Latinos: Identity and representation in the past, present, and future

Adriel Martinez

Ms. Maitland

Reading Race



Starting since the end of the Mexican- American War, Mexicans living in newly occupied U.S. territory were overrun by the overflow of Anglos who populated the Southwest during and after the war. Anglos imposed their ideals on the Mexicans living in the Southwest, trying to Americanize Mexicans to become “American” or go back to Mexico. As a part of American society, Mexicans were used and placed into the undesirable position of being unskilled hard labor workers in farms, factories, and other gruesome places. All this was an effort to assimilate Mexicans to become more like Americans and adopt their culture and ideals. 

17construct-600In past history, the definition and labeling of Hispanics was harsh and debatable. In an excerpt from
Unequal Freedom, “At best, Mexicans became second-class citizens… At worst, they became victims of overt racial and ethnic prejudices”. During this time in the 19th centuries, Mexicans were not defined as Hispanics or any race in that manner. In the video, The Myth of Race shows how Mexicans and Hispanics racial categories were changed during the 20th century for the exploitation by the U.S. job industry. Hispanics were considered white in 1929, and then non-white a year late, then changed to white again in 1942. Even today, Hispanic is regarded as an ethnicity rather than a race by the U.S. Census Bureau, showing how their pat representation has been detrimental to their present and future identification. Even in the article Which is it Hispanic, or Latino, the author quotes a woman saying, “Don’t refer to yourself as Hispanic. The government invented that word for us”, shows how people are divided between how they label themselves. Although the difference between Hispanic and Latino is that Hispanic deals with language and Latino refers to geography. This was later confirmed later in the article, “The term Hispanic was first used by the U.S. government in the 1970s in an attempt to count people from Mexico, Cuba and Central and South America… ”.  

screen-shot-2013-11-04-at-3-45-47-pmIn the past and present, Hispanics/ Latinos have had unpleasant and hard labor jobs that have limited them to be near the bottom of the social and wealth hierarchy. When the Southwest economy in the 19th and 20th centuries became more integrated with the larger U.S. economy led to “meant a downward drift from independent farming, ranching, or sheepherding or skilled and semiskilled ranch employment to unskilled wage labor”. Along with this woman also began to work and provide income for their families as “men’s wages were rarely sufficient”, as well as their children in paid labor outside of the house. Even in the 21th century, both Hispanic/ Latino men and women work the most in terms of hours compared to both white and black men and women, but receive the least weekly pay of the three, according to The Atlantic’s
The Workforce Is Even More Divided by Race Than You Think.



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