Sandra Calles, PhD

Dr. Sandra Calles is a psychologist, educator, life coach, mentor and activist. Her passion is to advocate for causes she believes in, teach about mental health topics, and guide others, so they may achieve success in their personal and career endeavors.

She has over 11 years of experience as a mental health professional having worked at various mental health facilities. Most recently she was a therapist at Los Angeles Harbor College at the Life Skills Center. While at Harbor College, she helped many students overcome emotional obstacles so they could transfer to universities and meet their career goals. She devotes her personal and professional life to political causes, and activities that promote mental health, women’s issues, the empowerment of Latinas through education, business ownership, financial literacy and political engagement. Dr. Sandra is a graduate of California State University, Dominguez Hills, earning both a BA in Human Services and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She earned her doctorate from Saybrook University in Psychology, where she developed a treatment modality from her research on survivors of sudden cardiac death. The treatment plan known as PROSPER, is an acronym detailing a healing plan that can be applied to survivors of various traumas and is the underpinning for the work she does with her clients..... Continue Reading


Debated Whiteness amid World Events: Mexican and Mexican American Subjectivity and the US’Relationship with the Americas, 1924-1936

M Calderón-Zaks – Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, 2011
Page 1. Debated Whiteness amid World Events: Mexican and Mexican American
Subjectivity and the US’ Relationship with the Americas, 1924–1936 Michael
Calderón-Zaks Independent Scholar By the 1920s, anti-Mexican …

Link to abstrarct

The Red State Blues Life in the Bush Leagues Sunday, April 18, 2010 Mexican American Political Activism At Mid-Century

Michael Phillips
Location: Plano, Texas, United States

Mexican American Political Activism At Mid-Century
I am a coauthor of an updated version of the college American history textbook, currently titled “American Dreams & Reality: A Retelling of the American Story.” Below I describe the civil rights struggles of Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants during the time from 1945 to 1960.

From 1941-1945, close to 500,000 Mexican Americans served in the United States military out of a Hispanic population of about 2.7 million. In Los Angeles, Hispanics accounted for one-tenth of the total population but comprised one-fifth of the metropolis’ wartime casualties. Hispanics made up 25 percent of the victims of the “Bataan Death March” (in which the Japanese beat, shot and marched to death captured British and American prisoners of war in the Philippines), and Mexicans and Mexican Americans earned more medals of honor than any other demographic group.

The Mexican population in the United States increased dramatically during the post-World War II period, with Mexican immigrants increasing from 5.9 percent of all newcomers to 11.9 percent at the end of the 1950s. Part of this increase resulted from the bracero program, in which American landowners imported Mexicans as low-paid agricultural workers. The number of braceros brought in from Mexico jumped from about 35,000 in 1949 to 107,000 in 1960. In 1956, the bracero program peaked with more than 445,000 Mexicans working on American farms that year. Many braceros remained in the United States after their year-long contracts expired, joining a growing number of Mexicans who fled poverty in their country by crossing the American border.

Responding to Anglo concerns about the rising number of so-called “wetbacks” – the insulting term used for Mexican immigrants who supposedly crossed the border by swimming across the Rio Grande River – the federal government launched a crackdown on undocumented workers, “Operation Wetback,” in 1950. During the next five years, the government seized and deported nearly four million people whom authorities claimed were illegal immigrants, with Mexican American legal residents sometimes included in the sweeps. Immigration would heavily politicize the Mexican American community after the war, and many Hispanic political organizations battled to improve working conditions for migrant workers and to fight what they saw as harassment of the Mexican American community, including repeated FBI investigations of Hispanic labor unions which Anglo law enforcement insisted were communist fronts.

As with African Americans, Mexican American veterans of World War II returned from a war against racist fascist regimes impatient with the intolerance they still encountered at home. Passage of the G.I. Bill meant that more Mexican Americans attended college than ever before, and with increased enrollment at colleges and universities came rising expectations for a better life. The percentage of Hispanics living in towns and cities as opposed to rural areas dramatically increased after the war, reaching 65 percent in 1950, which facilitated political activism. Hispanic veterans in particular played a major role in the two primary Latino civil rights organizations of the post-war years: the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the American GI Forum. Well-educated, often prosperous and urban Mexican American elites formed LULAC in Texas in the late 1920s. LULAC’s founders saw assimilation with the Anglo majority as a path toward winning acceptance in American society. They embraced a “Mexican American” identity that combined respect for Mexican traditions and pride in American citizenship. A major focus was “Americanizing” Mexican Americans and recent Mexican immigrants who still spoke Spanish.

“LULAC symbolized the rise of the Mexican middle class,” according to historian Rodolfo Acuña. “As in the past, the organization did not really serve the interests of the poor, but, rather, reflected the philosophy of the middle class, who wanted assimilation . . . To achieve its goal, the middle-class leadership demanded constitutional and human rights for all Mexicans . . . They demanded equality as North Americans; their major goals remained equal access to education and other public and private institutions, and the enactment of state laws to end discrimination against Mexicans.”

The Anglo response to Mexican Americans and immigrants in states like Texas and New Mexico varied widely, with discrimination more common and harsher in places with large Spanish-speaking populations. In such communities, authorities denied Mexican Americans access to public parks and swimming pools, and restaurants either would not serve Mexican American and Mexican patrons or would force them to take their food through a back window and eat outside. Though no formal law segregated Mexican and Mexican American children from Anglos in Texas schools, in districts with large Latino populations, school officials routinely assigned Hispanic children to separate, crowded and poorly funded schools.

In New Mexico, teachers taught Mexican school children in Spanish, which LULAC saw as a deliberate attempt to block these pupils from economic success in an English-speaking country. Mexican children fared poorly in Anglo-run school districts. Hispanic students rarely finished their public school education with a high school diploma. Many non-native speakers of English ended up assigned to remedial classes. In San Antonio in 1920, 11,000 students attended the district’s elementary schools, but there were only 250 high school graduates. In 1928, only 250 Mexican students attended colleges and universities in the entire state of Texas.

To address the high drop-out problem in the Mexican American community, in 1956 LULAC President Felix Tijerina established “The Little School of the 400” program designed to teach Spanish-speaking preschool children a 400-word vocabulary of basic English words before they began first grade. Like the NAACP, from the late 1920s through the post-World War II years LULAC helped members file lawsuits against informal school segregation in the public schools and to open access to higher education for the Mexican and Mexican American community.

In 1946, a U.S. District court in Southern California ruled, in Méndez v. Westminster School District, that segregating Mexican school children violated their constitutional rights, a decision later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The dismantling of segregation in Texas began with the 1948 Delgado v. Bastrop ISD U.S. Supreme Court decision that banned school boards from placing Mexican-American students in different schools than Anglo children. These cases established a precedent for the Brown decision. In the 1957 Hernandez v. Driscoll CISD case, the court ruled that a Texas district’s practice of holding back Mexican American children in grades one and two for four years served as a form of discrimination.

Dr. Hector Garcia formed the American GI Forum (AGIF) in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1948 to serve Mexican American veterans who frequently did not receive Veterans Administration benefits on time. Shut out by the Anglo-run American Legion, Garcia and others decided to form their own veterans’ group. The AGIF grabbed national headlines in 1949 when it led protests against a Three Rivers, Texas, funeral home that denied the use of a chapel to the family of Army Private Felix Longoria, who died in combat in World War II. The AGIF launched an intense lobbying campaign. Lyndon Johnson, at the time a U.S. senator from Texas, successfully persuaded authorities to grant a full funeral service for Longoria at Arlington National Cemetery. Angered by the treatment of Longoria, Mexican American veterans across the country flocked to the GI Forum and by the end of 1949, there were 100 AGIF chapters in 23 states across the country. With its ladies’ auxiliary, entire families could participate in GI Forum events, a key to its success.

The LULAC and AGIF leadership tended to be conservative, and through the 1950s often presented Mexican Americans as a white ethnic group with a distinct cultural identity but American loyalties. As such, the leaders of these groups distanced themselves from the African American civil rights movement, were often critical of black civil rights protests, and sometimes even used racist terms to describe African American leaders. Nevertheless, Mexican American politicians like Henry B. Gonzalez of Texas threw his support behind the NAACP and black desegregation efforts. The Chicano movement of the late 1960s would bring increased efforts to unite blacks and browns in a common battle against racism.

Michael Phillips is the author of “White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001” published in 2006, and “The House Will Come To Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics,” co-written with Patrick Cox and published in 2010 by The University of Texas Press


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Selected photos England and Belgium, 2016


Selected photos Filoli Gardens, Spring 2017, Spain, England, and Belgium

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“…And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while…”

T.S. Eliot
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Press Release

2015 Annual Report on Mexican American Professionals Now Available

The 2015 Annual Report on Mexican American Professionals is now available on

News from the 2015 American Community Service shows good increases in the numbers of Mexican Americans attending college, achieving educational attainment, and holding jobs in industries including science, management, and business.

• Mexican American college enrollment increased from 18.7% to 18.9% between 2014 and 2015
• Graduate or professional degree attainment among Mexican Americans rose from 2.9% to 3.0%
• The number of Mexican Americans achieving bachelor’s degrees rose from 7.6% to 7.8% in 2015

Despite these numbers, Mexican Americans are still near the bottom of college enrollment and educational attainment by race and ethnicity.

The University of California is proactive in pushing for a greater number of underrepresented minorities. The number Chicano/Latino students attending UOC increased by 2.7% since 2014; this group now makes up 32.3% of admitted university freshmen.

In terms of occupations, the number of Mexican Americans making up part of the management, business, science, and art occupations continues to rise, from 16.6% to 17.5% from 2012 to 2015. Mexican Americans have also seen consistent numbers in the professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services occupations, keeping steady at 10.2% of all jobs in these fields held by Mexican Americans.

These numbers represent continuing gains in higher education and professional jobs for Mexican Americans. For more, visit