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Felícita 'La prieta' Méndez (1916-1998) and the end of Latino school segregation in California
En: CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS PUERTORRIQUEÑOS, vol. 19, núm. 2; Fall 2007: p 12-35. bibl. il. fotos.
Revista: Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenõs Bulletin, vol. 19, núm. 2; Fall 2007
Resumen: This paper reexamines the case of Méndez v. Westminster, a lawsuit filed by a Latino couple whose children were denied admission to a public school in Southern California in the 1940s. Felícita Méndez, born in Puerto Rico, and her husband, Gonzalo, a naturalized American citizen born in Chihuahua, México, challenged the segregation of Latinos and won their cases in the courts of Southern California and in the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of San Francisco, ending school segregation in California.The family sued the Board of Education of Westminster Country after their children were refused admittance into the local school of the community where they lived, on account of being 'too dark.'Felícita's parents and siblings were racialized as 'mulattos' in Puerto Rico, as 'black' in Arizona, and as 'Mexican' in California.Out ofa lifelong struggle against exclusion, Felícita developed a universalistic anti-racism and as a strong sense of citizen rights.We show that segregation was regionally differentiated in United States and that the same individual could be racialized in different ways in different regions of the country and its colonies abroad.Thus, the larger architecture of of the U.S. empire must be taken into account when examinig cases such as that of Felícita Méndez.We challenge conventional notions of racial stratification as binary structure and argue instead that a complex system of gradated exclusion best describes the racial/ethnic stratification system of the U.S. We call the practices of partial exclusion and partial enfranchisement, processes of 'bordering.' Through these processes, the empire determined who belonged in the polity and with what level of political and economic rights.
Palabras Claves: Palabras claves: Méndez v. Westminster; Puerto Ricans, migration to Arizona; Puerto Ricans, segregation; Chicanos, segregation; Latino Education; Latino Segregation.
Areas Temáticas:

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