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The assignment was to watch the first episode of the series “Latino Americans” and of course, write about what it was about and how I felt about it. The first episode included a period in time when the Spanish were running their own things to becoming “Foreigners in their own land” and being powerless. It is a truly heartbreaking story and a huge revelation on how Latino Americans were treated differently.

The first episode was about Spanish Conquistadors and people of the church being sent to North America in search of gold and to spread Catholicism. Frontier settlements in Arizona, Texas, and California consisted of the missionaries, Franciscans, Jesuits, and the Dominicans, they all went out to find towns and settlements and establish missions. In particular, it talked about a young woman who had lived in the first mission town, San Diego. Towards the end of her life, she shared her memories with an American Historian by the name of Thomas Savage. She talked of the labor that she did to support herself, such as washing church garments by hand as well as repairing them. She also talked about Indian Laundresses, and how if they did not do their job properly or at all they would be punished. Punishments included being locked in a cell or being placed in “the stocks”. The stocks are restraining devices that were used as a form of corporal punishment and public humiliation. If the offense were serious enough, whipping would enter the equation.

Mexico was doing things their own way for a while after gaining their independence from Spain, but then some conflict arises in the 1800s with the U.S, moving South West into Mexican land to fulfill their Manifest Destiny. Through the Mexican American War, the U.S. takes over a few half of the land. Over seventy thousand Mexicans are caught in a strange land with a different culture and yet many become American citizens. In the Mexican province of California, the secularization of the missions had transformed the landscape, the vast mission lands now owned by a few 100 California families. Much like the Tejano’s, earlier Mexican Americans settled in Texas, in the years to come the Californios would struggle to hold on to their land.

In California during the Gold Rush, Mexicans, as well as Mexican Americans, are treated as second-class citizens, facing discrimination and racial violence. As words spread around the world, young men from China to Chile and every corner of the American continent left everything behind and flock to California. Because people from all around the world coming to California to strike it rich, a new hierarchy was placed based off of race. As many as 300 Mexicans were lynched in California during the years of the gold rush. Lynching’s were a sign of public displays of the power of the American society. They were intended to send a message to Latino’s about their place in American California. By the late 1850s in the state of California 13,000 Mexicans were outnumbered by 300,000 Anglos. In the video, historian Maria Cristina Garcia said, “People are being randomly murdered simply for being Mexican.—” and as the gold started to run out, people began to squat on land owned by Ranchero families. Ranchero families are the native Mexicans who settled there, living on land grants given by the government. Mrs. Garcia continues by saying, “—they are being pushed off their lands by squatters who are trying to claim rights to these lands”.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the video and I believed that it was a great representation of what we had read in the textbook. It was interesting in the way that they told the story, maybe because it being a video, it was a lot more intriguing. With the video having historians give, their input on these events I paid attention to it more. The textbook mentioned the harsh labors and how the Latino Americans became an alien to their own land and the video executed this as well. The video was fascinating and grabbed my attention very quickly; it was interesting to see the reenactments. Reading what happens in the text is not always the most compelling thing to do, but seeing it and hearing about what was in the textbook was a completely different experience. With being from Latino American decent, it was definitely different hearing and seeing about how they were treated and being disrespected. I also enjoyed it more because I got to know about a side of history that isn’t always told in regular High School History class.  

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