ERIC Number: ED455992
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
The Legal Construction of Race: Mexican-Americans and Whiteness. Occasional Paper No. 54. Latino Studies Series.
Martinez, George A.
Mexican Americans were legally defined as Whites as a result of treaty obligations with Mexico that expressly allowed Mexicans to become U.S. citizens. Federal laws of the time required that an alien be White to become a U.S. citizen. The government of Mexico and the U.S. Department of State pressured the U.S. Census Bureau to reclassify Mexican Americans as White. In a Texas school desegregation case, the court held that Mexican American children could not be segregated on a racial basis but did permit segregation on the basis of linguistic difficulties or migrant status. Historically, institutions controlled by dominant groups have determined the legal definitions of racial groups and imposed those definitions in ways that maintained the status quo. The law recognizes racial group identity when such identity is a basis for exclusion and subordination but often refuses to recognize group identity when asserted as a basis for affirming rights and resisting subordination. Examples of this can be seen in a Texas court ruling that imposed a definition of "White" on Mexican Americans protesting their exclusion from grand and petit juries as a distinct group, and in a court rejection of Mexican American claims for class representation in a class action suit seeking equal educational opportunities. Although Mexican Americans have been legally constructed as White, this legal status has had only marginal impact on daily life because of colonial discourses constructing Mexican Americans as racially "other." (Contains 99 endnotes.) (TD)
Descriptors: Colonialism, Court Litigation, Critical Theory, Definitions, Mexican American Education, Mexican American History, Mexican Americans, Power Structure, Racial Discrimination, Racial Identification, United States History, Whites
For full text: http://www.jsri.msu.edu/RandS/research/ops/oc54abs.html.
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Michigan State Univ., East Lansing. Julian Samora Research Inst.