Influence of Mexicanas Americanas

Influence of Mexicanas Americanas

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3763-3.ch002
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Mexican American culture did not originate in one place or even in one country. The culture originated in different regions of the country as the people have moved from place to place, combining the culture of one group with the culture of another as they adapted to a new life. Mexican influences include all their values related to ethics, language, religion, and family; all these make them stand out from the main culture and their influences can be traced from the 1500s, despite the fact that their influence on the history of the United States is deliberately kept vague in textbooks. However, in regard to their religious beliefs, legacy in education, effect on the armed forces, and national organizations, their footprints in the path of our history are clear and easy to read. Their great Mayan, Aztec, Olmeca, and Chichimeca cultures have been remembered and honored and continue to function in their colorful traditions. Government, written history, education, and public media have led the majority of U.S. citizens to believe that Mexican Americans have taken advantage of this country, but they have failed to acknowledge the true history behind the Mexican presence in this country. In this chapter, the author will share the Mexican influence (on food, religion and spirituality education, colonialism to World War II, and the Armed Forces) in the United States, but most importantly, the author will point out the influence of Mexican women/Mexicanas or Chicanas in this country. The chronological overview of Mexicanas is divided into five periods, starting from where they were first settled in the Southwest, then in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mexican Food: Many flavors and spices cuisine from Mexico that has influenced the world’s cuisine for centuries.

Brown vs. Board of Education: Landmark for the United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.

Barrio: In the United States it is the Spanish-speaking quarter of a town or city, especially one with a high poverty level (Oxford, 2020).

Treaty of Guadalupe: Signed by Mexico and the United States. That Treaty, which conveyed 525,000 square miles of Mexican land to the United States, included large portions of California half of New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, parts of Wyoming, and it set the Rio Grande as the southern boundary of Texas. Mexicans who lived on those lands were given the choice of moving to the now much-smaller country of Mexico or remaining where they had always lived and becoming United States citizens (Samora & Simon, 1993).

Spirituality: The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things (Oxford, 2020).

Civil Wars: Are thus distinguished from interstate conflicts (in which states fight other states), violent conflicts or riots not involving states (sometimes labeled intercommunal conflicts), and state repression against individuals who cannot be considered an organized or cohesive group, including genocides, and similar violence by non-state actors, such as terrorism or violent crime (Britannica, 2020).

Mexican-American War: Also called Mexican War, Spanish Guerra de 1847 or Guerra de Estados Unidos a Mexico (“War of the United States Against Mexico”), war between the United State and Mexico (April 1846–February 1848) stemming from the United States’ annexation of Texas in 1845 and from a dispute over whether Texas ended at the Nueces River (Mexican claim) or the Rio Grande (U.S. claim) (Britannica, 2020).

Mexican American: In this book, this term was utilized to describe a citizen of the United States of America who identifies as such, recognizing family heritage from Mexico.

Hispanic Woman or Latina: In this book these terms are used interchangeably or together to describe women whom are Spanish speaking and/or who descend from any Spanish-speaking country; this includes individuals who grew up in the United States, may call themselves Chicano/a or other terms. Nieto (2013) defined “Hispanic and Latino/a to refer to those of Caribbean, Central American, and South American descent and others whose native or heritage language is Spanish (or, in some few cases, an indigenous language of South America). Government publications generally use Hispanic, while most Latino/a scholars prefer Latino/a” (p. 16).

World War II: also called Second World War, conflict that involved virtually every part of the world during the years 1939–45. The principal belligerents were the Axis powers — Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allies— Frances, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China. The war was in respects a continuation, after an uneasy 20-year hiatus, of the disputes left unsettled by World War I (Britannica, 2020).

Religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods (Oxford, 2020).

G.I. Bill: Officially the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the G.I. Bill was created to help veterans of World War II. It established hospitals, made low-interest mortgages available and granted stipends covering tuition and expenses for veterans attending college or trade schools (History, 2020).

Colonialism: The effect of western colonialism racial consciousness. Integrating psychoanalysis, phenomenology, existentialism, and Negritud theory, and repercussions of colonialism on colonized people (Fannon, 1986).

Mexican(a): For the purpose of this book, participants used this term Mexican(a) to describe a woman who is not a citizen of the United States of America or self-identifies as Mexican.

De Facto Segregation: Racial, ethnic, or other segregation resulting from societal differences between groups, as socioeconomic or political disparity, without institutionalized legislation intended to segregate (Dictionary, 2020).

Manifest Destiny: Manifest Destiny, a phrase coined in 1845, is the idea that the United States is destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent. The philosophy drove 19th-century U.S. territorial expansion and was used to justify the forced removal of Native Americans and other groups from their homes. The rapid expansion of the United States intensified the issue of slavery as new states were added to the Union, leading to the outbreak of the Civil War (History, 2020).

Western Colonialism: A political-economic phenomenon whereby various European nations explored, conquered, settled, and exploited large areas of the world.

Great Depression: Worldwide economic downturn that began in 1929 and lasted until about 1939. It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world, sparking fundamental changes in economic institutions, macroeconomic policy, and economic theory (Britannica, 2020).

Mendez vs. Westminster: The Mendez v. Westminster School District case (1947) was a monumental step forward to end segregation of Mexican American school children in California (United States Courts, 2020).

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