not just black and white: historical and contemporary perspectives on immigration, race, and ethnicity in. Globalization and Poverty Since the devolution of the world economy from 2008 to the present, scholarly inquiry into the expansion of poverty rather than capital have been hard pressed to articulate how this widespread phenomenon previously classified as the blight of ‘others.’ Indeed, traditional models of the race/class dyad now fall short in confrontation with the collapse of economies in the North. The seemingly invincible financial imperialism of the North, dating back to the era of European (read: white) epoch of maritime discovery, has joined the rest of the planet in its search for equitable distribution. The United States, already a nation divided by its own history as a plantation society, with capitalist logics rooted in that very history, continues to witness its own economic devolution – despite its already lowered standard of living and GDP.i Although precedent to the ongoing global economic crisis which has contracted the national economies of Northern nations into the mix of developing states, the scholarly thought comprising Nancy Foner and George Frederickson’s (2004) edited volume, Not Just Black and White: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Immigration, Race and Ethnicity in the United States: Social Constructions and Social Relations in Historical provides a roadmap for navigating the already present terrain of economic race stratification.ii
In the State of California, or at least in the Southern half of the state, transformations in lifestyle have been expedient and at times, radical. Amidst this shift in the regional economy, where expectations have been lowered to approximate neighboring regions in the adjacent nation of Mexico, the topic of immigration has become once again, a critical focus of public discourse. In Albert M. Camarillo’s historical recuperation of Los Angeles since the end of World War II, ‘Black and Brown in Compton: Demographic Change, Suburban Decline, and Intergroup Relations in a South Central Los Angeles Community, 1950 to 2000’ he examines the enterprise of urban development through the lens of race/class construction. According to Camarillo,
“The patterns in the final decades of the century were earmarked by contrast, more by interactions between nonwhite groups in cities, especially urban areas where minorities were beginning to form majorities [. . .] Consequently relations among and between people of color increasingly define a new racial frontier in intergroup relations in the American metropolis and in many metropolitan suburbs.”
One could effectively argue, however, that Camarillo’s perspective is that of a racial frontier in stasis. For those who know Los Angeles, the semantics of race are inflected with class transformations throughout. In the limited area of the City comprised of cities known as ‘South LA,’ that the racial frontier has been, and still is in continuous oscillation, but one would not know this if they also did not know that many of the area’s upwardly mobile African American residents had moved elsewhere to other Greater Los Angeles communities such as Palmdale and Lancaster in the upper desert region. So too, inward immigration of Mexican residents, is met with outward emigration of both upwardly mobile Chicano (i.e. Mexican-American) and returning ex-patriot Mexican citizens.iii
Neil Foley furthers this discussion on class, race and nationalism in his work on legislative policy directed at citizens living a life close to the border ‘Straddling the Color Line: The Legal Construction of Hispanic Identity in Texas. Looking at the place of the Tejano identity as ‘Pan-Latin’ and its mobilization as minority status within governance, Foley argues that Latinos have now found resource in race relations and bi-lingual proficiency so much so, that accountability of civil rights history within civil law has become a critical tool toward realization of the American Dream as an ‘economy of difference.’ A parallel experience is underway in many Asian communities in the West. As we look toward an uncertain future, taken-for-granted assumptions in prior scholarship on race, science, religion, gender, sexuality, and media politics- and their social construction upon, within, and through the human body are now destined to find their best ground within the targeted terrains of post-capitalist economics and law. and of course the brilliant minds that have been pursuant of those rights and responsibilities.