The U.S. has historically racialized the Latinx community as a homogenous group and have failed to acknowledge how the various ethnic groups have complex histories and are far from homogenous despite their similarities. The Latinx community in the U.S. is a heterogenous and diverse community and there is a need to come to terms with the tensions and solidarities that emerge. By the 1980s, Los Angeles (LA) was a city well-established by the Mexican community, particularly Mexicans with a legal status. Despite the similarities between Mexican and Central American culture, Central Americans felt out of place within the Mexican community and faced tensions. These tensions are a result of larger structural forces of marginalization and exploitation that pins groups against each other and in competition for jobs, housing, and other basic resources while simultaneously creating a sense of solidarity (Osuna, 2015). Furthermore, these tensions need to be in conversation with the root cause of displacement of Central Americans, particularly the long history of involvement and intervention of the U.S. in Central America that has caused destabilization and vicious cycle of violence and control over resources, and their inclusion within the U.S. nation-state. Recognizing these conditions will enable politics of liberations to understand the multiple forms and layers of the violence that Latinx communities face in the U.S. I seek to provide a historical analysis of the racialization processes upon Mexican and Central American communities in Southern California. The basis of my support lies in (1) the incorporation of Mexicans during 1850s that established a precarious relationship to blackness through lynching, (2) the U.S. nation-state intervention in Central America and violence against Central Americans in LA, and (3) the inclusion of Central Americans in LA public and university spaces.
Diana Gamez is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at UCI. Diana Gamez’s work primarily examines the relationship between schools and prisons as mitigated by the racialization, gendered, and sexed processes of the Latinx community in Los Angeles. She uses a historical analysis to understand and complicate the racialization process of the Latinx community in Los Angeles, which includes exploring notions of race, gender, and sexuality in Central America and understanding how the Latinx community defines itself in Los Angeles, including who is considered to be part of it. She seeks to expand knowledge on the racialization of the Latinx community, particularly understanding “What is ‘Latinx’?”