An Author Is Opening The Discussion On The Violent History In The U.S. Against Mexicans In Texas
The history of Latinos in the U.S. dates back to before it was called the United States. Latinos have always inhabited many parts of what is now the United States of America. However, the recorded history of what happened to them while on this land is one that has often gone disputed and untold. However, in time, it is through oral history and fragments of documents and photographs that scholars have been able to complete the puzzle. Today’s experience of Latinos living in the current administration is just another addition to the story.
Monica Muñoz Martinez, an assistant professor of American studies at Brown University, released a book last year titled “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas,” and discussed the many ways the history of Latinos in the U.S. is complex and vital to remember.
Martinez talked about her book in a recent interview on the public radio station WBUR. The program, which featured Muñoz Martinez, began by mentioning the increase in hate crimes against Latinos and how these crimes aren’t anything new, but something this community has been experiencing for a very long time.
“One hundred years ago, anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican rhetoric fueled an era of racial violence by law enforcement and by vigilantes. But it’s also important to remember that this kind of sentiment, this rhetoric, also shapes policy,” Muñoz Martinez said on WBUR. “So 100 years ago, it shaped anti-immigrant policy like the 1924 Immigration Act. It also shaped policies like Jim Crow-style laws to segregate communities … and targeting Mexican Americans especially. There [were] efforts to keep American citizens, Mexican Americans, from voting. But there were also forced sterilization laws that were introduced, and U.S. Border Patrol was established in 1924. Our policing practices, our institutions today have deep roots in this period of racial violence.”
Muñoz Martinez, who received a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, also spoke about the Porvenir massacre — an attack against Mexican-Americans that isn’t widely known but was recently made into a film.
She called the attack of innocent people a “case of state-sanctioned violence that is really profound and reminding us [not only] of the kinds of injustices that people experienced, but also the injustices that continue to remain in communities and were carried by descendants who fought the injustice and have been working for generations to remember this history.”
Muñoz Martinez notes that it’s important to continue to talk openly about the atrocities against Latinos in the U.S. in order to understand the big picture of racism in the country, but also to realize how these experiences shape the community as well.
“Well, it’s difficult to teach these histories on their own. But it’s also deeply disturbing because students make connections.” Muñoz Martinez said on the radio show. “It prompts conversations about police violence today, police shootings on the border by Border Patrol agents. One of the cases that I write about in my book is the shooting of Concepcion García, who was a 9-year-old girl who was studying in Texas and became ill and crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico with her mother and her aunt to recover her. She was shot by a U.S. border agent.
“So when we teach these histories, it’s important to know that these kinds of injustices have lasting consequences, not only in shaping our institutions but shaping cultures and societies,” she added. “When we think about the impact of some of the cases from 100 years ago continuing to weigh heavy on people a century later, it’s a warning to us that we must heed. And we will have to work actively as a public. If we don’t call for public accountability, these patterns of violence are going to continue, and we will be working for a long time to remedy the kinds of violence that we’re seeing.”
For more information about Muñoz Martinez’s work, you don’t need to be a student at Brown University. All you need is a library card.
Her book “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas” is available everywhere. You can buy it as well. You can also click here to listen to her entire interview on WBUR or follow her work at Refusing to Forget on Twitter, and her personal social media account as well.