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Book in Progress Discussion w/ Dr. Danielle R. Olden
October 4, 2019 @ 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
“Mexican Americans, Settler Colonialism, and the Formation of Racial Identity in the Post-Civil Rights Period.”
WoCA Book in Progress Discussion with Dr. Danielle R. Olden
Racial Uncertainties: Mexican Americans, School Desegregation and the Making of Race in Post-Civil Rights America by Danielle R. Olden, Assistant Professor, Department of History. Drawing on several decades of Critical Race Theory scholarship and historical studies of race in the United States, this project challenges the black/white binary by demonstrating the centrality of Mexican Americans to one of the most important school desegregation cases in U.S. history, Keyes v. School District No. One (1973). The case hinged on Mexican American racial identity. If they were white, then many Denver schools were not segregated. If Mexican Americans were nonwhite, however, then those same schools were segregated. Beyond the courtroom, Denver citizens contemplated this issue on their own, a debate that remained relevant long after the Supreme Court ruled. Many people, moreover, used Mexican American children’s ambiguous racial identity to challenge the court’s desegregation plan. The existence of such racial uncertainty, I argue, is one of the hallmarks of the operation of race in modern America. People’s inability to categorize Mexican Americans as either white or black, and subsequent debates about Mexican Americans’ location along the racial spectrum, raised questions about the legitimacy of court-ordered desegregation. Racial uncertainties thus served an important ideological and political purpose: in the post-civil rights era, when overt racism was no longer socially acceptable, anti-integration voices utilized the indeterminacy of Mexican American racial identity to frame their opposition to school desegregation. That some Mexican Americans were among these voices only added credibility to the idea that court-ordered desegregation was not only illegal, but un-American.
Dr. Hokulani Aikau, School for Cultural & Social Transformation
Dr. Susie Porter, History and Gender Studies
Dr. Annie Isabel Fukushima, Ethnic Studies
To RSVP & receive a digital copy of the introduction in progress that will be discussed, email Dr. Annie Isabel Fukushima—
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