Dear Mexican: My dad says that when he was a kid growing up in Downey, Calif., they used to open the local plunge (pool) to mexicanos and negritos only on Thursdays, because the pool was cleaned once a week on Friday mornings. Is this an accurate account of racism in the 1940s or an exaggeration? Do you know of other blatant racial policies back then, and which ones still exist against Mexicans today?

Pocho Pendejo Who Can Barely Hablo Español

Dear Pocho: Absolutely true story. Gabachos think that the desegregation movement was a primarily African-American affair, but that’s nowhere near the verdad—fact is, Mexican Americans not only suffered a lot of the same discrimination (work, school, housing and even pools) as African Americans; they were also at the forefront of the legal battle to overturn such pendejo laws—especially in Southern California.

For instance, a Mexican American from Fullerton named Alex Bernal was sued by his gabacho neighbors in Orange County Superior Court when he moved into an all-white neighborhood; the case, Doss vs. Bernal, set legal precedent against housing covenants, as Bernal won his case against those idiots. In 1944, Lopez vs. Seccombe took on the issue of segregated swimming pools in San Bernardino; a federal judge found such discriminatory policies illegal. And Mendez, et al. vs. Westminster, et al. found five OC Mexican familias taking on school districts that made their children attend all-Mexican schools; that case went all the way up to a federal court of appeals, with an amicus curae brief from the NAACP (which, of course, would go on to argue the far-more-famous Brown v. Board of Education). Then there’s all the legal desmadre waged in Texas during the 1950s (especially the efforts of the brilliant Tejano legal team behind Hernandez vs. Texas, a 1954 Supreme Court case that found Mexis were humans under the 14th Amendment).

Today, many folks today are fighting for the rights of undocumented folks. Mexicans not only have suffered from discrimination—we fight back for everyone’s rights, as our legal precedents benefit todos.

I’m a U.S.-born Latina whose family has lived in Colorado for generations. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that more Latinos from the Caribbean and Central and South America are moving to our beautiful state. I’ve also noticed how pendante many of these newcomers are. One Puerto Rican executive is giving presentations to public-relations firms in Denver, telling Anglos that not all Latinos are “poor or brown or Mexican.”

Why is it OK for every new group that moves to this state to use Mexicans as scapegoats?

Colfax Chica (But Not the Streetwalking Kind)

Dear Dear Wabette: Because that’s the American way, chula. If there’s one thing that new immigrants quickly learn after bus routes and how to get on welfare, it’s to hate Mexicans.

It gets particularly heated with Latinos, though, because many of them want to assert their own ethnic identity in a country that—outside of Washington, D.C., Florida and parts of the East Coast—is almost exclusively Mexican when it comes to Latinos.

While I don’t blame the boricua for wanting to let people know he’s not Mexican, but rather Puerto Rican, I must also wonder why he wants people to know he’s Puerto Rican in the first place …

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2 replies on “Ask a Mexican: Are Stories About Racism Against Mexicans Exaggerated?”

  1. Gustavo, its not an exaggeration. I grew up in the 60’s in the City of Azusa in the San Gabriel Valley. I heard similar stories about our town. All the old timers told stories about how the the city “plunge” (the community pool) at the city park was only open to the “Mexicans” on Sundays because the pool was cleaned on Mondays. I can’t image such racism and segregation occurring but it was common knowledge in town.

  2. Things haven’t changed much. There is down right raicism against college porfessor and instuctor in higher education. I was sitting on a bench when a Mexican American college professor was passing walking to his class when a group of gabachos said, ” I’m not going to take that Mexicans Art Class”. Your kidding your self that we live in a perfect society the darker you are esta mass cabron.

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