Elsa García de Mendoza Corona del Rosal

As Interviewed by Emma Zuckerman, April 12, 2015

Elsa García de Mendoza Corona del Rosal in Her Own Words

I was born in Mexico City. Before I came here I studied in France at the Sorbonne for five years. I studied French and Journalism. They gave me a scholarship to work at the Houston Chronicle for a year so I decided it would be a good opportunity. I came to this country, worked as a newspaper reporter and I loved it. It was a beautiful job. In the mean time, while I was here I met my husband and that’s how I remain in this country.

In Mexico, France and everywhere, we thought that the United States was the greatest country in the world. Beautiful houses, living was very high, it was very beautiful. When I got the scholarship, I was very excited to come to this country.

I have never been treated differently because I am from Mexico. When I talk about my education, people really respect me and admire me in a way with my background. In my jobs, I have never had any experience in any way of discrimination.

I remember, at the beginning, when I didn't have a car, I would always take the bus. Since it was a long ways, maybe half an hour, I sat all the time in the back when there was a seat available. I was looking all around, and then suddenly I realized all the blacks were in the back and all the whites were in the front. I couldn’t figure out why whites here or blacks there. I’m not used to discrimination. I respect everybody and so this was very shocking for me. When I found out about the laws, I still went in the back, so what, very nice people, very respectful.

Another time I witnessed discrimination was when we were in the South and in one restaurant it said “NO BLACK PEOPLE ALLOWED.” I didn’t like that at all. Why didn't they give service to the blacks? This was way in the early sixties. I could not understand. It’s gone now, but when I first came it was there.

When I saw many blacks treated badly, I felt bad. I don't like discrimination. At the University that I teach at I have students who are black, white and Hispanic but I don't care. There’s a little bit of everything in everybody: white people, blacks, Hispanics, Japanese. Discrimination bothers me.

In some stores there were bathrooms for whites and black bathrooms for blacks. This also was ridiculous. I’m not used to this treatment. I lived in Mexico, I lived in France, I lived in Spain and there’s no such a thing.

Classes in Mexico deal with education mainly, economic and social. For instance, in Mexico City we had a gardener. He would come everyday and take care of all the plants, and grass and everything. We noticed that he would eat lunch out in the street on the sidewalk. My father told him, “Hey, you don't have to eat out there, come and eat with us. Lets all eat together.” So he ate with us a couple days. Everything was fine. We noticed he was a little uncomfortable but he didn’t say a word. He was very pleasant. Then the third day we found him in the street again. My father asked him, “What happened to you, why don't you come with us.” “No señor, you are another class. I don't feel comfortable eating at your table. I rather eat on the street.” So my father said, “It’s your choice but you’re always welcome to come and eat with us.”