Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans

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University of Texas Press, Jan 1, 2010 - Social Science
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The history of Mexican Americans is a history of the intermingling of races—Indian, White, and Black. This racial history underlies a legacy of racial discrimination against Mexican Americans and their Mexican ancestors that stretches from the Spanish conquest to current battles over ending affirmative action and other assistance programs for ethnic minorities. Asserting the centrality of race in Mexican American history, Martha Menchaca here offers the first interpretive racial history of Mexican Americans, focusing on racial foundations and race relations from prehispanic times to the present.

Menchaca uses the concept of racialization to describe the process through which Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. authorities constructed racial status hierarchies that marginalized Mexicans of color and restricted their rights of land ownership. She traces this process from the Spanish colonial period and the introduction of slavery through racial laws affecting Mexican Americans into the late twentieth-century. This re-viewing of familiar history through the lens of race recovers Blacks as important historical actors, links Indians and the mission system in the Southwest to the Mexican American present, and reveals the legal and illegal means by which Mexican Americans lost their land grants.

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Recovering history, constructing race: the Indian, black, and white roots of Mexican Americans

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This volume is an examination of the history of Mexicans in the territory of the present-day United States, emphasizing the role of legal systems in restricting racial groups and establishing a ... Read full review

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My name is Betty Valencia and I am mentioned in my sister inlaws book more than once. Marta is correct in saying that I spent time with her during some of her research in Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez California. But with regret, I must correct her statement..."Betty claims to be a full-blooded Chumash"...
My statement to Marta on that issue is as follows: "I and a few others in my family are enrolled with the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation - CBCN. The CBCN is currently applying for federal recongnition which is a very long drawn out process (years). When the application is finally submitted along with the rolls of the CBCN, all listed will enter the process as full blooded. During the review process by the BIA, blood quantum will be decided. Some enrollees will be crosses off the list others will remain." I have never claimed to be "full blooded".

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About the author (2010)

MARTHA MENCHACA is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas and author of The Mexican Outsiders and Recovering History, Constructing Race.

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