By Levi Clancy for לוי on
- Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a segregated city. Race and wealth define most of its identity -- how do you know if an area can be considered a race- and/or class-defined area? Because if you do not belong in that group, you may have never set foot that part of town. This is especially true of the poor Latino and Black ethnoburbs; Yeah, I grew up in the ghetto! one of my friends told me with a cautious laugh about her childhood in South Central. However, this segregation can also apply to insular rich (not necessarily white) neighborhoods, especially those with hilly, windy streets.
In examining Los Angeles along racial lines, it is important to understand that all boundaries are conventions, which are reconfigured, sliced and diced in successive generations.
There is no such thing as a non-racial history of Los Angeles, even when the tacit belief is allowed to prevail that Anglo-European history in Los Angeles is generic and general. But this would be dishonest to the vibrant, explosive, misunderstood, stigmatized, hated -- but ultimately, by virtue of their humanity, worthy bursts of human expression.
Mexican-American identity thus bore the stamp of temporality, mapped against the geography of segregation. WHat made the deplorable social conditions bearable p 2 → 3 were the urbanity of Los Angeles and whatever opportunities were available. p 2 - 3
World War II was a turning point in Los Angeles history.
This is a group referring to those areas within the Chinese territories, but which will oftentimes view themselves with a much greater granularity.
Chinese Immigration Act of 1882 set a precedent that culminated with the 1924 Immigration Act
1965 Immigration Act
Increased Asian and Mexican immigration and made Los Angeles the Ellis Island of the west (what about San Francisco?)
Also a period post-WWII of outstanding growth, with benefits distributed unequally along racial boundaries.
Race-based hatred was not an accident: it emanated from the top to the bottom, with the issuance of intense governmental propaganda.
With the arrival of the Spanish, also came the beginning of the African presence. There was also Calle de los Negros and eventually people fleeing Jim Crow oppression. 19th century exceptional tales: Biddy Mason
First the Spanish, but their institutions were replaced by Anglo-European governments from the United States. They brought
Traces of contact with the Indigenous by the Japanese. Also, there was perhaps Pacific Islander contact.
Later, there was a Filipino who was slated to be one of the first Pobladores but decided instead to stay behind.
Theirs was a utopian dream of becoming productive and equal members of society. Ideas such as the "back-to-the-soil movement" may have brought African-Americans to Southern and Baja California, but it was not enough to create the much needed level playing field. If "hope" was the common factor that held the African American population togeher, it was collective marginalization tha bounded their socio-political space. From the 1912 Shenk Rule to the national security paranoia of WWI, the Red Scare of 1919 and 1920, and hte Ku Klux Klan activities of hte 1920s in Los Angeles, African-Americans and thir leaders found their civil liberties systematicall ignored and their opportunities in their newfound home gradually eroded. p5
The fundamental purpse for African-American mgiration was to shed the "mask" of racial inferority assigned to them in hte South. But what attracted them to Los Angeles was the posibility of homeownership, the main pillar ofthe American Dream.p5
Emergence of racial conflict between African-American and Latino groups, largely from competition for economic opportunities in a tight, racially confined arena.
LAPD as an agent of enforcing racial inequality. It is the authority-wielding, power-exerting force of Anglo-European theories of racial inferiority, in contradistinction to their staunch view of their own racial superiority -- that theirs is human, and all else swirls beneath, threatening to punch through and drag them into a subhuman chaos.
Edward R Roybal
"Roybal's 1947 campaign is compared with that of 1949, when he was succesfully elected to the City Council, illustrating that it took coalitiion-building, the support of labor, organizational assistance from the Community Services Organization (CSO), and aggressive voter registration to gain the sought after political access. p7
Emergence of street gangs
Highly organized social groups do not just emerge from a dusty, stagnant backdrop -- they are forged by hate and love, and by violence and tranquility. These street gangs are a developed response to the abuse of authority. Their status as criminal or otherwise is merely in relation to the dominant Anglo-European system, in which many people find solace only because they are not systematically marginalized by it in bloody, pervasive ways that are completely ignored, making the street gangs seem like an irrational reaction with no precedent and no reason.
To be a minority is to be disempowered and excluded. Race is the excuse used by colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism in exercising exclusionary practices. In the U.S., minority status was created and maintained through a racial discourse and the establishment of institutions and structures that enabled them to perpetuate differences in favor of the powerful. p8
In the years to come, we will have to continue dismantling the relics of inequitable structures built in the previous centuries, even as the White population continues to delcine in numbers. p8
20th century Los Angeles: Power, Promotion and social conflict
Mexican Immigrant Families: Cultural Conflict, Socioeconomic Survival, and the Formation of Community in Los Angeles, 1900 -1945
Gloria E Miranda
1910 Mexican Revolution and 1920s Cristero Rebellion stimulated the growth of the Mexican population, over 1,000,000 fled political and social upheaval.
Hostile anti-Asian legislation at turn of century stimulated Mexican farm laborers, ending theprimacy of Japanese farm laborers.
"At the beginning of the twentieth century, most brown Americans of Mexican descent could be found living in segregated downtown Los ANeles barrios such as Sonoratown and the adjacent Plaza district. These isolated enclaves were destined to become the home of many new immigrant Mexican arrivals for several reasons. First, the barrios represented already established communities within Los ANgeles with a vibrant Mexican cultural core. Second, the downtown area offerd the imigrants affordable housing. And third, the homes in this sector wer ebut a short distance from the workplace for most residents." p13
"Before the Second World War, nativist sentiment, coupled with Social Darwinist propaganda, incited a campaign in the 1920s to restrict Mexican immigration into this countr. A subsequent national deportation program during the Great Deression in the following decade escalted these virulent attitudes into a concerted repatriation program." p13
What is Americanization? de-Mexicanization?
Most came from rural areas in Mexico.
"Trafically, the immigrants' lowly class status creatd social tensions beween themselves and Mexican Americans." p15
"To the native-born, the immigrant did not appear sophisticated enough to be accepted as a social equal. To emphasize their case, in some Mexican American barrios, residents began characterizing immigrant newcomers as cholos (low class), chuntaros (stupid), zurumatos (dumb), or other equally demenaing terms. In self-defense, Mexicans considered their Untied States born and socialized counterparts alients to their cultural heritage. The immigrants labeled them pochos (faded mexicans). p15
Nonetheles, the two groups uualy socialized in the barrios. Both pre-WWII gorups considred themselves to be a cultural whole. Both spoke Spanish as their primary home language and were mexican Catholic faith, customs and cultural celebrations. During the 1920s and 1930s, Intermarriage between these two groups was greater than with non-Mexicans.
Interesting segment on the demolition of the historic Mexican barrio and the rapid blossoming of Belvedere.
Robert M Mclean
That Mexican As He Really Is, North and South of the Rio Grande 1928 p 163 funny quote
Fifty and one hundred years ago Uncle Sam accomplished some remarkable digestive feats. Gastronomically he was a amrvel. He was not particularly choosy! Dark meat from the borders of the Mediterranean, or light meat from the Baltic, equally suited him, for promptly he was able to assimilate both, turning them into bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh -- But this chili con carne! Always it seems to give Uncle Samuel the heartburn; and the older he gets, the less he seems to be able to assimilate it. Indeed, it is a question whether chili is not a condiment to be taken in small quantities rather than a regular article of diet. And upon this convinction ought to stand all the law and prophets as far as the Meixcan immigrant is concerned.
Not even assimilation of the distinctive Mexican could resolve the "Mexican problem"
In 1931, the federal government launched a national repatriation campaign to deport Mexican nationals living in the United States p 22 → 23 without proper credentials. By the end of the decade, when the campaign had subsided, one third of the officially listed Mexican population of this country had been deported south across the border. p 23
In Los Angeles, federal and local agencies quickly began conducting raids of public places and private residences. The government willingly sponsored the shipment of many of the deportees. But other families, fearing they would never be allowed to remain in the area, left of their own volition. Frequently, wives and hubsands did not rravel together, so the County offered to pay the way for women in order that thye rejoin repatriate spouses already in Mexic. p 23
Many of the repatriated mexicans had been longtime residents of Southern California with children accustomed to life in the United States. Other children were born in this country and had never visited Mexico. In the course of repatriation, an unknown number of families experienced painful separations when youngsters remained in the care of relatives who escaped deporteation. in other instances, the children accompanied their parents to a land they considered a foreign country. In some cases, children who saw themselves as Americans, ran away from home rather than accompany their parents to Mexico. p 23
County-sponsored orgphanages aslo shipped even American-born children under the premise of budget.
"Nonetheless, the cultural instincts of those who aoided repatriation, served to aid the surival of the family as the repository of Mexican values." What cultural instincts? How did they avoid repatriation? Which values? Are not families always the repository of values, even if these are assimilatory? Mexican? Or Mexican-American values?
http://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/Young/1931/12_Bogardus.html good insight
Women might have inadvertently led the Anglo-Europeanization of barrio youth. They sought employment as an escape from patriarchical, sex-obsessed control over their bodies and time. However, this also served as a conducive bridge that perhaps retained culture because their incomes fed into the household wealth and thus reinvigorated the familiy bonds. Another escape was early marriage, a rising phenomenon with the feminine mystique.
Education was segregated and transmitted less academic content and Anglo-European cultural capital. Americanization instead focused on preparing Mexican and Mexican Americans for positions at the bototm of the capital-wealth economic ladder in a racialized, impoverished status group.
While the alienated second generation adolscent lost touch with his or her heritage, they also realized that Caucasian society rejected them because they were "Mexican." In response to this dilemma, these adolescents created their own distinctive but nonetheless subcultural lifestyle. Deviation from the general cultural values of their parents peaked by World War II when they became known loally as Pachucos and Pachucas. p30
Their mannerisns, tough demeanor, flashy zoot suits and peculiar speech pattern or argot (called calo) easily distinguishd them in the barrios where they continued to reside. Since they no longer emulated positive Mexican role models, these Pachucos and their female admirers adopted new ones as surrogate examples of defiance like the fictional 1930s villains of the cinema, Humphre Bogart, James Cagney and the "Dead-End Kids." And as they linked up with other disoriented adolescents, the Pachuchos organized the first major barrio gangs in Los Angeles. p 30
Disoriented? Also, these were a minority.
Nationally, Mexican Amreicans participated in record numbers in the armed forces.
Mexican culture gave way after the war to Chicano culture, a composite of Mexican intellectual and Amreican political and social values.
Also, the returning veteran men viewed themselves more as equals in their shareto the American Dream, alongside the Anglo-Europeans they had been with in the war. Thus, postwar civil rights organizations were established like the Community Service Organization and the emergence of leaders like Edward Roybal. This was a new direction with political clout. Mexican-descended veterans led the first significant exodus of mexican Americans out of the barrios throughout the Los Angeles area.