Early 20th Century Race Relations in the American Southwest

In preparation for the Texas Teen Book Festival next weekend, I am “studying up” on the Mexican Revolution and the plight of Mexican immigrants to the US during that time. I started writing Evangelina Takes Flight almost 7 years ago and did enormous amounts of research, but not all of it stuck with me.

I found this today as I was searching the internet. It captures the attitudes of many in the small Texas community where Evangelina and her family settled. My heart sped up and my breath got shallow when I read it. I am the descendant of immigrants (Mexican, Lebanese and English) who came here as DREAMERS. I honor them for their sacrifices, courage and many contributions to this country.

Simply put, if they hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t be here. Is that not the case with virtually every American? I am a citizen of this great nation and the descendant of DREAMERS, and most likely, so are you. We, through no special talents or actions or physical prowess or mental superiority were born in the United States, because of  those who bravely came here before us.

Excerpt from A Different Mirror, by historian Ronald Takaki 

A snippet from the longer piece here:

In the morning, Mexican parents sent their children to segregated schools. “There would be a revolution in the community if the Mexicans wanted to come to the white schools,” an educator said. “Sentiment is bitterly against it. It is based on racial inferiority. . . .” The wife of an Anglo ranch manager in Texas put it this way: “Let him [the Mexican] have as good an education but still let him know he is not as good as a white man. God did not intend him to be; He would have made them white if He had.” For many Anglos, Mexicans also represented a threat to their daughters. “Why don’t we let the Mexicans come to the white school?” an Anglo sharecropper angrily declared. “Because a damned greaser is not fit to sit side of a white girl.”
In the segregated schools, Mexican children were trained to become obedient workers. Like the sugar planters in Hawaii who wanted to keep the American-born generation of Japanese on the plantations, Anglo farmers in Texas wanted the schools to help reproduce the labor force. “If every [Mexican] child has a high school education,” sugar beet growers asked, “who will labor?” A farmer in Texas explained: “If I wanted a man I would want one of the more ignorant ones. . . . Educated Mexicans are the hardest to handle. . . . It is all right to educate them no higher than we educate them here in these little towns. I will be frank. They would make more desirable citizens if they would stop about the seventh grade.”

Mexican Children Sitting

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