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Internal colonialism has been a system that has been able to oppress racial minorities in the United States, through forced and voluntary processes. Through internal colonialism, the dominant society constrains racial minorities and keeps them at a disadvantage. Latinos/as have been able to understand their situation in American society because of internal colonialism. Because of the oppression and constant racism that they experience, internal colonialism allowed Latinos/as to fight back against their oppressors.
It can be considered a ‘call to action’ in some sorts, because it allowed them to come together in order to fight for their rights. Although this ‘call to action’ against internal colonialism has made some contributions for Latinos in society, it has not fully been able to combat the racism and oppression they still experience. The Latinos/as in the United States have been oppressed in many different ways through internal colonialism. Anglo dominance in politics, overall economic status, and education have been main ways in which the dominant society suppresses Latinos.
Mario Barrera states in, The Barrio as an Internal Colony, that, “…the dominant society has largely destroyed Chicano economic organization, severely limited political organization, and waged a constant attack on Chicano values and other cultural traits through the schools, the media, and other institutions” (Barrera, 484). Chicanos/as are underrepresented politically in the United States because of Anglo dominance. Barrera examines mechanisms of internal colonialism that repress Chicano/a involvement in politics.
These include: disenfranchising Chicanos/as using poll taxes and literacy tests, and gerrymandering. The inability for Chicano/as to represent themselves politically in their own barrios and in all of society, gives them a sense of powerlessness because of their inability for their voices to be heard. Although politics contribute to the poor ways Chicanos are treated, economic status also plays an important role; Barrera states that, “…the Chicano community finds itself in a general condition of disadvantage: low incomes, poor housing, inadequate health care, low educational level, and so on.
It also results in the community finding its culture and social organization under a constant attack from a racist society” (Barrera, 485). These disadvantages become barriers for Chicanos to achieve goals within a racist society. Racial conflict was very common, and was something that many Chicanos had to overcome in many aspects of life, including education. Education levels among Chicanos were very low. And being able to attain a higher education level was very difficult for many Chicanos/as. Chicanos/as acknowledged that education was a necessity in order to develop the Latino community.
As mention in the El Plan de Santa Barbara: A Chicano Plan for Higher Education, “Chicanos recognize the central importance of institutions of higher learning to modern progress, in this case, to the development of our community. But we go further; we believe that higher education must contribute to the formation of a complete man who truly values life and freedom” (10). El Plan de Santa Barbara called for the California’s universities and college systems to act on certain things in order to meet the demands of the Chicano/a community.
Admission and recruitment of Chicano/a students, faculty, administrators, staff, and a curriculum plan relevant to Chicano/a culture, were two important things necessary to combat the struggle of the Chicano/a community. By understanding the commonality of oppression by the dominated in society, it allowed Chicanos/as to collectively come together for a common cause to unite everyone. Their were many points in history when Chicanos/as actively came together to get a message across to people. Internal Colonialism became rooted in the minds of Chicanos/as as a way for dominate society to oppress them.
As stated in Chicano Struggles of Racial Justice: The Movement’s Contribution to Social Theory by Ramon A. Gutierrez, “Among Chicanas/os, internal colonialism was widely utilized by activists and intellectuals as an analytic tool to understand their structural location in American society from roughly 1965 to 1990” (Gutierrez, 107). Gutierrez goes on to explain how internal colonialism sparked the formation of many other groups that were subordinate to the dominate society. As blacks began to understand their struggles with oppression, they formed the ideas of Black Power, which then was adopted by Chicanos through the idea of Brown Power.
The idea of Brown Power started to be used strongly by students from UCLA in 1967 and 1968. Then as a result, the militancy group, the Brown Berets, was formed. These groups were created in order to: (1) bring a sense of unity among Chicano/as, (2) oppose the idea of white privilege and dominance through internal colonialism, and (3) seek out independence. The sense of Brown Pride and the ideals of the Brown Berets came directly out of internal colonialism. They sought to defend their rights in society and formed a sort of “Chicano Movement. ”
Internal colonialism has been a way for dominant societies to oppress racial minorities for a very long time. Chicanos/as have had to overcome oppression, and racism that have been linked to internal colonialism for decades. Through collectively acting against these forms of oppression, they have been able to combat some of the disadvantages that would normally be forced upon them. By understanding the “Chicano/a situation” within American society, it has made it much easier to fight back against social stratification and dominance of the dominant society.
Bibliography Barrera, Mario, Carlos Munoz Jr. , and Charles Ornelas. “The Barrio as an Internal Colony. ” Ed. Harlan Hahn. People and Politics in Urban Society (1972): 465-98. Print. Gutierrez, Ramon A. “Chicano Struggles of Racial Justice: The Movement’s Contribution to Social Theory. ” Ed. Ramon A. Gutierrez and Patricia Zavella. Mexicans in California: Transformations and Challenged. 94-110. Print. “El Plan De Santa Barbara: A Chicano Plan for Higher Education. ” (1969): 9-11. Print.