Did you know that before Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez there was another Latina fighting for the rights of workers?
Her name is Emma Tenayuca and history is just now starting to give her the credit she deserves. The San Antonio, Texas native grew up watching her family and neighbors struggle for basic necessities during the Great Depression, and she became an advocate for labor rights by the time she was a teenager.
At just 21 years-old, she led the 1938 Texas Pecan Shellers’ Strike, which was largely composed of Mexican Americans who kept seeing their pay cut down despite having to work in unsafe conditions. Tenayuca single-mindedly convinced 12,000 workers the fight was worth putting their jobs on the line.
The workers unionized under the International Pecan Shellers Union and garnered support from 8,000 more workers, bringing the industry to a screeching halt. Despite retaliation from pecan producers that included police gassing and arrests of strikers, they agreed to arbitration 37 days after the strike began and gave the workers increased pay weeks later.
Tenayuca is a true ‘sheroe’ in history so make sure we teach our kids about her influence.
You know a cowboy when you see one: cowboy hats and boots, flannel shirts, leather belts. Some were outlaws, while others were good ‘ole boys who preferred the barn. The stereotypical cowboy loves country western music, horses, beer, trucks, and cowboy boots.
A few iconic American cowboys who come to mind are Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Tom Ketchum, Walker the Texas Ranger, Josey Wales, John Wayne and our favorite, the Dallas Cowboys. Mainstream tends to portray them as white men who rode a horse and saved the day.
Little did you know, the original cowboys were not white. They were, in fact, Mexican and they were called Vaqueros. In the late 1800s, Vaqueros were responsible for herding cattle and training horses. They were also masters of lassoing.
Mexican vaqueros were the original cowboys. They revolutionized cow-herding, training horses, and maintaining stables. They never set out to be icons. However, their robust skills, western style, and hard work started an iconic movement. Today, Mexican cowboys like Gerardo ‘Jerry’ Diaz and many others are honored at the Cowboy Hall of Fame for their extraordinary work.
The Mexican vaqueros will always be the original cowboy!
Why has Hispanic history been separated from American history in textbooks?
It’s no wonder we get frustrated that others don’t seem to grasp our key role in history.
In the 1830s, Mejicanos were concerned about Americans migrating to their country, causing a massive migration into Texas. This small segment of history clashes with the Anglo narrative that dominates history books.
America’s dark past of lynching Black people extended to Latinos who acted “too Mexican” by speaking Spanish, taking away jobs from Whites and refusing to leave land that Whites wanted. These lynchings took place across the Southwest and historians says it’s a mistake America prefers to keep hidden.
Next is Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta MenchúTum, who grew up in Quiché culture, a Native branch of Mayan culture in Guatemala. She defended her land, fought for women and indigenous rights and formed WINAQ, the first indigenous-led party.
Then there’s Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, a Honduran environmental activist, indigenous leader, and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. David Castillo Mejía, the executive president of the company building a dam which Cáceres campaigned against, was arrested in 2018 for her murder.
It sounds like an insane question but there is a long history of segregation, discrimination and violence against Black and Latino people at public pools.
In California, for instance, Mexican Americans used to be excluded from “Whites Only” swimming pools.
“Monday was Mexican Day and the next day they’d drain the pool and clean it so Whites could use it the rest of the week,” recalled Sandra Robbie, a filmmaker who grew up in Orange County.
There are incidents happening pool-side even today. In 2009, 65 Black and Latino campers from a camp in North Philadelphia arrived at the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon to use the facilities for the day.
As the campers entered the water, some club members reportedly pulled their children from the pool and commented aloud about what all those Black and Latino kids were doing there.
And in 2016, The Red Cross faced major scrutiny for their pool safety poster titled, “Be Cool, Follow the Rules.”
The poster showed White children as behaving in a “cool” way while children of color are shown defying pool rules and were labeled as “not cool.”
Despite the discrimination, pools are for everyone. Now go pick out your favorite bathing suit, grab a beach towel and a powerful sunscreen and go enjoy a swim. Nadie te saca de aqui.
The Beginning: 13 days into 2001, a massive earthquake hit El Salvador. This earthquake was no joke. At least 944 people were killed, more than 5,000 were injured, and tens of thousands of homes destroyed. To help, the U.S. gave 200,000 Salvadorans Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to live, work (and play) legally in the U.S. Aren’t we just so nice?
The Turning Point: No fear of la migra for these folks! Until Nov. 2016, of course, when the U.S. elected their very own version of a Latin American populist. Since then, Trump has been notably deplorable to our community, most recently by ending protections for 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, unless Congress grants these DREAMers a path to legal status by March 5.
But also…The Department of Homeland Security said that because El Salvador had been reconstructed since the earthquakes, it was time for more than 200,000 Guanacos to get lost by September 2019.
The Aftermath: The country may be better now, but El Salvador ain’t exactly paradise. Drought, poverty and la mara sill ravage the country. Imagine, if on top of that, 200,000 people, many who have been here for most of their lives, were to just roll up like, “Howya doin’?”