Throughout post World War II America, many different immigration groups were facing discrimination and harsh consequences and one of the most apparent racial groups undergoing this was the Latinos. After the U.S.-Mexican war ended in 1848, the U.S. claimed territory in the Southwest that had belonged to Mexico. The U.S.-Mexico border was built and all Spanish-speakers were removed from their native land and were being harshly discriminated against due to stereotypical and racist views that arose from these conflicts. With the rise of the civil rights movements in the 1960’s, many Spanish-speaking immigrants, coming from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Central America, given the name, Latinos, began to immigrate to the U.S. in search for what some believed was their piece of America, to establish better, opportunistic lives (Guisepi, p. 1). Latinos were racialized as the uneducated, unskillful, “illegal aliens” who could not speak any English. Many began working on farms to strive to make a living, where they were exploited and treated harshly, and others were denied the opportunities that they thought America would give them. I argue that as immigration rates increased, Americans were threatened as jobs were being taken, educational opportunities were sought, and Latinos began to be racialized as unskillful and inferior. After many years, battles, and debates, societies views of Latinos had placed them very lowly in the racial order in the U.S. However, Latinos have worked hard to overcome the racial discrimination, attain higher political positions, and be respected by the American society so that their racial order in the U.S. has reformed.
Throughout the years, the term “Latino”, in many people’s perspectives, implied that this individual was non-white and lower class. This is the exact mentality that began to shape the meaning and reality of race in the United States. In different parts of the U.S., immigrants began to make an effort to come into the country, searching for the land that for many, belonged to them before 1848, and which now, was believed to be the land of “the free” where they could attain the “American Dream.” Analyzing the case of the Salvadorians, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans, the circumstances of the racialization they experienced upon their arrival become evident. This racialization is outlined in, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, as Juan Gonzalez (2000) states how, “By routinely denying refugee status to the latter two groups, our government condemned Salvadorians and Guatemalans” (p. 130). As the influx of Latino immigrants continued to increase, the government merely viewed them as being unskilled and uneducated. They were then denied by the American society and were immediately labeled as the inferior to the “superior” Anglo society. These anti-immigration laws sparked the negative ways in which immigrants were viewed and the hardships they experienced upon their arrival into a society of racialization against these Spanish-speakers. The racial formation of any immigrant between the 1960’s and the 1990’s was shaped greatly by these ways in which Americans viewed them as they arrived in America. The major wave of how much racism and discrimination arose after Latino immigration showed precisely, “how deeply Americans both as individuals and as a civilization are shaped, and in deed haunted, by race” (Omi and Winant, 1994, p. 197). Referring to race in general, Omi and Winants (1994) view of how race shapes Americans perspective can be illustrated through Latinos. As they outline the ways in which Americans refuse to accept those who seem “irregular” or different in any way, cause a huge barrier between the different races that make up the American society (p. 199). The Latinos experienced this as they were constantly seen as the uneducated and simply as the “illegal” to their land. By doing so, the “superior race” undermined the Latinos and created this racialization of...
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