By blood, I am half Mexican. Half of the story of my life comes down from those that made home in the lands of Mexico… or so I thought for a long time.
When I began learning more and more about the history of Mexican-Americans and our lives as they had become today. I was a white-passing, non-Spanish-speaking, couldn’t-stand-anything-spicy “Mexican.” I was clueless. I was completely unaware of the histories, and the stories still to this day for those that are Mexican. In college, I began to learn. I learned the meaning of terms I had always been confused about:
- Hispanic = a citizen of Latin America/Spain or a U.S. citizen of Latin American/Spanish descent
- Mexican = a Mexican citizen
- Latino = a citizen of Latin America or a U.S. citizen of Latin American descent
- Chicano = a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent (courtesy of: Spanish Dict)
Today, some terms incorporate the use of “x” to be more inclusive. I began to own the title of chicana. To me, this paid homage to my Mexican culture, and the intertwined history that allowed my parents to meet in America (mother being white, and father being Mexican-American). I asked my grandmother once where in Mexico we were from, and she told me that the last relative she could trace back to was from Texas. I didn’t understand what this meant until I began to understand how the land in that area had been passed around in the past.
So it goes without saying, I had a LOT to learn to understand the complex history of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in America.
I happened across the Podcast on NPR “Latino USA” and played it while I was at work on a rainy Monday. Titled: Blood And Betrayal In The Southwest the podcast tells the story of terror against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the United States. As the US acquired (i.e. went to war to take) land from Mexico, those living in the area were forced to come to new realities of life. This included a severe policing of their existence.
While I had heard the history of lynching in the South against black Americans, I was completely shocked to realize that there had been the same form of terrorism used against Mexicans. This article, discusses the nature of disputes between the Anglo-Americans and the Mexican-Americans during that time. While lengthy, the article America’s Lost History of Border Violence seriously shook me to my core and resonated with me today… it sounded exactly like the narratives we hear of in today’s world – of killing of black and brown bodies by police.
We tell the oppressed that violence is not the answer, but the history of Texas perhaps shows a perfect example of how this is a truly ignorant perspective. Mexican-Americans and Anglo-Americans lived in peace UNTIL the lands began being disputed. So, basically, all was good until the US wanted power/land/resources/compliance/ etc. etc. etc.
Look, I am no conspiracy theorist. But I do study systems of oppression. And the tactics used against the Mexican-Americans shocked me, because a critical eye can connect to today’s police brutality (excuse me, the long history of police brutality) and feel uncomfortable. Yes, the Texas Rangers were reacting to raids, but isn’t America supposed to be about justice? And that is still the argument used TODAY. ‘Oh well, he DID steal that!’ or ‘they DID smoke marijuana earlier.’ BUT DEATH IS NOT OUR SENTENCE WITHOUT TRIAL.
So, take a listen to the podcast I linked, please read thoughtfully through the article I linked (and click on links provided). I will also link to additional reading material below.
Please keep in mind that I have attempted to use not only credible sources, but sources that discuss both sides. I have used Texas state official websites, along with a variety of different publications, all covering different aspects of the story. If you have any sources that would add, please share in the comments
Discussion, questions are welcome. Respect is mandatory.