Behind the media sensationalism and electoral campaign posturing lays a politics of cultural containment and subordination, and of civic divisiveness. As the facile external markers of Latino identity are transformed into the civic equivalent of scarlet letters, Latinos are implicitly rendered less legitimate as public actors, and less visible as fellow citizens. In the process, any resources particular to their cultural heritage that they might bring to the national project are categorically segregated and expelled from the public sphere.

Spanish is preempted as a language of legitimate civic engagement. Regions of the country are subtly (and not so subtly) dispossessed of their rich Hispanic heritage in the minds of many Americans, who are encouraged to forget the pluricultural history etched into Spanish-language place names like Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. Cultural Citizenship and the “Greaser Laws” of the 21st Century | Dissident Voice.