Three experts on race and “borderline perspectives” spoke to a large crowd Wednesday night, highlighting border gateways, violence towards immigrants and the “forgotten” Mexican-American middle class.
These experts were brought to Cal State Fullerton by the American Studies Student Association to present their individual research and host a panel discussion.
The first presenter, assistant professor of history at Northwestern University Geraldo L. Cadava, went over the importance of borderland gateways, such as the one in Nogales, a Mexican city located on the boarder.
The gateway was built by Mexican officials through “programa national,” and is meant to inspire trade between Mexico and the United States as well as showcase what the country represents.
“Part of what I want to show,” said Cadava, “is that the border is a place for business. Big business.”
Throughout the presentation, Cadava pointed out that borders are much more than just immigration sites, they build cities and provide jobs to the bordering countries.
Moving from a constructive side to a destructive side of race and borderlands, Kathleen Belew, a Yale graduate student, presented her dissertation on the effects of post traumatic stress disorder on right-wing extremists against Latin Americans.
Belew said that military veterans brought home violent tendencies after the Vietnam War, and some used those tendencies for profit as mercenaries in Central American expeditions.
As these mercenaries returned back to the U.S., many right-winged extremists began to join organizations with white supremacy affiliations and perform violent acts against those they deemed a threat to American values, Belew said.
“The actions of these mercenaries always follow a state rhetoric,” said Belew. “First about communism â€¦ then about the war on drugs and the need to militarize the U.S. and Mexico border.”
The violent actions by extremists are met with complacency by the government. The government was able to get away with not prosecuting these actors by dubbing them as insane, Belew said.
“I’m not surprised,” continued Stacey Moultry, 22-year-old American studies graduate student, “but, there should be a concentration on who in the state is responsible.”
Jose Limon, professor of Mexican-American studies at the University of Texas, moved the conversation toward the growing Mexican-American middle class.
Today’s media depicts Mexican-Americans as either urban gang-bangers or rural farmers, Limon said, leaving the vast middle class population unrepresented.
His studies concentrated on how these individuals moved to the middle class through the use of the U.S. military and state universities. While his study was set in Texas, he drew parallels to the effects that CSUF and other Cal State Universities have had on the population of middle class Mexican-Americans.
Limon ended his speech by making a strong statement concerning the looming budget cuts in relations to the Mexican-American middle class.
“It’s a potentially catastrophic crisis,” said Limon, “for the on-going production and reproduction of this politically important socially interesting Mexican-American class.”
The presenters took questions from the many students attending, ranging from female influences on their studies to the shrinking of borders due to technology.