Whiteness in the United States is a social identity category that developed historically as a way of constructing boundaries to exclude certain groups from economic and political rights. Indeed, one had to be white in order to become a citizen, own property, and vote in this country (Haney López 1996). This history of racial exclusion in the United States is often depicted in popular culture as a division between European Americans and African Americans. Indeed, most Americans are quite familiar with pictures of separate drinking fountains and other images of racial segregation involving whites and blacks, but are frequently less aware that Latinas/os have an extensive history of racialization and exclusion in this country. In the Southwest, Mexican Americans faced similar practices of segregation, including being prohibited from living in certain areas and being barred from going to restaurants, schools, or public recreational facilities that were for “whites only” (Montejano 1987; Almaguer 1994). These practices extended beyond the Southwest, as Latinas/os on the East Coast and in the Midwest also faced discrimination in housing and other venues. In Chicago, for example, Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans faced restrictive housing covenants that forbade them from living in some white neighborhoods (Betancur...

This essay may be found on page 239 of the printed volume.

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