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The Brutal History of Anti-Latino Discrimination in America


Amado
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Olvera Street is a Los Angeles icon—a thriving Mexican market filled with colorful souvenirs, restaurants and remnants of the oldest buildings in Los Angeles. But though the bright tourist destination teems with visitors, few realize it was once the site of a terrifying raid.

In 1931, police officers grabbed Mexican-Americans in the area, many of them U.S. citizens, and shoved them into waiting vans. Immigration agents blocked exits and arrested around 400 people, who were then deported to Mexico, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.

The raid was just one incident in a long history of discrimination against Latino people in the United States. Since the 1840s, anti-Latino prejudice has led to illegal deportations, school segregation and even lynching—often-forgotten events that echo the civil-rights violations of African-Americans in the Jim Crow-era South.

Mexican American Immigration, and Discrimination, Begins

The story of Latino-American discrimination largely begins in 1848, when the United States won the Mexican-American War. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which marked the war’s end, granted 55 percent of Mexican territory to the United States. With that land came new citizens. The Mexicans who decided to stay in what was now U.S. territory were granted citizenship and the country gained a considerable Mexican-American population.

As the 19th century wore on, political events in Mexico made emigration to the United States popular. This was welcome news to American employers like the Southern Pacific Railroad, which desperately needed cheap labor to help build new tracks. The railroad and other companies flouted existing immigration laws that banned importing contracted labor and sent recruiters into Mexico to convince Mexicans to emigrate.

Anti-Latino sentiment grew along with immigration. Latinos were barred entry into Anglo establishments and segregated into urban barrios in poor areas. Though Latinos were critical to the U.S. economy and often were American citizens, everything from their language to the color of their skin to their countries of origin could be used as a pretext for discrimination. Anglo-Americans treated them as a foreign underclass and perpetuated stereotypes that those who spoke Spanish were lazy, stupid and undeserving. In some cases, that prejudice turned fatal.

Mob Violence Terrorized Latinos

Mob violence against Spanish-speaking people was common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, according to historians William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb. They estimate that the number of Latinos killed by mobs reach well into the thousands, though definitive documentation only exists for 547 cases.

The violence began during California’s Gold Rush just after California became part of the United States. At the time, white miners begrudged former Mexicans a share of the wealth yielded by Californian mines—and sometimes enacted vigilante justice. In 1851, for example, a mob of vigilantes accused Josefa Segovia of murdering a white man. After a fake trial, they marched her through the streets and lynched her. Over 2,000 men gathered to watch, shouting racial slurs. Others were attacked on suspicion of fraternizing with white women or insulting white people.

Even children became the victims of this violence. In 1911, a mob of over 100 people hanged a 14-year-old boy, Antonio Gómez, after he was arrested for murder. Rather than let him serve time in jail, townspeople lynched him and dragged his body through the streets of Thorndale, Texas.

These and other horrific acts of cruelty lasted until the 1920s, when the Mexican government began pressuring the United States to stop the violence. But though mob brutality eventually quelled, hatred of Spanish-speaking Americans did not.

Forced Deportations in the 1920s and '30s

In the late 1920s, anti-Mexican sentiment spiked as the Great Depression began. As the stock market tanked and unemployment grew, Anglo-Americans accused Mexicans and other foreigners of stealing American jobs. Mexican-Americans were discouraged and even forbidden from accepting charitable aid.

As fears about jobs and the economy spread, the United States forcibly removed up to 2 million people of Mexican descent from the country—up to 60 percent of whom were American citizens.

Euphemistically referred to as “repatriations,” the removals were anything but voluntary. Sometimes, private employers drove their employees to the border and kicked them out. In other cases, local governments cut off relief, raided gathering places or offered free train fare to Mexico. Colorado even ordered all of its “Mexicans”—in reality, anyone who spoke Spanish or seemed to be of Latin descent—to leave the state in 1936 and blockaded its southern border to keep people from leaving. Though no formal decree was ever issued by immigration authorities, INS officials deported about 82,000 people during the period.

The impact on Spanish-speaking communities was devastating. Some light-skinned Mexican-Americans attempted to pass themselves off as Spanish, not Mexican, in an attempt to evade enforcement. People with disabilities and active illnesses were removed from hospitals and dumped at the border. As one victim of “repatriation” told Raymond Rodriguez, who wrote a history of the period, Decade of Betrayal, “They might as well have sent us to Mars.”

Others, like Rodriguez’s father, did not wait for raids or enforcement and returned to Mexico independently to escape discrimination and the fear of removal. His wife refused to accompany him and the family never saw him again.

When deportations finally ended around 1936, up to 2 million Mexican-Americans had been “repatriated.” (Because many of the repatriation attempts were informal or conducted by private companies, it is nearly impossible to quantify the exact number of people who were deported.) Around one third of Los Angeles’ Mexican population left the country, as did a third of Texas’ Mexican-born population. Though both the state of California and the city of Los Angeles apologized for repatriation in the early 2000s, the deportations have largely faded from public memory.

Latino Children Suffered in Segregated Schools

Another little-remembered facet of anti-Latino discrimination in the United States is school segregation. Unlike the South, which had explicit laws barring African American children from white schools, segregation was not enshrined in the laws of the southwestern United States. Nevertheless, Latino people were excluded from restaurants, movie theaters and schools.

Latino students were expected to attend separate “Mexican schools” throughout the southwest beginning in the 1870s. At first, the schools were set up to serve the children of Spanish-speaking laborers at rural ranches. Soon, they spread into cities, too.

By the 1940s, as many as 80 percent of Latino children in places like Orange County, California attended separate schools. Among them was Sylvia Mendez, a young girl who was turned away from an all-white school in the county. Instead of going to the pristine, well-appointed 17th Street Elementary, she was told to attend Hoover Elementary—a dilapidated, two-room shack.

U.S. President Barack Obama presenting the 2010 Medal of Freedom to Sylvia Mendez, a civil-rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. At age 8, Mendez played a pivotal role in a 1946 landmark court case that desegregated California schools.

 

U.S. President Barack Obama presenting the 2010 Medal of Freedom to Sylvia Mendez, a civil-rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. At age 8, Mendez played a pivotal role in a 1946 landmark court case that desegregated California schools. (Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

The bare-bones facilities offered to students like Mendez lacked basic supplies and sufficient teachers. Many only provided vocational classes or did not offer a full 12 years of instruction. Children were arbitrarily forced to attend based on factors like their complexion and last name.

Then Mendez’s parents fought back. In 1945, along with four other families, they filed a class action lawsuit against four Orange County school districts. Their goal: Ensure that all children could attend California schools regardless of race.

The case culminated in a two-week-long trial. In court, school officials claimed that Latino students were dirty and infected with diseases that put white students at risk. Besides, they argued, Mexican-American students didn’t speak English and were thus not entitled to attend English-speaking schools. (When asked, officials conceded that they never gave students proficiency tests.) “Mexicans are inferior in personal hygiene, ability and in their economic outlook,” said one official.

Mendez’s attorney countered with testimony from experts in social science. He argued that the policy trampled on Latino children’s Constitutional rights. When Carol Torres, a 14-year-old Latino girl, took the stand, she immediately proved that Mexican-American students in the district could and did speak English.
It took seven months for Judge Paul J. McCormick to render a decision. On February 18, 1946, he ruled that the school districts discriminated against Mexican-American students and violated their Constitutional rights. Though the school districts challenged the ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with McCormick. Thanks to Mendez v. Westminster School District, California officially ended all segregation in its schools.

Mendez, who was eight when the lawsuits began, later told reporters that she thought her parents were fighting for her right to attend a school with a nice playground. But the case accomplished much more than that. Soon, parents in Texas and Arizona successfully challenged school segregation. In 1954, a decade after Mendez was turned away from the whites-only elementary school, the United States Supreme Court ruled that all school segregation based on race was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.

Though the case was a victory for the Mendez family, Sylvia was harassed and heckled by her fellow students when she attended the white school. Nonetheless, she pushed to succeed and became a nurse and civil-rights activist. She was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010—and now, two Los Angeles-area schools are named after her parents.

Today, an estimated 54 million Latinos live in the U.S. and around 43 million people speak Spanish. But though Latinos are the country’s largest minority, anti-Latino prejudice is still common. In 2016, 52 percent of Latinos surveyed by Pew said they had experienced discrimination. Lynchings, “repatriation” programs and school segregation may be in the past, but anti-Latino discrimination in the U.S. is far from over.

The Brutal History of Anti-Latino Discrimination in America - HISTORY

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Wei nihao
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@rodriguez

the democrats who fought hard against racism, felt betrayed many latino men voted for Trump. do you think it's a one-off event or will they lean republican in the future?

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

This is a movement by the people of color, China has nothing to do with this 🙄. 

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Wei nihao
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@naval

chinese are the fraternal race of developing nations. we always side with the developing nations. 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

LOL China is colonizing Africa & bullying every Asian country it has made contact with. 

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Wei nihao
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@naval

wrong and ignorant. china has 25 neighbors, the US has invaded all of its non-white neighbors. 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

south china sea, east china sea, Indian-China border. should I go on? Oh, The US only tried to invade Cuba. 

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Wei nihao
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@naval

the US took 55% of Mexico's territory. It invaded a lot of other latin american countries, dominican republic, panama, nicaraga, and assassinated leaders in other countries. They also tried and failed to overthrow Venezuela.

since you know less about US than me, I assure you I also know more about China than you. China's border problems are caused by others not by itself. 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

That was in 1848 when the US & Mexico went to war. Invasion means tanks & battleships. when you mention Panama, the Dominican republic & other Latin Americans. Us government never invaded those countries but only sent CIA, commando units, black operatives. 

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Wei nihao
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@naval

they invaded Haiwaii and Phillippines. 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

Hawaiians, Guam, and the Philippines are very pro-Americans. The U.S came to the Philippines to join the fight against Spain but decided to stay later on. 

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Wei nihao
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@naval

what about the nuclear radiation experiments they did on Tahiti islanders. are they pro-American because they got food stamps and just forgot about it?

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

 That's a French a territory, so take up with the French.

 

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Wei nihao
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I'm sure French did many bad things,too. I'm thinking of Bikini island. I'm sure you know which country used pacific fish and people to test the effect of radiation. 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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Wei nihao
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@naval

look up Bikini island, i'm not going to explain everything to you anymore. 

US kills leftist latin american leaders, it props up fascists. 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

Better ask the American & Latino members who know their history. 

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Call me Charlie
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@naval So the U.S government and the CIA is two different entities?

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@charlie

CIA is black operatives, some of the CIA operations are not even known by congress. 

black operation or black op is a covert or clandestine operation by a government agency, a military unit or a paramilitary organization; it can include activities by private companies or groups. Key features of a black operation are that it is secret and it is not attributable to the organization carrying it out.[1]

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Call me Charlie
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@naval

CIA is black operatives, some of the CIA operations are not even known by congress. 

black operation or black op is a covert or clandestine operation "by a government agency", a military unit or a paramilitary organization; it can include activities by private companies or groups. Key features of a black operation are that it is secret and it is not attributable to the organization carrying it out.[1]

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@charlie

CIA operates to take down fascist government, when caught, the government usually disowns them.

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Call me Charlie
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@naval What about corrupted politicians in America?

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@charlie

 most politicians are corrupt at 1 Point

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Call me Charlie
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@naval Yea, so who is going to take care of that?

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Call me Charlie
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@naval Also, you talking about fascist foreign government right?

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@wei-nihao

oh yeah, I am not American for your information. 

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Amado
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@wei-nihao

I would say 2/3 of Latinos all together vote for Democrats while 1/3 vote for Republicans. I predict more Hispanics will lean republican Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz were the leading candidate for the Republican party. 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER 黑人的命也是命
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@rodriguez 

Please explain to mr. @wei nihao that the racial equality movement was started by people of color. according to him, it was China that was responsible for racial equality 🙄. 

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Prau123
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@rodriguez

 

 

The picture below is Olvera Street during the first half of the 1930's.  The postcard says ," El Paseo de Los Angeles (Olvera Street) Los Angeles, California."  

 

Olvera Street already had some El Mercado y Restaurantes y La Tienda.

 

 

Politics of Preservation: Olvera Street to Huntington Beach | Olvera street,  Olvera street los angeles, Los angeles

 

Olvera Street, 1934. The La Golondrina Mexican Cafe (the Pelanconi House) is on the far right. Bizarre Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prau123
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When people visit the Olvera Street, they view the place as a public market, shopping stores, restaurants, tourist spot, and outdoor entertainment but they do not consider the history part that was quite different from what we see and experience today.  

I wonder if other Hispanic tourist spots such as found in San Antonio, Texas and Miami, Florida have similar history.

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Bacano G
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Latino Lives Matter!

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Prau123
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@jose

 

Latinos were also referred as La Raza Latino/Latina.

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

Not everyone with down with the La Raza. 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

I am actually not sure if the Mestizos in Philippines used the La Raza term.  It originally was used throughout the Western Hemisphere but in recent times it was use mainly in Mexico and in America.

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

La Raza is more of a Mexican thing. 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

I've heard it from Mexicans only.

 

 

 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

Caribbean people are called West Indians which refers to the people (especially the original indigenous people) from the West Indies.

 

 

 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

The Hispanics that were relocated back to Mexico in the 30's probably still view themselves as an American since they were born and raise in the states.

 

 

 

 

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Wei nihao
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@prau123

so they didn't give Mexicans citizenship by birth, despite the constitution?

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Prau123
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@wei-nihao

 

 

 

The deportation plan has echoes of a largely forgotten chapter of American history when, in the 1930s, during the Depression, about a million people were forced out of the U.S. across the border into Mexico. It wasn't called deportation. It was euphemistically referred to as repatriation, returning people to their native country. But about 60 percent of the people in the Mexican repatriation drive were actually U.S. citizens of Mexican descent.

 

 

 

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Prau123
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@wei-nihao

 

 

 

I wonder if they could be repatriated back to U.S.A.

 

 

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Wei nihao
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@prau123

wouldn't even the youngest of the group be over 90 years old? they should make a documentary and rally more people against racism.

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Prau123
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@wei-nihao

 

 

 

I suppose around that age, if they return some day then they would see a different country compared to the last time they were there in the 1930's, the cities and towns would be unrecognizable to them for the most part. Would be cool if they could see their homes and neighborhoods that they grew up on for one last time and that's if those houses and buildings are still around. I'm sure they miss it enough to want to see it one more time.

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

The Chicanos got relocated not the Boricua or us. 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

I agree although there were some Caribbean people that were mistaken as Mexicans in the Southwest and they were repatriated to Mexico instead of the Caribbean Islands.

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

Asians will be next. 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

A culture shock for several of them if they had to be repatriated to their country since they grew up here in the states.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

it's an extreme disrespect to be mistaken as another race. Even Salvadorians do not get along with the Mexicans. 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

when Caribbean people and Central Americans were brought into Mexican territory the people who repatriated them had no further intention of transferring them to the Caribbean Islands and Central American countries.  It was basically up to these people to find their home country from there on. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

that's fucked up, right?

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

Some Caribbean people were probably able to go back to their homeland in the Caribbean Islands but several would eventually settle in Mexico. They probably refer to themselves as Caribbean-Mexican-U.S.A. today since they have ancestry and relatives in those tri-countries.

 

 

 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

Caribbean people and the Central Americans in Mexico probably created their own community temporarily before relocating back to their home country in the Caribbean Islands and Central American countries while some of them decided to eventually settle and blend in with the local Mexican people.

 

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

Humans are tribal by nature

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

If Mexicans could tell the difference between themselves and a Mexican born in U.S.A., then definitely a Mexican could tell the difference between themselves and Caribbean people. People by nature would stick to their own people in the beginning although there are actually more similarities than differences since both Mexicans and Caribbean people are fluent in Spanish and are culturally similar.

 

Also, Caribbean people could tell the difference between one another, example: Cubans and Puerto Ricans.

 

 

  

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

You are very wise amigo! generally, Dominicans looked nothing like Mexicans. 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

You could tell someone that's from Dominican. 

 

 

 

20 Signs You Grew Up Dominican

 

Best cakes ever, mangu for breakfast, and bachata all day equals pure Dominicano.

1. You always opt for tres golpes over eggs and bacon.
You can never go wrong with the breakfast of champions: mangu, fried salami, and fried white cheese.

2. Nothing can make you as happy and as miserable at the same time as listening to bachata.
You start off excited for the song, then all of a sudden you start thinking about your ex.

3. You go to a baby shower for two things only: Pastelitos and quipes.

4. You are convinced Dominicans make the best cake on earth.
Fondant has nothing on supiro.

5. You take "fashionably late" to the next level.
"Voy en camino" really means "I haven't started getting ready yet."

6. You dreaded house parties as a kid.
All your tias and tios would force you to dance when all you really wanted was to watch them play dominoes.

7. You have walked the streets in a "tubi."
But would NEVER wear it to an award show (I'm looking at you, RiRi). And yes, it's "tubi," not a "doobie."

8. You spend hours every weekend under la secadora.
And you learned the hard way when your stylist says "la puntica na' mas," she really means cutting off at least five inches.

9. You had no choice but to know every Juan Luis Guerra song by the time you were 4 years old.

10. Nothing beats a hot sancocho on a cold winter day.
Or on any day, followed by a Country Club Merengue soda.

11. You can name at least five other bachata artists that are not Prince Royce and Romeo.
Antony Santos, Luis Vargas, Luis Miguel del Amargue, El Torito, Zacarias Ferriera, etc.

12. Your heart breaks every time Romeo Santos reps his Boricua side.
He's also Dominican, and obviously that's what makes him so amazing.

13. You say "dique" all the time.
It's part of a Dominican's English vocabulary.

14. You try out these home remedies before finally going to the doctor: broncochemrompepecho, and VapoRub.

15. When you first visited the Dominican Republic, you met a cat named "Misu."
And then realized that every other cat in DR is also called Misu.

16. You appreciate speaking Spanish to other Dominicans.
Only so you can talk as fast as you want.

17. You grew up being scared of "El Cuco."
And you're still scared to walk around in the dark because of it.

18. No matter how long the line is, habichuelas con dulce are always worth the wait.

19. Your secret to staying thin is dancing to a 12-minute minute mix of tipico every day.
Who needs the gym?

20. You have so many cousins that every time you go to a family party you meet a new one.

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

You guys have large families just like we do

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

friends and neighbors are considered family also some times.

 

 

 

 

 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

Probably a handful of Brazilians were mistaken as Mexicans in the 1930's which eventually repatriated some of them to Mexico however Brazilians are fluent in Portuguese and several could not speak fluent Spanish with the locals in Mexico. 

 

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

Brazilians can look like anyone.

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

 

Brazilians I normally see here in the states appear Mestizos and some appear like pure Iberians while some of them that play soccer on the field do look Mulatto or Zambo.

 

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Bacano G
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@prau123

some of them can look like an Asian 

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Prau123
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@jose

 

 

If Brazilian Mestizos didn't wear their national team soccer jersey, I would consider them at first glance as Mexican Mestizos.  

 

 

 

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Bacano G
(@jose)
Joined: 1 year ago

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@prau123

make sure you don't say to their face. 

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Prau123
(@prau123)
Joined: 2 years ago

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Posts: 1294

@jose

 

I have actually said it before but they understand that several people here in the states have rarely seen a Brazilian before.  

 

 

 

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Prau123
(@prau123)
Joined: 2 years ago

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Posts: 1294

@jose

 

 

Latino, La Raza, Hispanic, Hispano and some Mexicans prefer Chicano and Pocho/Pocha because it also emphasizes their Native ancestry.  I'm seeing Latinos being referred to as Latinx which is considered gender neutral. 

 

 

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Bacano G
(@jose)
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@prau123

Chicanos is preferred but Pochi is also derogatory in some ways depending on the type of Mexican. 

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Prau123
(@prau123)
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@jose

 

I'll use Chicanos instead, I rarely hear them say Pocho/Pocha.

 

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Lannie
Posts: 514
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(@lannie)
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Joined: 2 years ago

Sorry to hear this part of the history.

 

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Prau123
(@prau123)
Joined: 2 years ago

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@lannie

 

 

Happened probably quite often.

 

 

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Bacano G
(@jose)
Joined: 1 year ago

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Posts: 773

@lannie

it's not a walk in the park for us 

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PimpMasterPro
Posts: 2438
Registered
(@rambo)
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Joined: 2 years ago

Great history lesson Amado 

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Amado
(@Amado)
Joined: 9 months ago

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Posts: 247

@rambo

Hope I can help close the bridge. 

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Prau123
(@prau123)
Joined: 2 years ago

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Posts: 1294

@rodriguez

 

 

 

Depends on which Asian group, some of them are more culturally similar to Latin American cultures than others and it will take a longer time for those who are culturally dissimilar.

 

 

Btw, have you visited Olvera street?

 

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Call me Charlie
Posts: 1070
(@charlie)
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Joined: 2 years ago

Don't worry, when we die, we will be sent to location where God has judged us to go.

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Call me Charlie
Posts: 1070
(@charlie)
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Joined: 2 years ago

Amado, I got a question. If America choose to have a Hispanic president to be in the White House for this generation, who would you most likely think to be the president?

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Amado
(@Amado)
Joined: 9 months ago

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@charlie

Marco Rubio & Ted Cruz

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Call me Charlie
(@charlie)
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@rodriguez Pick 1 and why.

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Amado
(@Amado)
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@charlie

Marco Rubio would be president if he was taller. 

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Call me Charlie
(@charlie)
Joined: 2 years ago

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Posts: 1070

@rodriguez Why does being tall matter?

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Bacano G
(@jose)
Joined: 1 year ago

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Posts: 773

@charlie

women like tall guys

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