Don’t fear shift to a blended society; it’s always been here, SMU historian says

Neil Foley, history professor at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences,talks about the American Southwest always being a blended society.

By Mercedes Olivera

The concern in some quarters over the impact that Latinos are having on U.S. society has always been a head-scratcher for me.

If you grew up watching U.S. sitcoms and old movies from the 1940s on TV, listening to Elvis Presley and Vikki Carr on the radio, and eating greasy hamburgers at a favorite drive-in on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas, you wouldn’t think twice about who you are.

But in some quarters of the country, the growth of the U.S. Latino population sometimes seems to generate a fear of becoming a blended society — of more than one language being spoken and more than one skin color being the norm.

“The fact is, we’ve always been a blended society,” said Neil Foley, who joined the Southern Methodist University faculty this academic year, holding the Robert and Nancy Dedman Chair in History....