Despite their strong efforts to consider themselves Americans, Mexican Americans were never fully considered Americans. They showed early signs of being integrated into the American society. However, the entire American society disregarded them as Americans. The Americans were first to point out the differences based on their ancestry. Most Mexican Americans lacked esteem and confidence in them in the effort for recognition. They were categorized based on where they originated.
For instance, the first category consisted of Mexican Americans born in America. The second group was those born of Mexican parents from Mexico but migrated while they were young or recently migrated while they were older. The third and the largest group were those belonging to the lineage of Mexican settlers. These included Tejanos and Pochos from Texas and California respectively. The Spanish-Americans also came from this group too. Unfortunately, they were all ashamed of being regarded as being Spanish. Nevertheless, Hispanos formed another distinct category. Another group was Latin-Americans. The last and the proudest and self-confident of all were Mejicano. As confessed by Raul Morin, all the other groups were unsatisfied to be regarded as Mexican Americans. However, they did this as a way of getting themselves integrated and assimilated into the American system. Although the American society was prejudiced against them, Mexican Americans were fully integrated and assimilated into the whole American system.
By the time of the Second World War, Mexican Americans proved that assimilation was an impossible task though difficult. Evidently, they found themselves being discriminated against in the military services in terms of jobs. Though they comprised the largest percentage in the army, they were rarely promoted to higher military ranks despite showing the greatest devotion (Rosales, 2012). For instance, New Mexico lost a quarter of 9000 men is devoted to the war. As testified by Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Ricardo Noyola committed his life to war although he was uneducated. The Mexican American left their ranch as a small boy and went ahead to form a platoon with other 54 boys speaking Spanish. Moreover, they trained intensively and tirelessly for 13 weeks. This earned them deserved applause all over the United States. Interestingly, women defied the odds and joined men in the undying efforts of fighting for the American liberty (Lampe, 2013). As recalled by Beatrice Morales Clifton, she joined California Lockheed Factory contrary to the family belief. Beatrice remembers quarreling with her husband who believed in unemployment on women. Clearly, Mexican American women were as well integrated into the American society.
Assimilation was greatly encouraged by a strong need for food. Undoubtedly, soldiers, allies or even civilians needed to feed. Agriculture has been a long-time tradition to the Mexicans. Arguably, they are known to use both manual methods and machinery to feed the entire world population (Teske & Nelson, 2014). Additionally, the fighting army needed to be fed. Mexican Americans understood that all of them were in the war. Therefore, they had to use their skills to grow, harvest and eventually send food to both the soldiers and friends. Again, there were an increasing number of aircraft plants and lengthening shipyards and since they were highly skilled they had to be assimilated to offer these services. Women were to be consolidated in the process as nurses and tailors in the airplane plants. For instance, this craft was necessary for the Arizona airplane plant. The airplane plant needed both buckers and riveters. Beatrice Morales was a passionate and a skillful riveter. Most people would be surprised that she could do it. She would walk around with a hammer to fix the rivets right. In addition, the need for survival encouraged Mexican Americans to perform these jobs (Rosales, 2012). This was one of the few ways to earn a living. Mostly, they learned the job better in each step each rising day. Life was eventually changed in the South West as a result of their skills. After all, they had found their way up to the front line in the industries both in war and in machine farming.
Expectedly, this was never an easy task. Assimilation and integration of Mexican Americans were overwhelmed with major challenges. Discrimination seemed the greatest challenge. Carlos E. Castaneda recalled filing complaints with the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice. The complaint involved discrimination. They were poorly-dressed, poorly educated, poorly fed and received poor medical attention. According to statistics gathered by Carlos in California, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Texas, conditions seemed worse to Spanish speaking citizens. The minority in South West was no better and seemed underprivileged (Lampe, 2013). Their jobs were restricted to lowest standards operations. Unfortunately, they received below minimum wages even in these jobs. Despite having them by a large percentage in low standard operations, few could land to the positions of clerical officers. For instance, according to the census of 1940, 30% of 449,261 total Arizona populations were people of Mexican origin. More than 15,000 Mexican Americans were employed in the mines in Arizona. Again, the total population of people of Mexican origin was 315,000 but 10,000 only landed in California more valued ship operations.
According to Rosales (2012), the challenges seemed unending. Although women showed great skills, their families restricted them from holding jobs. For example, Beatrice Morales' husband unapproved the idea of women getting jobs. Accordingly, he argued that she was a mother and the job was low paying. Again, new workers disbelieved women could perform any better in high skills operations. Beatrice sometimes could go mad against this notion. Prevalently, most employers believed Mexicans were best suited to physical and manual operations.
Conclusively, Mexican Americans showed great expertise in every operation they were handed. Contrary to the most beliefs, women could remain astounding amongst men in the similar operations. Unnecessary prejudice against Mexican Americans based on ancestry could only hinder and drag integration process. When given suitable working environment free from discrimination, persons of Mexican origin could perform tasks of equal measure and aid in the whole national growth and development. However, failure of most Mexican Americans to accept themselves as such added another problem on the whole issue. Those who recognized themselves could only scorn them. Therefore, it was better if they all gained self-esteem for speedy integration and assimilation and eventual development.
Lampe, P. E. (2013). 2. Ethnic Self-Referent and the Assimilation of Mexican Americans. Comparative Sociology, 19(3), 259-270. doi:10.1163/156854278x00095
Rosales, S. (2012). Mexican Americans & World War II. Latino Studies, 4(1-2), 199-201. doi:10.1057/palgrave.lst.8600179
Teske, R. H., & Nelson, B. H. (2014). An Analysis of Differential Assimilation Rates among Middle-class Mexican Americans. The Sociological Quarterly, 17(2), 218-235. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.1976.tb00975.
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