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HHM: 5 Things My Private School Never Taught Me

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

Most people learned “Columbus sailed the Ocean blue in 1492.”. Some might remember the hour-long class periods going over British colonization or war dates. I personally remember the days I looked forward to most— movie days. These days were 45-minute class periods where our class would watch war movies, and I got to catch up on sleep for the next hour. I wasn’t fooling anyone— but I also could have cared less about a topic we were going over for the sixth year in a row. 

As we come to the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15), a month that many schools (including mine) neglect to reflect on, I will go over five very horrifying yet real Hispanic American stories from history that my private school (and probably yours too) never taught me. Don’t worry, I put references in for anyone suspicious.  

Mexican American citizens deported during the Great Depression

The Great Depression was a worrying time for people. Although throughout the 1910s and early 1920s, the American need for workers expanded, throughout the entirety of the 1930s, parents lost jobs, wages were lost to those who kept their jobs, and families went hungry. Americans wanted their jobs back, so their life could return to what it used to be. However, in California, among other places, governmental systems used whatever forces necessary to alleviate job scarcity. 

Starting in 1929, INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services), as well as private sectors, began to aggressively and forcibly remove almost 1.2 million Mexicans, regardless of citizenship, from their homes in California alone (“Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program”, 2005). However, it has been clarified that 40% or more were citizens of the United States (Gratton & Merchant, 2013). That adds up to 480,000 Mexican-Americans being forcibly deported from their homes in California alone. When force wasn’t used, they often underwent “great pressure and sometimes actual threats” (UCICS, 2020). Street sweeps also occurred to “round up” any Mexican immigrants that did not have proper documentation on them (Balderrama & Rodriguez, 2006). 

Although this happened close to 100 years ago, it begs the question of why our history books failed to inform us, attempting to erase this part of Hispanic history.

*** While it is important for us to reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month and understand the variety of cultures, backgrounds, upbringings, and history related to this, the term “Hispanic” in Hispanic Heritage Month is not inclusive of the indigenous communities that were present before Spanish colonization, even though much of their native ways of life transferred to these Spanish-speaking countries ***

If you’re interested, here are the references I promised to share:

Balderrama, F. E., & Rodriguez, R. (2006). Decade of betrayal: Mexican repatriation in the 1930s. University of New Mexico Press. 

Bill text. Bill Text – SB-670 Mexican repatriation program of the 1930s. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2022, from https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=200520060SB670 

Gratton, B., & Merchant, E. (2013). Immigration, repatriation, and deportation: The Mexican-origin population in the United States, 1920–1950. International Migration Review, 47(4), 944–975. https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12054

INS Records for 1930s Mexican repatriations. USCIS. (2020, July 29). Retrieved September 10, 2022, from https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/our-history/history-office-and-library/featured-stories-from-the-uscis-history-office-and-library/ins-records-for-1930s-mexican-repatriations

Aspiring owner of a non-profit and writer:) Studying movement science on a pre-pt track and minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation.