Negotiating divisions : a history of inequality In Monterey County, CA
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Monterey County is one of the most economically productive regions in California. With its geographical range enclosing prime environmental conditions for agriculture production, pine forests lining the Pacific shore, and the Monterey Bay, people have flocked to the region in search of opportunity. Since the Spanish colonial period to the present, the region has been home to a variety of immigrants and migrants from around the world; thus, social and cultural interactions between residents have shaped the political, economic, and social conditions of the communities in Monterey County throughout history. Furthermore, with the influx of Europeans and Anglo Americans in the early nineteenth century, colonial hegemonies, racial politics, and cultural ideologies influenced the ways by which dominant groups gained power and attempted to control the distribution of social resources throughout Monterey County. As a result, a long record of racial discrimination, marginalization, resistance, and community shifts are prominent throughout the community histories of the region. Today, cultural ideologies and racial hierarchies continue to permeate social relations in the region and influence the socioeconomic differences between the minority-dominated communities and the Anglo dominated communities in Monterey County. Latinos are currently the largest group of the region, making up 55.4 percent of the population while Anglos make up the next largest group at 32.9 percent of the population. The social divisions between Anglos and minorities shape the ongoing struggle for equality in a variety of spheres of community life in the region. The goal of this project is to contribute to the social history of racial and ethnic relations throughout Monterey County in California. Moreover, I hope to create a foundation for future ethnographic field-work concerning current race and ethnic relations and the construction of cultural ideologies in Monterey County. This historical analysis begins with the Spanish colonization of California in the late eighteenth century and continues into the late twentieth century; however, I focus on exploring the racial and ethnic discrimination that was launched after the Spanish conquest and later, augmented by the United States government after the conquest of California in 1848, and continued to increase as war, political ties, and civil rights movements affected the Monterey County communities (Chavez 2007). My focus on the deeply embedded intersecting processes of discrimination, segregation, and marginalization in Monterey County’s history of ethnic and race relations reveals the heavy impact this long history has had on the social conditions of minorities and ethnic relations in the region today.