The Homeland, Aztlan Gloria Anzaldua Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands explores the identity of a people caught between two cultures: the Anglo-American culture and that of the indigenous Aztecs of the Southwest United States, the mestizo. In the first chapter, The Homeland, Aztlan, she describes how since the conquering of Mexico by Cortez, Anglo-Americans have slowly seized their land. The mestizo population was forced further down Mexico through fear of lynchings and the poverty faced.
Many had no alternative but to become sharecroppers and could not afford to pay back their debts. Until finally the Anglo-Americans gained complete political power and in 1848 created a fence around their “new found land” to keep the so called immigrants out. Anzaldua claims that if the mestizos were forced off their land then the Anglo-Americans unjustifiably acquired it. Today even as mestizos have come to adopt many of the values of American culture they are exploited as cheap labor and are still forced off their own land by deportation.
The themes in The Idiom of Race and Race Relations, analyze more in depth the definition of race and how the term has paralleled the rise of capitalism as a means to justify the exploitation of entire people. Marx describes the inherit competitiveness of capitalism and it’s only aim of increasing profits by any means necessary, as the basis of all economic crisis in a capitalist society, including the exploitation of the proliteriat.
In his own words, “…(capitalism) has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’…(it) has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation veiled by religious and political illusions…” The competitiveness business generates a need to constantly drive prices down, in order to undercut their competitors. Capitalism, driven by profit in turn creates the need for a cheap and exploitable labor force. Exploitation that was and is justified as an either innate inferiority of those exploited or part of God’s plan.
The validity of this theory has been proven numerous times throughout history. The capitalist has exploited the Africans as slaves in the agriculture industry, has robbed Native Americans of their land and natural resources and now refuses to acknowledge the existence of an immigrant workforce by permitting them to work for little pay, without healthcare and without any protection from law enforcement (for fear they may be deported). The United States economy continues exploiting immigrant workers because their economy depends so greatly on their cheap labor.
The United States conceals the need for this workforce and instead blames immigrants for the increase in unemployment, crime and welfare rates. By advocating anti-immigration laws and denying them rights as citizens, the United States guarantees themselves a reserve of cheap labor. These economic factors feed the idea of racial superiority in the United States. ——————————————– [ 2 ]. Kivisto, Peter: Social Theory Roots and Branches (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) page 27