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Considering the Construction of Racein Mexico and the U.S.

Cecilia Marquez
Cecilia Marquez is a junior who recently returned from studying abroad in Mexico. At Swarthmore she is pursuing a special major from the Black Studies Program and a minor from the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.

I've just returned from Cuernavaca, Mexico where I had an amazing time learning so much about how race is constructed differently in Mexico than in the U.S. My classes and my own personal experiences both informed my impressions. Because of the history of Spanish conquest in Mexico race is complicated by the normalized "Mestizo" identity that upholds light-skinned hierarchies.

I began my study abroad experience in Cuernavaca, Mexico where I had the opportunity to visit places like the Cortes Palace, various Base Christian Communities, and to hear from different activists and organizers in the area. Then I had the amazing opportunity to travel to El Salvador for 10 days to learn about the complicated history of U.S. foreign policy in El Salvador specifically, but Central America more generally. We got to travel all around El Salvador from the main city of San Salvador, to the mountain area of Perquin, and then the rural community of Nueva Esperanza.

Finally we traveled to Mexico City for a week long seminar where we studied the intersections of Mexican culture and identity with issues of gender and sexuality. Also during my time in Mexico I was able to go to Oaxaca, Cholula, Puebla, Tepotzlan, and Taxco.

It was an amazing opportunity to compare my studies of race and ethnicity in the United States with the complicated history of conquest in Mexico.