THIS book is about women in Depression San Antonio, not women as a single group but women as members of particular economic groups and women as members of distinct ethnic groups whose circumstances deter- mined how the Depression affected their lives. "Anglo," "black," and "Hispanic," terms currently in use, are employed in this book to designate Depression San Antonio's three major ethnic groupings. Although the terms obscure significant intra-group differences, broad public recognition of the three groupings has defined and continues to define the discriminatory social structure of the Southwest. The differences among Anglo, black, and Hispanic women's lives in Depression San Antonio are both measurable and describable, and the following pages analyze these quantitative and qualitative differences.
Group definitions in the Southwest rest on distinctions that are partly national and partly racial. The designation "Hispanic" applies to all persons of Spanish or Latin-American heritage, but virtually all Hispanics in Depression San Antonio were Mexican American and the two terms are used interchangeably in this text. Some Hispanics in present-day San Antonio regard themselves as Caucasians of Spanish descent. Still others identify themselves as Indians. Race, therefore, does not define Mexican American, but race is an important component of identity for individual Mexican Americans.
Blacks were and are distinguished from others solely on the basis of race. There were virtually no Negro or black Hispanics in Depression San Antonio and the distinction between the two groups was clear. The blacks of Depression San Antonio were the descendants of Afro-American slaves and freedmen.
The term "Anglo" distinguishes all whites of non-Spanish European extraction from all Hispanics; Mexican Americans have adopted "Anglo" as a label for a group regarded as their oppressors. For such purposes a term that blurs ethnic distinctions among the dominant group is functional. Non-Hispanic whites have accepted "Anglo" as a descriptor that sets them apart from the minority groups of the Southwest.