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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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PROGRAM INFO

Title:
Chicano Self-Help: Individual And Collective Strategies
Program #
1979-31
Theme:
Society

Series:
Business
Host:
Richard Goodman
Guest:
Richard Goodman
Date:
Oct 7, 1976

Chicano Self-Help: Individual and Collective Strategies

Richard Goodman first discusses how and why Mexican Americans formed mutual aid societies. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when many Mexican Americans still lived in rural areas, life could be very precarious and insurance was a necessity. Mexican-Americans formed mutual aid societies in response to the discrimination they faced from the Anglo-owned insurance companies. These societies were locally organized and operated, although they could be part of larger chapters, and were not run for profit, as were Anglo owned insurance companies. Instead all members received equal benefits for medical crisis, funerals or unemployment. The societies’ funds came from the monthly dues paid by each member and fundraisers held for families experiencing crisis. The organization provided financial assistance while individual members offered food and other support for member-families in need. While the inner-workings of the societies were often secret, they did create very strong bonds of community and loyalty.

Goodman then discusses some of the particular issues affecting Mexican American businessmen. He explains that Mexican Americans face special challenges as they seek to enter the business world, including little experience and the lack of capital. He states that while cities with large Mexican populations, like San Antonio, can be ideal for Mexican American businesses, they are the exception. Moreover, Goodman says that Mexican Americans are often naive about business practices and must rely on trial and error, which in the business world often leads to failure. Goodman explains that one of the largest problems affecting the Mexican American businessmen is the lack of sound bookkeeping practices. Without financial records, they cannot qualify for loans or accurately determine their taxes. Some businesses have found success using family labor and locating themselves within the barrio, where property rates are lower and where customers may be more loyal. Goodman explains that ethnic banks were expected to help Mexican American businessmen, but they require collateral, which many Mexican American businessmen lack, to extend loans. Consequently, they have not been able to help as much as hoped. Although, they do offer much-needed guidance and advice for new business owners.

 

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