Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Alonso S. Perales and the Effort to Establish the Civil Rights of Mexican Americans as Seen Through the Lens of Contemporary Critical Legal Theory: Post-Racialism, Reality Construction, Interest Convergence, and Other Critical Themes


The chapter is reprinted with permission from the publisher of “In Defense of My People” by Michael A. Olivas (Copyright 2013. Arte Publico Press- University of Houston)

In this chapter, the author seeks to examine and analyze the efforts of Alonso S. Perales to establish the civil rights of Mexican Americans through the lens of contemporary critical legal theory, which offers an important set of insights and conceptual instruments to analyze issues of race. Toward this end, the author considers how Perales dealt with claims of post-racialism-the idea that racism is not a significant factor in the lives of racial minorities-by constructing an alternative reality through subjugated knowledge. He also examines how Perales' efforts to advance the cause of Mexican Americans anticipated the guidelines or framework set out in Derrick Bell's interest convergence theory. Next, he argues that Perales' effort to establish laws to prevent discrimination against Mexican Americans represents an attempt to bring an end to a state of nature-like existence for Mexican Americans. In addition, the author argues that Perales is significant because he attempts to establish the rights of Mexican Americans as a distinctive group as opposed to basing such rights on a claim that Mexican Americans are members of the white race. Finally, the chapter closes with some thoughts on Alonso S. Perales and fame.

Publication Title

In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals

Document Type

Book Chapter


Alonso S. Perales, civil rights, Mexican Americans, race, discrimination, critical race theory, post-racialism, state of nature, reality construction, interest convergence