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.