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“Is shopping a recipe for the city?” (Wade Graham, DREAM CITIES, 2016)

From a generally very interesting chapter on Idea 6, Malls, in Wade Graham’s Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World (a book on architecture and urban forms):

If the world is becoming a mall, has shopping become the driver of urban form? In most educated circles this suggestion elicits a [pg]196[/pg] collective shudder. Shopping is sub-serious, as Cicero insisted: All retail dealing may be described as dishonest and base.[1] Architecture, always zealous in defense of its claim to be a high art, wants nothing to do with it. Except, on rare occasions, to pay the bills. Louis Sullivan did a department store, Frank Lloyd Wright a boutique, Rudolf Schindler a store or two, and I. M. Pei’s first major project was a mall, but these are rarely mentioned along with their canonical masterpieces. And yet a case can be made that shopping, in the form of trade, gave birth to the city, that shopping has been and remains the lifeblood coursing through its heart, that the design of shopping is inseparable from the design of cities since time immemorial and is an indispensable guide to the urban future.

The largest neolithic settlement known, Çatalhöyük in Turkey, was founded in 7000 BCE, probably as a trading center.[2] The market at the center of Thebes has been dated to 1500 BCE. The Greek agora, or gathering place, the acknowledged birthplace of Western civilization and democratic society, was both a marketplace for shopping and a civic center for discussion, sociality, and politics. The Greek words for I shop and I speak in public are both derived from the same root; in modern Greek agora still means marketplace. The agora became the Roman forum, the medieval fair and market town, the Eastern bazaar and souk. Is shopping a recipe for the city? Consider the evidence. In the exchange of goods is gathering, and in gathering is society; meeting, trading information, gossiping, haggling, freedom of movement for women, and people-watching — the original theater is the theater of customers as participants in a perennial ritual and unpredictable drama. Done right, shopping can define space in ways that are fundamentally urban: the shopping space is a space apart, inside, separate from other distracting activities, and essentially pedestrian, but also connected to the outside. [pg]197[/pg] Shopping generates movement and density; it mixes and connects people, and disconnected or disparate parts of the city. If this is the case, then maximizing shopping equals maximizing urbanism. . . .

. . . [pg]236[/pg] We can only hope that shopping design’s evolution toward more inclusion and integration continues. Regardless, as long as it is profitable, it will continue to be a major contributor to the environments we inhabit, as it has been for centuries, if not more. Time will tell. In an essay on the firm’s influence, the L.A. architect and critic Craig Hodgetts asked whether Jerde’s artificial cosmos may, in time, attain the dignity of the truly cosmopolitan… with the scars and patina of age. Yet age and familiarity are not what make a place truly urban, but its integration into the fabric of the city around it. The question is then, will Jerde’s places become, as some previous forms of shopping architecture have, public places as much as private ones–places integral to urban vitality?

— Wade Graham, #6. Malls.
In Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World (2016).

See also:

  1. [1][Sordidi etiam putandi, qui mercantur a mercatoribus, quod statim vendant…. Cic., De officiis i. 150, here lightly paraphrased by the translator that Graham quotes. More literally: And again — they are to be reckoned sordid, who buy from merchants what they turn around and sell. In the passage, Cicero is listing off a series of working-class trades and lines of business that we (Roman noblemen) understand to be sordid (dirty) or illiberal (unfit for or unbecoming of a free gentleman) — among them toll-taking, money-lending, all hired work that is purchased for labor rather than for artistic or skillful quality, buying from merchants to resell, manufacturing in a workshop, and trades that minister to immediate enjoyment, like fishing and fish-selling, butchery, cooking, poultry-stuffing, cosmetics, dancing and performing in variety shows. –RG.]
  2. [2][This is contested; some confidently assert it was founded for trade, some assert just as confidently that all the evidence now points to it being founded as a religious center, etc. etc. –RG.]

June Jubilees and Two Versions of General Order No. 3

To-day is the Friday before Juneteenth. Celebrations on June 19th began as a Jubilee Day festival by freed African-Americans in Galveston and around abouts in Texas in 1866. Over the years it spread through other Southern black communities and spread into the western states through the Great Migration. The main story of Juneteenth is the story of a festival culture that spread throughout Southern black communities, on a lot of different days, where African-Americans organized parades, picnics, processions, and other public community celebrations to observe the anniversary day, or just to celebrate the fact, of emancipation from slavery. The specific date of June 19th radiated out from Texas through migration and cultural diffusion; some of the reasons for convergence on the date outside of Texas had to do with the Great Migration, and others just had to do with the obvious reasons to recommend a day on the edge of high summer for big outdoor community celebrations. To-day it has become a national holiday observed in the United States.

But the special significance of the day in Texas — the occasion of the event — was to mark the anniversary of the public pronouncement, and the beginning of effective enforcement, of the the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.[1] The U.S. General Gordon Granger arrived to take command of the occupied District of Texas in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and immediately posted and read out a series of General Orders, which included General Order No. 3. Here is the text, as it was re-printed in Flake’s Daily Bulletin, one of the Galveston papers of the time, on June 22, 1865.[2] Really, it’s not the most inspiring freedom document in the world (I guess announcements by white U.S. Generals usually aren’t), and of course the greater meaning of the day is in the people and communities who enjoyed it and who celebrate it, not in the text that happened to provide the occasion to set it off. But, in any case, this is what people read out on the day:


Headquarters District of Texas
Galveston, Texas, June 19th, 1865.

General Orders, No. 3.

The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.

The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts, and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere. By order of

Major General GRANGER

F. W. Emery, Major, A. A. General

Flake’s Daily Bulletin (Galveston, Tex.), June 22, 1865, p. 2.

The scan that Portal to Texas History has of this issue is, sadly, only barely legible; but the text appears at the bottom of the 3rd column and the top of the 4th on page 2, along with four other General Orders issued by Granger. (In No. 1 Granger assumes command of all soldiers in Texas, No. 2 announces the general staff, No. 3 publicizes the Emancipation Proclamation, No. 4 nullifies all acts of the secessionist government and orders remaining Confederate troops to surrender themselves into U.S. custody, and No. 5 arranges for the Army Quartermasters to act as a monopoly agent for the purchase and sale of cotton.)

There are actually a couple of textual variants to General Order No. 3. The version many people have seen online over the last few years — thanks to digitizations hosted by BlackPast and, via BlackPast, on WikiMedia Commons — is a signed, printed handbill preserved by the Dallas Historical Society, which must have been circulated in Texas some time on or after June 25, 1865.[3] That version of the order reads as follows:

Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865.


The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights, and rights of property between former master and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that of employer and free laborer. The freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at Military Posts, and that they will not be supported in idleness, there or elsewhere.

By Order of
G. GRANGER, Major General Commanding.
F. W. Emory, Major and A. A. Gen’l.

Presented in General Order No. 3, Dead Confederates (June 19, 2015)

The handbill’s version of the order reads This involves an absolute equality of rights, and rights of property between former master and slaves, where the Galveston newspaper version reads This involves an absolute equality of personal rights between former masters and slaves. The handbill also reads the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer, and free laborer, instead of the Galveston newspaper version’s between employer and hired labor.[4] The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph published a version very close to the handbill free laborer version on June 28; the same variant appears in the version of the order printed in the Clarksville Standard in July. Free laborer was also the phrase used in the version half-quoted, half-paraphrased by The Bellville Countryman (June 24). Most other newspapers closely followed the Galveston newspaper hired labor version, for example the Dallas Herald, and the New York Times. The version read into the Congressional Record follows the hired labor Galveston newspaper version. The version in the Austin Weekly State Gazette, and the Matamoros, Mexico Daily Ranchero follow the Galveston newspaper versions in other respects, but they read hired laborer in place of hired labor.[5]

Anyway, that’s the documentary history. For more on the deeper and more lasting story — the story of free black community festivals, of Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Juneteenth celebrations, and of black life after the day of emancipation — check out Juneteenth (Texas State Library), Galveston History: General Order No. 3, and BlackPast on Juneteenth: The Growth of an African American Holiday (1865-).

  1. [1]The past couple of years seems to have been the years when public awareness of Juneteenth outside the black community really became fully part of the national mainstream, and it’s become weirdly common to try to explain the reasons for the date with phrases like the day that the last slaves were made free, (it wasn’t!) or the day that all slaves became aware of their freedom, (which is kind of a weird attempt to save the first error) etc. That’s kind of a weird oversimplification, or mischaracterization, of what happened. People remained in slavery outside of Texas — both de jure and de facto — well after Juneteenth, in the slaveholding Border States that remained in the Union. In Kentucky and Delaware, the Emancipation Proclamation never had any legal effect in the first place, and many people endured slavery right up until the 13th Amendment took effect on December 18, 1865. On the other hand, in the South, lots of people in Texas already knew about the Emancipation Proclamation well before Juneteenth — even in conditions of extreme tyranny and isolation, word spreads, and many Black people sought Union lines where they could well before the end of the War. On the other hand, others did not. Word about the event itself spread at the speed of post riders, newspapers, and soldiers on horse or on foot, so while some people in Texas found out about the Emancipation Proclamation from the General Order, others didn’t know about emancipation until months after, when Union soldiers reached further out into inland Texas, etc.
  2. [2]This is the earliest number of Flake’s Daily Bulletin that I know of in the Portal to Texas History’s collection; it’s possible that the order might also have been printed in the previous days’ numbers of the paper; the General Orders were re-printed multiple times throughout 1865 in the paper’s columns.
  3. [3]It compiles several orders, including one from June 25 by L.B. Houston.
  4. [4]It also gets F. W. Emery’s last name wrong, in the printed text — although Emery was apparently willing to sign off on that, in his own hand.
  5. [5]Perhaps a small typographical error in one was repeated in the other; or maybe they did it just to be ornery.

1920s: “a jury indicted Bob Lemmons, an African American married to a Mexican woman, for violating the law forbidding miscegenation. He would not have been prosecuted were it not for the fact that he and his wife attempted to send their children to the white school instead of the black school.” (Foley, The White Scourge)

Miscegenation laws forbade the marriage of blacks with whites, but because Mexicans were often regarded as nonwhite, even if they were legally white, they were rarely, if ever, prosecuted.[13] In one particular case the law was applied for entirely different reasons than that of intermarriage. During the 1920s a jury indicted Bob Lemmons, an African American married to a Mexican woman, for violating the law forbidding miscegenation. He would not have been prosecuted were it not for the fact that he and his wife attempted to send their children to the white school instead of the black school. Mexican children in this township attended the white school in separate classrooms for the first two or three years; afterwards, only a token few, usually the ones Anglo teachers singled out as being “clean” and “not like the others,” were permitted to continue their education. A judge from Dimmit County, where the case was tried, told Paul Taylor: “The Negroes with Negro-Mexican children and the Mexicans wanted to send their children to the white school, so when that started… they just indicted and tried them for violating the law against intermarriage. Then they tipped off the women that if they had nigger blood they could not put the men in jail.”[14] Lemmon’s Mexican [209] wife confessed that she must be part black in order to have charges dropped against her husband for marrying a white person. This “proved that all the Mexicans were black,” reported one county resident, “so we put the Mexicans and Negroes together in school and employed a part Negro to teach them.”[15] The judge solved the problem of segregating Mexicans from whites in a town that had only two schools for three ethnic groups by changing the racial classification of Mexicans to black.

Neil Foley, The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 208-209.


  1. [13]Interview with H. H. Schultz, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Austin, Texas, no. 192-363, folder “American Government Officials,” 74-187c, Taylor Papers. When whites married Mexicans, especially of the “peon” class (dark-skinned), they were said to have descended “to the level of the Mexicans” (interview with Mr. Martin, county agent, El Paso County, Texas, no. 85-90, folder “Along Rio Grande,” 74-187c, Taylor Papers). For a fine study of miscegenation law and racial ideology, see Pascoe, “Miscegenation Law,” 44-69.
  2. [14]Interview with Judge Wildenthal, no. 54-644, folder “Dimmit County,” 74-187c, Taylor Papers.
  3. [15]Interview with John Asker, no. 42-634, folder “Dimmit County,” 74-187c, Taylor Papers, and interview with Bob Lemmons, no. 246-417, folder “Dimmit County,” 74-187c, Taylor Papers. Asker told Taylor that he liked Mexicans but added, “You can’t make a rose out of an onion.”

1927: Spanish Language May Be Taught In Schools In Certain Counties

In a previous Act of the legislature passed a few years before, the Texas state legislature had passed a sweeping attack on bilingual education in the state of Texas in an act forbidding the use of languages other than English in Texas schools; by 1927, it became clear from community and teacher complaints that the text of the act effectively forbade even teaching foreign languages as courses in Texas schools. The Legislature passed a second act, amending the first Act to preserve the ban on languages other than English outside of foreign-language classes, but with an exception to allow for teaching foreign languages, including Spanish, German, and Bohemian (the original targets of the English-only law, which in the 19th century had been used in many community schools as a primary language of instruction).

Spanish Language May Be Taught in Schools in Certain Counties


Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas:

Section 1. That Article 288 of the Penal Code of the State of Texas adopted at the Regular Session of the Thirty-Ninth Legislature, 1925, be and the same is hereby amended so as to read as follows:

“Art. 288. Except as herein provided, each teacher, principal and superintendent employed in the public free schools of this State shall use the English language exclusively in the conduct of the work of the schools and recitations and exercises of the school shall be conducted in the English language, and the trustees shall not prescribe any texts for elementary grades not printed in English; provided, however, that it shall be lawful to provide text books for and to teach the Spanish language in elementary grades in the public free schools in counties bordering on the boundary line between the United States and the Republic of Mexico and having a city or cities of five thousand or more inhabitants according to the United States census for the year 1920. It is lawful to teach Latin, Greek, French, German, Spanish, Bohemian or other language as a branch of study in the high school grades as outlined in the state course of study. Any such teacher, principal, superintendent, trustee, or other school official having responsibility in the conduct of the work of such schools who fails to comply with the provisions of this article shall be fined not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars, cancellation of certificate or removal from office, or both fine and such cancellation or fine and removal from office.

Sec. 2. The fact that under the present law it is unlawful to teach Spanish in the elementary grades in the public free schools of this State and that in counties having cities of over five thousand population bordering on the boundary line between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, a knowledge of the Spanish language is of inestimable value to the citizens and inhabitants of such counties and cities, and the fact that in order to obtain a speaking knowledge and mastery of any foreign language, it is imperative that instruction in such language be begun at the earliest possible period and the crowded condition of the calendar creates an emergency and an imperative [268] public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each House be suspended and that this Act take effect and be in force from and after its passage, and said rule is hereby suspended, and it is so enacted.


Approved March 28, 1927.

Effective (90) ninety days after adjournment.

H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1927: Supplement Volume to the Original Ten Volumes, 1822-1897 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1927), 283-284 (link).

“spin-offs from racial attitudes developed and cultivated through repeated interaction with colored people on the western frontier were being bestowed upon another caste in a different setting”; “a race of ‘mongrels’” (de Leon)

De León positions Texas Mexicans as another people of color in the 19th century racial system, projected into coloredness through “spin-offs from racial attitudes developed and cultivated through repeated interaction with colored peoples on the western frontier,” and keyed to Anglo interpretation of mestizaje as forming a “mongrel” or “degraded” racial status. Emory, qtd. here, on “practical amalgamation of races of different color” and unions between the “cleaner race” or the “white” and “his darker partner.” In p. 112 n. 18 we have de León’s take on the 1845 constitutional convention debate (via Crisp), the first place I heard tell of it.

Manifestly, spin-offs from racial attitudes developed and cultivated through repeated interaction with colored peoples on the western frontier were being bestowed upon another caste in a different setting. As Olmsted reported in his notes on Texas society of the 1850s, Mexicans were regarded as “degenerate and degraded Spaniards” or, perhaps, “improved and Christianized Indians.” Generally, their tastes and social instincts were like those of Africans. “There are thousands in respectable social positions [in Mexico] whose color and physiognomy would subject them, in Texas, to be sold by the sheriff as negro-estrays who cannot be allowed at large without detriment to the commonwealth,” he concluded.[18]

In view of the Southern presumption that individuals with any noticeable trace of African blood were blacks and given the contempt whites had for Indian “half-breeds,” it is not surprising that “niggers,” “redskins,” and “greasers” intimately intermingled in the Anglo-Texan mind. Moreover, whites considered racial mixing a violation of austere moralistic codes. According to Joseph Eve, U.S. chargé d’affaires to the Republic, the Texans regarded Mexicans as a race of “mongrels” composed of Spanish, Indian, and African blood.[19] To Francis S. Latham, traveling in Texas in 1842, Mexicanos were nothing more than “the mongrel and illicit descendants of an Indian, Mexican and Spanish, pencilled with a growing feintline of the Anglo Saxon ancestry.”[20] Such feelings about “mongrels” stemmed from the extensive lore American culture had developed concerning [17] the undesirability and supposed peril of miscegenation, especially between whites and blacks. Certainly, the mixed-blood nature of Tejanos concerned Anglo-Americans because of their cultural aversion to interracial passion, a subject upon which whites expressed themselves adeptly, albeit with no scientific basis. According to white beliefs, Mexicans resembled the degenerates from whom they descended. Although they inherited both the faults and the good qualities of their ancestors, unfortunately, the darker traits predominated, so that Mexicans by nature were superstitious, cowardly, treacherous, idle, avaricious, and inveterate gamblers. William H. Emory, surveying the boundary between the United States and Mexico, related this idea in an incidental remark included as part of his report, finished during the Franklin Pierce administration. Attributing the decline and fall of Spanish domination in Texas and the borderlands to a “baneful” cohabitation between whites and Indians, he continued:

Where practical amaglamation of races of different color is carried [out] to any extent, it is from the absence of the women of the cleaner race. The white makes his alliance with his darker partner for no other purpose than to satisfy a law of nature, or to acquire property, and when that is accomplished all affection ceases. Faithless to his vows, he passes from object to object with no other impulse than the gratification arising from novelty, ending at last in emasculation and disease, leaving no progeny at all, or if any, a very inferior and syphilitic race. Such are the favors extended to the white man by the lower and darker colored races, that this must always be the course of events, and the process of absorption can never work any beneficial change. One of the inevitable results of intermarrying between races of different color is infidelity. The offspring have a constant tendency to go back to one or the other of the original stock; that in a large family of children, where the parents are of mixed race but yet the same color, the children will be of every color, from dusky cinnamon to chalky white. This phenomenon, so easily explained without involving the fidelity of either party, nevertheless produces suspicion followed by unhappiness, and ending in open adultery.[21]

This sort of pseudoscience dictated the status of mixed-blood Tejanos in a white state.

Arnoldo de León, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821-1900. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983., 17-18.


  1. [18]Olmsted, Journey Through Texas, p. 454.  In 1845, serious debate dealing with the Mexicans’ color arose at the state constitutional convention. Some of the delegates protested that limiting citizenship and franchise to free “white” males might exclude Tejanos (Crisp, “Anglo-Texan Attitudes toward the Mexican,” pp. 413-416). For another example in which whites questioned Mexicans’ right to citizenship because of their color, see Texas State Gazette, April 21, 1855, p. 4.
  2. [19]Joseph Eve, “A Letter Book of Joseph Eve, United States Chargé d’Affaires to Texas,” ed. Joseph Nance, Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (October 1939): 218, (April 1940), 494, 506, 510.
  3. [20]Francis S. Latham, Travels in Texas, 1840, or the Emigrant’s Guide to the New Republic, p. 227; Roemer, Texas, p. 11; [Wright and Wright?], Recollections of Western Texas, p. 32; McIntyre, Federals on the Frontier, p. 254. Miscegenation produced curious side effects in Mexicans, according to popular lore. According to border resident Jane Cazneau, “the stoic Mexican, true to his Indian nature, endures suffering himself in silent, passive fortitude, and has no tenderness or sympathy for suffering or anything else” (Eagle Pass: Or, Life on the Border, p. 68; see also pp. 53, 70), while the German Ferdinand Roemer believed the Mexicans had somehow inherited the same inclination and skill for stealing horses as their Indian ancestors (Texas, p. 150).
  4. [21]House Exec. Doc. No. 135, 34th Cong., 1st Sess. (Ser. 861), I: 68-70. For a similar discourse on ethnology, see Vielé, “Following the Drum,” p. 158.

“The contemptuous word greaser…” (de León)

From Arnoldo de León, on the history and possible significations of the anti-Mexican racial slur “greaser” / grisero.

The contemptuous word greaser which whites used to identify Mexicans may well have applied to Indians as well, since the Indians’ olive color was thought to be a result of their practice of anointing their skins with oils and greases.[10] John C. Reid, passing through Texas as a prospective settler in the 1850s, sought to ascertain the origin of the application of the word upon finding that male Mexicans from Texas to the Pacific coast were called “greasers” and the females “greaser women.” He failed to find a satisfactory explanation, learning only that it had something to do with the similarity between the Mexicans’ color and that of grease. Another transient, commenting upon the vocabulary used in the El Paso region, supported this explanation: “A ‘greaser’ was a Mexican–originating in the filthy, greasy appearance of the natives.”[11]

Arnoldo de León, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821-1900. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983., 16.


  1. [10]Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, p. 241.
  2. [11]John D. Reid, Reid’s Tramp: Or, A Journal of the Incidents of Ten Months’ Travel …, p. 38; Albert D. Richardson, Beyond the Mississippi: From the Great River to the Great Ocean … 1857-1867, p. 239. There are, of course, several explanations of the origin of the word greaser. See Lloyd Lewis, Captain Sam Grant, p. 142; Américo Paredes, “On ‘Gringo,’ ‘Greaser,’ and Other Neighborly Names,” in Singers and Storytellers, ed. Mody C. Boatright et al., pp. 285-290; Cecil Robinson, Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest in American Literature, pp. 38-39; Daily Cosmopolitan (Brownsville, Texas), July 23, 1884, p. 3. Whatever the origins, the word was used commonly in reference to Mexicans.

“not definitely white, Negro” and racial intermediacy and ambiguity (1930 Census, qtd. in Cohn)

The 1930 Census race or color instructions for “Mexican” show a clear connection with the theme of racial intermediacy and ambiguity:

all persons born in Mexico, or having parents born in Mexico, who were not definitely White, Negro, Indian, Chinese, or Japanese.

(Instructional language quoted from D’vera Cohn.)

“one path, slouching toward whiteness” vs. “Another path … brown” multiracial identity (Foley)

The rapid increase in the Hispanic population has not, however, complicated the black-white binary of U.S. race relations to the extent one might have expected. In part, this is because middle-class Hispanics–with the assistance of the Census Bureau in 1980–have redrawn the boundaries of whiteness to include both Hispanics and “non-Hispanic whites.” Mexican Americans, like other Hispanic groups, are at a crossroads: one path, slouching toward whiteness, leads to racial fissures that harden the color line between blacks and whites. Hispanic whites express their new sense of entitlement often by supporting anti-affirmative action laws, English-only movements, and other nativist ideologies on the backs of immigrants and African Americans. Another path welcomes the shared responsibility of defining and bringing into existence a transnational multiracial identity that acknowledges the Indian and African heritage of Latinos  and their ancient ties to the Western hemisphere, an identity that the author Richard Rodriguez calls simply “brown.”[49]

Neil Foley, "Partly Colored or Other White: Mexican Americans and Their Problem with the Color Line," in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, ed. Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 123-144 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 204), 141.


  1. [49]Richard Rodríguez, Brown: The Last Discovery of America (New York: Viking, 2000).

“Middle-class Mexican Americans … drew distinctions between themselves and lower-class Mexicans who they often regarded as ‘Indios’ or ‘Indian Mexicans’ and used terms like ‘mojados’ …” (Foley)

racial stratification within Tejanx community — “indios,” “mojados,” etc. / BB&W, 134

These middle-class Mexican Americans in El Paso sought to eliminate once and for all the ambiguity surrounding Mexican racial identity. First, they recognized that any attempt to define them as “nonwhite” could easily come to mean “noncitizen” as well, because many Anglos did not regard Mexicans, particularly of the lower class, as truly American or fit for American citizenship. Second, middle-class Mexican Americans themselves drew distinctions between themselves and lower-class Mexicans who they often regarded as “Indios,” or “Indian Mexicans” and used terms like “mojados” (“wetbacks”) and other terms of class and racial disparagement. Hamilton Price, the black El Pasoan, pointed out as much when he reminded El Pasoans about the close, even intimate, relations that existed between blacks and lower-class Mexicans in El Paso, from Mexican men shining the shoes of African American men to African American men marrying Mexican women.

Neil Foley, "Partly Colored or Other White: Mexican Americans and Their Problem with the Color Line," in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, ed. Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 123-144 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 204), 134.


“to classify these people here as ‘colored’ is to jumble them in as Negroes” (Maury Maverick, qtd. in Foley)

The real issue over racial classification was clearly as much about Mexican racial pride as it was about fear over discrimination. In Texas, Mexicans endured the injuries of discrimination daily. Middle-class Mexican Americans needed to believe that segregation stemmed from Anglo ignorance of Mexico’s history and the fact that many middle-class Mexicans, like their Anglo counterparts, actually believed that whites were superior to both Indians and Africans. Mexican Americans did not necessarily acquire a belief in white racial supremacy in the United States, although it was certainly reinforced there whenever one encountered blacks and Indians in the United States.[23]

These mostly middle-class Mexicans were not simply content to deny any “negro ancestry.” For many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, “colored” meant racial inferiority, social disgrace, and the total absence of political rights–in short, the racial equivalent of Indian and Negro.[24] In their injunction against the El Paso city registrar, for example, they cited an Oklahoma law that made it libelous to call a white person “colored.”[25] Mexican Americans in San Antonio, who joined the campaign to change the classification scheme, sent a resolution adopted by various LULAC councils to U.S. Representative Maury Maverick, a liberal Texas Democrat, to register their “most vigorous protest against the insult thus cast upon our race.”[26] Maverick wrote to the director of the Census Bureau in Washington, D.C., that “to classify these people here as ‘colored’ is to jumble them in as Negroes, wich [sic] they are not and which naturally causes the most violent feelings.” He urged the director to include another category called “other white,” and argued that the classification of Mexicans as “colored” was simply inaccurate, because “people who are of Mexican or Spanish descent are certainly not of African descent.”[27] An irate Mexican American evangelist wrote that if Mexicans were colored, then [133] Senator Dennis Chavez of New Mexico, who was the first U.S. senator of Mexican descent, “will have his children classified as Negroes. Then Uncle Sam can hang his face in shame before the civilized nations of the world.”[28]

Neil Foley, "Partly Colored or Other White: Mexican Americans and Their Problem with the Color Line," in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, ed. Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 123-144 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 204), 132-133.
  1. [23]García, “Mexican Americans and the Politics of Citizenship,” p. 189.
  2. [24]El Continental, Oct. 6 and 25, 1936, CCC.
  3. [25]Collins v. State, 7. A. L. R., 895 (Okla.) in petition presented to the District Court of El Paso, M. A. Gomez et al., v. T. J. McCamant and Alex Powell, Oct., 1936, CCC.
  4. [26]LULAC Resolution, San Antonio Council no. 16 and Council no. 2, Oct. 14, 1936, CCC.
  5. [27]Maury Maverick to William L. Austin, Oct. 15, 1936, CCC; see also Calleros to Mohler, Oct. 9, 1936, CCC.
  6. [28]Herald-Post, Oct. 8, 1936, CCC.