Shifting Racialized Identities Among Mexican Heritage Women of the Rural South Brown Faces in Black and White Places

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Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences




During the past generation, rural southeast Georgia has been transformed by the New Latino Diaspora, with many counties’ Hispanic populations now exceeding 10% and still growing. Just as these communities have been transformed, so have the Hispanics who have settled in Dixie. This is the first longitudinal study that examines the macro-level social and micro-level discursive co-construction and renegotiation of racial positionings by Mexicans in this region. The study examines the applicability of models of immigrant racialization, developed in other regions of the United States regarding other immigrant groups, to contemporary Hispanics living in the traditionally African American and White rural South. A grounded theory coding of participant interviews from 1998 to 2014 yielded a thematic frequency matrix, which was then evaluated via software-based cluster analysis. The resultant model of Mexican racialization allows for both permeability between categories and individual agency while recognizing the power of socially constructed racial markers.