Mexican Americans and “el Norte”: African Americans in the North

1:The experiences and histories of African Americans are often contrasted with those of voluntary immigrants to the US, particularly given the obvious fact that they were not voluntary immigrants but rather forcibly taken from their homelands through the slave trade. This week’s reading covers the early 20th century migration of African Americans from the South to the North. To what extent, if any, do you think the experiences of African American migrants to the North within the US during this period can be compared to those of some of the immigrant groups we have studied? What significant similarities and/or differences do you see in how they were receivedttreated as new residents and what might these comparisons tell us about how perceived competition for jobs, housing or other resources interact with or contribute to raciaVethnic discrimination?
2: In this week’s video, one of the interview subjects notes that agricultural work is not seen as dignified work in the US: “It’s not an honorable occupation. It’s not a respected occupation.” To what extent would you agree/disagree with his observation—that is, do you think that most Americans look down on such work? If so, why do you think this is? To what extent, if at all, do you think our country is a ” classist” society today despite our stated egalitarian principles as a democracy? Given this week’s reading and video, how do you see the discrimination faced by Mexican Americans interrelating with attitudes towards low-wage work more generally, if at all? Do you think most Americans draw connections between the wages of agricultural workers and what they pay for produce at their local grocery store—or the fact that they even have produce available at their local grocery store? Should they?
3: What do we make of competing representations of immigrant laborers, that they are leeches on our society, or rapist and criminals? How can the two narratives exist in our society? (And, what do both narratives allow for or permit in terms of how we value people and their work?

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