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Ethnicity and Racial Conflict

Question One: A

In order to understand Raza Si! Guerra No! Chicano Protest and Patriotism During the Viet Nam War Era,a book by a famous historian Lorena Oropeza, it is important to keep in mind that the period of 1960’s was not just like any other moments in American history. It was a defining moment that changed the fate of many minority groups culminated during this period. As a way of introduction, Oropeza reflected on the events of 1960’s and comprehensively explored two significant upheavals that several scholars have given diverse interpretations as to their significance in ascending the minority groups such as Mexican Americans to the dominant white American society. These two interrelated upheavals were the intense opposition and rejection of the America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and the rigorous political mobilization of the Mexican American minority. The interdependency of the two events is really central to the book, and Oropeza distinctively and vigorously explores the role that the Chicanos played in the antiwar upheavals. Also, the book looks at the dire influences the Vietnam War played in creating a distinct Chicano identity. Her work, therefore, seeks to look at the influences of both the Chicanos and Vietnam War in integrating Mexican Americans.      

To effectively articulate the issues mentioned above, Oropeza opens the discussion by offering a different interpretation, contrary to what other scholars have documented, that attributed the antiwar movement to whites and people in the middle class. Oropeza shows with decisive evidence that Chicanos from diverse backgrounds played a crucial role in the success of the movement. For instance, the book documents on page 12 that between two hundred and fifty and five hundred thousand Mexican American soldiers took part in the war, aside from winning a whooping eleven Congressional War Medals of Honor for their outstanding achievements.  Most importantly, she proceeds to show that the war had a profound influence on the Chicano movement, which subsequently elevated Mexican Americans to a position of recognition and respect (Oropeza, 2005).

The illustration of how intersectionality really took a central stage at Oropeza’s work requires a glance at the events of the Second World War. This is particularly important because aside from the war being a turning point for African Americans, Mexican Americans were not left behind either. For instance, Oropeza documents that many Mexican Americans were involved in the war and were very successful. They also demanded equal rights just like any other Native American. Going forward, it is important to note that two crucial events happened in the period 1960’s, which stemmed from the success of World War Two. That is, the war provided an avenue where many minority groups like the Mexican Americans could organize for civil rights movements to advocate for their rights. But more importantly, the war gave a new definition of American citizenship in contrast to previous tradition when citizenship and military service were the domains of the whites and males. This in itself was a conflict that worked against Mexican Americans (Oropeza, 2005).

Question One: B

Intersectionality, which generally shows how several oppressive institutions or systems in a country are related, can be used to explain how the Mexican Americans were always at conflict with the Anglo-Americans. The first conflict is evident by the fact that during 1940’s, the only Mexican American by the name Dennis Chavez was elected to mainstream politics and would always battle against serious segregation tensions regarding the people of his descent. This kind of conflict could be seen clearly in June 1942 when Chavez received a letter from E.H. Johnson claiming that he (Chavez) has been using the non-existent topic of racial intolerance to gain political mileage. Johnson is treating racism that has led to segregation of Mexican Americans as something non-existent and something that Chavez should not fight for. However, Chavez systematically recognized this aspersion and in a quick rejoinder reminded Johnson that despite the fact the he was the only Mexican American in Senate and determined to ensure that all the four dimensions of freedom developed by Roosevelt are also enjoyed by Americans of other origins (Oropeza, 2005). 

Another intersectionality conflict resulted from the fact that even Mexican Americans discriminated fellow immigrants from Mexico under their derivative of “los americanos”. This means that prejudices were so strongly enriched in people’s lives so that even people having the same origin started to discriminate against each other. This conflict was further perpetuated by the formation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which narrowed its scope by fighting for the rights of Mexican Americans only and leaving all other Mexican Americans out (Oropeza, 2005).

In the 20th century, increasingly changing meanings of social categories appeared and brought profound impacts in terms of political reorganization of the Mexican Americans. The beginning of change in social categories started with effects of the army, which gave a standing ovation to people who were victorious in the war. Such victories defined not only the new political arena but also family relations of Mexican Americans. For instance, Joe Morales realizing that he was short of some qualities that could give him an edge over Benny Martins in winning the love of Lolita Sierra decides to join the army so that he also wins the Congressional medals for military victory. This essentially meant that the new political activities which became essential for Mexican organizations such as LULAC were highly dependent on the achievements of the 250,000 to 500,000 Mexican American in the war (Oropeza, 2005).

Question One: C

Racial formation is always known, especially after rigorous upheavals, to be a serious impediment to human growth and dignity. To understand how complex the concept of race played out in America, one should not look any further than looking at how Syrian Americans, Native Americans, and Mexican Americans were perceived by colonizers. One thing that sticks out from the three groups is that they were a formation that in the eyes of the mainstream Americans was a dirty if not useless group, which had little significance if any. However, of the three groups, Native Americans as a race seemed to have less significance, a factor which could be seen in the many heinous challenges they faced from time immemorial up to late 20th century, especially in litigation processes. It, therefore, becomes important to note that the process of racial formation amongst the Native Americans in the eyes of the population, beginning with Indians themselves, was considered to be worse than a devil. Actually, within the book it is described using some of the most awkward and negative definitions in English language like social disease, lawlessness, and godlessness among others (Oropeza, 2005; Gualtieri, 2009).

The process of racial formation process for Mexican Americans existed in diverse arenas: from the citizenship rights to the kind of jobs they could be allowed to do. For instance, during the years of 1940’s to 1950’s, the only certain way that was available for the Mexican Americans to get full citizenship was through joining the military. This kind of action was explicitly directed at the race as it meant that failure to join the military was an automatic expulsion from getting American citizenship even if one was born in the U.S. The exclusion of both the Syrian and Mexican Americans from getting access to higher education was a total racial discrimination against these groups of people. Such action was aimed at domination by the white population and to show them that they were lesser beings who had no capacity and right to get higher education (Waziyatawin, 2008).

Question Two:

Andrea Smith has vocally given some of the most concrete illustrations and explanations of sexual violence by directly attacking some of the stereotypes that coincidentally have blurred people’s perception of the subject. In my own analysis, Andrea Smith looks at sexual violence as a mentally coordinated pervasive action that must not be tolerated and condoned in any section of the society. This analysis can be perceived in terms of how Smith attacked sexual violence orchestrated against sexual workers. That is, as opposed to the practice in some bureaucracies where sexual violence orchestrated against sexual workers is not treated with much weight, Smith sees this as serially unacceptable, and attributes the death statistics in Mexico and Canada as a confluence of this negative practice (Smith, 2005).

I could say that Andrea Smith equates sexual violence to racism and colonialism, which have been associated with some of the worst atrocities in the human history. In this perspective, it becomes evident that both practices are evil and a serious threat to human survival. Also, one need to note that human consciousness on the ramifications of racism developed gradually for centuries, and that the same steps are followed for sexual violence. What this analogy means is that despite the fact that certain societies have tolerated sexual violence and internalized it as part of their cultural practices, it is worse than genocide and everybody must work hard to end such punitive practice (Smith, 2005).

Andrea Smith also looks at sexual violence as a serious impediment to human dignity. This is makes perfect sense, especially, where the bodies of Native Americans are compared to those of the Biblical Canaanites and were seen as personifying sexual sin. There is no worst rebuke to human dignity than this analogy, which subsequently means that people of such descent should be extinct. In other words, Smith is saying that no human dignity can be bestowed on a sexually abused human being since the mental torture associated with the vice remains inside with the victim and for longer period. Another significant understanding of Smith’s perspective on sexual violence is that it has been used as a tool to extend patriarchal dominance in many societies. This particularly played out in the kinds of treatments that many Native Americans’ women were subjected to especially by their fellow Indians.

The Native Americans have experienced sexual violence from two fronts that, according to Smith’s standards, are perfect illustrations of sexual violence. The first kind of sexual violence is that committed by Native Americans men on their own women. Native American women were subjected to serious sexual violence by men of their descent and from whom they had a lot of trust. Important to note is that this kind of rape was normalized by the existing patriarchal arrangements, which existed in the society and gave men immense control over women. This perspective constitutes Andrea Smith’s definition of sexual violence that is embedded in the main domain of culture. Significantly, the second example of sexual violence was that instigated by the whites and colonial masters against the Native Americans. Many theories have been propagated as Smith elaborated with the bottom line being that the Natives were worthless and, therefore, subjected to such degrading actions. More so, this kind of sexual violence had enormous racial dimensions attached to it; it was often treated differently between the Natives and mainstream American population (Gualtieri, 2009; Smith, 2005).

Marshall Plan has got a significant stake at explaining some of the intricate cases of sexual violence in Smith’s view. First and foremost, Marshall’s doctrine allowed for more scrutiny and thorough investigations on sexual violence cases, which for centuries have never been looked into as a threat to human existence. This, therefore, means that the government through its mainstream courts as well as the traditional courts created to deal with limited cultural matters could now begin to constructively analyze sexual violence matters and pass credible judgments.

The various literatures that we have analyzed so far have been very critical in explaining some of the issues that have been bare for so long or those that have never been tackled comprehensively. Actually, it has become clear that issues of race, segregation, sexual violence and all other social evils took a significant toll on the many groups in America in a manner that radical solutions were necessary to save those groups from total extinction.

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