El Barrio

Under Juan Crow, the Anglo power structure ignored the Mexicano neighborhood, known as the barrio. This area was the Northside of Fort Worth, which lacked basic services and infrastructure. Former city councilmen Louis Zapata discusses the frustrations that Mexicanos lived with in their neighborhood.

“I said, how many years have y’all failed to look at Northside? I said, In fact, in ’41/2, during the War, y’all decided to make Northside the butt hole of Ft. Worth… I mean you put all the heavy industrial zoning in Northside, you know, where you – that’s all you had out here. All these homes, you couldn’t sell one because they were zoned wrong, which means that the lot line was zero and most banks wouldn’t loan you money if you had a lot line because you don’t know what’s gonna be next to you, so…” – Louis Zapata

Juan Crow practices kept Mexicanos out of the Anglo community culturally, scholastically, and linguistically. Because Mexicanos were segregated, they were maintained as a migrant labor pool and relied on community aid to survive. This affected the type of conversations and environment that Mexicano households had. Renny Rosas discusses the types of conversations that occured within Mexicano homes:

“And so it’s a very cultural thing that in my community, you sit around and say hey, how is Tío Juan doing, have y’all heard from little Johnny and what about Tía Manuela over here and you know that’s what you discuss. And in a lot of the Anglo homes, you know, hey we gotta do something about this interest rate going up, we gotta do something about this economy, the crime rate- and you talk politics and get involved. And so it’s a very cultural difference as to what happens at the dining room table. ” – Renny Rosas

Juan Crow was felt much more deeply within Texas than in other places within the country. José Angel discusses his experience as a migrant farm laborer and segregation:

“Well, it [segregation] didn’t [affect me]. The odd thing about it is you didn’t know any better. And it’s a small town and you’re young and you think this is the way the world works. You, you can’t know something different until you experience it. So, obviously, when I became a migrant, I immediately realized now we were being treated differently. Sometimes I write and say, that’s when I realized I was a Mexican because I started the differential treatment experience and I began to see it. And when I traveled out, of the state of Texas, well, things were very, very different. For example: being friendly with a person that would look like you [Anglo] was okay in Racine, Wisconsin, but not in Crystal City, Texas. I mean that was strictly prohibited – any kind of contact or closing of the social distance. We had segregated theaters, even the theater where we could go that showed English-speaking movies, we had to sit upstairs in the balcony.” – José Angel Gutiérrez


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