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Colonial Mexico had a legal racial caste system that was very complex and detailed. It was a legal caste system, imposed by the Spanish government, and ones caste determined how high in society one could go. The caste system defined three main categories of humans, and then further broke that down into 16 distinct racial subcategories. In fact, the Spanish were so obsessed with race, that they even had the equivalent of posters commissioned by artists to describe the 16 official racial mixtures. Hundreds of these paintings survive to this day.

The three main races were: Peninsulares, who were Europeans, Native Indians, and African Negros.

Peninsulares were further broken down between Gauchapines, who were European born whites and Criollos, who were born in the New World.

Mestizos were mixed blood Spanish-Indian. The term was early on associated with illegitimacy because in the generations after the Conquest, mixed-race children born in wedlock were assigned either a simple Indian or Spanish identity, depending on which culture they were raised in.

Mulattos were mixed blood Spanish-Negro.

There were many terms, like the ones below, used to describe people with varying degrees of racial mixture.

Castizos were people with one Mestizo parent and one Spanish parent. Three parts Spanish, one part Indian.

Cholos were persons with one Indian parent and one Mestizo parent. Three parts Indian and one part Spanish.

Morisco, a person with Mulatto and Spanish parents. Three parts Spanish, one part Negro.

Albino, a person with Morisco and Spanish parents. Seven parts Spanish, one part Negro.

Zambo, a person with Indian and Negro parents.

Chino, a person with Mulatto and Indian parents. One part Spanish, one part Negro, two parts Indian.

Everyone who was not a Guachapine was not only socially inferior but legally inferior as well. At baptism, one was assigned to a caste for life by the priest. Since the caste was based on race one could not “move up” to a better caste. So there was literally no way to improve one’s lot. You, and your children if you didn't manage to marry someone of a better caste, were fated to live a very harsh life if you were Indian or Negro and an inferior life if Criollo, Mestizo, or Mulatto. The caste system was abolished when Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, well at least it was abolished on paper. But that is another story.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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