Essay question related to the book:
Dismantling the Narrative
1. Chavez untangles the various threads of the narrative, showing how media depictions and
scholarly contributions have propagated these “othering” views of Latinos in the U.S.
2. He focuses on discerning the particular version of “American nation” deemed to be under
3. He draws attention to other-izing language: “illegals” and “anchor babies”
a. Might have been a neutral meaning but now it has adopted and referred to
negative racist characterizations of a particular group.
b. Problematic because when you create or use a term that’s meant to identify or
refer to an entire population of people because of status, a variety of processes
happen that cause that term to be attached by an ethnoracial group. To refer
exclusively to latinos and even more specifically to mexicans.
c. Start with neutral but society attributes to that
d. Small point - factoid about the way in which this term creates a De facto status. It
attached a label to a de facto status group.
i. Ex) arrested for soliciting clients to whom you’d like to sell some sex for
exchange for money. You’re not being a prostitute, you’re arrested for
solicitation of prostitution.
ii. Not arrested for being a crackhead -- but arrested for having cocaine.
iii. The infraction isn’t being an undocumented immigrant or being an illegal
or being a wet back. The infraction is crossing some national border
without proper inspection.
e. Illegals becomes a term that describes an entire population - a group of people- it
dehumanizes them and objectifies them to sort of simply embodying that criminal
i. Why don’t we call people who commit tax fraud or embezzle their mutual
fund -- why don’t we call them illegals.
ii. It is peculiar that illegals become attached to people who cross the border
without proper inspection. No other status gets attached.
f. 1950’s the US government had a massive repatriation campaign of mexicans.
Where mexicans, mexican-americans (citizens and non citizens, persons with
authorization and without authorizations) were rounded up and repatriated under a
program that was officially called operation WetBack.
i. Hard to tell that is language neutral, or was it in the beginning.
ii. the term and analogy that is brought up -- just like the illegals one, serves
to cast a bit of suspicion on the humanity of these babies.
iii. It makes it so much easier for persons to contemplate stripping anchor
babies of their citizenship.
4. Why is such language problematic from a sociological perspective?
a. It is desensitizing and permits people to envision doing a whole lot of things that
they might not envision doing to persons who are represented as their equivalents or equals.
b. Why strip anchor babies of citizenship and not just babies? putting a name or
label on things to make it sounds more feasible to do.
5. Dead Scott - 14th amendment
a. 14th amendment (