Page 5


drawing upon and re-examining these two traditions. There is also a third source of learning, and herein we find a bit of irony. This Texas-Mexican literaryintellectual community is also a product of the institutions of higher education created by the English-speaking Texans, and several are now faculty members of these institutions. \(Indeed, this new artistic and intellectual concern with southern Texas is being articulated principally at or through the University of Texas at Austin; the South TexasMexicans have found their “Vanderbilt” writers and intellectuals have a large and firm acquaintance with world letters and learning. It is an acquaintance of some intensity. As Franz Fanon noted some years ago, the peculiar marginality which is the condition of “native intellectuals’! leads them to feast . . . greedily upon Western culture. Like adopted children who only stop investigating the new family framework at the moment when a minimum nucleus of security crystallizes in their psyche, the native intellectual will try to make European culture his own. He will not be content to get to know Rabelais and Diderot, Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe; he will bind them to his intelligence as closely as possible .. . No one can say with any certainty how significant this “Southern Renaissance” will be. The writing continues; its merit will be decided in time, although already, for this critic anyway, it shows promise. According to McMurtry, Texas literature seems to need all the help it can get, but Texas, he and others seem to forget, does not stop at the Nueces; the Anglo-Texans saw to that in the nineteenth century. The intriguing paradox is that, like the Northern invasion of the South, this historical process of contact and domination in South Texas may have produced the much needed replenishment and amplification of what it means to say Texas literature. Greasers Chronicles Texas Racism, .Past and Present By James C. Harrington Austin THEY CALLED THEM GREASERS is one book you won’t find for sale in the Alamo’s gift shop. Nor will author Arnoldo De Leon ever be a welcome guest of the Daughters of the Texas Revolution in their hallowed shrine to the defeat of Bowie, Crockett, and company. In fact, De Leon’s book barely mentions the Alamo, probably because, as an event, the fall of the San Antonio mission was insignificant to the lives of Texas mexicanos. Yet its historical symbolism for Anglos is what Greasers is all about. De Leon’s scholarly work looks at 19th-century Anglo attitudes, feelings, and beliefs toward Mexican-Texans; but it chronicles more than past chronologies. Greasers describes the growth of a historical racism which reaches into our present time and helps us understand such modern-day phenomena as the quiet but effective community organizing of mexicanos and their recent dramatic muscle at South Texas ballot boxes. De Leon shows Texas Anglos building a “white racial state” in the 1800’s by using violence and manipulating James C. Harrington is an attorney for the Texas Civil Liberties Union. mexicanos. For example, he quotes a government surveyor in the Valley during Franklin Pierce’s administration: The white makes his alliance with his darker partner for no other purposes than to satisfy a law of nature, or to acquire property, and when that is accomplished all affection ceases. THEY CALLED THEM GREASERS: Anglo Attitudes toward . Mexicans in Texas, 1821-1900 Arnoldo De Leon Austin: University of Texas Press Anglos brought with them the desire to create a Texas separate from Mexico. De Leon argues that racism helped move Anglo Texans inexorably toward independence: “Racism was not the cause of the Texas Revolution, but very certainly, it was very prominent as a promoting and underlying cause. Its roots were planted in the unique psychohistorical experience of white Texas pioneers and settlers.” Greasers examines how Anglo writings, speeches, and newsprint \(especially the Corpus Christi, Browns upon myths to perpetuate the Anglo belief of self-superiority, especially so that “rationalization could be made for dual wage systems.” Many of the myths are still familiar. Mexicanos complacently accepted “their fate of social inequality.” They were cheerful and given to perpetual merriment; they drank excessively and possessed defective moralities \(and mexicanas lusted after the white men, “deficiences” catalogued about America’s other racial and ethnic peoples and uttered today by Texas growers about mexicano farm workers. But, as Greasers notes ironically, Anglos still depended on those “inferior” and “indolent” people who “composed the primary labor force responsible for . . . advances,” including laying the railroads of Texas, building its cities, and harvesting the fields. Work ’em harder; pay em less and laugh all the way to the bank. Not long after Texas independence came events leading up to the Civil War. As a rule \(save for a few Starr County mexicanos opposed slavery as contrary to democracy. Their American loyalty as a result was challenged. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23 The