Who 9:00 P.M. Many individuals decide to change their

Who am I racially and/or
ethnically, and why?

According
to Marger, “Race has been used to describe a wide variety of human categories,
including people of a particular skin color, religion, nationality, and even
the entire human species” (p. 12). Race is usually socially constructed.
Society created race to categorize individuals. This resulted in racial groups
feeling superior to others. The distinction of racial groups has resulted in
stereotype formation. Racial groups who feel superior tend to be prejudice and
discriminative against other racial groups. According to Amber Pariona,
“Ethnicity is the word used to describe the cultural identity of a person; these
identities can include language, religion, nationality, ancestry, dress, and
custom” (World Atlas). Many individuals change their ethnicity for many
reasons. I identify myself as Mexican American. My parents were both born in
Mexico. My father was born in Palo Alto, Mexico and my mother war born in
Xoconostle, Mexico.

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Mexican
American is a specific ethnic group. Hispanic American is the main ethnic
category. Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central Americans, and
South Americans are all part of the Hispanic American ethnic category. The
identifiers that place me in the Mexican American ethnic category are my
Spanish language, and the fact that my parents and grandparents were born and
raised in Mexico. I was born in the United States, but I was raised with
Mexican cultures. For example, my parents celebrate The Three Kings’ Day, we
open present on Christmas Eve, and we believe in having children after
marriage. Growing up, I had the typical strict Mexican parents. I was not
allowed to sleep over at my friend’s house, go on a date, and I had a curfew at
9:00 P.M. Many individuals decide to change their ethnicity due to fear,
discrimination, racism, stereotypes, and the feeling of being inferior.
Individuals that change their ethnicity believe they will be treated better,
and will have more opportunities.

Besides
the fear and intermarriage, the population of Hispanic Americans is still increasing.
“Hispanic Americans number more than 47 million, more than 15 percent of the
total U.S. population” (Marger, p. 209). Regardless of the fact that I was born
in the United States, I identify myself as Mexican American. I speak Spanish,
and appreciate the sacrifices my parents went through to get to the land of
opportunity. I also cherish my culture, and practice the religion my parents
taught me. At the age of 17 my father decided to migrate to the United States
in search of a better life. He wanted to live the American dream. It took him
four days to cross the boarder. He explained to me how he would sleep outside
of restaurants, in hope that someone would feed him. He had to walk through the
dessert day and night. My father wanted a better life for his family. He was
self-motivated and accomplished his goal in 1975. My mother migrated to the
United States at the age of nineteen. Due to the residency she was granted, she
did not have to illegally cross the boarder. My parents migrated to the United
States in search of a financially better life. They believed they would have
more job opportunities in the United States. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central
Americans, and South Americans migrated to the United States for the same
economic reason.

Cubans
are considered the superior ethnic group in the Hispanic American category. Hieratically
speaking, Whites are considered to be at the top, followed by Hispanic
Americans, and African Americans are at the bottom. However, this ethnic group
hierarchy is formed by society based on the stereotypes. The stereotypes formed
based on ethnicity may harm their opportunities. For example, they may not be
able to receive governmental help, great job opportunities, and education. For
example, in 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. was placed in jail for standing up for
racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. He was not able to see African
Americans get racially discriminated. In jail King wrote, “A Letter From
Birmingham Jail”. His letter was towards clergymen whom ignored
segregation. King used phrases from the bible to get his point across. He was
also a believer, but was disappointed by the way the churched failed to step in
to help what was known as the Negro community. He explained that the church
failed in explaining to its members that the segregation laws were unjust, and
that it was not a sin if they broke these unjust laws. He explains that he is
not criticizing the church, because he also believes in the church, he is just
disappointed. “I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can
always find something wrong with the church, I say this as a minister of the
gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been
sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as
the cord of life shall lengthen” (Martin Luther King Jr., 1963). King explains
that in order to receive their rights they had to do so by direct action, if
not they would not get anywhere. King states, “Injustice anywhere is a threat
to justice everywhere” (Martin Luther King Jr., 1963). Unfortunately, the
segregation laws against blacks were unjust, and legal. It is disappointing to
see laws that make other groups feel inferior and discriminated be legal.
Individuals who break unjust laws should not be punished, or if they are they
should be proud for standing up for themselves or other individuals. During
this time, whites felt superior to blacks. Blacks felt inferior and were badly
discriminated. This should never be the case because we are all created equal,
and a race should not determine the rights and opportunities individuals
receive. Hitler’s actions were also unjust laws that were legal. The tragic
result of this was the life of many Jewish individuals. Society still has many
unjust actions, which are legal. However, the government needs to make some of
these actions illegal, and people should realize that if they are legal they
are not morally right.

A
case of discrimination also occurred in 1957 when nine African American
students enrolled at an all-white high school. The Little Rock Nine challenged
the racial segregation that was taking place in American public schools. It was
devastating to see that on the first day of classes the Governor Orval Faubus
ordered the Arkansas National Guard to block the entrance of the black students
into the high school. Eight students arrived together, but Elizabeth Eckford
arrived alone. The angry mob screamed extremely rude comments to her. They even
threaten to kill her. Richard Davies ordered the National Guard to be removed,
and the police officers had to take control when the nine black students tried
to enter the school. They had to enter through a side door, and once the angry
mob found out they entered they began a riot. The nine students had to secretly
escape the school. It is unfortunate to see that this segregation once existed.
The nine students had the potential to be successful, and they had the
motivation to receive an education. It was unjust and unfair that the community
of whites did not allow them to enter the school. The nine students had not
done anything to deserve such discrimination. It does not make any sense, as to
why they strongly detested African Americans. They did not have the right to
judge African Americans based on prior bad experiences, or misleading
information they gathered on African Americans. Society has placed many
stereotypes about African Americans, which has resulted in prejudice
individuals and discrimination. However, I believe that if individuals would
allow themselves to interact and personally know other races, it would reduce
their racial biased. If the media would not only talk about the crimes of
specific races, it would also reduce the stereotypes. The nine African American
students had done nothing wrong, and should not have been mistreated due to
their race and color of their skin. Just like the whites going to school they
wanted to receive an education, and they should have that opportunity. We are
all human beings, and the color of our skin or our race does not make us any
different. A specific race should not make any other race feel inferior.

I
accept the categorization of being identified as Mexican American. I speak
Spanish, and follow the cultures associated with Mexican Americans. According
to Barrera, “Mexicans were commonly kept in debt by their employers, paid less
than others for the same work, concentrated in the least desirable occupations,
often used as strikebreakers, and laid off most easily in distressful time”
(Barrera, 1979). My father has worked in low-income jobs his whole life.
Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans did not have any prior education, which
resulted in them working in low-income and hard labor jobs. My father and
mother worked picking tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, cherries, and oranges. My
parents tell me stories that they would wake up at three in the morning to
drive three hours to pick tomatoes. They did not receive an education in Mexico
because my grandparents did not have enough money to pay for transportation and
their classes. Instead of being sent to school, my grandparents needed them to
work. My parents struggled, but they were able to give my siblings and I an
education. They were not able to receive help due to them voluntarily migrating
to the United States. On the other hand, Cubans were able to earn higher wages
due to governmental help. “Cubans were received as political migrants – that
is, as refugees – rather than as economic migrant, as a result, the U.S.
government provided aid to early arriving Cuban immigrants that helped them in
reestablishing their class position” (Predaza-Bailey, 1985; Stepick and
Stepick, 2002).  We struggled through
school due to our Spanish accent, but we all received a college education.

Mexican
Americans do not have the same opportunities that whites do. Due to our parents
not being able to work in higher-wage jobs, we as first generation college
graduates have to work extra hard to afford school. My parents barely had enough
money to pay their mortgage and utilities, which resulted in my siblings and I
finding a part-time job, while attending school. Mexicans make up the country’s
largest immigrant group. Cubans were the only ones that did not come to the
United States in pursuit of economic betterment. Cubans economically succeeded
more than the other Hispanic Americans. The reason for this was due to their
prior education in their native land. Mexicans did not have that opportunity in
Mexico. In Mexico children have the decision to attend school or to begin
working at a young age. Mexico does not have the same governmental help as the
United States. Due to this, many parents cannot afford to send their children
to school. Unless you are a business owner, it is very difficult for any
individual to be financially stable in Mexico. Mexico needs a less corrupt
government that will help the school system, and the poverty rates. The Mexican
Americans will be triumphant and will begin to accept managerial jobs, thanks
to the struggles our parents endured in the 1900’s. Hispanic Americans are
taking over most of the United States. “Hispanics are likely to account for
almost half of U.S. population growth in the next fifty years” (Durand et al.,
2006).

Compared
to the generation before us, we have many more opportunities. For example, we
are able to receive an education. Many students that were not residents of the
United States also had the amazing opportunity to receive an education under
the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. However, our current President is
now trying to eliminate this opportunistic program. This has resulted in
individuals having fear to identify themselves as Hispanic Americans. In the
earlier years, immigrants in America also had fear to be identified as Hispanic.
The reason for this was due to fear of being sent back to their native land. According
to Marger, “People who simply looked Mexican were stopped and required to
present evidence of their legal status” (p. 215). As Mexican American I have
not been discriminated as much compared to other ethnic groups. However, there
are stereotypes that society has formed and continues to encourage. Being
identified Mexican American makes society believe that we are villains. The media
plays a big role in emphasizing this stereotype. In movies and commercials we
are always seen as the villains. ” Television commercials at times also
perpetrated the villainous image of Mexicans (Martinez, 1972; Wagner and Haug,
1971). Mexican American should not be classified as being villains and drunks.
Recently I felt discriminated based on my ethnicity. I applied for a job in
which I had to take a test. When I went in to take the test, everyone there was
white. The proctor greeted everyone with a smile, and was being friendly.
However, when it was my turn to check-in she was extremely rude. I had never
felt so unwelcomed, and inferior.

Membership
in the Mexican American ethnicity is changing due to us succeeding in this
country. The population and college enrollment of Mexican Americans is
increasing. More Hispanics are graduating high school and pursuing a higher
education. However, the undocumented students have many limitations. Not only
are they not receiving governmental help, but our current President now wants
to deport all of them. This is resulting in undocumented students getting
married with U.S. citizens just to not get deported. According to Ian Salisbury
“The cost of ending the DACA program comes to a total of minus $283 billion”
(Salisbury, 2017). However, if DACA remains there will be a gain of more than a
trillion dollars.

In
conclusion, I will always identify myself as Mexican American. My parents
sacrificed a lot for us to get where we are at now. Because of them we all have
an education and are able to live in the United States without fear. They are
proudly both United States citizens. The only distinction that I feel compared
to my parents is the language barrier. Living in the United States has allowed
me to learn English, and receive an education. However, I still pursue the same
religion, tradition, values and culture as my parents. The growth and success
rate of Hispanic Americans will also continue to increase. Society should not
discriminate or form stereotypes based on race or ethnicity, because we are all
equal and should be treated equally. The color of our skin or nationality does
not make us inferior or superior.

 

 

 

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