An essential resource for understanding the complex history of Mexican Americans and racial classification in the United States
Manifest Destinies tells the story of the original Mexican Americans—the people living in northern Mexico in 1846 during the onset of the Mexican American War. The war abruptly came to an end two years later, and 115,000 Mexicans became American citizens overnight. Yet their status as full-fledged Americans was tenuous at best. Due to a variety of legal and political maneuvers, Mexican Americans were largely confined to a second class status. How did this categorization occur, and what are the implications for modern Mexican Americans?
Manifest Destinies fills a gap in American racial history by linking westward expansion to slavery and the Civil War. In so doing, Laura E Gómez demonstrates how white supremacy structured a racial hierarchy in which Mexican Americans were situated relative to Native Americans and African Americans alike. Steeped in conversations and debates surrounding the social construction of race, this book reveals how certain groups become racialized, and how racial categories can not only change instantly, but also the ways in which they change over time.
This new edition is updated to reflect the most recent evidence regarding the ways in which Mexican Americans and other Latinos were racialized in both the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The book ultimately concludes that it is problematic to continue to speak in terms Hispanic “ethnicity” rather than consider Latinos qua Latinos alongside the United States’ other major racial groupings. A must read for anyone concerned with racial injustice and classification today.
Manifest Destinies is as compelling now as it was in its first edition a decade ago and if anything even more timely. Expertly combining critical race theory, sociology, politics, ethnic studies, and military history, Gómez dramatizes both the peculiarities of the New Mexican case and its deep importance to understanding the nation’s racial history.-David Roediger ,author of How Race Survived U.S. History
"In a wonderfully rendered account of New Mexico’s early history, Laura Gómez offers an original interpretation of colonialism and a distinctive portrayal of how racism works. The particulars of 19th century New Mexico illuminate everything from Donald Trump’s White Nationalism to Barack Obama’s record-shattering deportation numbers. Gómez manages, at once, to explore subtle variations and contradictions within racial categories without obscuring the murderous hate at the heart of the racism that still centrally defines life in the United States."-Gerald P. López,author of Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice
Laura Gómez’s Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race is an important study that has changed our notions of Latinos in the United States, firmly placing them within its racial tapestry. Given the continued growth of this group and its participation in the political life of the nation (e.g. the Castro Brothers, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz), this second edition allows us to ponder the prospects of Mexican Americans and other Latinos and thus is both timely and necessary.-Ernesto Chávez,author of The US War with Mexico: A Brief History with Documents