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The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas

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A moving account of a little-known period of state-sponsored racial terror inflicted on ethnic Mexicans in the Texas–Mexico borderlands. Between 1910 and 1920, vigilantes and law enforcement—including the renowned Texas Rangers—killed Mexican residents with impunity. The full extent of the violence was known only to the relatives of the victims. Monica Muñoz Martinez turns A moving account of a little-known period of state-sponsored racial terror inflicted on ethnic Mexicans in the Texas–Mexico borderlands. Between 1910 and 1920, vigilantes and law enforcement—including the renowned Texas Rangers—killed Mexican residents with impunity. The full extent of the violence was known only to the relatives of the victims. Monica Muñoz Martinez turns to the keepers of this history to tell this riveting and disturbing untold story. Operating in remote rural areas enabled the perpetrators to do their worst: hanging, shooting, burning, and beating victims to death without scrutiny. Families scoured the brush to retrieve the bodies of loved ones. Survivors suffered segregation and fierce intimidation, and yet fought back. They confronted assailants in court, worked with Mexican diplomats to investigate the crimes, pressured local police to arrest the perpetrators, spoke to journalists, and petitioned politicians for change. Martinez reconstructs this history from institutional and private archives and oral histories, to show how the horror of anti-Mexican violence lingered within communities for generations, compounding injustice by inflicting further pain and loss. Yet its memorialization provided victims with an important means of redress, undermining official narratives that sought to whitewash these atrocities. The Injustice Never Leaves You offers an invaluable account of why these incidents happened, what they meant at the time, and how a determined community ensured that the victims were not forgotten.


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A moving account of a little-known period of state-sponsored racial terror inflicted on ethnic Mexicans in the Texas–Mexico borderlands. Between 1910 and 1920, vigilantes and law enforcement—including the renowned Texas Rangers—killed Mexican residents with impunity. The full extent of the violence was known only to the relatives of the victims. Monica Muñoz Martinez turns A moving account of a little-known period of state-sponsored racial terror inflicted on ethnic Mexicans in the Texas–Mexico borderlands. Between 1910 and 1920, vigilantes and law enforcement—including the renowned Texas Rangers—killed Mexican residents with impunity. The full extent of the violence was known only to the relatives of the victims. Monica Muñoz Martinez turns to the keepers of this history to tell this riveting and disturbing untold story. Operating in remote rural areas enabled the perpetrators to do their worst: hanging, shooting, burning, and beating victims to death without scrutiny. Families scoured the brush to retrieve the bodies of loved ones. Survivors suffered segregation and fierce intimidation, and yet fought back. They confronted assailants in court, worked with Mexican diplomats to investigate the crimes, pressured local police to arrest the perpetrators, spoke to journalists, and petitioned politicians for change. Martinez reconstructs this history from institutional and private archives and oral histories, to show how the horror of anti-Mexican violence lingered within communities for generations, compounding injustice by inflicting further pain and loss. Yet its memorialization provided victims with an important means of redress, undermining official narratives that sought to whitewash these atrocities. The Injustice Never Leaves You offers an invaluable account of why these incidents happened, what they meant at the time, and how a determined community ensured that the victims were not forgotten.

30 review for The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura Jean

    This book fills a gap in Texas history. It covers the vigilante and extralegal violence against ethnic Mexican Americans on the Mexican/Texas border in the early 20th century. The introduction is a bit scholarly in nature, but don't let it scare you off. The first three chapters each deal with an occurrence of violent acts against Mexicans and Mexican Americans in 1910, 1915, and 1918 respectively. The 4th and 5th chapters describe the overarching culture of violence that permeated Texas and con This book fills a gap in Texas history. It covers the vigilante and extralegal violence against ethnic Mexican Americans on the Mexican/Texas border in the early 20th century. The introduction is a bit scholarly in nature, but don't let it scare you off. The first three chapters each deal with an occurrence of violent acts against Mexicans and Mexican Americans in 1910, 1915, and 1918 respectively. The 4th and 5th chapters describe the overarching culture of violence that permeated Texas and continues today with the veneration of the Texas Rangers and the erasure or ignorance about the evils that some of them perpetuated. She ends the book with a description of the museum exhibit that the Bullock Museum held in 2016 about anti-Mexican violence between 1910 and 1920. Finally, her epilogue reminds us that these depredations were not only committed in the past. She compares the events covered in depth in the first three chapters to violence against ethnic Mexicans that continues today. It can be seen in the actions of border agents and ICE agents. She warns us not to simply relegate these events to the past, but to allow them to inform us about similar behavior in the present. Simply excellent book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Francesca Calarco

    Considering that most history textbooks used in U.S. schools are actually printed in Texas, I always felt that there was likely a number of blind spots in the general narrative due to this prevalent setup. Exploring the activity between 1910 and 1920, Monica Muñoz Martinez does an excellent job of detailing atrocities committed by state law enforcement and others in The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas that many would want us to forget. “We must reckon with the fact that Considering that most history textbooks used in U.S. schools are actually printed in Texas, I always felt that there was likely a number of blind spots in the general narrative due to this prevalent setup. Exploring the activity between 1910 and 1920, Monica Muñoz Martinez does an excellent job of detailing atrocities committed by state law enforcement and others in The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas that many would want us to forget. “We must reckon with the fact that the southern border of our country was created—and policed—violently, and not valiantly, and that we have continually suppressed this truer, more accurate past. It is a past that bleeds into the present, a suppression that continues to shape our future.” In the mid-1800s a number of Americans, many slave-owners from southern states, started moving into Texas. They brought with them many of their existing prejudices and horrific lynching practices. These attitudes set the stage for a number of murders of the indigenous Mexican-American population committed by both private citizens and official law enforcement (the Texas Rangers) in the early 1900s; atrocities that are meticulously detailed in this volume. Many of these stories have been forgotten by the public, but are being unearthed and examined by historians. With Martinez’s archival work, combined with oral history, she is able to paint a clear picture of murky times, as well as how these actions impact living populations today. Mobs lynched ethnic Mexicans with impunity and law enforcement co-signed vigilante murders by providing these racist actions with their stamp of approval, if they weren’t the ones the perpetrate such actions. “On numerous occasions the authorities asked the committee to agree that Texas rangers should be able to act outside the parameters of the law. More specifically, they suggested that suspending legal procedures and regulations would be necessary to protect Anglo-American citizens and their property.” In addition to the hidden history uncovered, part of what makes Martinez’s work so relevant is her exploration of how this past trauma manifested into generational trauma. When someone’s family member is brutally killed under the vague (and false) pretense of him being “dangerous,” but there is no public record or reprimand for the authority figures carrying out an execution without trial, it can really feel like your loved one’s life did not matter. On so many levels. What does that mean for someone, whose grandparent was erased from the earth in this way? Overall, this is a great read, and one that I highly recommend to anyone interested in U.S. history. Rating: 4.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rosa Davis

    All libraries need this book. I learned so much I didn’t know about the Texas Rangers and what purpose they served. It is very important everybody reads this or reads the history in this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Raul M

    For me, the most unsettling, and telling, chapter began with the author describing what she found in a rural town in central Texas, inside a fast-food eatery (part of a chain that has become a Lone Star staple). She found a display honoring Texas Rangers that casually included photos of lynchings. The display may be deemed a modern-day outcome of long-accepted racism, and this book focuses on how such racism (in the form of vigilantism) affected Texans of Mexican descent. As the text explains, s For me, the most unsettling, and telling, chapter began with the author describing what she found in a rural town in central Texas, inside a fast-food eatery (part of a chain that has become a Lone Star staple). She found a display honoring Texas Rangers that casually included photos of lynchings. The display may be deemed a modern-day outcome of long-accepted racism, and this book focuses on how such racism (in the form of vigilantism) affected Texans of Mexican descent. As the text explains, such extra-legal brutality was not only enabled by local and State government, but gradually ignored or glossed over in favor of an idealized and slanted picture of frontier life. This work has enlightened me on specific examples of murders and false accusations, fueled by officially sanctioned (or socially accepted) xenophobia in Texas, that occurred in the early 20th century. The author has turned to records and testimony from family members of victims, verifying why even I've heard the colloquial Spanish word "rinches" used to convey how prior generations in my own area of southernmost Texas have seen State law enforcement (specifically the institution of the Rangers) with fear and distrust. This is a more critical look at Texas antiquity, suited for college-level (or even high school) reading and research. By no means do I see any aim, on the part of this book, to divide or demoralize. Instead, I see this as an effort to acknowledge losses that Mexican-Americans in Texas have long carried in silence due to inaction or threats. On my part, I was taken aback to learn of sympathetic Anglo-Texans subjected to vitriol and intimidation, and of ethnic Mexicans having their character questioned regardless of their reputable social status. I was encouraged by one of the final chapters, which described recent (albeit long-overdue) efforts to bring these disquieting incidents and attitudes to light -- partly as a cautionary measure, lest an ugly side of history repeat itself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    Props to Monica Munoz Martinez for her dedication to write this book! I struggled all through the introduction, barely able to read 5 pages in one sitting. However, once I got somewhere around page 70 I was truly engaged. Reading the word "..the loss of Mexican life was celebrated as a symbol of American progress..." gives you a glimpse of what you will read about the disgraceful sanctioned violence in Texas. One man tried to rid himself, as an adult, of the horrible life long nightmares he had f Props to Monica Munoz Martinez for her dedication to write this book! I struggled all through the introduction, barely able to read 5 pages in one sitting. However, once I got somewhere around page 70 I was truly engaged. Reading the word "..the loss of Mexican life was celebrated as a symbol of American progress..." gives you a glimpse of what you will read about the disgraceful sanctioned violence in Texas. One man tried to rid himself, as an adult, of the horrible life long nightmares he had from witnessing the violence with electric shock treatment! Someone told him later......."you can't get rid of it, it's stuck in your brain". The title, The Injustice Never Leaves You, was aptly named. What I learned in this book will never leave me..........

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sergio Troncoso

    An important history of violence against Mexican Americans in Texas, often by the Texas Rangers, particularly between 1910-1920. Well-documented and meticulously researched. This book brings to light a history kept by families but largely ignored by the State of Texas, until recently. How can a community become a part of society when the decades of pain and grief, often through state-sanctioned lynchings, are ignored in official histories? It can't, unless more books like this one give voice to An important history of violence against Mexican Americans in Texas, often by the Texas Rangers, particularly between 1910-1920. Well-documented and meticulously researched. This book brings to light a history kept by families but largely ignored by the State of Texas, until recently. How can a community become a part of society when the decades of pain and grief, often through state-sanctioned lynchings, are ignored in official histories? It can't, unless more books like this one give voice to those often silenced by fear. This is essential history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Baker Opperman

    “We live in a world that needs to be reconstructed. The more people understand the long consequence of violence, the more likely we will be able to intervene against — to denounce outright — the violence and death that continues today.”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marcos Damian León

    “The Injustice Never Leaves You” fucking hurt to read, but its a necessary history of state sanctioned violence against ethnic Mexicans in Texas. In it Monica Muñoz Martinez documents the history of the Texas Rangers as a vigilante white supremacist group that murdered Mexicans and Natives to steal land for white settlers. Texas then made the Rangers into a state police force and fabricated the myth of their heroism. Muñoz Martinez defies this white washing of history by centering the victims an “The Injustice Never Leaves You” fucking hurt to read, but its a necessary history of state sanctioned violence against ethnic Mexicans in Texas. In it Monica Muñoz Martinez documents the history of the Texas Rangers as a vigilante white supremacist group that murdered Mexicans and Natives to steal land for white settlers. Texas then made the Rangers into a state police force and fabricated the myth of their heroism. Muñoz Martinez defies this white washing of history by centering the victims and their descendants. She treats them as partners in the work of remembering; and I cried reading about families whose heritage is trauma and the fight for justice. The United States would have us believe that the current violence against Latinxs is new; but Muñoz Martinez writes against that. She knows the importance of remembering the victims, speaking their names, and fighting for a future where we don’t see their history repeated.

  9. 4 out of 5

    René Fabian

    Answering calls for justice requires remembering the names of histories of violence... reckoning with the past is intertwined with current efforts for social justice and transformation, for freedom and full humanity. We live in a world that needs to be reconstructed. The more people understand the long consequences of violence, the more likely we will be to intervene against--to denounce outright--the violence and death that continues today. ~Martinez These words seem to resonate even more tod Answering calls for justice requires remembering the names of histories of violence... reckoning with the past is intertwined with current efforts for social justice and transformation, for freedom and full humanity. We live in a world that needs to be reconstructed. The more people understand the long consequences of violence, the more likely we will be to intervene against--to denounce outright--the violence and death that continues today. ~Martinez These words seem to resonate even more today as we mourn the death of Adam Toledo. Truth be told that violence isn't just against African Americans, but also Mexicans as told by Martinez in this book. This book took the longest to read for reasons that it contained so many facts that I wanted to double check and do my own independent research. Isn't that the idea of a great work such as this? Monica Munoz Martinez took the time to name each person who was murdered or affected by the violence initiated by those who took the law into their hands. During the early 1900's, the border between Texas and Mexico was a war zone that was initiated by the Texas Rangers whose job was to "protect" American citizens in Texas from the "bandits" coming from Mexico. This job enabled them to act as vigilantes and perform job duties typically performed by a judge in order to bring justice. Often times, the Texas Rangers initiated the violence and spread fear and doubt about visitors coming from south of Rio Grande border. I believe they were among the first ones to initially define "fear" about those coming to the United States for better opportunities. This book does a great job in detailing how fear and intimidation was used to oppress Mexicans and Mexican Americans, but also create a hostile environment for the Texans who lived near the border. They effectively made it harder to live as they were the ones responsible for most of the violence during this period of time. I cannot emphasize enough how much this book is important to Texas history and should be taught to school children across this state and the nation on how fear was initiated and defined from those people coming from south of the border. This is a must read for those wishing to know about Texas history. Martinez not only talks about the gruesome actions carried out by the Texas Rangers, but also the aftermath in those family members and friends whose lives were affected by their loved ones death. The point is that the injustice affects generations after the initial senseless murders that took place. Unfortunately, works like this have to come about in order for everyone to understand the ramifications of senseless violence. The truth is that their deaths are not in vain as this book highlights the efforts made by a few scholars, like Martinez, to capture this period of time in stories passed down from generations to ensure that we do not forget about what happened in the past so that we will be wiser.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen T.

    While reading this book I realize how unmotivated and naive I was about my Texas history and how much violence many Mexican people endured during Texas early years. You don't get this buried history in middle and high school history class (if I did then maybe I would have listened), and that is a cause of alarm especially during times like these. Martinez does a great job in detailing descrimination and racial injustices of Mexican people at the hands of early Texan anglos and Texas Rangers. Arme While reading this book I realize how unmotivated and naive I was about my Texas history and how much violence many Mexican people endured during Texas early years. You don't get this buried history in middle and high school history class (if I did then maybe I would have listened), and that is a cause of alarm especially during times like these. Martinez does a great job in detailing descrimination and racial injustices of Mexican people at the hands of early Texan anglos and Texas Rangers. Armed with vernacular histories from families that have done their own research themselves, Martinez uses their voices to give you a picture of what life was for Mexican americans and Mexicans from Mexico. I say wow about learning more about some of these Texas Rangers that use the power they were given to do absolutely whatever they wanted without ever being tried or reprimanded for their crimes not only against Mexicans, but African Americans too. We have celebrated Texas Rangers around these parts for years not realizing what horrible crimes they were committing. This book is very eye opening and very heartwrenching, I know for sure now I will be haunted these stories but greatful that they have finally been told.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stormie

    This has been on my to-read list for ages, and it felt incredibly appropriate to read it following the Texas governor's anti-immigration tweet the day after he re-opened the state 100%. In his tweet, he blamed Mexicans and other (brown) immigrants for spreading COVID-19 within Texas borders, yet has cared little about corralling the many anti-vaccine and anti-science white people in his state that have been using their "freedom" to spread COVID-19 over the past year. Huh, anyway. Not much has cha This has been on my to-read list for ages, and it felt incredibly appropriate to read it following the Texas governor's anti-immigration tweet the day after he re-opened the state 100%. In his tweet, he blamed Mexicans and other (brown) immigrants for spreading COVID-19 within Texas borders, yet has cared little about corralling the many anti-vaccine and anti-science white people in his state that have been using their "freedom" to spread COVID-19 over the past year. Huh, anyway. Not much has changed since the late 19th century/early 20th century. Martinez' book is well-researched and incredibly difficult to read/listen to at times, because let's face it--this is a heavy subject matter with ugly truths that we still see repeated in headlines on a near daily basis. The poor treatment of Mexican nationals or immigrants, the violent, militant police force enacted on BIPOC bodies all in the name of "freedom" and "safety" for white, Anglo Texans... Even though this is a difficult read, it is essential.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bright

    A heavy read, but an essential unflinching look into Texas histories of ethnic and specifically anti-Mexican violence. One of the book's last calls to action is to remember that history is not confined to the past-- the violence commited in the borderlands today is intimately connected to the unchecked violence and impunity of vigalante mobs and state police in the 19th and 20th centuries. And the consequences of ignoring these histories, the consequences of justice denied run ripples through ge A heavy read, but an essential unflinching look into Texas histories of ethnic and specifically anti-Mexican violence. One of the book's last calls to action is to remember that history is not confined to the past-- the violence commited in the borderlands today is intimately connected to the unchecked violence and impunity of vigalante mobs and state police in the 19th and 20th centuries. And the consequences of ignoring these histories, the consequences of justice denied run ripples through generations. 5/5, a phenomenal, powerful read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The events in this book are important to know about and understand, and the author has seemingly done some very detailed research. I knew about some events, but had not heard of others. Some sources didn't cite their sources, or seemed less than reliable to me. Also some details made me doubt the author and editor ("...the NAACP was founded in 1909 during Reconstruction"... what?!), and the personal vein towards the end seemed out of place in what otherwise portrays itself as an academic book. G The events in this book are important to know about and understand, and the author has seemingly done some very detailed research. I knew about some events, but had not heard of others. Some sources didn't cite their sources, or seemed less than reliable to me. Also some details made me doubt the author and editor ("...the NAACP was founded in 1909 during Reconstruction"... what?!), and the personal vein towards the end seemed out of place in what otherwise portrays itself as an academic book. Glad I read it, but I had issues with it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    This book isn’t my typical read, but after reading it, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I discovered a lot that I never knew before, and there were parts that I found to be very interesting, but there were parts that weren’t. But overall, I did like it. You can sense the author’s passion for sure.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily Wagner

    This book is so full. Every few sentences I felt the need to stop and take it in. Such a necessary book. The violence of Texas Rangers and the way the US Border Patrol was designed by them also have such far reaching consequences today.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul Shortell

    Good information, but the book reads too much like a textbook. Some points were emphasized again and again, almost seems like a student trying to fill a page number requirement. Could have been about half as long as it is.

  17. 4 out of 5

    William O. II

    Excellent.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    323.1168 M3857 2018

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    *read for class

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kirk Astroth

    The violence against migrants and minorities is a national legacy and disgrace. Glad she documented the horrific racism and murderous brutality is state police, courts, judges and Texas Rangers in the early 1900’s.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Melencio

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charles Heath

  23. 5 out of 5

    Doug Dalglish

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maura

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard P

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brenden

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Beltran

  28. 5 out of 5

    Baylan Ingmire

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam Beeghly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lee Barrett

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