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The Stereotyping of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans

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Stereotypes have existed in different forms throughout history. Although they are prevalent in all areas of the world, most countries have overcome name calling various ethnic groups to a degree better than the past. However, people in America still place several racist connotations on minorities. This is ironic because the United States is considered to be a giant “melting pot” of different cultures, and Americans still are racist toward diverse ethnic groups. Hispanics are one minority Americans constantly categorize and even degrade with derogatory names. Hispanics are consider to be from large families, dirty, not born in the US, unable to speak English, uneducated, eat too much beans and tacos, good dancers, and that they are gangsters who like to get tattoos and ride on low riders. Many people have bad images of the Mexican race because they see one Mexican person who dress a certain way or even acts a certain way and they assume they are all bad people.

For example if you see a Hispanic man that is baldheaded and has on baggie clothes people assume that he is a gangster by the way he looks. On the other hand most Mexicans perceive Anglo Americans to be “arrogant, over-bearing, aggressive, conniving, rude, unreliable and dishonest” because of the unscrupulous actions of some. They worked hard to get were they are today in society. Today, Hispanic-Mexican people face challenges living between two cultures, and one of these is in employment. Hispanic-Mexican people receive reduced wages and are forced into stereotypical fields because of stereotypes and discrimination, and from their education. First, a challenge Hispanic-Mexican people face is discrimination and stereotypes which lowers their wages and keeps them in certain job areas, but for an adequate education to allow them to compete in an increasingly challenging job market condemns too many of them to unemployment, underemployment, or work in professions with little promise for upward mobility and jobs with decent salaries.

Congressman John Box called for restrictions on Mexican immigration because the Mexican was a product of mixing by the Spaniard and “low-grade” Indians. This mixture, according to Boxer, was an obstacle to participation in American democracy. There are many incidents where Hispanic-Mexican women are viewed, stereotypically, as a woman only capable of being a housewife, and as a sexual object. They also argue that cross-cultural conflict Hispanic-Mexican people have to deal with on an everyday basis, in this, purely dominated by Caucasians. In Hispanic-Mexican culture the wife might perform work outside the household; this was usually an acceptable alternative only in cases of extreme economic duress. In such cases, her efforts were limited to a restricted number of options, almost always of a part-time nature, and contributed nothing to improve her subservient status within the house. This division of authority established between man and wife was perpetuated by their offspring. Girls were taught distinct behavior patterns and were encouraged to adopt specifically defined aspirations quite different from their brothers, beginning at an early age. Motherhood was the ideal objective of all young girls and the primary virtue of all those who achieved it.

Throughout the course of my life I have lived in different areas and have been subject to different viewpoints about race and ethnicity. In each of the areas I have lived, I have experienced differences and things in common in how people are treated. When I was very young I was the minority and other times I have been a majority. I currently live in a majority Hispanic-Mexican community. The Westside of Phoenix, AZ has a much less diversified population, yet racism, media, and the government still contributes to the discrimination of many of the residents, which has caused uncertainty and grave disadvantages. Right now Arizona is going through the 1920’s, and 30’s with the treatment of Hispanic-Mexican people. The governor, sheriff and the rich have come to the conclusion that all Mexicans are criminals and should be deported just like the U.S. government did in the 1920’s with the mandatory deportation of all Mexican people whether they were legal or not.

Nativist scholars and politicians feared “mongrelization” as a by-product of contact with Mexicans, and in 1925 a Princeton economics professor even spoke of the future elimination of Anglo Americans by interbreeding with Mexicans.They were considered at that time by Congressman John Box called for restrictions on Mexican immigration because the Mexican was a product of mixing by the Spaniard and “low-grade” Indians. And as late as 1969, a California judge ruling in an incest case reiterated similar racist beliefs. He stated in court: “Mexican people think it is perfectly all right to act like an animal. We ought to send you out of this country…. You are lower than animals … maybe Hitler was right. The animals in our society probably ought to be destroyed”. This mixture, according to Boxer, was an obstacle to participation in American democracy. They also did increasing violence perpetrated by Anglo Americans made Mexicans and Mexican Americans intensely aware of their subordinate status within the American Southwest.

They did not have equal protection under the law, despite the guarantees of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the U.S. Constitution, and several laws were passed to specifically control their way of life. According to Griswold del Castillo: “A Sunday Law imposed fines ranging from ten to 500 dollars for engaging in `barbarous or noisy amusements’ which were listed as bullfights, horse races, cockfights, and other tradition California amusements. At the same time, a vagrancy law called `the Greaser Law’ was passed…. This law imposed fines and jail sentences on unemployed Mexican-Americans who, at the discretion of local authorities, could be called vagrants” They are doing these things again here in Arizona. They have done it with SB1070 and have put fear in a lot of Mexican-Americans and Mexicans because this law is Racial Profiling or Stereotyping against all the Hispanic people here.

They have ripped so many families apart by deporting one of the parents or even both leaving the children alone or with a parent missing. This law is like having Hitler here going after the Jewish people the only difference is that Arizona is not exterminating them. I have these people for many years and have learned, lived and raised children with them. They are not what my government sees them as. They are a proud people with strong family values and culture. They are not stealing the jobs from white people, but are doing the jobs that the white people refuse to do. Now because of how Arizona wants to act the cost of dairy, fruits and veggies has gone very high. The farmers can’t afford to pay what the prisons want nor the regular white guy who is willing to work in the field.

del Castillo, Richard Griswold, and Arnoldo de León. North to Aztlán: A History of Mexican Americans in the United States. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996. McWilliams, Carey. North from Mexico: The
Spanish-Speaking People of the United States, updated by Matt S. Meier. New York: Praeger, 1990. Between Two Worlds: Mexican Immigrants in the United States, edited by David G. Gutiérrez. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1996. Samora, Julián, and Patricia Vandel Simon. A History of the Mexican-American People. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993.

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