Picturing "El Valle" Without Us

Reads: 23  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

For some of us, it is impossible to try to picture today’s flourishing and exploding landscape that makes up the Rio Grande Valley, without seeing the faces and voices of the Chicanos and the Mexican workers from across the border, who toiled and endured the struggles and tribulations of this emerging region of our country. From the early 1920s through the late 1960s, life in the Rio Grande Valley was not what you now see or now enjoy. It was a Valley still in denial – denial that every life matter and every voice counted.

PICTURING “EL VALLE” WITHOUT US

By Al Garcia

For some of us, it is impossible to try to picture today’s flourishing and exploding landscape that makes up the Rio Grande Valley, without seeing the faces and voices of the Chicanos and the Mexican workers from across the border, who toiled and endured the struggles and tribulations of this emerging region of our country.  From the early 1920s through the late 1960s, life in the Rio Grande Valley was not what you now see or now enjoy.  It was a Valley still in denial – denial that every life matter and every voice counted.

Even in today’s Valley, there are those who believe that the growth and prosperity was the inevitable course of nature, helped along by the dogged determination of a selected privileged few.  Those, unfortunately, are today's red-capped “Juan Crows."  They are the same individuals that once advocated and enforced racial discrimination against Mexican-Americans (Chicanos).  They are people made from the same cloth as members of the Ku Klux Klan back in the 1920s and 1930s, who paraded and intimidated the brown-skin community in the Valley, and helped elect local and state officials to keep us in line.  Those are the same landowners and politicians who proudly allowed the display of “No Mexicans Allowed” signs in restaurants and other public accommodations in our earlier history in this wonderous Valley.

For those too young to remember, the “Juan Crow” laws here in the Valley were a take-off of the “Jim Crow laws,” which were state and local federally-sanctioned laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern States – Texas was one of those Southern States.  These were laws that were enforced until 1965.  Yeap.  You got that right, 1965.  We were tolerated, not accepted.  We were used, abused and then discarded.  That was life in the Rio Grande Valley.

Today, communities like Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco, Pharr, McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, San Juan and Rio Grande City, owe their existence and their legacy, to the character and the strength of Chicanos and Mexican-Americans, and even seasonal Mexicans from Mexico, who crossed the border to help plant and harvest the crops and nurture the fruit trees that help build the economy of these communities.

I was a product of my parents' dreams to see a Valley alive with purpose and prosperity.  The young years of my life were lived in a state of segregation, even before I even knew what that meant.  But my parents knew it, experienced it, and lived it.  As did so many others.

I am gratified that my parents’ dreams did come true.  The Valley did prosper and grow, and with it a new and more progressive attitude and acceptance of people like me, a Chicano, a Mexican-American.  I am saddened, however, at how little our younger generation in our community know or understand of their roots, and know nothing or little about the struggles that were fought, and indignities that were endured, by our parents and their grandparents so we could enjoy the fruits of their labor and their struggle.

I am troubled, and even offended, that too many times the role that our Chicano and Mexican-American community played in the development, expansion and progress of the Rio Grande Valley goes unnoticed, covered up, and even forgotten.

I don’t see “No Mexicans Allowed” signs anywhere in the Valley anymore.  Yet we seem destined to be forgotten as simply a stepping stone in time, used to forge the progress and the destiny that is our Valley today.  And by the way, “El Valle” means “The Valley,” for those that don't read or understand Spanish, or for the young Chicano generation that might have forgotten the sound of their ancestors' voice.


Submitted: June 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

More Memoir Short Stories

Other Content by A.Garcia