To sum up my finding in the conclusion of in Redeeming La Raza by Gabriela Gonzalez the “Mexican Problem” is a cultural and class division issue. The term “gente decent” or “decent people” refers to the Mexican elite that needed to distinguish themselves from the others crossing the border in the 20th century. They brought with them to Texas a sense of respectability due to their high level of education and cultural pride. They felt a need to uplift the “others” such as the Mexican-Americans and Immigrant workers into a culture infused with Americanism. Basically, cultural redemption happens after the next generation establishes its roots within the new modernized capitalistic society.
In the readings, historian Joyce Appleby, references to the fact that those who can afford to colonize a land begin by pillaging it for all useful resources via the indigenous darker skinned peoples forced labor. These capitalist defenders are the agents of bondage enslavers of both genders within a race. Also, they leave in their wake new cultural norms and ideologies for the next generations to reconcile. (González, p.190) The reading goes on to say racism is set in terms of scientific motives based on inferior physical, biological and social traits below standards of the “master race”. ibid These capitalist colonizers believe it is not against liberty or democracy to subjugate a weaker race because they do not share the same social or economic abilities. And therefore do not mind their station or lack of dominance. A dangerous American idea of superiority used to control the less fortunate.
The author González reflects throughout the conclusion that cultural redemption and social stability are needed to connect the mixed trans-border cultures of the Latino/ Latina communities. The term enlightenment is used by all societies and can motivate it through progress both politically and socially via unity and liberation. The La Raza activist reform movement is committed to showing strength through individual responsibility while holding onto a cultural identity with respect to Mexican-origin. Next, the reading looks at how white supremacy uses inequality to justify its actions within the U.S through education and class-based mobility. In fact, the La Raza Mexican middle class uses this as an example of strength by not deny their cultural heritage and in doing so create an “ethos of respectability”. (González p191)
A sense of ethnic pride flowing through all aspects of Mexican-American and Immigrant communities, a cultural redemption. However, reformers were not blind to the uphill battle of cultural identity within the Americanization of their people. For instance, before LULCA, a civil rights activist group, there was a Jaime crow society, where Mexicans were segregated and made to “know their place” among the colored folks. Just like the black society was regulated through signs and separate facilities there were also, “no Mexicans or dogs allowed” propaganda signage. (González p.192,196)
Mexican communities were segregated by social-economic status and deemed unworthy of civil rights or humane treatment. As you can see, the political umbrella of La Raza still faced social division and needed the influence of civil right reformers like LULAC after WWII. For instance, their concepts engulfed such ideas a liberalism, mutualism, feminism, and American nationalism. ibid Which helped to further solidify a trans-border political-cultural identity among Mexican-American societies. In other words, González is saying, to redeem the La Raza movement and unite both LULAC American nationalism and gente decente Mexican nationalism both camps must unite in a cultural redemption. Together they can stand as a weapon against social and economic oppression stemming from both sides of the borders. (González, p193)
In hindsight, the gente decente reformers truly believed that ordinary men and women would stand up to the capitalist challenge of progression and become part of the democratic system and political voice. The middle-class felt the system itself would be enough to help the lower-income Mexican classes flourish within America’s prosperity. Again, a class division allowed the marginalized masses to become the work slaves of the wealthy capitalistic system. In addition, the so-called “Mexican Problem” manifest from the 19th century, Plan de San Diego a rebellious plan to raid south Texas land and regain political and economic power for the Mexican townsmen. ibid Tensions between Anglos and Mexican got so high that a call for independence over Anglo dominion was issued for all Mexican-origin peoples including Carrancistas Mexicans and Tejanos. After the plan failed negative stereotyping became more hostile and violent attitudes boiled over into the daily treatment of the Mexican people in south Texas. For instance, in the 1930’s Emma Tenayuca, a younger ex-LULAC activist stood up for women in the pecan shelling, cigar-making, and sweatshop industry. Unfortunately, later in life, according to González she joined the communist party and gained negative attention from the FBI even getting blacklisted and exiled from her San Antonio community. (González p194)
The lesson is if you go outside the confines of social norms even in the activist’s realm you will be removed from the playing field, as to not disrupt the herd mentality. Finally, the conclusion points out past activist platforms are used by modern liberal reformers to create a culture of self-defense. (González p.195) In modern times a mix of both respectability (gente decente) via the lack of excuses and militant activism (LULAC) fight against poor racial and social injustice for the Mexican labor force. ibid Together these forces bring the agency to trans-border activism and civil rights reform to the Mexican-American community. Using the language of their new home English has allowed Mexican society via education and entrepreneurship to enhance the lives of the next generation breathing life into La Raza. Cite González Gabriela. Redeeming La Raza: Transborder Modernity, Race, Respectability, and Rights. Oxford University Press, 2018.