In the U.S.A. -- It's English or Adios Amigo: The Politics of Race and Language in the Yakima Old Town Pump Court Case.
Vasquez, Cecilia A. Martinez
Alamillo, Jose M
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On November 10, 1995, Michael Cantú, Carlos Olivera and Enrique Mendoza were ejected from the “Old Town Pump” tavern in the Yakima Valley, Washington, for speaking Spanish. This rural area is known for its growing Mexicana-o/Latina-o population and its major agricultural productions. Immediately after the incident, the three men filed a civil action lawsuit against the tavern owner for discrimination. Considering the changing racial-ethnic demographics of Yakima and other rural communities as well as the court system’s negative treatment of Mexican Americans in the United States, I examine the politics of race and language in the “Old Town Pump” court case. This is accomplished through a critical analysis of court transcripts, local newspaper articles, court testimonies and an interview from a local radio station. I argue that the legal system and larger community of the Yakima Valley used racialized language to depict the three Mexican males as “criminals,” thus highlighting ways in which language and racial differences underlie race, class and gender tensions in the Yakima Valley community.