What is Latino?

chap5We have all seen it- that section on legal documents and questionnaires asking for our race, as if bearing some divine purpose is far too common within our society. For some the issue is simply another method used by our federal government to express its power over internal affairs. Other’s like minority groups, who are among those who fall between the race and ethnicity categories think otherwise. For Hispanics, the inferiority faced when answering such questions like ethnicity- or other; along with the broad list of races created under the perception of the ideal Hispanic is no coincidence, and exists only to follow the same method of white superiority so commonly believed years before.  Dating back to the 19th century, the existence of Hispanic speakers in the United States were laid on a specific framework different to to current system. For most Hispanic settlers scattered across Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, the relations between their Anglo counterparts to the north were met under the Fourteenth Amendment, which sought to create a divisional line of acceptance between the now freed African Americans, “the final version of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ratified by the U.S. and Mexican governments in 1848, promised Mexicans who stayed in the Southwest ‘the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States according to the principles of the Constitution.” For the most part, relations between Mexicans and Anglos were based off work rather than companionship. In towns with sizable amounts of land, labor  was the primary field of work for poor Mexicans and other’s who fit within the Hispanic category.  While positions varied between workers, one thing was certain- they were able under the wing of what it mean to be American. A similar case lies within the gender differences of the Mexican community, where men were typically favored over women. Since the beginning of time, perceptions on gender were always of first nature when it came to deciding roles in the military, economy, and above all in society. Just look at Athens-a tourist attraction revolving around its existence as the most economically and socially developed of all Greek city-states, along with its conflicts with its brother state Sparta, in the Peloponnesian war. But lets delve more into its role as a social state. Among the most recognizable of all Athenian attributes lies its establishment of democracy in the 5th century BC. Under the rule of Cleisthenes, the system was divided into three different sections, the Ekklesia(government that writes laws), Boule(representatives from 10 Athenian tribes), and the Dikasteria(court that hears all arguments), which would see to establish a seemingly equal form of public voice centering on working class men.

Even if this representative form of government lasted for only two years, the division between man and women was kept, and would live on even in the frameworks of Mexican households. For women married or unmarried, and living during 19th and 20th centuries, where Mexicans were on high alert for annexation organisations, the importance of being a female was methodically deteriorated into the simplicity of cooking and cleaning and doing so with an “American touch” In the House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, the U.S. government’s orchestration of a social divide between Mexican men and women is no more highlighted than through the story of its main character, Esperanza, a Chicana Mexican living in a Puerto Rican, Mexican neighborhood. For Sandra, who wrote the book based off her experience as an “Esperanza”, she must also bear the reality of being a women in similarity, “It meant growing up Mexican and feminist, for Cisneros considers herself to be one, and it is almost a contradiction in terms. She grew up in a patriarchal culture, the Mexican culture, where there is a feeling of great guilt for betraying that culture.” In the book, several vignettes, or sections with brief descriptions of a particular person, are created in order to entice a message of what it means to be Latino. Out of the many, A Smart Cookie, on which tells Esperanza’s account of her mother(named Madame Butterfly) who wants Esperanza to live a life of success rather than the one she now knows as: a house servant, “I could’ve been somebody, you know? Esperanza, you go to school. Study hard. That Madame Butterfly was a fool.” A similar case lies within the language barrier of Hispanics, where perception drives, while reality takes a step back into the dark. Just this year, Donald Trumps boisterously posed declaration of the U.S.-Mexican border wall this past November left many Hispanics, despite being a non Mexican to classify themselves under the category and go in complete hysteria.

And while the issue may seem like a case of not knowing one’s ones race, it is less blunt, and points toward the U.S. governments desire to keep Mexicans where labor grows, and out from the serenity that is the the United Sates, “The metaphoric weight of walls blinds us to their security weaknesses. So for all Mexicans, Hispanics, Latino’s, or any other preference that you may or may not classify by, going against legal constraints may provide a door to your freedom. In the case of Sandra Cisneros, a Mexican American, she is ” redefining ‘Mexicanness’, which is necessary is order to come to terms her Mexican and American culture as well.”


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