that they were no longer considered “white” when they filled out the hospital paperwork. Rather, they had to check the box marked “Hipic”.

    My parents first settled separately with their parents in East Los Angeles, as they were surrounded by other immigrants from Mexico. They found that they could live segregated from the white culture and celebrate their heritage without scorn. It was easy to live in a place where shopkeepers spoke Spanish and grocery stores carried items that they were used to having in Mexico. There was little pressure to learn English and no one berated them for their heavy accents. When my parents finished college, however, they both decided that it was time to get out of East L.A. and to adopt the traditions and culture of the rest of the Americans.

    They moved to the suburbs and after a few years of working after college, they were able to afford to buy a house in a decent neighborhood. It was primarily white, and they felt somewhat out of place there. They had learned earlier that having a homeowner’s association meant that they couldn’t paint the house in cheerful, bright colors as they would have done in East Los Angeles or in Mexico. They did everything possible to blend in and not stand out in the neighborhood in order to maintain a peaceful existence without discrimination from their neighbors. My family lived in both cultures; celebrating Cinco de Mayo, and Independence day almost two months later. Our neighbors eventually became used to coming to our parties and eating carne asada along with hot dogs.

    I never thought of myself as being specifically Mexican, American or Mexican-American until the immigration furor of late. My classmates and co-workers don’t seem to have a problem asking me how long I’ve been here, if I’m a citizen, and if I worry that my family is going to be deported. I never ask them how long their families have been here or if they came here legally. I don’t appreciate the stereotypes that all of us came here illegally and that we don’t deserve to be here. After all, there was a time where we were accepted unconditionally and categorized as “white”.  It was the prejudice and fear of the 1930’s that caused Mexicans to be deported. Instead of being able to come here and have an equal chance at a good life, Mexicans must toil in the fields and perform the menial work that others don’t want to do. I can’t blame them; I don’t want to pick produce or clean houses either.

    The biggest struggle for my family is trying to determine which side of the immigration debate we’re really on. The problem is this: yes, Mexicans should be allowed to come over legally and be considered citizens. This was the agreement in 1848, after all. The problem, of course, is that as a citizen, I respect the law regardless of whether or not I agree with it. My grandparents waited for legal citizenship; so I think others like them should wait as well. The other problem is that many regions, such as Southern California, simply cannot take more residents – there isn’t enough room or resources. I would move to a different part of the country, but I am concerned about the discrimination I might face due to the color of my skin, or that I would be assumed to be illegal. Because I live in an area that is highly populated with Mexican-Americans, I am a valuable part of the community. I speak Spanish, which gives me an edge in jobs that require interaction with the community. Many white people get upset when they can’t find a job due to the need for Spanish speaking employees, but I can’t feel sorry for them. They were offered Spanish in school and they didn’t take it seriously. Did they think people in the United States would only be speaking English forever?

    My heritage gives me a distinct advantage over other Americans. I’m part of two worlds: the white world and the Mexican world. I can live, work and socialize in either world and fit right in. How many white people can say that?

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