Conflict & Justice

What's in an ethnic name?

The Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Fresno State is Mexican-American but she considers herself brown. She says the biggest misconception is that we're all supposed to look dark complexioned and that is not the case, and it's a blending of Indian and European blood and that we're only 500-plus years old. Another explanation for why many Mexicans consider themselves brown is a result of this country's legacy of segregation, according to this professor. She says like African-Americans, Mexican-Americans were often segregated in public schools, restaurants and bathrooms, so brown then became the context of how they were defined, even though censuses considered themselves white. These protesters against a security wall along the US-Mexico border call themselves the Brown Berets, a youth group that first sprang up in the 1960s, when Mexican-Americans began asserting themselves and also when they embraced the color of �brown,� the color of �other� in the US. this professor says they self-identify as brown as opposed to Hispanic because it reminds people that things aren't ok, and it also reminds people of the growing frustration with current immigration policy in the US. the professor says the identity of Hispanic is a way of grouping all Latinos into one category. Mexican-American resentment over this issue came to a head in 1984 when California approved Proposition 187 which denied basic social services to undocumented immigrants. This lawyer says that's when he began to identify as brown. But the perception of color is different for Mexicans south of the border. This man in Tijuana says he's mystified with Americans' identification with ethnic and racial identity. This shopkeeper says he never hears Mexicans refer to themselves as brown. For this Mexican-American essayist, brown is a euphemism for being in between multiple identities. For him brown represents how this country has changed and its uncertain state at present. He says however Mexicans and Latinos choose to identify themselves is besides the point, and so is the US's policy towards immigration. He says blending is inevitable.

Player utilities

Comments