Mexican Americans make up a large portion of the United States population notwithstanding they belong to the poorer and less educated portion. Originally, they were known to be concentrated in the former Mexican states of California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas but immigration into other states and economic and social advancement has completely made them a part of the U.S. The Mexican American population has walked a long path that has been marred with discrimination of every kind, especially from the more elite European Americans. Part of the discrimination has been voting rights, educational rights, and other social-economic injustices perpetrated to them.
History of Mexican Americans
Texas or Tejas formed part of Mexican territory in the 1820s before the U.S and European immigrants settled and joined forces with Hispanic Texas to oust the Mexican rule and declare the independence of Texas in 1836. Mexico failed to recognize the sovereignty of Texas while the U.S annexed Texas in 1845, sparking a war between the two. The result of the war was that the U.S gained control of an even larger area formerly under Mexico after the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was signed in 1848.
The Mexicans population in these areas was given an option to choose their citizenship within a year, and because the masses favored the U.S government, they chose to become American citizens, which marked the settlement of the Mexican American population in the present day states of Texas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and Arizona.
Loss of Land
The treaty signed had guaranteed the Hispanic population of their right to ownership of land even after becoming U.S citizens. However, it was not to be as many of them lost their land following lawsuits against them in courts or discriminating legislations passed after the treaty.
The loss of property rights resulted to discontentment among Mexican Americans leading to civil unrest and later an armed conflict. The Hispanic residents were overwhelmed by the large numbers of the Anglo settlers immigrating into the newly acquired territories like the California Gold Rush. The Anglo population recognized itself as more superior to the other races thus evicted Hispanic miners and barred them from testifying in courts.
The Anglo community has all along been discriminative to the Mexican Americans and saw them as sources of cheap labor and earning low incomes as compared to their Anglo counterparts. This led to the formation of unions by the Mexican American population to champion their rights and working conditions (Garcia 78). The most active union in particular was the Industrial Workers of the World that was responsible for organizing farm worker and miners (Nguyen and Kleiner 102).
The unions mobilized farm workers into strikes and boycotts to champion for improvement of living standards and wages in the 1960s. Lately, Chicanos have moved to more demanding and skilled jobs and receiving better pay but immigrants from Mexico have continued to flood the unskilled sector of the economy. Illegal immigrants have further complicated the prospect of government assistance that was present in the 1960s.
Home and Socialization
The Anglo community never mixed with Mexican American in their day-to-day activities at all costs. The Mexican Americans remain socially segregated in terms of housing, hotels, and entertainment joints and even worship centers. The main excuses given by the Anglo community to segregate the Chicanos were that, the Mexican Americans preferred segregation; they were lazy, uneducated, lacked good habits and were dirty.
These rationalizations made the Anglo community to keep off the Chicanos and treat them as lesser humans (Mooer and Pinderhughes 17). Civil rights movements tried to fight these social ills and mistreatment in the society but weakened without eradicating some forms of segregation.
School and Culture
Mexican Americans have not been favored in the education sector and lagged behind for a very long period. Their schools were not equipped with the right tools and teaching aids and the teaching staff was gravely understaffed and unqualified (Nguyen, and Kleiner 103).
Discrimination by the Anglo community and the government are partly to blame for the sufferings of the children in the Chicano community besides poverty. Another challenge that has persisted is the use of Spanish language as the first language while the school system required the use of English.
The situation is slowly changing by offering bilingualism as a solution to the challenge of language. It was claimed to improve not only the livelihood of the Mexican Americans, but also foster unity amongst communities and the nation at large.
Law Enforcement Agencies
Mistreatment by the law enforcers is another form of discrimination cited by the Mexican Americans. Law enforcement officers backed by judicial system and public opinions that were Anglo are the perpetrators of these atrocities. In a bid to counter and curb illegal Mexican immigrants, it is common for Mexican Americans to be subject to police harassment or illegal arrests (Moore and Pinderhughes 50).
The Civil Rights Commission of 1968 highlighted the extent of police brutality and misconduct leading to a reduced rate of such discrimination though not completely.
There still exist many cultural differences between the Chicanos and Anglo communities though a lot has been done to foster unity and bridge the gap. More changes in the political and cultural sectors need to be implemented to forge unity and reduce discrimination against any race or group of people.
Throughout history, the Mexican Americans have suffered segregation and discrimination through different ways as exposited in this paper. Fortunately, the situation is slowly changing and the society is accepting to live with people of color even though the progress is slow, but there is hope that one day, the Anglos will realize and appreciate the inalienable fact that all men are equal.
Garcia, Ignacio. United We Win: The Rise and Fall of La Raza Unida Party. Tucson: University of Arizona, 1989.
Moore, Joan, and Pinderhughes, Raquel. In the Barrios: Latinos and the Underclass Debate. New York: Russell Sage, 1993.
Nguyen, Huong, and Kleiner, Brian. “Discrimination against Mexican-Americans.” Equal opportunities international 19.6 (2000): 101-104.