Onda Latina

The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Minority Discrimination In The Armed Forces
Program #

Social Issues
Armando Gutiérrez
Armando Gutiérrez
Jun 6, 1978

Minority Discrimination in the Armed Forces

Host Armando Gutierrez discusses the results of a 1977 study of discrimination against Latinos in the armed services. The study, commissioned by Commander in Chief of the U.S. Army Europe George Blanchard, sought to examine the problems Latinos face in U.S. Army Europe, but the patterns it found hold true for the U.S. army at home as well. Blanchard commissioned the study in the wake of race riots within the army in the early 1970s. Gutierrez explains that minorities make up 35% of the army, and of those 10% are Latino.

The study found several specific problems Chicanos faced in the army, included biased testing, culture shock, the lack of minority officers, and blatant discrimination. Gutierrez elaborates on each problem to show the various ways, Latinos are alienated in the army. For example, the test the army uses to determine a soldier’s career track is geared to middle class American youth who speak Standard English. Soldiers who do poorly on the exam are often tracked into careers with little possibility of advancement and are treated as intellectually inferior, which causes resentment. This translates into a lack of minority officers who can be role models for enlisted soldiers and advocate for them. Gutierrez also discusses the pressure Latino soldiers feel to anglicize their names to avoid harassment from Anglo officers. Moreover, Latino soldiers face a double culture shock when they serve overseas from both the foreign and Anglo culture. He concludes that the problems in the army are at an explosive level and must be addressed in the near future.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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