Nuevomexicanos concocted “Spanish” Identity and Self-exploitation
John Nieto-Phillips book “The Language of Blood” studies the reasons behind New Mexicans effort to label themselves as people of pure Spanish decedent. Following Spain’s conquest into Latin America and their subsequent war with the United States, Nuevomexicanos were keen to promote the idea that they were the direct descendants of the Spanish conquistadores. The goal was to gain the full inclusion of New Mexico into the United States and to dissuade the belief that they were the result of breeding between Spanish colonist and Native Americans. To discourage that sentiment, a rigid caste system emerged, which served to re-invent the identity of Nuevomexicanos. This “invented” Spanish identity managed to persuade white Americans that they were worthy of statehood. However, the caste system that persisted subjugated and segregated their own people, which was similar in fashion to the way whites worked to sequester them. Following the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the territory of northern Mexico became the burgeoning American South West. Nuevomexicanos, residents of the area of New Mexico, were attempting to dissuade Anglo perceptions that they were still loyal to the Mexico. What emerged was the idea of “hispanidad”, Spanishness, seeing as Spain is a white European country and being white was paramount to gaining political and social status in America at the time. Nuevomexicanos felt being of Spanish descent would shift white perceptions and remove them from their link to Mexican heritage. What emerged from this culture of hispanidad, was a rigid caste system that aimed to use bloodlines to prove Nuevomexicanos were descended from Spanish colonizers. Their goal was to “conjure up an entire history of conquest and settlement with which Americans could identify and that they could even admire.” (pg. 9) The caste system was originated in medieval Spain and evolved throughout the time of the...
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