What We Became Mexican American is about: The author of this book zooms in on his ancestors who abandoned Mexico to arrive and settle on the northern edge of Los Angeles, California, in the 1920s. He narrates how his unprivileged relatives walked away from their homes in western Jalisco and northern Michoacán, traveling over several years to the U.S. border, crossing it at Nogales, Arizona, and then finally settling in the barrio of the city of San Fernando. Based on actual interviews, the author recounts how his parents met, married, and started a family on the eve of the Great Depression. The writer’s siblings help press the account forward by recounting their growing up. They call to memory their father’s trials and tribulations as he tried to succeed in a new land, labouring as a common citrus worker, and their mother shoring him up while thousands of fellow workers lost their jobs in the economic crash of 1929. The Gil family story shares details of how they all survived, despite a tragic accident; their going “up north” to Delano and Watsonville to harvest fruits and vegetables; how they engaged in micro businesses to stay alive, and how the Gil children gradually became American as they grew to young adulthood in the 1950s. This book also describes their barrio and what life was like for the Gil family there. Extended comments on the advancement of the second and third Gil generations are included, along with a wide-ranging assessment of the family’s experience, plus observations about the challenges facing other Latinos today.
About the Author: Carlos B. Gil
Carlos B. Gil is a retired university professor who continues to study and write about Mexican politics, society, and culture, including immigration to the United States. He is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Washington’s History Department and Publisher of DiversityCentral.com, a comprehensive website addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in the American workforce. He earned his B.A. from Seattle University, his Master’s Degree from Georgetown University, and his Ph. D. from UCLA. Prior to his university career he served as a Cultural Attaché for the Department of State/United States Information Agency, and upon retiring from the University of Washington he directed and co-trained with the GilDeane Group Inc., a consulting and training firm in Seattle. The author was born in San Fernando, California, and now lives with his extended family in the Seattle area.
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