Chicana Liberation: Women and Mexican American Politics in Los Angeles, 1945–1981

Univ. of Illinois. Apr. 2024. 224p. ISBN 9780252087813. pap. $26. POL SCI
Chávez (Chicana and Chicano studies, California State Univ., Dominguez Hills) provides an overview of the 20th-century Chicana feminist movement. The book is an introduction to Chicana activism, beginning with the Mexican Revolution, which planted seeds of advocacy in immigrants who were born in Mexico but crossed the border prior to 1950. During World War II, the Bracero Program contracted labor between the U.S. and Mexico. By 1954, the government used military-style tactics and subjected the workers to raids and summary deportations. Born in the barrios of Los Angeles, the Chicano Movement sought to address racial discrimination, educational inequities, economic stagnation, and lack of representatives in state and local politics. However, the movement was characterized by machismo, and the concerns of women were not prioritized, Chávez says, even though most Chicana women lived well below the poverty line and worked in manual labor or in the service sector. Even though Chicana activists lived in a developed country, conferring them some measure of privilege, they identified more with the concerns of women in developing countries, given the salience of race and class in their lives, Chávez argues.
VERDICT An excellent primer on the Chicana feminist movement that offers readers plenty to explore.
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