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The manner in which migration and immigration shaped both communities in postwar Chicago


The Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are easy to neglect from the urban historical accounts since they fall outside of any binary understandings of race. Their experiences are rendered insignificant from those of the African Americans as well as the Eur...Read More


~Posted on Aug 2018

The manner in which migration and immigration shaped both communities in postwar Chicago

The Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are easy to neglec...

The Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are easy to neglect from the urban historical accounts since they fall outside of any binary understandings of race. Their experiences are rendered insignificant from those of the African Americans as well as the European immigrants. However, the dynamics of migration, settlement and the urban revitalization of Postwar Chicago led to the radicalization of the Mexican and Puerto Ricans as “other” and were placed in a very distinct racial position that remained fluid and context-dependent[1]. Mexican and Puerto Ricans have a shared history as the transnational labor migrants during and also after the Second World War through the state-sponsored programs. They were later settled near the West Side of Chicago and ultimately displaced from the area due to the urban revitalization policies, race-based housing and also the federal highway constructions that happened later. The played a significant role in maintaining of social networks between the immigrants and their hometowns. The immigrants were instrumental at the racial dynamics that Chicago, in general, experienced during the period.

Upon the arrival of the two populations, there was tremendous social and economic change experienced. Despite the falling industrial employments witnessed in Postwar Chicago, they managed to carve out a geographical and racial position in the region[2].

Their experiences in the central neighborhoods over the course of around three decades, the Mexican and Puerto Ricans came together to articulate comprehensively a distinct racial position in Chicago unlike any other witnessed before[3]. There were massive population shifts in Chicago that led to the radical changing of the complexion in the North.

Even as the populations of the African Americans grew while that of the whites declined in Postwar Chicago, the immigrants added a complex layer of the local racial dynamics[4]. They were able to curve effectively out a racial position within Chicago that is flexible and fluid at the same time since it was neither black nor white.

 

 

 

 



[1] Fernández, Lilia. Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago (Historical Studies of Urban America). Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2012.

 

[2] Ibid, 288

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid 

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