The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 111
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century and the commencement of the Great Depression. Close to a
million Mexicans crossed the border and overwhelmed most pre-
existing nineteenth-century Mexican communities in the Southwest.
Immigrants not only formed the labor foundation for the region's
economic development, but reshaped the character of Mexican life
north of the border. From conquered defensive enclaves, Mexican
communities now became active and vibrant immigrant settlements.
Nowhere is this so evident as in Los Angeles. Ricardo Romo's much-
needed study documents this transition and examines the dynamics
of the making of East Los Angeles-the largest Mexican community
in the United States.
First settling in the Placita, the older Mexican central district in Los
Angeles, Mexican immigrants by World War I had spilled east across
the Los Angeles River. Here they found convenient housing and
access to public transportation, as they at first coexisted with earlier
ethnic groups, such as Russian Jews. By the 192os, however, eastside
neighborhoods, such as Belvedere, Boyle Heights, and Lincoln Heights,
had become almost exclusively Mexican colonias. In what came to be
referred to as East Los Angeles, Mexicans settled, found work in near-
by industries dependent on cheap Mexican labor, and attempted to
recreate the Mexican world they had left behind. Utilizing social sci-
ence techniques, Romo quantifies the degree of occupational discrimi-
nation encountered by Mexicans. The vast influx of Mexicans over a
short period of time also resulted in ethnic friction. In perhaps his
most interesting chapter, Romo details social prejudice against Mexi-
cans, especially during the tense period of the Mexican Revolution.
Here Romo coins the term, the "Brown Scare" (p. 89).
Romo is perhaps on less solid ground when he portrays the eastside
barrios as socially and culturally insulated enclaves, where Mexicans
lived without much exposure to Americanizing influences. Other re-
cent studies of early Mexican communities in the United States have
suggested at least a "negotiation" between Mexican cultural persis-
tence and Americanizing tendencies. Romo's own study reveals the
intervention of Anglo schools, religious organizations, and welfare in-
stitutions in the barrios. Romo is correct in stressing the emergence of
Mexican cultural nationalism as a form of accommodation to life north
of the border and as a deflector of acculturation. Still, the barrios were
not completely insulated, and degrees of acculturation took place. By
the late 192os, for example, La Opinion in Los Angeles warned of the
increased dangers of Americanization as the diaspora continued.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/133/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.