“These alternatives collapsed, however, in the following fifty years as obreros, both in the city and the countryside, came to be concentrated into general laboring positions.” (de Leon and Stewart)

Collapse of avenues for advancement, concentration into general labor pool. / TNG, 77.

As labor markets developed in south, central, and west Texas cities and rural areas, considerable disparities of employment opportunity for the region’s two major ethnic groups evolved. For Mexican Americans, the labor systems in both rural and urban areas at mid-century offered clear alternatives for pursuing a living and striving towards betterment. These alternatives collapsed, however, in the following fifty years as obreros, both in the city and the countryside, came to be concentrated into general laboring positions. In the same period, Anglos found that opportunities in the rural areas narrowed in the agricultural market while the cities presented a range of alternative choices for them in trade, transportation, and manufacturing. Given the inequalities of occupational opportunity that developed, it is little wonder that larger percentages of whites chose city life compared to the Mexican Americans. Indeed, the reason why fewer Tejanos were attracted to the budding urban centers, and the reason why those who went were more frequently non-natives, was because cities held out less promise to Mexican American workers. The legendary image of bustling new cities ripe with opportunity is, to be [78] sure, an overrated figment of North American remembrances of history. But in the nineteenth century, the myth came nearer the truth for whites than for the Mexicans of Texas.

Arnoldo de León and Kenneth L. Stewart, Tejanos and the Numbers Game: A Socio-Historical Interpretation from the Federal Censuses, 1850-1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989), 77-78.

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