I'm sure you have attended an American or U.S History class at some point in your life and it left you with a brief history of our country's development over the years. Many Americans stereotype Mexican people, mistakenly blame them for America's economic and social problems, among other issues, and perpetuate an unflattering popular opinion of their position in our country. The purpose of this hub is to educate Americans about Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and their role in America.
1. Mexicans really were here FIRST. California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico belonged to Mexico and were "negotiated" in the peace Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848; including a small portion of Arizona and New Mexico that was obtained through the Gadsden purchase in 1853. Although Americans were already squatting and invading the country, the peace treaty ended the Mexican American War. This treaty was intended to give the remaining Mexicans full American citizenship, according to Wikipedia "The treaty extended U.S. citizenship to Mexicans in the newly-purchased territories, long before blacks, Asians and Native Americans were eligible." The treaty also guaranteed the legitimacy of land and property rights of Mexicans remaining in America. However, all the legal paper work was in English not Spanish, the lawyers were undoubtedly Americans that charged Mexicans fees so high that they lost their properties as a result of false representation and lawyer fees.
2. What about Texas? Mexicans lived in Texas long before Mexico offered Americans large land grants to encourage economic growth. The only condition was that the American-Mexicans had to declare Mexican citizenship and pay Mexican taxes, when they refused, war inevitably broke out. By that time, Texas had so many Americans living there, that it was eventually an independent republic and latter annexed to the U.S.
3. Mexicans speak SPANISH. Just because you hear people speaking Spanish in your neighborhood doesn't mean they are here illegally. The majority of Mexicans continue to speak Spanish because it is the core of their culture and their native language. Just as you hear Italian-Americans speaking Italian, German-Americans speaking in German, and so-on, that is why you hear Mexicans speaking in Spanish. Other Hispanics and Latinos from Central and South America, including some caribbean countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico, also speak Spanish. Therefore, they are NOT speaking Mexican, they are speaking in Spanish and it is offensive when people say things like "I didn't know you spoke Mexican."
4. Mexicans aren't the ONLY illegals! It is true that there are Mexicans entering the U.S illegally, there is no denying the economic hardships in Mexico forcing families to be torn apart to support each other.The truth of the matter is that it's not just Mexicans that are entering illegally and that is something most Americans fail to realize. It is easier to accept that it's just Mexicans crossing illegally because they are entering through the U.S/Mexico border. Many Central and South Americans enter the U.S by crossing through the U.S/Mexico border, but there has always been Arabs, Asians and Europeans crossing through as well. Most people would never think that Arabs, Asians and Europeans would be the culprits, but perhaps that's because not everyone has researched human trafficking into the U.S. Check out the U.S Border Patrol's website at: http://www.usborderpatrol.com to see for yourself.
5. The jobs they are REALLY taking. How many poor Americans will swallow their pride and clean toilets for a living? Well, guess who is cleaning your offices after hours, your housekeepers/maids, and other bottom of the barrel jobs? How many American men will grab a lawn mower and start their own landscaping business in their communities just to make a buck? These men work under harsh working conditions and risk getting skin cancer, among other diseases and illnesses. How many Americans are willing to stand in unemployment line, or receive other government aid, that would rather stand outside of Home Depot looking for work? Yet, many Americans don't mind standing on the side of the road with a sign, begging for money... right? Mexicans have always been a great source for CHEAP labor because no one else will work for such little pay and under such harsh working conditions. Who do you think is breaking their backs picking your fruits and vegetables? Who is building your brand new house right now? You can drive by, take a look at almost any random construction site, you will see Mexicans sweating like burros to give you a roof over your head and trust me, they ain't makin' much! Mexican women are also a great source of labor because they will provide cheaper child and elderly care then your local day care center or old folk's homes. Besides, you don't want to change your parent's diapers or pay an arm and a leg for a baby sitter do you? Now, what American jobs do you think they are taking out from under you? Do you really think they are working for large corporations and taking all your money? No! They are only taking the jobs that everyone else is too sophisticated to work.
6. Mexicans really do PAY taxes in America! Oh my GOD! Say it ain't so! Do you really think there is an escape for ANYONE to avoid paying taxes in this country? HELL NO! The only two things that are certain in life: Death and Taxes! Let's think rationally for a moment. Where do you pay taxes? Everywhere! From the grocery store to the movie theater, Wallmart to Target, yes my friend, they pay taxes everywhere WE pay taxes!They are paying the same amount in outrageous gas prices and rising grocery bills as the rest of us. They have to pay the same utility bills as anyone else, every month. The only difference is that they don't make as much money as most Americans, and if you think they have any benefits or Worker's Comp. you are mistaken!
7. What about all the MONEY they send back home? Let's not be greedy America! We give money at church and other charities, yet, we get to write it off when we do our taxes. Let's get hypothetical and say that out of the $400 a month any Mexican makes (illegal or legal), after paying for their food, shelter, taxes and transportation, pretend they send about $50-$100 back home to help their families (which they cannot write off on their taxes). Is our economy really going to suffer from that loss? That money will get stretched a lot further in Mexico then it would here in the states. It will house, clothe and feed more people over there then here, and most importantly, who are we to tell anyone else what to do with THEIR money?
8. Mexican-Americans and MINIMUM WAGE. Most people take the minimum wage for granted and have no idea of the fight and struggle it took to get it. Have you ever heard of Cesar E. Chavez and the Farmworkers Union? Most of you haven't heard of him or his great contribution and legacy to America. Here is some background information about this great man: "César started the National Farm Worker Association to help improve the working conditions of farm workers. African Americans, Filipinos, white Americans, Mexican Americans and Mexicans, and men and women of all backgrounds joined César. César and the farm workers wanted the companies and growers that owned the farms to respect farm workers by providing them with fresh water to drink, bathrooms in the fields, and fair pay for a day's work. The companies and growers refused to treat the farm workers with respect and dignity. The growers did everything they could to stop César and the farm workers. They even turned to violence and hurt many farm workers and people who helped the farm workers." (http://chavez.cde.ca.gov/ModelCurriculum/Teachers/Lessons/Resources/Biographies/K-2_Bio.aspx) His efforts during the Civil Rights Movement eventually led to the establishment of the minimum wage. Unfortunately, not all farm workers continue to receive the minimum wage since they are not U.S citizens. The corporations that own the crops (American business men and women) will capitalize on the ignorance of illegal migrant workers from Mexico because they will work for less pay.
9. They aren't the ONLY people taking advantage of government aid. Everyone knows and has seen American citizens taking advantage of the system such as Worker's Compensation, Social Security, Welfare, Food Stamps, Disability, and many other government assistance programs, so why use Mexicans as a scapegoat? Everyone is doing it! People will come in from other countries for a couple months, get on aid, then go back to their country. One country guilty of this, besides Mexico, is the Philippines, many of whose male citizens join the U.S Navy while the rest fo their family stays back home. I have family and friends that work for government agencies and their biggest complaint is that it's not right that people from the Philippines, among other countries, bring in their elderly (who are given automatic citizenship) or pregnant women (who are not denied medical attention and whose children are automaticly citizens) to receive aid without ever working a day on American soil. The second complaint is when average Americans continue on aid without having a serious need, just laziness. Here's the biggest complaint of Welfare workers, women that continue to have kids, have never worked a day in their lives, living off of welfare, food stamps and section 8 housing, and never attempt to get on birth control, have an abortion, get their tubes tide, an education or a job! Let me be frank, many American women are guilty of this and have no intentions of giving back to society; so what do you think their kids have learned from their American mom's? Most will inevitably continue in their footsteps. How many times have you seen someone parking in the handicapped parking spaces and they looked perfectly healthy? I'm not suggesting that Mexicans don't have their hand in the cookie jar... they are just as guilty as everyone else. It just isn't fair to single out Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, accusing them of milking the system because when you take a really good look around, they aren't the only people sucking on the American government's ***.
10. Who's bringing in the DRUGS? It must be the Mexicans! Unfortunately, it isn't. Anyone who is familiar with the black market will tell you that the best (and cheapest) stuff comes from countries like Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, and maybe a little bit of pot comes from Mexico. If you want some top notch marijuana, go to California, Oregon, and Washington or grow it at home with a hydroponic system. It doesn't take much to cook up something in your own back yard, haven't you seen the movie SPUN? *Check out: http://www.spunthemovie.com/spun/main.htm* Additionally, Arab and African countries also have some good stuff out there, it is just easier to transport it all to America through the Mexican border then point the finger at the Mexicans. If you really think about it in basic economic terms, if there wasn't a demand for drugs from Americans then there would be no need for a supply. You might try to argue that if there wasn't a supply, there would be no demand, but wake up and smell the smoke! There are no advertisements, commercials, local vendors or an illicit drug section at your local market! If someone wants to get high, they have to go look for it, and in most cases, someone always knows someone who can get it, because you can't ask mommy and daddy to get you some crack for Christmas! The real war on drugs is in your average American home, in your average American community, big or small.
11. What if they aren't IMMUNIZED? Not only do we fear everything mentioned this far, but we don't want any Mexican cooties! Let's go back in time before Mexico was invaded by Spain, before the Conquest, and all that fun stuff. Aztecs had running water, they bathed frequently, and it has been noted in history (including Spanish history) that Montezuma, the King of the Aztec nation, never wore the same clothing two days in a row. When the Spanish invaded, they had a little biological weapon known as Small Pox that destroyed the native peoples from Mexico, all the way down to the tip of Chile and Brazil. Since plagues were common in Europe, the native peoples in Mexico had no immunity to this biological weapon. Many Europeans did not bathe frequently and their soldiers would go for days in the same clothing and armor. According to an online article by Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz and Tetrahedron, LLC at http://www.tetrahedron.org/articles/smallpox/divine_revelations.html, he states that "Later, the successful Anglo-American genocide that decimated the native populations of North America was largely due to smallpox as well. The germ was intentionally presented in Army blankets given as "gifts" to the Indians." In addition, there are several religions that are opposed to vaccinations and other individuals that simply refuse to immunize their children. Mexico may not have the same immunizations and vaccination requirements as the U.S but the same risk is taken every time people from other countries, besides Mexico, enter the U.S. Do your research at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ when you take a look at the site, notice the "Why immunize" tab for parents. As long as you and your children are immunized then there is rare chance that your family will catch any foreign cooties.
12. What about all the Mexicans crowding up our jails? Let's answer this question with some statistics about who is in federal and state jails and prisons from http://www.drugwarfacts.org: "The rate for white men was 736 per 100,000, for black men 4,789 per 100,000, for Hispanic men 1,862 per 100,000. The rate for white women was 94 per 100,000, for black women 358 per 100,000, and for Hispanic women 152 per 100,000." (Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Minton, Todd D., and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, June 2007), NCJ217675, p. 9, Table 14.) It's very hard to accurately state the exact amount of Mexican-Americans crowding up our jails because they are all lumped up into the Latino or Hispanic population, which includes individuals from other Spanish speaking countries south of Mexico and to the east in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, there seems to be more African-Americans in U.S prisons and jails then Hispanics and Whites and there isn't a statistic for Arabs, Asians or others in this source. Criminal activity isn't a Mexican problem, it is an American social problem.
13. Why are Mexican men GANGSTERS or Womanizers? This isn't a Mexican problem because Mexico doesn't have the same gang issues as America, the gangs here are a product of large populations in a small geographical area. Gangs aren't restricted to Mexican-Americans, while illegal Mexicans tend to hide in the shadows, gangs are an American problem that is the result of our failed education and economic system. Gangs aren't a cultural thing, it is a sub-cultural thing, there is a big difference. Speaking Spanish is a cultural thing, within the culture there is a sub-culture of gang affiliations but that doesn't mean all Mexicans are in gangs. If you take the time to do some research, there exists Asian gangs, African American gangs such as the Bloods and the Crips, and wouldn't it be safe to include the Mafia to the list? Womanizers come in all different shades, any woman will tell you that they can get honked at, whistled at, flirted with, anywhere they go by a variety of men, not just horny Mexicans. Although Latino men have always been thought of as great lovers, with the right techniques, any man can have the magic touch!
14. Mexicans cause problems in the American ECONOMY. According to Wikipedia.com, The Mexican Repatriation, which deported Mexican-Americans back to Mexico from 1929 to 1937, an estimated 500,000 Mexicans and Mexican-Americans (those born in the US.) "...were deported or "voluntarily repatriated" to Mexico. Approximately 60% of the people deported were children born in the U.S. and others who, while of Mexican descent, were legal citizens. During the Great Depression, Mexicans were viewed as usurpers of American jobs and a burden on social services such as relief aid. The Immigration and Naturalization Service targeted Mexicans because of "the proximity of the Mexican border, the physical distinctiveness of mestizos, and easily identifiable barrios." These actions were authorized by President Herbert Hoover and targeted areas with large Hispanic populations, mostly in California, Texas and Michigan. Although President Franklin Roosevelt ended federal support for the program when he took office, many state and local governments continued with their efforts. In 1924, the Quota Act of 1924 reduced immigration from Europe from over 1 million a year to less than 100,000, although exemptions were made for the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico. Following the onset of the Depression, the US government began an active drive against immigrants living illegally in the country. Announcing that there were 400,000 illegal immigrants in the U.S., Sec.of Labor William Doak ordered his agents to carry out provisions of the new law. They raided public and private places from New York City to Los Angeles. Between 1929 and 1935, some 163,900 people were deported from the country for being here illegally, of whom 35,000 were deported to Mexico, roughly 20% of the total."
Looks like our government needed someone to blame for the Great Depression. As many people believe we are entering a recession, and with talks of immigration reform always on the table, I fear that Mexicans may be targeted again. Personally, I don't think Mexicans are responsible for the rising grocery and gas prices or other economic crisis, because our government regulates and makes those decisions, don't they? The real problem in our economy stems from our politicians, not illegals or the American people. Politicians don't live paycheck to paycheck, the rich are still rich but there are more and more poor people because the American Middle Class is disappearing. When you think about it, the Middle Class was the group of border-line poor people that could finally afford to buy homes and contribute to the economy. With so many American losing their homes in foreclosures, they are virtually being forced into poverty. Our government needs to own up to their mistakes and quit trying to point fingers, blame others, and use scapegoats... just use your power to FIX THE PROBLEM!
15. Whats the DIFFERENCE? Mexicans are labeled and filed under so many categories that most people have no idea what the difference is. Here is a little vocabulary for you to learn and use wisely.
MEXICAN: a person born in Mexico; a citizen of Mexico.
MEXICAN-AMERICAN: an American of Mexican decent; born in America; legally obtained American citizenship.
CHICANO: previously used during the Civil Rights Movement to identify Mexican-American activism; used as a derogatory term by native Mexicans to identify Americanized Mexicans living in America or Mexican-Americans; often used to identify Mexican-American history or ethnic studies in colleges and universities.
HISPANIC: government term used to identify individuals of Spanish-speaking origin; includes ethnicities other then Mexicans.
LATINO: similar to Hispanic; mostly used by Americans of Central/South American and Spanish speakers of Caribbean island origin (such as Cuba and Puerto Rico); some include Spaniards from Spain as Latinos.
POCHO: literally means "to be cut off from the root;" derogatory term used to identify Mexican-Americans that have assimilated to the American culture; associated with: Americanization, the inability to speak Spanish, inability to eat spicy foods, and lack of Mexican cultural knowledge.
16. MEXICAN ROOTS. Colonization of indigenous Mexicans, most commonly known as the Aztecs and Mayans, was detrimental to these Mexican societies. The people had an educational, political, religious, and economical system as rich as the Romans and Greeks at the height of their empire. Aztecs and Mayans were highly advance in astronomy, mathematics-the first to establish the concept of zero (0), engineering, landscaping, irrigation, farming, philosophy, and so much more. They were not a savage people, but their religious rituals were extremely diverse and complex that no European could grasp during that time.This highly advanced civilization could never be fully understood and appreciated in this day and age but their contributions will be remembered always. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans continue exercising their rich cultural foundation including family and religion at their core.
17. The BOTTOM LINE. Mexican-American and Mexicans make a positive contribution to the American society, they contribute economically, socially, and are an excellent source of labor. Many Mexican-Americans are overlooked in the workforce and their bi-lingual skills are often misrepresented, not acknowledged, and do not receive extra pay for this skill. Bi-lingual education is a blessing, not a curse. The Spanish language is never going to disappear in America no matter how much politicians and citizens attempt to remove it from our schools. The truth of the matter is that you are taking away an excellent skill that anyone, not just Hispanics, can acquire by learning another language, especially Spanish since so many countries around the world speak it other then Spain and Mexico. Mexicans and Mexican Americans have been taken advantage of and used as a scapegoat for America's economical problems and cheap labor since the 1840's. They may be lacking chains, but the wages that are being offered to these people are pennies to the dollar, while their labor is as valuable to American employers as slavery was in it's day. We can get upset about American jobs being offered in other countries, with products imported to our country and retailed at 100-500% more then what it cost to produce in countries like China, Taiwan, and many others. Tons of jobs are being lost in America and sent to other countries everyday, there are call centers for huge American corporations in countries like India, the Philippines and many others. If you've ever seen the movie Bordertown starring Jennifer Lopez, Martin Sheen, and Antonio Banderas you will learn about the femicide going on in the border town of Juarez which is a hop skip and a fence away from El Paso, TX. There are American sweatshops that produce American products where the employees, the majority women, are being kidnapped, raped and murdered on a daily basis. Now there's something to think about next time you are watching your big screen TV, and other luxuries, that were manufactured at the hands of women that were raped and killed on their way to work or home just trying to make a living. For more information about the movie and the femicide going on right next door to our country, check out this website: http://thejuarezproject.com Before you start pointing fingers and blaming others for American problems, write your congressmen/women, get out there and VOTE, and hold your government responsible for your problems instead of singling out a small portion of the population. Educate yourself before listening to what people say and what you see on TV, let's not forget who regulates your TV shows anyway. Lastly, do your own research if you are on the fence about what's going on in your community and GET INVOLVED.