Mexicans and blacks in the United States of America (USA) face the highest levels of racial discrimination. While the history of blacks can be traced back to slavery, most Mexicans came to the USA as immigrants. Studies on racial discrimination have, however, focused more on black Americans with little research done on the biasness the Mexicans face. The researcher decided to study the Mexican culture to understand them from his perspective.
Mexican Americans history into the USA has been a topic of argument for many scholars. Vasquez (2010) argued that Mexicans could be compared to the early European Americans who came to the USA as labourers but later were able to participate fully in society. Bean and Stevens (2003) however, disagrees stating that Mexicans have been racially segregated throughout history, therefore, limiting their participation in society. The study stated that the long Mexican history as labour immigrants destined to work for the lowest jobs in the economy has significantly contributed to their segregation to date. A study by Telles and Ortiz (2008) illustrated how low level of education among the Mexicans had limited their ability to get better jobs in America. Working minimal wage has put the Mexicans at the bottom of the 'food chain' among all races in America. Despite all these segregations, Mexicans have maintained a rich culture which inspired the writer to experience.
In addition to their prowess in preparation of delicious cuisines; some such as Tacos have been adopted in the USA culture, Mexicans have great cultural festivals. One of the significant festivals they celebrate is the day of the dead. The myths and misconception about this festival inspired the writer to participate in it so that he can experience the festivity first hand. Some people have always had a low perception of the festival, terming it as wayward and unholy. Some even term it as a cultic festival that refers to the dead. However, after experiencing this festival, some of these perspectives about the culture have changed significantly.
The day of the dead is a Christian festival that combines the catholic historical feast with the Mexican culture (Brandes, 1998). The festival is meant to honour the dead. This festival has grown throughout history due to tourism and international relationships. The writer had expressed fears of attending the festival being that it's a more personalized festival where people honour their dead relatives. He thought that he would get a harsh reception, being that he is American and Americans don't have a good relationship with Mexicans back at home.
Contrary to his expectations, the locals were quite welcoming. They offered him food and took him through a brief history of the festival and why they celebrate it. The writer learned a lot during his visit, which changed most of his previous perception of the festival and Mexicans, in general, were changed.
Kertzer (1998) stated that culture is an essential means of structuring our political perceptions; the symbols employed in culture interpret what is commonly viewed. To understand the people and their way of life, one must live through their culture. Attending the dead festival had a significant impact. The perception of particular groups of people just by what is said must change. One must experience their way of life and draw an independent perception of the people.
Vasquez, J. M. (2010). Blurred borders for some but not "others": Racialization, "flexibleethnicity," gender, and third-generation Mexican American identity. Sociological Perspectives, 53(1), 45-71.
Bean, F. D., & Stevens, G. (2003). America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity. Russell Sage Foundation.
Kertzer, D. I. (1998). Politics and symbols: The Italian Communist Party and the fall of communism. Yale University Press.
Brandes, S. (1998). The Day of the Dead, Halloween, and the quest for Mexican nationalidentity. Journal of American Folklore, 359-380.
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