Learning about Mexican American Labor, brought a question to mind, what sort of things did they do here in Kansas? Some of the things include meat packing plants, sugar factories, and even railroad systems. Being of Mexican descent and having a family who grew up in Salina, Kansas brought somewhat of a personal interest to this matter.
Many people may not recognize the kind of effect Mexican Labor had on Kansas, and how it helped to aide in the production and even industrialization of Kansas. One could go as far to say that Kansas would not be the way it is without Mexican labor even today, especially in relation to the meatpacking plants in southwest Kansas. Even though they built some of the railroad tracks in Kansas, the tracks themselves were used to attract European Emigrants to come and settle in Kansas and create an agricultural empire.
The image description on Kansas memory says that these are Mexican American workers on the Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe railroad section. This image was taken near Pauline, Kansas. In the image description is also says, the men are standing next to a little girl dress in all white. The significance of that is not fully clear to me, but it comes off as a racial distinction between two races/ethnicity, the Hispanics and whites. The interpretation one can draw from this picture is that the Mexican American men were building this for the white men of Kansas. It is not as though they were building it for themselves.
In relation to the reading for this week out of the course pack, it was obvious that Mexican workers were not treated fairly and were even blamed for economic issues. The image could almost be placed in our reading for this week because it depicts the Mexican community as workers, but also puts them at a status below whites. The perspective that immigrant labor is mainly Mexican Americans relates both to this photo and the in class reading. Question to the readers of this blog, did you know how much of an impact Mexican American labor had in Kansas before this week’s reading and this blog on the railroads?
Here is another image that was presented on the site related to this subject matter.
(crew consisting of Mexican American labor)
Image 1: Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe Section Crew, Pauline, Kansas . Kansas Memory. http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/214380 (Accessed November 19, 2009)
Image 2: Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe Railroad Crew. Kansas Memory. http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/210147 (Accessed November 19, 2009).
By : Tracy Fernandez