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This essay contributes to contemporary debates on Mexican American racial identity. Although numerous scholars have pointed out the historic and geographic variability of Mexican American racial identity, there is a reluctance to accept Latina/o racial identity as an actual political choice. Consequently Chicana/o studies scholars have been slow to reconcile Mexicans’ historic embrace of whiteness with the diversity of current Latina/o racial identities. Drawing on the history of the Asociación Nacional México-Americana (ANMA), a radical political and civil rights organization in the U.S. Southwest, the essay suggests that Mexican American racial identity is first and foremost a political choice. Contrary to most contemporaneous ethnic Mexican organizations, ANMA consciously asserted a nonwhite identity that reflected the larger political commitments of its leftist ideology.

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