Latino Identity

AUTHOR: Bennett

Ever since the conclusion of the Mexican- American War, Mexicans residing in newly occupied U.S. jurisdiction were overwhelmed by the overflow of Anglos who populated the Southwest throughout and subsequently after the war. Anglos urged their beliefs on the Mexicans living in the Southwest, trying to pressure Mexicans to become “American” or go back to Mexico. As a part of American society, Mexicans were being employed and placed into the unfortunate situations of being inexperienced hard labor workers in farms, factories, and other appaling places. All this was an effort to assimilate Mexicans to become more like Americans and adopt their culture and ideals.

Both past and present, Hispanics/ Latinos have had displeasing and hard labor jobs that have restricted them to be at the lowest position 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, this led to “a downward drift from independent farming, ranching, or sheepherding or skilled and semiskilled ranch employment to unskilled wage labor”. Along with this women also took up work and provided income for their families as “men’s wages were rarely sufficient”, as well as their children in paid labor outside of the house. However in the 21th century, both Hispanic/ Latino men and women work more hours compared to both white and black men and women, but earn the least weekly pay of the three, as stated by The Atlantic’s The Workforce Is Even More Divided by Race Than You Think.

In the past history, the definition and labeling of Hispanics was cruel and debatable. During this time in the 19th century, Mexicans were not looked upon as Hispanic or any race in that manner. As stated from the passage Unequal Freedom, “At best, Mexicans became second-class citizens… At worst, they became victims of overt racial and ethnic prejudices”.The Myth of Race video depicts how Mexicans and Hispanics racial classifications changed during the 20th century for the exploitation by the U.S. job industry. Hispanics were classified as white in 1929, and then non-white a year later, then changed back to white again in 1942. Today, Hispanic are still regarded as an ethnicity rather than a race by the U.S. Census Bureau, conveying how their past portrayal has been unfavorable to their current and ensuing identification. The author of Which is it Hispanic, or Latino 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. 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… ”. Although the distinct difference between Hispanic and Latino is that Hispanic deals with language and Latino refers to geography.  

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