This study is the tenth in a series produced by various scholars cooperating with the Mexican-American Study Project at UCLA, which was funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation. Since 1964 this series has endeavored to shed light on contemporary conditions among the so-called Mexican-Americans, one of the largest and least understood minority groups. The purpose of the series is to facilitate the resolution of problems which we all face as the result of conditions under which the Mexican-American lives. Other volumes in the series deal with such subjects as Mexican immigration into the United States, segregation of minorities in the Southwest, intermarriage, education, and the Mexican-American cultural heritage. These reports will be revised and made into one major work soon.
The study by Walter Fogel, while admittedly not definitive, is a very useful analysis of the Mexican-American in the labor market. Fogel relies mainly on the detailed data contained in the 1960 U.S. Census of Population and similar sources. The staleness of the data is not wholly a disadvantage, however, for persons dealing with purely contemporary problems will find the facts still relevant, and the historian may feel more at ease in the recent past. The data are richer on urban conditions.
The chapters deal with topics such as income, occupations, unemployment, and relationships between Mexican-Americans on the one hand, and groups such as Negroes and “Anglos” on the other. Much of the information is contained in graphs. There is no formal bibliography, though notes at the end of each chapter provide some guides to further reading.
Overall, this is a very useful work indeed. It sketches in general terms some very unhappy conditions in our land. It serves to remind traditional Latin Americanists that the some five million Mexican-Americans, as well as others of Latin American origin in the United States, comprise a meaningful subject for academic concern.
Fogel’s work helps shed light on a rather feudal aspect of conditions in the Southwest. Other numbers in the series support my observation that caste or class in the Southwest stems from roles that both Mexican-American and Anglo have defined historically for each other. These roles often reflect colonial period attitudes and values carried over from the colonial into the national period in both Latin America and the United States.
The series has opened a door that most Latin Americanists will not want to enter. But those who do will find a fascinating field for study, despite a current debate as to whether the term Mexican-American makes any sense. The U.S. Census currently calls the group, “Spanish-White.” Mexican-Americans (as they are called in California at least) laugh at this term. Yet nothing will arouse such a heated discussion among them as their proper designation. Fogel’s work and this series provide much food for thought.