In “The Acculturation of Young Mexican American Women,” historian Vicki L. Ruiz who specializes on the history of Mexican American women focuses on how Americanization forces influenced the acculturation of young Mexican American women in the 1920a and 1930s. Using oral history from 13 women and fieldwork notes, the author highlights how Americanization agents such as education, media and employment played a vital role in the assimilation of young Mexican women moving into the ever growing barrios in the U.S. cities into American culture. While acknowledging that education and employment were the most influential Americanization agents, the author also puts to the immense influence of media such as movies, television and advertisements swayed the young Mexican women with fantasies of the American dream.
However, Vicki L. Ruiz notes that the parents of the young women endeavored to preserve their Mexican cultural traditions to counter the acculturations of their children. In addition to frequently sending the children back to Mexico for a few days, the parents also insisted on the use of Spanish at home. To further Mexican cultural consciousness, the parents told their children stories about Mexico. They also used local youth organizations such as YMCAs and the church to create cultural awareness among the children.
In further reconstructing the lives of young Mexican women during the 1920s and 1930s, Vicki Ruiz notes that were disparities in the levels of pressure applied on adolescent women to maintain Mexican culture compared to women. She also highlights the growing dissent among locals against Mexicans including prohibiting laws, repatriation and exportation. Resisting acculturation led to intergenerational tension marked by increased use of skin bleaching agents and engagement in education programs.
The effectiveness of Vicki Ruiz’s “The Acculturation of Young Mexican American Women,” in reconstructing acculturation of young Mexican women is founded on the use of simple and flowing language and personal narratives. The simplicity of the language and use of easily recognized events such as television ads and names of American neighborhoods enable readers to follow the author’s train of thoughts. Vicki logically constructs her arguments which she supports using personal anecdotes from women who were directly involved in the acculturation of young Mexican women who migrated into the U.S. These women had first experience of the manifestations of the Americanization agents, the intergenerational tensions, cultural discriminations directed against Mexicans and the efforts made by Mexican parents to preserve their culture.
The essay is organized into an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction highlights the principle argument of the article. The problem, acculturation of young Mexican women, is clearly stated in the introduction. The body provides evidence to validate the arguments. The conclusion summarizes and reaffirms the author’s arguments. This organization allows readers to easily the author’s thoughts, arguments and conclusions.
This article helped in filling the information gap on Mexican American acculturation. By understanding of the issue before this article was confined to the main demographics covered by mainstream researches. The generalization of the Mexican American demographics failed to highlight the experiences of subgroups within these main demographics. Through this article, I managed to reconstruct the experiences of young Mexican women as they labored for the elusive American Dream. In my experience, the article helped in underscoring the need for narrowing down research topics. The article made me rethink the experience of immigrants in general even as they seek to settle in other countries. I like how Vicki L. Ruiz framed her problem statement, the arguments and the evidences used in validating them.