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Society Issues in “Fit to Be Citizens” by Natalia Molina Critical Essay

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Updated: Jun 7th, 2019

Introduction: Fading into the Background. Important Facts about the Book

The subject of race and nationality is an extremely complicated one. There are a lot of things one can criticize about Molina’s book, but there is one that no one can argue about – Molina deals with the issue with real dignity. The title of the book reveals a lot – there is no need to talk much about the choice of place and time. As for why the writer picked Los Angeles as the main location was the fact that “Migration to Los Angeles from the East and Midwest surged, sparking a real estate boom from 1886 to 1887. Efforts to promote the city as a center of commerce and tourism accelerated” (Molina 18).

Monila’s Major Research Questions: Concerning the Subject of Race

Molina asks quite a peculiar question at the top of her research. Instead of a commonplace attitude towards the tricky issue, Molina does a fairly deep research, disclosing a number of peculiar facts about the Mexicans and the Chinese, as well as the rest of the minorities that flooded Los Angeles in the chosen time slot. Thus, the research question which Molina pursues is whether the advent of technical innovations that the early XX century was shaped the lives of the Mexican and Asian immigrants.

Focusing on the Methodology: Where the Attempts Fall Flat

Though the research has been designed in a pretty interesting way, written in a specific manner and offers quite interesting data to ponder over, as well as the conclusions that make quite decent mind for thoughts, there are some issues with the research design. No matter how sad it is, one has to admit that the research method is as sloppy as it can get. There are neither enough interviews, nor the statistical data to serve as the main standpoints.

Author’s Primary Sources: Back to the Roots of the Research

As it has been mentioned, Molina did not take any interviews as the source for the research data. However, the paper still has a certain source to base all the information it offers on, and that source is all kinds of annual reports. If digging deeper and browsing through several footnotes in the book, one can see that Molina mentions such sources as Los Angeles City Minutes or Los Angeles City Archives, which is pretty impressive. However, it would be still far more impressive if the records of opinion polls or interviews of the minorities were included as well.

Molina’s Key Argument: Shocking the Readers into Believing

Taking into account the topic and the controversy around it, especially the awkward issue concerning the lack of care towards immigrants and people of different nationality, the key argument that Molina presents in the book is no big reveal. As one must have expected, the author states that the medical discourse in the early XX Century did have the power to make the racial issues even more complicated and contributed to the segregation of the society.

Molina makes it clear that the health officials did not make any obvious distinction between the specifics of the Japanese or Chinese culture, paying special attention only to the dominating one, e.g., Mexican. Molina argued that the medical help was offered unequally to the people of different national backgrounds, which was extremely unfair.

1920s Public Health Programs: Mexican Residents in the Limelight

According to Molina, there were a couple of really peculiar elements concerning the social programs for kids and women in the early XX century. Even though each of these programs was meant to improve the existing standards of the medical care and to offer the best of what doctors could to every single human being, there are still some considerable issues about these programs.

Of all the programs mentioned by Molina, the one targeting Mexican mothers must be the most memorable. Aiming to improve not only the medical, but also the educational situation, it not only allowed to see the scale a the problems within the immigrant society, but also showed that the government actually made an attempt to bring the Americans and the minorities closer, making the Mexicans also take the leading part.

Public Health in Deportation Campaigns and Public Housing for Mexicans: The Mystery Is Revealed

There is no doubt that the deportation programs were an unfair move to all the nationalities involved. Melina focuses on the Mexican deportation, explaining that there were certain health issues behind it. Considered to be potentially dangerous in terms of the illnesses they could infect the Americans with, Mexicans were deported.

The same went for the Chinese; according to the author, “By the 1870s, public health officials had sufficient credibility to construct what being ‘Chinese’ meant – namely, dirty, depraved, and disease ridden” (Molina, 26). However, the program spared the Japanese, since the latter were not as high in the race hierarchy as the Mexicans were.

Conclusion: About the Intended Public. Whom the Book Is Meant for

Thus, Molina obviously dedicates the book not only to the Mexican and Japanese minorities who have survived the past complexities and now are feeling disrespected and looked down at, but also the people of different races who experience or have experienced difficulties with adjusting to the American society.

However, the book will have an immense effect on the opponents as well. In fact, the book is a perfect way to persuade people about the difficulties that Mexicans and Japanese face in the USA. A perfect guide to eliminating intercultural conflicts, Fit to Be Citizens? must prove a perfect way to settle a couple of old conflicts.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Society Issues in "Fit to Be Citizens" by Natalia Molina'. 7 June.

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