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Perhaps because mostly Mexican men lived in the camp where little English was spoken, the space seemed to be an “illegal,” un-American place. And for the teenagers, perhaps race and language were more than enough signs of illegality and nonpersonhood to justify their malevolent and sadistic behavior. There even appears to have been a sense of righteousness motivating their violence: By pretending to be immigration officers, these teenagers aligned themselves with the state, planning to act how they imagined INS agents would act (or could act) toward undocumented Latina/o migrant workers.
E. B. 72 David Roediger has argued that the white working class actively used the perception that people of color were innately inferior to bolster support for the white working man’s political and economic demands. 75 The legal protection of whiteness as a property interest worked to undermine hard-won civil rights. For instance, Brown v. Board (1954) defined racial integration as the only solution to racial inequality. ”77 In other words, white people expect to be overrepresented on a neutral playing 26 << Introduction field.
The adolescents’ families led legal challenges against the proposition’s constitutionality. Even though they were not able to overturn Proposition 21 in court, not one of the young men’s “adult” sentences seemed to reflect this legal loss. No one was sent to state prison; two were sent to a county jail; and five were sent to a California Youth Authority facility. ) In this chapter, I urge us to think about why certain crimes and criminals cannot be recognized as such. Why are some acts of violence and the people who commit them interpreted as less criminal than others?