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Grounds For DreamingMexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the California Farmworker Movement$
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Lori A Flores

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300196962

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300196962.001.0001

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The Racial and Labor Landscapes of the Salinas Valley Before World War II

The Racial and Labor Landscapes of the Salinas Valley Before World War II

(p.12) 1 The Racial and Labor Landscapes of the Salinas Valley Before World War II
Grounds For Dreaming

Lori A. Flores

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the racial and labor landscapes of the Salinas Valley prior to World War II. The land that became the Salinas Valley was inhabited by Native Americans for 700 years before the Spanish, who colonized Mexico in 1521, arrived in present-day California. The valley's first residents were mostly migrants from the eastern United States, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, and Switzerland. This chapter considers race-making in California after the U.S.-Mexican War and Gold Rush and how conceptions of racial difference led to the ethnic succession of Asian and Mexican workers in the state's fields. It shows how racialized beliefs that Asians and Mexicans were “naturally suited” for stoop labor led to other forms of discrimination It also discusses the strikes staged by “Okie” and Filipino agricultural workers during the 1930s, along with the antiunion hostility displayed in these moments of labor militancy and its impact on Mexican-origin workers.

Keywords:   discrimination, Salinas Valley, Mexico, California, migrants, Asians, Mexicans, strikes, agricultural workers, labor militancy

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