Fit to Be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles 1879 1939 (Read)
Cs to occur the city simply further discriminated against these
communities and sought ultimately to racially cleanse the city of LA as demonstrated by the explicit reuest of the city and sought ultimately to racially cleanse the city of LA as demonstrated by the explicit reuest of the city public health officer to the city council to eradicate Chinatown Molina goes on to argue that public health officials also acted as gatekeepers who were effectively given the power to determine who had the right to citizenship and full civic engagement Using the language of health and cleanliness public health departments had the power to decide who could enter public schools who could establish businesses and
Ultimately Who Was American Informed who was American Informed deeply racialized health and hygiene norms public health officials thereby enforced their own measures of Americanness and acted as the gatekeepers to the body politic Further in a national context of shifting and solidifying racial boundaries public health officials played an important role in defining race Molina notes that in the industrial cities of the East and Midwest public health programs played a role in Americanizing and whitening European migrant populations by enforcing American hygiene norms and cleansing ethnic communities contributing to the consolidation of what came to be known as the Caucasian race However in the far west racial boundaries were blurred and Molina argues that Mexican and Asian migrants did not fit easily into the increasingly dichotomized racial hierarchy By determining social membership public health officials played a key role in defining racial boundaries in cities like LA and defining what it meant to be American in the west Molina argues tangentially that the people of LA thus saw race differently to the rest of the nation While ideas of race dichotomized into a blackwhite divide across the country in Los Angeles the racial order was actually further graded and a broader racial hierarchy developed much like the earlier "conception of European racial hierarchies of Slavs Celts etc In the epilogue to "of European racial hierarchies of Slavs Celts etc In the epilogue to book Molina offers perhaps her most interesting point framing racialized public health discourse as a precedent for the later New Deal policies of the HOLC and the resultant redlining which would serve to entrench and bolster segregation and systemic racism in the urban space creating racial disparities which severely limited economic and social opportunity and whose legacy continues to plague non white populations today This situates the topic of public health as an important chapter in the long and unfinished story of racism in the United States marking it as a key tool of discrimination Molina contributes not only to the history of public health but to the history of racialization and the construction of race in the United States By looking at how race and public health were mobilized to fit the needs of society ie the initial assimilation efforts directed at Mexican populations when the city needed cheap labor followed by the later racist eugenic policies that sought to limit their reproduction once that need had been satisfied and exploring how these populations executed agency and mobilized ideas of race and the language of public health to their own advantage she highlights the fallacy of racial thinking and the constructed nature of race through a lens that widens the discourse beyond the traditional whitenon white dichotomy This book examines the intersection of public health and racial formation in Los Angeles from the 1880s 1939 Great Depression It is an important book for anyone interested in science studies and fits well with Nayan Shah s Contagious Divides The book takes a comparative approach including discussions of Japanese Chinese and Mexican Americans I wish it had discussed Filipino experiences The book examines the ways in which Public Health institutions understood and racialized diseases how these understandings and applications changed over time the effect of these discourses and interventions on Latino and Asian communities and in the final chapter the way Mexican Americans in El Congresso appropriated this discourse to fight for better housing The conclusion discussed the relevance of the racialization of space for fights over housing and gentrification today There is also a great section on birthing experiences and the use of midwifery in these communities I recommend this book to medical doctors and soon to medical doctors Kohar Zac Those interested in public housing fights will enjoy chapter 5 I wish the work had discussed resistance explicitly in the earlier chapters instead of implying the majority of resistance emerged under the civil rights frame of citizenship in the 1930. L positions of Asian Americans African Americans and whites Its rich archival grounding provides a valuable history of public health in Los Angeles living conditions among Mexican immigrants and the ways in which regional racial categories influence national laws and practices Molina’s compelling study advances our understanding of the complexity of racial politics attesting that racism is not static and that different groups can occupy different places in the racial order at different time.
Natalia Molina Î 8 READ & DOWNLOADHealth Department and its dealings towards Japanese who like the Chinese were seen as unfit for citizenship and Mexicans who were seen as inferior but potentially Americanized with the proper education Los Angeles didn t offer the traditional racial binary of white black that was common in the East and Midwest so health officials began to construct new racial categories to accommodate their conceptions of a racial hierarchy Additionally health officials began associating public health with morality using health as an essential bulwark against social chaos and spiraling economic costs Like Asians Mexicans were viewed as disease carriers who threatened white society and like the Chinese before them their poor living conditions and health were viewed as a result of their primitive moral character rather than as a conseuence of the poverty in which they were forced to live An outbreak of typhus in 1916 among Mexican laborers solidified representations of Mexicans as disease carriers resulting in increased calls for changes in national immigration policy Further officials constructed the disease as uniuely Mexican using race as the organizing principle for understanding a serious disease and gave wide circulation to constructed categories of Mexicans as unclean ignorant of basic hygiene practices and unwitting hosts for communicable diseases Nevertheless the city focused its efforts not on providing adeuate care for Mexicans but on educating Mexicans in how to become Americanized and therefore in the eyes of whites hygienic Molina contends that over time the county health department s racialized policies institutionalized segregation Chapter 4 deals with the effects of the Great Depression on Mexicans and Mexican Americans Whereas before Mexicans were viewed as having the potential to be Americanized such notions began to change as the economy suffered Molina writes that the marginal acceptance that stemmed from being a source of cheap labor disappeared as rapidly as the jobs Mexican laborers had been hired to fill While the 1920s saw discussions of Mexicans cultural inferiority the Depression brought
A RETURN TO BIOLOGICAL DETERMINISM OFTENreturn to biological determinism often to eugenicist arguments Services once extended to Mexicans were suspended Of course things which were seen as inherently inferior in Mexicans were actually the result of systemic ineualities such as segregation and dual labor market segmentation Ironically as Japanese and Chinese residents became less of a visible threat due to racist immigration bans they were looked at favorably giving Mexicans a new position at the bottom of the racial hierarchy for brown peril came into stark relief coexisting with ellow peril Disease was now used not just to marginalize Mexicans but also to criminalize them leading to mass deportations even seeking modest charity could lead to deportation However as chapter 5 shows Mexicans began to unite and demand better treatment services and housing As they came to see decent housing and good health as basic civil rights that should be extended eually to all members of society they grew overtly political and activist New Deal programs encouraged Mexicans to seek federal political and activist New Deal programs encouraged Mexicans to seek federal and assistance and organizations such as the National Congress of Spanish Speaking Peoples El Congreso filed claims on behalf of the Mexican American population Such acts revealed that Mexicans and Mexican Americans were not a transient temporary presence in Los Angeles or elsewhere in the nation but permanent fixtures with a voice and an investment in America s future hide spoiler Really solid work that provides great insight into the public health campaigns in LA Natalia Molina s Fit to be Citizens offers a concise and interesting history of the relationship between public health race and eugenics in Los Angeles between 1879 and 1939 Molina argues that while Los Angeles was being advertised to the nation as a haven of natural abundance and good health its minority populations were targeted with racist public health policies that sought effectively to eradicate their communities In stark contrast to the image of a clean natural LA that was projected to the rest of the country internal correspondence shows that authorities viewed Chinese Japanese and Mexican communities as dirty rotten and diseased Using the fallacy of scientific objectivity city authorities and public health officials attributed the very real health problems that these communities faced to biological deficiencies and cultural practices Rather than addressing the severe racial disparity in public health services and sanitary infrastructure which caused epidemi. Of Mexican Americans was not simply a matter of legal exclusion or labor exploitation but rather that scientific discourses and public health practices played a key role in assigning negative racial characteristics to the group The book skillfully moves beyond the binary oppositions that usually structure works in ethnic studies by deploying comparative and relational approaches that reveal the racialization of Mexican Americans as intimately associated with the relative historical and socia. Molina s book is a close look health policies in California in the 20th century but also ways of looking at institutionalized racism as it becomes enacted through public health policies In this moment of emerging scientific authority around concepts of disease and germ theory the scapegoating of immigrants first Chinese then Mexicans and Japanese meant the production of racialized geographies and pathologizing of entire population groups first along uncertainties of hygiene and presumptions of deviant behavior then along public logics of threats of contagion and overpopulation Those logics allow Molina to look at these public health policies as ways of attempting to survey and contain racialized bodies along numerous perceptions of danger her reading of the threat of women s bodies in infant and maternal issues is especially strong as connects both to general indices of poverty infant mortality rates and national anxieties around white supremacy ie race suicide The book could have benefited from a deeper reading of the logics of Western geography as made for white people a subject Molina only briefly touches on It would alos have been interesting to see if there were any records that would facilitate a discussion of how the various immigrant groups of Los Angeles saw each other were they all eually targeted in each other s eyes or did one group struggle than another when being policed for hygiene and health Natalia Molina s Fit to Be Citizens Public Health and Race in Los Angeles 1879 1939 traces the connection between the rise of public health policies in Los Angeles and their connection to the racialization of immigrant groups including the Chinese and Japanese but most especially Mexicans Molina argues that the history of public health in Los Angeles demonstrates how race demarcates the boundaries of social membership By systematically associating dirt disease and disorder with immigrant status late nineteenth and early twentieth century city and county public health officials redefined citizenship in racialized and medicalized terms Specifically Molina contends that by examining public health as a site of racialization we will see how public health workers at the local level contributed to the construction of racial categories Molina shows how public health in Los Angeles came to affect national perceptions of and responses to non white citizens and residentsFor a detailed look at Molina s argument click the spoiler sectionview spoilerMolina organizes her argument in largely chronological terms in five chapters showing in tandem the growth of the office of public health in Los Angeles and its impact on immigrant and minority populations being first the Chinese and then the Japanese and lastly MexicansMexican Americans In the first chapter Molina argues that as a fledgling institution public health in Los Angeles had a dual mission promoting and preserving the biological health of the citizens and promoting and preserving the economic and cultural health of the city This latter mission however resulted in officials seeking to preserve the dominance of white citizens and casting policies aimed to deliver crushing blows to Chinese competitors particularly launderers The shared vision for white officials of a rapidly growing Los Angeles excluded ethnic populations and city ordinances helped sustain segregation in the business community health policies contributed to Chinese discrimination labelling the Chinese as disease carriers who could never become Because the board of health members were doctors and health experts who had approval by the mayor the public viewed their actions as motivated objectively by science though fears of Inside Stories II yellow peril explain their motivations purely Chinese were smeared as unhygienic disease carriers and Chinatown s filth was blamed on its residentset conditions were in actuality beyond Chinese control the unfinished city sewage line ended and emptied there the Chinese did not own the buildings it was absentee landlords who did not upkeep the properties the Chinese had no legal recourse to address concerns and nowhere else to go in the city and structural improvements bypassed them In a case of blaming the victim the Chinese were held responsible for the unfortunate conditions which were the only options available to them In a blatant attempt to cripple Chinese launderers city zoning laws targeted Chinese businesses denying them extensions while granting them to whites and laid precedence for future discriminatory legislationThe second and third chapters deal with the growth of the Los Angeles County. Meticulously researched and beautifully written Fit to Be Citizens demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century Through a careful examination of the experiences of Mexican Japanese and Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles Natalia Molina illustrates the many ways local health officials used complexly constructed concerns about public health to demean diminish discipline and ultimately define racial groups She shows how the racialization.