It is natural for change to occur in any society. A multicultural society like America is particularly susceptible to change, mainly because power is shifting from one dominant ethic group to a much larger and dynamic group. How America will adjust to the inevitable change is vital since it will shape the direction the entire society will take in the coming century.
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The formation of the United States as a country did not begin with the indigenous occupants of the land, but with immigrants mainly from Europe and Africa. One of the largest groups to move into the United States has come from Mexico.
There are three things that Zinn would most likely have commented on in Dr. Montejano’s article. First is the historical context of the difficulty in integration between the two racial groups. The second is how the issue of preservation of a culture is more idealistic than practical. Finally, he is likely to have commented on how policy often affects how different groups relate to one another in any society.
Zinn writes “There is not a country in world history in which racism has been more important, for so long a time, as the United States.” (Zinn 23). He goes on to describe that the roots of racism in the United States can be traced back to the country’s first black and white settlements. In the mid 17th century, white settlers from Europe brought with them black slaves from Africa.
For the next 350 years, blacks were treated as inferior out of hatred, contempt, pity or patronization. Despite the passing of the civil rights movements in America in the 60s and early 70s, the feelings of resentment towards blacks – and by extension other ‘brown’ and ‘yellow’ races – are still felt in white America today.
Zinn goes on to write that a permanent ‘adversarial culture’ exists in the United States, where despite the existence of proposed reforms to keep the positive theoretical ideas of capitalization and democracy in place, there are several people in the country that refuse to go along with these reforms, either actively or passively. The idea of protecting the principle of democracy is very strong in the United States, and has been for a very long time.
In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, for example, there was an increasing outcry by civilians on the amount of money that was spent by the military and other branches of government in developing nuclear weapons. The strength of the protests was vital in President Ronald Reagan’s ascendancy to the presidency.
Zinn is very particular about the use of policy in shaping the American society. The American policy on racism today is simple: there is zero tolerance to all forms of racism. However, Mexicans in the United States, as Dr. Montejano points out, still face racial discrimination although at lower levels (Montejano).
Mexicans are still unable to get the best jobs or enjoy equal opportunities as whites. When creating policies, the government must know that a lot of power lies in the people and if they can appeal to the masses and create a popular policy, they have a greater chance of succeeding in implementing it. When talking about the reaction of America to Bush Sr.’s attack on the United States, Zinn describes the American people as ‘courageous’.
Montejano, David. Anglos and Mexicans in the 21st century. August 1992. 22 August 2011 <https://jsri.msu.edu/upload/occasional-papers/oc03.pdf>.
Zinn, Howard. “Drawing the color line.” Zinn, Howard. People’s History of United States. Pennsylvania: Harper-Collins, 2005. 23.