Little Brown Man in Gringo Land

Reading Little Brown Man in Gringo Land, I was particularly interested in the comparison and contrasting of minority experiences in America. Foley says that “Mexicans remained ‘outside of American civilization’ not simply because of their mobility, as Clark suggested-although mobility played an important role in distinguishing Mexicans from other classes and races of workers-but also because of their racial status as nonwhites…(p. 40)” and “White Americans identified nonwhite Americans by their race- Negro, Mexican, Chinese, and so forth, or by their religion- Jew-ish or ‘Hindoo'” (p. 60). These two quotes to me say that the minority experience is different for every race and cultures but due to white supremacy and “whiteness vs. the ‘other'” anyone that is outside of whiteness is simply not American. This always makes me think of why I put “African-American” or “Black” first before “American.” In many ways we (minorities) have been socialized to feel like our race or culture or ethnicity or even religion first and to always be not really American (white) as black or brown people. 

I also correlated the article with the construction race and whiteness outside of the black and white racial binary and how other minority groups are ranked in between the top of the racial hierarchy (whiteness) and the bottom (blackness). Mexicans are a racial mixed group of people and their ethnic make up puts them in a position above black people but they are definitely seen as “other” by white supremacy in America. Historically, after Americans have oppressed a certain group of people, became bored or gotten kind of used to that group, and moved onto antagonizing another, depending on how close to white they are or less brown they are, they are set above other racial groups that do not fit the bill of whiteness. Today, the hierarchy of race is seen in statistical evidence of how certain races are paid. White men are paid the most, white women less, then down on the line depending on race and gender. This hierarchy of race hinders solidarity with other minorities and oppressed groups because if a group is higher up of the racial hierarchy then they would see no reason to band together with other races and risk losing that privilege. 

I also found it amusing that though white Americans didn’t want Mexicans here they needed them to work the agricultural jobs because “the expansion of industry and agriculture in the Southwest depended on Mexican labor and therefore outweighed nativist considerations that Mexicans would radicalize and mongrelize the Southwest” (Foley, p. 58). Americans have always used different racial groups to the benefit of the country while also disdaining their presence and trying to find ways to remove, exclude, or oppress these groups as well. It always confuses and frustrates me that America was really built on minority labor but we mostly celebrate the labor of whites prominently in history text for high school and grade school students.

My final significant observation on Little Brown Man in Gringo Land that really upset me, more so, was the equating of “whiteness” to “intelligence.” The comments of those who were pro- immigration of Mexican immigrants in their favor were mostly about who Mexicans were so dumb they could be led around like dogs and works as such. There is to this prominent regard that whiteness equals intelligence in the 21st century and the session of this really rubbed me the wrong way as I have heard comments of whiteness equaling intelligence.