SANCHEZ WRITES The Latin Citizen: His Hardship, His Promise This article by Dr. George P. Sanchez, University of Texas professor and a prominent leader of Texas Latins, is excerpted from The Chicago Jewish Forum. A second and briefer installment will follow.Ed. AUSTIN There are almost four million persons of Spanish-Mexican descent in southwestern United States, the vast majority of whom are citizens of this country. They began coming here from Spain and New Spain as the sixteenth century, and have continued to come from Mexico. Unlike such groups as the Italians, the Irish, and the Poles, the Spanish-Mexicans of the Southwest are not truly an immigrant group, for they are in their traditional home. As an Indian, the Spanish-Mexican was here from time immemorial; and his Spanish forebears were in this region long, long before John Smith and his fellows pioneered in Virginia. In other words, ihistorically and culturally, he belongs here. That tact has been dramatically attested to by his spectacular loyalty to his country in time of war. It should be unnecessary to have to underscore the perfectly elementary concept that we Americans of Mexican descent have the rights of Americans and that, if historical precedence is to ‘be the criterion, our right and needs have ‘priority over those of other “nationalities groups.” In moments of ‘bitterness over the sad state of affairs among our people, we might well point out that we did not ask the United States to come herethat we are, in effect, ‘subject peoples for whose well-being the United States has a very special moral obligation, an obligation that has been most pointedly overlooked. The Indian, the Negro, the Filipino, the Puerto Rican, and all other peoples in a situation similar to that of the Mexican-American have been the object of our national solicitude, of our sense of social and moral responsibility. Not so the Mexican-American. He has been, and he continues to be, the most neglected, the least sponsored, the mot orphaned major minority group in the United States. The conscience of the nation, that of the philanthropic institutions, that of our mass media of communication, and even that of the very public officials who owe their elections to the MexicanAmerican has barely stirred over his ‘plight. It is wondrous, indeed, that he has not become permanently embittered and thoroughly disillusioned. His faith in ultimate justice and his hopes for the new day attest to his strength of character and to his devotion to his country. I DO NOT believe that it is nec essary to detail here the facts of the disadvantaged state of the Mexican-American. Reference to the reports of the United States Bureau of Census will reveal that persons of Spanish-surname in the Southwest are at the bottom of the scale on virtually every criterion measuring health, wealth, education, and welfare. Reference to other standard works will reveal in .interpretative detail what the census reports in cold, montotonous statistics. I have in mind, for instance, the book by Ginsberg and Bray of Columbia University. In that book the ‘authors analyzed the facts of rejections for educational reasons from the draft of World War II. They found that THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 March 9, 1962 Texas had the second ‘highest rejection rate for non-Negroes: 63 per 1,000 \(the highest state had .. A dot-map of -these rejections makes the southern third of the state \(where the \(Mexican-Americompletely black, while the rest of the state is virtually clear. A similar study by a medical college team found that, whereas Texas ‘had one-twentieth of the national population, it contributed one-fourth of the deaths from infantile diarrhea. Again, a dot-map showed the lower third of the state completely black and the rest clear. Not long ago ‘it was revealed that in Texas the deaths per 100,000 from tuberculosis were 40 for “Anglos,” 50 for Negroes, and 160 for “Latin Americans.” These fantastic ‘contrasts, these shocking facts are duplicated in years of schooling, in housing, in income. From all of these facts one can draw only a picture that is most dreary, most humiliating. But this is not all. Come to the Capitol in Austin, Texas, and count the number of persons of Spanishsurname who have positions \(and same in Washington in the offices of the congressional delegations from the Southwest. Do the same for other state and federal appointments. While no one would ‘be so foolish as Ito ask for ‘proportionate representation in governmental posts for Mexican-American, surely the current state of affairs wherein the Mexican-American is almost completely and systematically excluded from governmental appointments is a national scandal. And it is. preposterous to suggest that this exclusion is a function of his lack of qualifications! Here it is well to make special note of the fact that not only are the ‘poor and the uneducated among the Americans of Mexican descent discriminated against, but their more fortunate brethren, those who are much better off economically and much better educated, are in much the same ‘boat in so far as equitable treatment is concerned. This population group has thousands of families who are of the middle and upper classes, who have members that are well ecucated and ‘highly regarded in virtually all fields of learned attainment but who still find it difficult to compete with colleagues of lesser ‘stature professionally but who are of higher stature, and have preference, because they belong to the dominant group. Just ‘as the ‘Mexican-American day laborer is given differential treatment in wages, tenure, and advancement, so are his more fortunate brothers ‘and sistersthe lawyers, the doctors, the ‘teachers, the business men, the nurses, and ‘all other Mexican-Americans who are above the stoop-labor level. While, here, I ‘speak only of Texas, it would not be hard to document that in every one of the ‘southwestern states the situation of the educated Spanish-speaking American is not very different from that which prevails in Texas. IN SAN ANTONIO, compare the wages paid to Anglos and Lains for ‘the same services at all levels. Then ‘remember that, in a recent session of the Texas legislature, a measure setting fifty cents as a minimum wage was soundly defeated! Some school systems still try, by devious means, to segregate “Mexicans,” and it took a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court judgment to end the practice in some Texas counties of systematically excluding Americans of Mexican descent from juries. The Colorado Supreme Court has had recently to make such a ruling, too. Probably nowhere ‘has the mistreatment of this population group been so flagrant or so devastating as in the field of labor-politics and labor-economics. We have exposed the Mexican-mecan, time and time again, to the most unconscionable exploitation as cheap labor. During. World War I, some of us ‘saw the cattle-car trains loaded with peasants from the interior of Mexico ‘brought to work here as cheap labor in ‘the beet fields of Colorado, in the mines of Arizona, ‘in the cotton fields of Texas, and in the gardens of ‘California. During ‘World War II, we have seen the hundreds of thousands of “wetbacks” who were permitted to swarm across our southern border to earn as little as 15 cents an ‘hour, to live in the most profound misery, and to ‘create misery for the American citizens whom they displaced. We see, today, the ‘bracer, in vastly ‘larger numbers than during the peak of the war emergency, continuing to displace \(at 50 cents cousoin and to beget misery for him and for those whom the latter, in turn, displaces. Hundreds upon hundreds of persons commute daily from Mexico to the United States to take jobs that ‘sire sorely needed by American citizens who live in extreme poverty because wages are so depressed along the border by that commuter, by the bracero, by the wetback. Nowhere in the American scene is there such an uncontrolled and Terrible Blunder Sirs: I am indebted to Ronnie Dugger for destroying forever any support I might have had for Texas Observer readers in the Sabine Area in my one-woman opposition to the operation of an evangelical Christian church in our tax-supported schools, in violation of the Supreme Court ruling in the McCollum and Schmepp cases; also, any support for members of our youth discussion group in their efforts against local censorship by the local police force. You see, my actions have been interpreted by the evangelical Christians in this area as being irreligious because I am Unitarian. It seems strange to me, indeed, that R. D., whom I have greatly admired for some time, joins with these people In their identifying religion as “dogma” and “church doctrine,” since for some time I have thought of Ronnie as being Unitarian in that my interpretation of his search for significance and his successful one-man cambeen that his definition of religion as “a quest for the values of the ideal life,” was identical to mine. inhuman exploitation of ‘the common man. These, indeed, are forgotten people. It ‘is not pleasant for one to expose the misery of his people, and I ‘prefer not ‘to dwell over-long on the details. I feel under compulsion ‘to make the above statement, ‘however, so that the broad reforms that are proposed very briefly below may ‘be placed in proper context. 0 Extensive research has been conducted into the ‘multitude of problems and issues presented by the Mexican-American. There is an extensive literature on the findings of this research. However, there is no truly comprehensive and authoritative exposition of ‘the complete ‘picture of the circumstance of the American of Mexican descent. There is ‘nothing in that literature like Odum’s Southern Regions of the United States, nothing like the Hoover Commission’s Recent Social Trends. This s because the Mexican-American has had virtually no sponsors among the foundations, nor in ‘government. ‘A massive investigation of his condition, and of the circumstances ‘leading to that condition, is urgently ‘in order. 0 The American of Mexican des cent ‘is, in the main, unedu cated. This fact can ‘be documented spectacularly, and there is no point to citing the data ‘here. On the other hand, he constitutes a nat ural resource, both for the reha bilitation of his people and in other ‘services to his country. That is beyond questionand that, too, need not be elaborated upon here. Further, as subject-peoples, isn’t there some sort of special obliga tion toward the Mexican-Ameri cans on the part of the United States? Why couldn’t all of these considerations be fused into a pro gram of federal aid in the educa tion of ‘Mexican-American young sters? To serve in government posts, to become ‘teachers of Span ish \(or of English in Spanish For his benefit, I am enclosing a news release from the Unitarian UniVersalist Association entitled “What is a Unitarian Universalist?” and I would ‘greatly appreciate this being printed in an early issue of The Texas Observer. It might, in some way, correct the terrible blunder made in the Feb. 2 issue. Mrs. George W. Cowart, President Unitarian Fellowship the Sabine Area, Nederland. Issue Joined Sirs: “What the hell does Don Yarbrough in his campaign mean to make Texas No. 1? I thought we were No. 1.” So said a filling station proprietor viewing my Yarbrough stickers while filling my gas tank. And I knew from his remark that the issue of the governor’s campaign is joined. Don Yarborough in this campaign, and after election, will make the people aware of the great needs of this state that must be met before Texas can claim No. 1. He is a modern candidate wishing to possess the opportunity of leadership to take Texas into the modern age. Paul Freier, Route 1, Port Lavaca. Walker’s Platform Sirs: I take the stand that any the medical needs of their people, et cetera, -et cetera? It should ‘be emphasized again, however, that there are many thousands of Mexican-Americans who, by the grace of one kind of good fortune or another \(usually and who can pull their weight with the best of them in their particular lines of endeavor. These well-educated and experienced personslawyers, doctors, professors, pharmacists, ‘accountants, nurses, and othersconstitute a reservoir of talent for the immediate needs of the United States in foreign affairs that, otherwise, would take many years to develop. It would be short-sighted, indeed, to ignore this native cultural resourcethis strategic ‘advantage in international relation’s. 0 The Mexican border must be much more stringently regulated. The perennial free-an-easy dipping into the cheap labor reservoir of Mexico is an intolerable burden on the backs of the Americans of Mexican descent. This recommendtion is made without prejudice to our desire ‘that the United States do everything possible to aid in the economic rehabilitation of the people of Mexico. It is also made without prejudice to the rights of growers, ‘business, and industry in the Southwest to conduct profitable enterprises. The recommendation is made, simply, in a rationale that is based on the premise that we cannot afford to subsidize the progress of Mexico or that of our businessmen with the misery of the American’s of Mexican descent. 0 The plight of the agricultural migrant worker is a most frustrating one; whether he be Anglo, Latin, or Negro. The Mexican-American is a major victim of this unfortunate phase of our economy. Remedial action to re
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