Chavez Calls Mexican Immigrant Workers “Wetbacks”: Parroting Racists or Reflecting Mexican Attitudes?

Posted: April 1, 2014 by conca1 in Uncategorized
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Was Cesar Chavez reflecting “white supremacists” attitudes when he called undocumented Mexicans “wetbacks”?

First you will need to get familiar with the Chavez interview.

An individual by the name of Pakal Hatuey makes the argument on Youtube that Chavez was reinforcing “white supremacists'” views.

Is it possible that people, including Mr. Hatuey, are not seeing the greater picture? I know that some Mexican immigrants who came seeking work with the intention of returning home (braceros) described themselves as “mojados”. Maybe not all. But some. My own grandfather did this. The English language equivalent of “wetback” has more of a negative connotation, understandably. But “mojado” is, or was, a widely used term, however erroneous or detrimental to the Chicano/Migrant Farmworker movement. And it was used by Spanish speaking people on both sides of the border. Perhaps Chavez was channeling this attitude and not the “white supremacist’s” attitude?

Check out this song by Los Tigres del Norte titled “El Mojado Acaudalado“. It states the term “mojado” as a self-describing term. Not a term imposed by others.

I wouldn’t use the terms on anyone. But perhaps that is because of my training in Rehabilitation Counseling, where we were made aware that people aren’t the disability, rather they HAVE a disability. Therefore, the correct way to refer to them is on a person-first basis. In other words, it’s a “person with a disability” not a “disabled person.”

So, too, I would say “Mexican undocumented worker” rather than “wetback” or “mojado”.

Does Chavez deserve a bad rep. for this instance of apparent insensitivity? Or is this a non-issue?

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  1. […] Chavez Calls Mexican Immigrant Workers “Wetbacks”: Parroting Racists or Reflecting Mexic… […]

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