Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
Throughout the twentieth century (and now the twenty-first), the specter of a Latina/o past, present, and future has haunted the myth of Los Angeles as a sunny, bucolic paradise. At the same time it has loomed behind narratives of the city as a dystopic, urban nightmare. In the 1940s Carey McWilliams pointed to the fabrication of a "Spanish fantasy heritage" that made Los Angeles the bygone home of fair señoritas, genteel caballeros and benevolent mission padres. Meanwhile, the dominant Angeleno press invented a "zoot" (read Mexican-American) crime wave. Unlike the aristocratic, European Californias/os of lore, the Mexican/American "gangsters" of the 1940s were described as racial mongrels. What's more, the newspapers explicitly identified them as the sons and daughters of immigrants-thus eliding any link they may have had to the Californias/os of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries or to the history of Los Angeles in general.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1999