Monday, April 18, 2011

4.18 Possible Solutions

           When I first considered this topic, I only thought of the treatment of Mexican individuals by Americans.   Mexican workers are an important part of America’s economy.  They are assimilated into our culture as needed to perform necessary work.  In many cases they are looked down upon and treated less than human, which is dehumanization. As I began my research the solution I came up with was that there was a misunderstanding between people.  If people thought of the conditions that they were working in and the reasons behind it the situation would improve.  The idea being every job and person completing it is important to the society and should be respected.
Unfortunately, the situation or solution is not that simple. There are many reasons behind the condition of Mexico’s economy, which has driven the Mexican people to a position of assimilation and dehumanization.  After Mexico’s independence from Spain, the country went through a period of Neocolonialism.  During this time the country produced mainly raw materials which were traded with the United States and Britain.  Being a producer of only raw materials gave little incentive for industrial development and made Mexico dependent on other economies.  
If this is considered a solution may be to help further develop Mexico’s economy. If there was a better job market in Mexico than there wouldn’t be as many immigrant workers in the United States. This is a solution to assimilation into the American economy, but does not completely resolve the problem of dehumanization.  I am not sure that there is a solution to dehumanization since a combination of a viewpoint as well as action of people.  The conditions of treatment would improve if the Mexican people were not in the position that they are in, but this does not necessarily mean that the general perceptions would improve.  
            This is not a completely practical solution because even if more job opportunities became available in Mexico the United States would probably still have a need for foreign labor.  Therefore the Mexican workers would still be a part of society.  This brings me back to the idea of the solution being the change in American’s attitude toward Mexico.  The countries are dependent on each other and this will probably never change.

Monday, April 11, 2011

4.11 Terms that apply to the situation and how they apply

As I research the situation of Mexican immigration into the United States for job opportunities, I find that more terms apply to the situation than I had originally considered. The terms that are most prevalent so far are othering, assimilation, and dehumanization.
The most recent part of my research has been watching the videos recommended by Dr. Barnard.  In the film, A Day Without a Mexican there are numerous examples of each of these terms. In the film all of the Latino individuals suddenly disappear.  This causes mass confusion and chaos. Even though this film is somewhat a comedy many aspects of it apply to common viewpoints of the Mexican people.  The terms othering, assimilation, and dehumanization are all present in the film.
Othering is a grouping and labeling of individuals. In one part, a senator’s wife hires “Mexican” painters.  The senator complains that the Mexicans weren’t from Mexico, but Guatemala and Honduras.  This statement is an example of othering.  All of the Latinos are grouped into one category as the “others”.   Another example of othering occurs during a scene in which a man is discussing Mexican immigration.  He states that Mexicans take jobs, get on welfare, bring drugs into the country, and steal the American way of life.  This is a blanket statement that groups all Mexicans into a negative group, which is the “other”.
Assimilation is the attempt to make individuals a part of a society that is not their own.  Aspects of assimilation include the adoption of language, dress styles, and religion.  The Mexicans in this film are assimilated into the economic system of California.  Their jobs are extremely important but overlooked.  When the Mexicans disappear there is no one that knows how to do the tasks that they once completed and chaos occurs. 
There are also many examples of dehumanization in the film.  Dehumanization places one group of individuals at a lower level than the other.  In one scene the border patrol is very brutal to the Mexicans. They use harsh tones and push and shove them.  In another, a Latino reporter’s boss tells her she must use more of an accent if she wants to give the report.  This is taking away her individuality which is another form of dehumanization.
            Despite the fact that the film was a comedy it showed a general viewpoint of many people towards Mexicans.  Watching the film helped me to focus on the various ways the terms applied to the situation I am researching.  
Othering occurs often for any group that is different.  The Mexican culture is probably the most common foreign interaction for Americans since it is the closest.  For example, I went to a small high school and Spanish was the only foreign language that was taught.  The things that we learned about the culture of Mexico caused a category that Mexicans were placed into and therefore “othered”.  Assimilation also applies to the situation.  In many ways Mexicans are assimilated into American culture, such as the job market and English language. Dehumanization occurs when the people are used as a resource instead of values as people as discussed in my previous blog.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

4.4 Background/history of your chosen situation

It is difficult for me to decide where to begin my paper in relation to the history.  The colonization of current Mexico began in the 1500s. The Spanish conquest began for the desire of gold and other resources. Eventually it turned into a religious cause in an attempt to Christianize the Indians, this is similar to the white man’s burden.  The results of the Christianizing included wide spread religious conversion, cultural assimilation, as well as forced Indian labor. In 1535, the Spanish established a colonial government in Mexico. The conditions of oppression lasted until Mexican Independence from Spain in 1821.  
Despite Independence in Mexico, the Mexican economy has never been completely stable.  This has lead to a poor job market causing immigration to the United States for job opportunities.  In many cases the immigration has been welcomed. These are of course when the United States was in need of individuals to help the job market, such as during World War I.  During this time the Mexican government allowed citizens to contract and fulfill positions for Americans that went overseas. After the war, Mexican laborers were no longer needed so the number of contracts diminished.   The opposite case happened during the Great Depression when many Mexicans were deported because of the diminishing job market.  This is a great example of dehumanization as well as assimilation. 
During times of need there was an attempt at assimilation.  The Mexican workers were brought to America to help improve the American economy.  The dehumanization is the thought of “bringing in” people.  This makes them seem like a supply and demand good.  It is very sad that the people become like any other product.  When they are needed that can be brought into the United States, but if they are not they are prevented from coming or pushed out.