THE SOUTHWESTERN SYNDROME
The American Southwest is a continent removed from the Black ghettos of Newark, New York, and Cleveland, but the selective character of the political process is even more evident among the descendants of the oldest inhabitants, Indian or Hispanic. The bungalow barrios on the West Side of San Antonio or the East Side of Los Angeles are deceptively attractive to the Eastern eye, accustomed to the grimy exteriors of high tenements or the disemboweled remains of abandoned White neighborhoods. The pastel slums of the Mexican-Americans, with their lovingly cultivated gardens and brightly decorated sidewalls, however, are only a facade behind which overcrowding, poor health, underemployment, and lack of education -- all the familiar ills of poverty and discrimination -- contribute to their disconnection from mainstream America.
On the reservations assigned to half a million Indian men, women, and children the distant views are often breathtaking and the wide open spaces remain romantically inviting. Then one notices a layer of beer cans lining both sides of the reservation highway, a ribbon of empty metal, a Purple Heart for just one of the psychic wounds suffered by the Red Man at the hands of the White conqueror. In the villages, even the dogs are skinny, or swaying with the bloat of malnutrition. And the progeny of