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La Nueva California: Latinos in the Golden State [NOOK Book]


Since late 2001 more than fifty percent of the babies born in California have been Latino. When these babies reach adulthood, they will, by sheer force of numbers, influence the course of the Golden State. This essential study, based on decades of data, paints a vivid and energetic portrait of Latino society in California by providing a wealth of details about work ethic, family strengths, business establishments, and the surprisingly robust health profile that yields an average life expectancy for Latinos five ...
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Since late 2001 more than fifty percent of the babies born in California have been Latino. When these babies reach adulthood, they will, by sheer force of numbers, influence the course of the Golden State. This essential study, based on decades of data, paints a vivid and energetic portrait of Latino society in California by providing a wealth of details about work ethic, family strengths, business establishments, and the surprisingly robust health profile that yields an average life expectancy for Latinos five years longer than that of the general population. Spanning one hundred years, this complex, fascinating analysis suggests that the future of Latinos in California will be neither complete assimilation nor unyielding separatism. Instead, the development of a distinctive regional identity will be based on Latino definitions of what it means to be American.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Latinos are changing the face and fabric of California: Since 2001, more than 50 percent of babies born in the state have been Latino. As the youthful Latino population reaches adulthood, its growing size will influence every aspect of life in the Golden State. For more than a decade, social thinker David Hayes-Bautista has been tracking the progress of this emergent community. In La Nueva California, he provides a wealth of data and analysis about the Hispanic work ethic, family strength, business prospects, and health profiles.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520937888
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 286
  • Sales rank: 1,189,848
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

David E. Hayes-Bautista is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Healing Latinos: Fantasía y Realidad (1999), No Longer a Minority: Latino Social Participation in California (1992), and The Burden of Support: Young Latinos in an Aging Society (1988).
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La Nueva California

Latinos in the Golden State

By David E. Hayes-Bautista


Copyright © 2004 The Regents of the University of California
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-520-93788-8


America Defines Latinos 1940–1965


My mother ... is angry and hurt because they went through a lot. I mean, she couldn't even go to the plunge [swimming pool] in Monrovia on White Days. She had to go on Black Day. And my mother's lighter than me. But because she was a Mexican, she had to sit in certain places on the bus; she could only go swimming on certain days. CESLAC UW 1998, 3: U.S.-born Latinos, some college, 19

IN THE SUMMER OF 1998, the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA convened a number of middle-aged Latinos to help us understand the changes that have taken place in Latino society in California during their lives. Born in the 1940s and 1950s, these participants grew up in a world far different from the one they lived in by the late 1990s. They were old enough to remember a much more segregated, much more rigidly exclusionary society. Still expressing hurt and pain, they described growing up in a situation in which being Latino was simply not validated. "Back then [1950s] ... who cares? You're just a Mexican, you're a 'beaner,' you know, you're a 'greaser'" (CESLAC UW 1998, 3: U.S.-born Latinos, some college, 90).

The postwar period was a time, these older participants remembered, when the Spanish language was not used in public. There was no television, very little radio, only one newspaper, and certainly no billboards or bus-boards advertising goods and services in Spanish. "It's real easy to live here now and speak Spanish. It wasn't when my mother was growing up; in the fifties and the sixties, I don't think it was" (CESLAC UW 1998, 3: U.S.-born Latinos, some college, 29).

Spanish may have been merely absent in the pubic arena, but it was actively rooted out in the public schools these participants attended. Many older respondents remembered being punished if they were "caught" speaking Spanish at school, which provided a disincentive to develop fluency in that language. "In high school ... you wanted not to speak Spanish, and [teachers would] punish us.... I didn't want to hang around anybody that spoke Spanish" (CESLAC UW 1998, 7: Latino civic leaders, 37). The longer they stayed in school, the more this constant reminder that Spanish was somehow "bad" worked into the images these respondents had of their families, their culture, and themselves. Of course, the images were negative: if Spanish was bad, those who spoke it must be bad, and the culture they came from, by association, must also be bad. "[My] own language, in a way, for me was invalidated. We were punished if we spoke Spanish. So, as a kid, your values, all of a sudden is, 'What I have known—my parents, my grandmother, all these people that I've loved—were speaking wrong'" (CESLAC UW 1998, 8: Latino business leaders, 25). In the days before the emergence of Chicano studies on college campuses, a passive, studied ignorance of things Latino compounded this active invalidation. As a result, many older Latinos grew up knowing very little, if anything, about Latino and Latin American culture. "My great-grandma was born in Mexico, but I don't know anything about it" (CESLAC UW 1998, 1: U.S.-born Latinos, high school only, 20).

As a result, these older Latinos described growing up with a void in their identity. For some, particularly those who did not go to college and therefore missed out on the heyday of the Chicano movement, the void continued to the day of their participation in the 1998 focus group. "Supposedly I'm Mexican, but I don't know the background. I don't know anything about the Aztecs or anything, so I don't have anything to say 'This is me.' I don't know who I am, as far as culture" (CESLAC UW 1998, 1: U.S.-born Latinos, high school only, 21).

At its most virulent, this constant downgrading of things Latino led some to actively deny their Latino families and friends. "Yeah, I mean, I knew I was Mexican, but then I had my mother tell me here, because of her experiences, that '[When] people ask you, you tell them you are white. You're tall, you can pass for white, you're light skinned. Don't say you are Mexican'" (CESLAC UW 1998, 3: U.S.-born Latinos, some college, 89). From our vantage point in the first decade of the twenty-first century, we can understand their reactions given their experiences in school and in public life. At the time, they had few other options. It was their personal tragedy to have grown up in a unique historical moment in Latino California—a time that will never be duplicated. Theirs was the era of Latino invisibility, a time when Atlantic America defined Latinos.


Latinos governed California from 1769 until statehood in 1850. They had run its economy, forged its culture, and established its cities. But when the gold rush attracted hundreds of thousands of new in-migrants to the state, they swamped the native-born Latino Californio population within a decade or two. By 1910, Latinos were barely 2.4 percent of the state's overall population, which was still heavily concentrated in the northern half of the state. In Los Angeles, Latinos were still nearly 15 percent of the population (Romo 1983, 29). In spite of an ongoing physical presence since 1769, Latino contributions were relegated to a mere colorful footnote in the prehistory of the state, romanticized in events like Los Angeles's "La Fiesta" and Santa Barbara's annual "Old Spanish Days."

When the Mexican Revolution erupted in 1910, it unleashed social unrest that had been festering for more than forty years under the near-dictatorship of Porfírio Díaz. As a result of the war, one-tenth of the Mexican population fled to its stable neighbor, the United States. The number of Mexican immigrants in California shot up, from 33,444 in 1910 to 86,610 in 1920, reaching a high of 199,165 by 1930 (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1952, 5–65, table 24). See Table 1.

Often forbidden by legal residential segregation to live in non-Hispanic white areas, these refugees settled in areas already largely populated by Latinos. Indeed, some of these barrios had been established by the Californios a century and more earlier. The immigrants brought to these well-established Latino communities a fresh infusion of language and customs. For nearly twenty years, immigrants from Mexico made the journey northward and began settling in, starting families, raising children, and buying small lots on which to build their houses and plant their gardens. Their arrival coincided with the post–World War I economic boom called the Roaring Twenties, and their willingness to take dangerous, dirty, and low-paying jobs made the immigrants tolerable to the white population, now a majority in California.

"Black Friday," the day the stock market fell in 1929, put a halt to this tolerance. As the economy unraveled, unemployment rose and people looked to the government for assistance. Politicians found a scapegoat for the state's economic woes: Mexicans were "taking jobs from Americans" and taking a share of scant state resources. A hue and cry was raised about the large "foreign" presence in the state. The deportation of Mexicans would free up jobs for Americans and simultaneously reduce the government's burden. This simplistic policy was put into practice on a large scale.

Thus, during the 1930s, Latinos lived in constant fear of deportation roundups. Those seeking employment assistance, food from a soup kitchen, or care from the county hospital ran the risk of being summarily deported. Worse, streets were closed off, trolley cars stopped and searched, and anyone who "looked Mexican" was liable to be forcibly deported (Balderrama and Rodríguez 1995, 55). The most egregious roundup took place in 1931 at La Placita, a popular public park at the end of Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. This site had particular importance as both the location of the founding of Los Angeles and then for more than a century and a half as a symbolic central meeting place for Latinos after Sunday mass. INS agents and sheriffs from cities as far away as San Francisco, San Diego, and Nogales surrounded La Placita, trapping as many as four hundred people. Those unable to show proof of residency immediately were detained (Balderrama and Rodríguez 1995, 57). Citizenship was no protection; many U.S. citizens, born in the United States, were deported. The mere fact of being identifiably "Mexican" was enough to place one under suspicion. The deportations were part of the familial memory of some of our respondents in 1998, who, although they were born after the 1930s, could still tell of the effects of massive deportations. "Because it happened in 1928 [sic]. They hauled all the Mexicans that were not citizens ... to Mexico, all of them. And my father almost got kicked out of here" (CESLAC UW 1998, 1: U.S.-born Latinos, high school only, 77).

The deportation era's effects can be seen in Table 1. While there were 199,165 Mexican immigrants in the state in 1930, by 1940 that number had been reduced by nearly one half, to 111,900. One out of every two Mexican immigrants had been deported or otherwise disappeared; Latino population growth was virtually stagnant during that period, with the loss of immigrants offset by births of young Latinos. Robert McLean, a journalist of the times, noted the atmosphere of fear that prevailed during the 1930s: "It is very real ... and that fear hovers over every Mexican colony in the Southwest is a fact that all who come in contact with them can readily attest. They fear examination by the Border Patrol when they travel; they fear arrest; they fear jail; they fear deportation" (Samora 1971, 41). The threat of forced deportation and the accompanying climate of intimidation lasted a decade, during which it was dangerous to seem "too Mexican." A whole generation of U.S.-born Latinos grew up learning that overt expression of Mexican culture—including such things as speaking Spanish, wearing a rebozo (a Mexican shawl), or reading a newspaper in Spanish—could endanger them. Deeply scarred by this experience, many of that generation vowed to protect their children by throwing a cloak over their culture and history.

In 1940, the Latinos remaining after the deportations were barely 5.4 percent of the state's population, numbering 374,000. These deportation-era Latinos fought in World War II and the Korean War, earning Medals of Honor far out of proportion to their small numbers in the armed forces (Ramos 2000, 33). After the fighting, they returned to their homes in the barrios, proud to have served their country, even if resentful over segregated military cemeteries and other tokens of official disdain. They started families, becoming swept up in the mighty demographic phenomenon called the baby boom.

Largely thanks to its high fertility rate, by 1950 the Latino population in the state numbered just over one million (see Table 1, 1,009,400; CA EDD 1986, 9), and by 1960 nearly one and a half million (1,456,900) (see Figure 2). Latino children growing up in the postwar era had a vastly different cultural experience from that of their deportation-era parents, who almost always had Mexican-immigrant parents. Latinos of the postwar era were predominantly children of U.S.-born Latinos and grew up in Latino barrios populated almost completely by U.S.-born Latinos. Immigrants were very rare—more than four out of every five Latinos were U.S.-born: 81.2 percent in 1950, and 80.6 percent in 1960 (CA EDD 1986, 10).

Postwar Latinos—the Latino baby-boom generation—grew up heavily influenced by "mainstream" American culture. Even if they were raised in largely Latino barrios in Fresno, San José, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, the popular culture they absorbed from radio, television, and school was typical baby-boomer fare. Only rarely would this larger culture notice Latinos, except in caricatures such as Frito Bandito. There was the occasional breakthrough musician like Richie Valens (Ricardo Valenzuela), who had an identifiable Latino slant, but even the Chicano rock-and-roll bands of the era, for example, Thee Midniters, sang in English. Only a few subtle reminders—the burritos they would shamefully bring for lunch, the old romantic trios their grandparents would play on the 78-rpm record player, the large family gatherings to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, a few familiar phrases in Spanish—held up a different cultural world. It was terra incognita, accessible only to those few who made extraordinary efforts to understand it. In those days, Latinos were an invisible group, seemingly on its way to either assimilation or extinction.


Throughout the nineteenth and for a good part of the twentieth century non-Latino Californians routinely defined Latinos as belonging to a separate race and built their legal and public social behavior around that definition. Yet this racial definition has not fit Latinos very well, for Latinos are not a race, but a culture, which was itself shaped by centuries of racial mixture that produced today's mestizo Latino population.

Prior to 1492, an estimated 90 to 112 million people lived in the Americas (Sánchez-Albornoz 1974, 34), of whom an estimated 25.2 million lived in what is now Mexico (Cook and Borah 1971, viii). These peoples were not "Indians," a term applied to them only after the arrival of Europeans, but rather members of a variety of cultural groups. They were simply people living in a wide range of societies—large urban complexes of hundreds of thousands as well as farming villages and hamlets, tribes dedicated to the chase—speaking hundreds, if not thousands, of languages, worshipping hundreds of deities, engaged in a wide range of economic pursuits, from trade, construction, goldsmithing, and bookmaking to the healing arts. They waged war on one another, traded with one another, intermarried with one another. In Náhuatl-speaking Mesoamerica, they organized themselves into tribes (calpulli), city-states (altepetl), kingdoms, and empires, in an ever-shifting array of allegiances and betrayals. Some other regions organized themselves similarly.

On October 12, 1492, a Genoese in the employ of the newly united Spanish Crown, thinking he had just discovered India, designated as "Indians" the first residents he saw on the shores of Hispaniola (today's Dominican Republic). This misnomer remains to this day and has caused no end of confusion.

The European settlers who followed Columbus to the conquered territories interacted with the newly defined Indians politically, economically, spiritually, legally, maritally, sexually, and, most importantly, epidemiologyically. Contrary to the "Black Legend"—that blood-thirsty Spaniards mercilessly slaughtered the Indians—the Spanish Crown wanted the Indians as subjects and treated them as productive, revenue-producing members of society. However, the peoples of the Americas lacked resistance to European diseases, especially smallpox, unwittingly carried by the colonizers, and the Crown's plans for steady revenues from a stable population were brought to ruin by the ravages of epidemics. In Mexico, the population dropped from an estimated 25.2 million to slightly more than 1 million within eighty years (see Figure 3; Cook and Borah 1971, viii), largely due to smallpox. In the Caribbean islands, the mortality was close to 100 percent.

To make up for the population lost to disease, the European colonists imported slaves from Africa. Around the Caribbean basin, the slave trade grew to such an extent that Africans at times outnumbered Europeans or the remaining Indians. Slavery was not a perpetual condition; thus, a sizable African-origin population established itself in freedom, marrying and producing children.

Eventually, the Spanish and Portuguese reached India, China, Japan, the Philippines, and other parts of Asia. The Spanish treasure fleet sailed annually from Manila to Acapulco, and where trade went, settlement followed. Sailors and settlers from Asia—the Philippine Islands, China, India, Japan—also found their way to the Americas, establishing themselves in trades in Mexico City, Lima, Havana, and other communities large and small.

In a mere three centuries, the human species in the Americas changed from completely "Indian" to largely mestizo, in a biological union of Indian, European, African, and Asian peoples. From 1492 to 1821, these various populations married one another and created the peoples of the new world. The official registers of that period were not satisfied with simply designating a person as mestizo, however, and tried to pinpoint the exact combination of European, Indian, African, and Asian heritages a person might possess. These groups, called castas, illustrated the resultant mestizaje:

• Mestizo: offspring of Spanish and Indian

• Castizo: offspring of Spanish and mestizo

• Mulato: offspring of Spanish and African

• Lobo: offspring of African and Indian

• Cambujo: offspring of lobo and Indian


Excerpted from La Nueva California by David E. Hayes-Bautista. Copyright © 2004 The Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Chapter 1. America Defines Latinos: 1940–1965
Chapter 2. Latinos Reject America’s Definition: 1965–1975
Chapter 3. Washington Defines a Minority: 1965–1975
Chapter 4. Latinos Define Latinos: 1975–1990
Chapter 5. Times of Crisis: Proposition 187 and After, 1990–2000
Chapter 6. Latinos Define American: 2000–2020
Chapter 7. Creating a Regional American Identity: 2020–2040
Chapter 8. Best-Case and Worst-Case Scenarios: California 2040

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First Chapter

La Nueva California

Latinos in the Golden State
By David E. Hayes-Bautista

The University of California Press

Copyright © 2004 Regents of the University of California
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-520-24146-0


The narrative of this book begins in 1940, when Latinos were a small minority and lacked political representation or public voice in California (see Figure 1). The Spanish language itself appeared to be on the verge of extinction in the state. Certainly schoolteachers prohibited the speaking of Spanish, even in the rigidly segregated "Mexican schools" to which Latino students were routinely assigned, even if they knew how to speak English. Latino daily life was marked by a number of indignities, including housing covenants, which restricted their house occupancy to a few segregated areas; widespread employment discrimination, which defined the types of jobs that were "appropriate" for them; and social and racial barriers, such as having access to public swimming pools only on the one "colored day" per week. When the Latino presence in the state was noticed at all, it was viewed as a problem, the "Mexican Problem," that most public officials hoped would quietly go away.

But Latinos did not go away quietly. Instead, a combination of dynamics-war, labor needs, immigration, fertility, and mortality-created for Latinos a "second act" rare in American society. For, ratherthan fading away, Latino numbers surged and resurged after World War II, so that by 2000, one out of every three persons in California is Latino, as seen in the 2000 composition in Figure 1. Particularly in southern California, the number-one television and radio shows are routinely broadcast in Spanish; billboards in Spanish announce tortillas, disposable diapers, and new automobiles; music awards shows honor Latino artists whose verses are in Spanish; and one of the largest, most powerful political groups in California is the Latino Legislative Caucus. Clearly, there have been changes from 1940 to 2000.

Yet even more changes are afoot. Currently, one out of every two babies born in the state is being raised by a Latino family. (See the California composition of births in Figure 35, on page 000.) And among the nearly ten million residents of Los Angeles County, nearly two out of every three babies are the product of a Latino family (see Figure 35). When these children already in the state today become adults, Latinos will comprise by 2040 nearly half the population of the state of California (see Figure 1).

The road from demographic near-oblivion to demographic preeminence is only part of the narrative of this book. Far more important than sheer numbers is the question of what a Latino majority in California means for the future of American society and identity. That is really the topic of this book.

The Burden of Support

The fact of Latino demographic growth into the future should be considered, by now, a given. In 1988, when I published one of the first scholarly works on Latino demographic projections, The Burden of Support: Young Latinos in an Aging Society (D. Hayes-Bautista, Schinck, and Chapa 1988), the notion that the Latino population could possibly grow to be nearly half of California's residents seemed unrealistic to most policymakers. After the release of this book, I was taken aback by the negative response to the idea that half the state one day might be Latino (I discuss this experience in greater detail in chapter 3, below). That negative reaction was not about the projections themselves, which were based on solid demographics and an unarguable methodology; the reactions were instead about the meaning of such projections for the future of California and the United States.

At that time (the late 1980s), the general public image of Latinos was one of failure and dysfunction. On magazine covers or on the eleven o'clock evening news in English, the images of Latinos making the news were inevitably of three types: the undocumented immigrant, the gangbanger, and the welfare mother (Leo Chavez 2001). These public images drove the concern about Latino population growth; after all, if they were true representations of Latinos, then soon half the state's population could easily consist of poverty-stricken, poorly educated, welfare-dependent, law-breaking people. The events of the 1990s seared those images in the minds of many: the Los Angeles riots of 1992, Proposition 187 with its repeated images of vast numbers of dark figures furtively sneaking across the border, and Proposition 227, which banned bilingual education. Yet these images were all wrong. I describe in chapter 3 my own intellectual development regarding the meaning of Latino population growth for the state, including my epiphany when I realized that sixty years of data on Latino behavior and values completely contradicted the popular public images that had driven so much of California's politics during the 1990s.

Latino Civil Society

What I had not seen, even in my own research, prior to my sudden insight, was that Latinos were not the phenomenon described by all the policy models used until the present day: a racial group, a language group, a group locked into a traditional culture, a dysfunctional minority group, an urban underclass. All these models-which I had been taught as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a graduate student at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco-had missed the central dynamic that made Latinos so Latino: the continuing presence of a Latino civil society, dating in this state from April 1769 and continuing to the present. This Latino civil society, alive and functioning in the Latino families present in the state for more than two hundred years, provides to young children their initial introduction to the world of right and wrong, the desirable and the undesirable, duty and dereliction. Around the kitchen table, out in the garden, tucked into beds at night, through thousands of simple daily acts, Latino civil society provides Latino children with their first introduction to the social world, gives them their first notions of civic responsibility and their first hints of personal identity (see the discussion of this in chapter 7, below).

Beginning in 2019, half of the young adults who turn eighteen, and who will able to express their opinion by registering and voting, will be Latino. Their choices of candidates, their preferences on issues, their decisions about their own education, about their families, and about the future of the state, all will rely to a great extent on the daily dichos y hechos (sayings and doings) their parents repeat to them thousands of times, unaware of the tremendous import of what they are doing.

Judging from sixty years of data of the Latino population, these children, once grown, will make many decisions that will benefit the state. They will most likely continue to be the hardest-working component of the state's labor force, with the highest rate of workforce participation, working far more hours per week, working far more in the private sector, and using welfare far less than any other population. They will continue to marry and form families with children at far higher rates than any other population. They will continue to have far fewer heart attacks, lower cancer rates, fewer strokes, a lower infant mortality rate, and a five-year-longer life expectancy than non-Hispanic whites. They will be proud to be Americans, and they will be disproportionately willing to fight and die in this country's wars. These behaviors are easy to project, because they are based solidly on sixty years of Latino history.

For anyone using most current models of Latino behavior-the dysfunctional minority, the urban underclass, and the like-these behaviors seem surprising. But when one understands the presence and function of Latino civil society, these behaviors are not at all surprising; they are derived from the experience of the meeting of peoples in the Western Hemisphere since 1492, as Indians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians met and melded in most of the two continents known today as the Americas (discussed in chapter 7). The Mexican variant of this experience can be dated from August 13, 1521, with the fall of the great city of Tenochtitlan, and was brought to California with the first group of Mexican colonists to the region in 1769, who bestowed not only names famous around the country to the area-Los Angeles, San Francisco, San José, San Diego, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Sacramento-but also a Latino civil society, into which Latino babies have been born and children raised since that day.

A Note on Terminology

This book is a data-based recounting of the population whose primary socialization took place in Latino civil society from 1940 to 2004; it is also a projection into the future of the population's effects on American society and identity. As will be detailed in chapter 1, Latinos are not a simple racial or ethnic group; they are the product of a distinctive civil society. Yet the available data treats Latinos as the equivalent of a racial group; hence, I shall use the census bureau's groupings of data, and we shall speak of non-Hispanic whites (abbreviated as NH whites or NHW in the illustrations), African Americans (abbreviated as AfrAmer), Asians and Pacific Islanders (abbreviated as A/PI), American Indians (abbreviated as AmerInds), and, of course, Latinos.

Given this book's interest in civil society, the racial groupings it must employ are only poor, surrogate measures what for really drives sometimes differential behavior patterns: the constellation of a group's values, images, and beliefs generated by historical experience. As I describe in chapter 7, it would be ridiculous to speak of "white civil society," because the genetic fact of being "white" has little to do with the emergence of civil society among that population. Rather than dwell on the putative genetics of a group, I will speak of a shared social experience communicated from parent to child, hence my term "Latino civil society." Although I will often refer to a generic national American society and identity, at times I will refer to a specific regional variant of the national society and identity as "Atlantic American." This regionally specific variant is grounded in the historical experience begun by predominantly British settlers on the North American coast of the United States (Fischer 1989), which has molded the socialization of people, irrespective of race or ethnicity, who are raised in that region. In a delicious irony, just as the U.S. Bureau of the Census announces on its charts that "Hispanic may be of any race," in my view an Atlantic American likewise may be of any race or ethnicity. A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, an African American whose ancestors arrived on these shores before George Washington was born, and the descendant of an Italian immigrant who was processed at Ellis Island are all products of the Atlantic American civil society.

The future of American identity and society will be the result of the current encounter, on somewhat unequal terms, between Latino civil society and Atlantic American civil society. The racial categories of data we currently use will provide some notions of how this encounter is faring, but we must remember they are only surrogate, substitute indicators of the real phenomenon occurring: the emergence of a distinctive, regional civil society that will draw on roots in both the Latino and Atlantic American historical experiences.

The movement of Latinos from near-oblivion to a position of major social influence, and its implications for American society, is handled in eight chronological chapters. In 1940, non-Hispanic white America defined the public image of Latinos: who they were, what race they belonged to, what language they could speak, what their culture was like, what houses they could buy, what schools they could attend, what public facilities they could use. Although Latinos made up barely 2.4 percent of the state's population in 1910, revolutionary events in Mexico propelled twenty years of immigration; by 1930, about two hundred thousand Mexican immigrants lived in California and had started families. The state's major policy response to the Depression of the 1930s was to trim welfare rolls and provide jobs for "Americans" by deporting one-third of Mexican immigrants back to Mexico. The tactics used to isolate and repatriate Mexican immigrants created a decade-long climate of fear of appearing "too Mexican" in that deportation-era Latino population.

Officially, Latinos were a race, for census purposes, and race-based segregation limited Latino access to schools, public facilities, and real estate. Yet in 1940, the census bureau ruled that Latinos were white, and Latinos ceased to be counted as a separate entity on official forms, yet they were still subject to restrictive covenants that forbade sale of property to "members of the Mexican race."

The U.S. bipolar racial algorithm collided with the Latino racial dynamic, which has been one of intermarriage and mestizaje (ethnic mixing) of Indian, African, European, and Asian forebears. Subsequent censuses defined Latinos as a Spanish-surname group and as a Spanish-speaking language group. Anthropologists defined Latinos as a "traditional culture" group, characterized as suffering from fatalism and familism. The Zoot-Suit Riots of 1943 created public hysteria about the Latino presence by combining racial and cultural definitions of Latinos, to paint a picture of an undesirable social element. During this period, America defined Latinos.

The Chicano generation, born in postwar America, grew up in still-segregated California, being told in many different ways that they were not quite American. They arrived at university campuses in the 1960s, breathed in the heady rebellious atmosphere, and began to protest the treatment accorded their parents and grandparents. As part of this confrontation, they actively rejected the definitions imposed on them by American society. Impelled by a sense of psychological bonding to a common movement, they burst forth from the campuses and the barrios to stamp their presence on society by creating organizations, political movements, service centers, and artistic expression, to present a bilingual, bicultural face to the world that their parents' generation had avoided. Tired of being rejected as Americans, they gladly embraced a new, emergent identity as "Chicanos." For all their claims of cultural vindication, however, few were fluent in Spanish, few had visited Mexico or other parts of Latin America, few knew any history and literature from south of the border. When some did manage to visit Mexico, they quickly discovered that they were not Mexican. They were considered American. And so they found themselves too Mexican to be accepted as American, and too American to be accepted as Mexican. Even as this generation defiantly rejected American definitions of Latino, they lived during a period of heated debate over what a "real" Latino was like.


Excerpted from La Nueva California by David E. Hayes-Bautista Copyright © 2004 by Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2006

    One of the best books

    I have read many books before, as I mainly read non-fiction, history and basically anything that has to do with yesterday, today and tomorrow, politics included. I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down for lunch with David E. Hayes-Bautista in a conference that my brother (who is also given ackowlendgement in the book) set last year in Sacramento. Hearing what Mr. Hayes-Baustista had to say to the group and at lunch I can say that he not only did I see what a hard worker he is and how he does the research prior to the creation of this book, but I have learned so much from him due to this book. There is so much that many of us do not know nor truly understand, but with his research and how he has worded each paragraph one learns things that they may have not been aware of. I recommend this book to all races as it is tool to understanding what goes on the world and with the latino comminity as a whole, regardless of what year. Ignorance has always been a big problem in the world to date and pointing the finger or placing blame to rectify situations alway has been a problem. So I believe this book will open many minds and teach those who are willing to understand how often times we are filled with misleading information and without true research provided one shouldn't be filled with untrue facts where David Hayes-Bautista has provided enough facts to back his delcarations in the book.

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