Becoming Mexican American
George J. Sanchez
Becoming Mexican American is George J. Sanchez’s document how Chicanos survived as a community in Los Angeles during the first part of the twentieth century. He goes into detail of how many thousands of Mexicans were pushed back in to Mexico during a formal repatriation. Those that survived in Los Angeles joined labor unions and became involved in New Deal politics. The experience of Mexican-Americans in the United States is both similar, yet different from other minority groups. They were treated much like the Irish-American and other newcomers of the ninetieth century. Mexican-Americans also like the Irish, soon made themselves indispensable in the first half of the twentieth century as cheap labor. Later in the last decade, they have felt pride began to make themselves a necessity in far more numerous ways to business, government, popular culture and art. Just like African-Americans segregated into virtual invisibility, Chicanos have become part of all levels of American life. Unlike blacks that were torn from there land and brought here in chains, Mexicans, according to Sanchez, had their own country and culture nearby to cherish and remember in hard times. Unlike the Irish, Africans and others who had come across the ocean and were here to stay, Mexicans could and did go back and forth frequently and in considerable numbers, sometimes to stay, but often to their detriment (Sanchez 220). They were subjected to humiliating and sometimes brutal “repatriation” campaigns. They were literally paid by private or government agencies to leave the country, often to get on Mexico bound trains that were chartered at taxpayers dollars specifically for the purpose of taking them “home” (Sanchez 215). The systems demeaned everyone involved. It was none other than the Mexican government in the personage of the Mexican consul-general to Los Angeles that from 1930 to 1932 helped to direct this effort to literally send...
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