Maldef and the Legal Investment in a Multi-Colored America
Hamline University School of Law Working Paper No. 1106
17 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2008
This is an essay that comes out of a roundtable on Mexican American Citizenship at the 2006 Annual Meetings of the Western History Association. This essay focuses on the early legal strategy of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) to tentatively explore the role that color consciousness played in MALDEF's understanding of law and jurisprudence. Accordingly, the essay briefly explores the manner by which the organization began to conceptualize the non-Whiteness of Mexican Americans as a matter of law in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The analysis is therefore suggestive of not only an important transformation in the color consciousness for many in the Mexican American community, but of an emerging critique of the Black-White paradigm in American law. Indeed, the essay argues that as numerous Mexican Americans became legally invested in their non-White color status largely but not exclusively as Chicana/os, the legal strategy pursued by MALDEF in this formative moment reflected the extent that many in community remained similarly committed to a categorization that recognized Chicana/os distinctive status as a non-White and non-Black group.
Keywords: latinos and the law, race and the law, latino critical theory, legal history, law and humanities, MALDEF
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