American Sociological Association

When Change Doesn’t Matter: Racial Identity (In)consistency and Adolescent Well-being

Law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border region has significantly changed since the 1970s. Currently, Latinas/os make up more than half of the agents who patrol the southern border region. The Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley, in particular, has transformed from a predominantly Anglo police establishment to one with a heavy presence of Mexican American agents within local and federal agencies. Though responsible for managing the flows of bodies, narcotics, and would-be terrorists from illegally crossing into the United States, the institutional and social vestiges of this region’s racialized past continues to inform practices of agents in the field, including those of Mexican American descent. In this article, we draw from ethnographic fieldwork, participant observations, and in-depth qualitative interviews with enforcement agents situated in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley to investigate what we describe as a phenomenology of racial power among enforcement agents, or the tethering of power, subjectivity, and embodied racialized practices in their day-to-day lives.

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Rory Kramer, Ruth Burke, and Camille Z. Charles





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