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The U.S. Census Bureau does its big count every ten years, and updates the numbers in the middle of the decade. The 2005 figures show that the Hispanic population is pulling further ahead of African Americans. There are officially 2.1 million more self-identified Hispanics in the U.S. than self-identified Blacks, 41.3 million Hispanics compared to 39.2 million African Americans. And, with immigration and high Hispanic birth rates, there is no reason to believe the trend will not continue.
Among most marketers and political demographers, it has long been a done deal that Hispanics have replaced Blacks as the nation's biggest ethnic group. But that's only true if one believes that "Hispanic" is an ethnicity. And that is more than open to question.
There is no doubt that Black Americans are an ethnic group. Their ancestors, who came from many African nations, speaking many languages, worshipping different gods, were forced to become one people during slavery. Over the centuries, Blacks did become one people, and remained so after Emancipation, within the confines of Jim Crow. Indeed, even in that peculiar place called Louisiana, differentiations among the Black population were blurred by the heavy hand of segregation. Jim Crow further knitted Blacks together, as the freed men and women of the South, as in the North, built Black social, cultural and political infrastructures - monuments to Black identity. The surrounding white nation relentlessly encouraged the flowering of a Black polity based on Black ethnicity. This policy was the other side of the coin of the American policy of assimilating "all the nations of Europe" into a big white "melting pot." The whites became "Americans." We remained African Americans. The Black polity, which is a kind of nation, already existed when the great waves of Europeans arrived after the Civil War. It is a multi-textured but amazingly unified cultural and political entity, now almost 40 million strong. We don't all agree, but we share the same social and historical reference points. Black Americans are an ethnicity and a polity.
Hispanic Americans come from many nations. In their ancestral countries, they often comprise many separate ethnicities. A Peruvian Indian is ethnically different than a member of the white elite of that country, and remains so w hen both groups of Peruvians emigrate to the United States, where both are ethnically different than Afro-Caribbean Hispanic immigrants. Calling all Hispanics in the U.S. one ethnic group in effect denies their actual, varied ethnicity. Hispanics in the U.S. are many people. Often, Hispanics in the U.S. who hail from the same country are ethnically different.
No, it is a stretch of social science to lump Hispanics together as one ethnicity, although it is certainly possible that at some time in the future a portion of the various Hispanic ethnicities will forge a common culture and worldview within the U.S., as have African Americans over the centuries. But that remains to be seen. For Radio BC, I'm Glen Ford.
DIALOG of the DEADóAn
Interactive One-Act Play
Rubťn SŠlaz MŠrquez
© Copyright 2005 by Rubťn D. SŠlaz
Chicano, Above-It-All, MarŪa (female), Latino, Immigrant (female), Hispano.
Immigration Officer (female), Army Soldier, Sheriff, FBI Agent. Two male
Scene: The stage is
dark and bare except for the Narrator standing behind an upstage, brightly
spotlighted (overhead) podium. Behind her in the dark are six seated
individuals: Chicano, Above-It-All, MarŪa, Latino, Immigrant, and Hispano.
All are dressed in ordinary clothes of their choosing. The only thing they
have in common is a luminescent cross-hair target painted on their
NARRATOR: Ladies and
Gentlemen, Damas y Caballeros, Bienvenidos. Welcome to this
presentation on ethnic identity. Let me advise you immediately that the
viewpoints presented here will not leave you unmoved. We encourage your
sincere participation and we wish for everyone to consider what will be
expressed, even if you donít happen to agree with the various points of
view. The effort is to reach a rationale consensus of opinion, despite the
fact that we realize some people destroy unity by denigrating everybody
else. There are also those who believe they must be the center of attention
so they argue about everything. We are here to dialog, not argue. We have a
right to disagree but we have no right to destroy. Please keep that in mind.
In hopes that we will
make progress in our communities, we will now begin our dialog. Speakers may
use the podium or the entire stage. We conducted a drawing to decide on the
order of presentations and as it turned out, the Chicano will be our first
CHICANO: Thank you. I
am a CHICANO. That means I recognize who I am: a mestizo, mostly
Indian, part Spanish, part Mexican. I am proud to say I am descended from
the Aztecs of the Valley of Mexico. The Aztecs came from Aztlan, a faraway
place in the northland. They kept migrating south until they saw a sign, an
eagle devouring a serpent atop a cactus and that became their home in the
Valley of Mexico. The Aztecs became masters of a rich and sophisticated
empire before it was destroyed by Spaniards.
Chicanos are the
mestizo race. We are proud to be who we are, no matter what anybody says,
because we believe in self-determination. We have forged our own identity
and have cut away the Spanish fantasies that plague our people. Chicano and
Chicana artists often incorporate images of Aztecs like Quetzalcoatl and
Cuahtemoc because they are proud of their indigenous roots. We have a
history that goes way beyond the arrival of Europeans, Spanish or otherwise.
We demand that this be respected and we show the way by respecting it
We realize we have been
repressed since the United States took over the northern half of Mexico,
today called the Southwest. People didnít want to be called Mexicans
because to the oppressors that was equivalent to greaser, wetback, or
Nomenclature is a
factor in our Southwestern reality. A whole menagerie of euphemisms cropped
up and everybody could take their pick. Chicanos picked their name from the
Aztec under classes, an offshoot of Mexica, combining Sheeka
with the Spanish "ano" to form CHICANO, a distinct identity
that recognizes our proud Mexican past that racists would deny us. We will
not be forced into being ashamed of our indigenous roots nor our present
working class realities. Most importantly we openly reject repression by
dominant societies, whatever their origin. We acknowledge our deep cultural,
racial, and linguistic differences from Anglo-Americans. We will actively
seek social justice for our people as we widen their awareness of our
history as natives of this land..
We have also endeavored
to open the university ivory tower to the community. We demanded that
courses be taught about our people and our communities. We demanded that
courses be directed toward Mexicans in the United States. Subservience would
not be the foundation for Chicano courses. Universities didnít favor the
movement but we forged classes because we struggled, channeled student
indignation, and united with other non-white minorities. I think weíve made
By necessity we are
activists. First and foremost we will not reject our indigenous heritage. It
doesnít matter that we are attacked on all sides. We know who we are and we
stand proud. We chose to use CHICANO as our name. Nobody shoved it
down our throats. We chose it for ourselves.
with yourself. Look at how everybody else scurries around, toadying up to
the powers that be. Theyíll say and do almost anything to get accepted.
Thatís true everywhere but especially on the college campus. Chicanos or
Chicanas will be or might not be accepted, but itís under our own terms. And
there is nothing to apologize for. Thank you.
NARRATOR: Thank you.
The Chicano seems to be saying "Know thyself." As I mentioned at the
beginning, our participants have deep-seated beliefs and we advise everyone
to weigh and consider them.. Our next presenter is Above-It-All.
ABOVE-IT-ALL: I am an
American, first, last, and always. It doesnít matter where my ancestors came
from. The only important thing is that they came HERE, to America,
the good old U.S. of A.
So whatís the problem?
This is our homeland, this is where we live and are going to die. This is
where we pay our taxes. This is where we get an education. This country,
whether you think it is good, bad, or indifferent, is the basis for our
culture. What came before, whether from Spain or Mexico or Timbuktu, is of
no importance to me.
When we go to war we
wear the uniform of the USA. If we die on the battlefield itís for the USA.
I hope our country is always on the side of right, but right or wrong, itís
Will we get veteransí
benefits? Social Security? Medicare? I sure hope so. But Iím damned sure of
one thing: nothing is coming to me from Spain or Mexico, Aztlan, or any
Let me tell you what
you already know. The language of the USA is English. Speak it, speak it
well, then use another language if you want to or see a need for it. But
donít expect the rest of the country to fall into step with you. It wonít
happen because you canít change a countryís language or culture. It hasnít
happened in the entire history of the world. Donít bother me about having
another language, Spanish or otherwise. If I donít need it for business or
daily living thereís no need for it and thatís not an insult. Thatís not
racism because the language of this country is English.
You say youíre being
targeted by the police? Then why behave in a way that draws police attention
to you? Why dress like gang members if you donít want racial profiling? You
tattoo yourself then you resent being treated like convicts? That makes no
sense. Some people think they can cuss out the police and nothing should
happen to them. You think thatís acceptable in some other country? Let me
know when you try it.
Are you going to be
accepted in America? Maybe so, maybe not. Itís up to you to work on it
because itís a free country. That holds true for everybody. If you donít
like your neighborhood you have the right to move. Thatís part of our
freedom. Thatís part of being an American. Do you think youíre going to be
accepted by doing graffiti, fighting the cops, dropping out of school, doing
drugs, or going on welfare? Thatís downright sick.
Letís wise up. If you
donít like this country nobody said you had to live here. Be what you are,
an AMERICAN, and learn what you have to learn to live a good life.
What other country offers you anything better? Just about everybody wants to
come here. Weíre here and you donít appreciate it? Wise up. Youíre just
making a lot of trouble for yourself. Thank you.
NARRATOR: Thank you.
Above-It-All believes we should recognize our American culture. Next we will
hear from MarŪa, la Mujer.
MARÕA: I am not
particularly concerned with labels so I am here as your grandmother, mother,
daughter, granddaughter. I have seen our communities torn apart by people
like you who donít realize we are viewed as one and the same, whatever your
label. Women give us life but you, all of you, are responsible for our
death, figuratively and often literally. What have you people done for your
communities other than tearing them apart? We give you life then what do you
do with it, THIS?! Where are the heroes and heroines of our people?
Where are YOU?! Iíll bet you canít even agree on that. You people
will lead us to the grave. I believe hope will come from women. Thank you.
Ah, thank you. MarŪa, la Mujer, who believes we should, ah, recognize our
responsibilities to community. Next we will hear from the Latino.
LATINO: I call myself
a Latino because that is what I heard growing up in Texas. Valid history
tells us we are from the Latin branch of the human family. I believe many
Americans shy away from history because they donít want to face reality.
Greeks and Latin Romans laid the foundation to what we now refer to as
Western Civilization. People in Europe and the Americas are the
beneficiaries of that civilization. Latin people can be justly proud of the
civilization they created. We should be encouraged to be proud of our
heritage, but valid history isnít taught in the schools. The Germanics,
Anglos as they usually call themselves, were the destroyers of
civilization. When the Anglo barbarians finally conquered Rome our world was
plunged into the Dark Ages. We didnít get out of the Dark Ages until the
Roman Empire resurfaced in Europe.
The greatest king
during the Middle Ages was Charlemagne but ordinary people know next to
nothing about him, even after taking a high school course in World History.
We are bombarded with stories about King Arthur, who was never a real
person, and the Knights of the Round Table, who never existed either. The
movies make you think he was the King of England when in fact he was always
and is now only fantasy, along with his knights of the round table. This
fantasy heritage is pervasive in the minds of most Americans and some get
angry when you tell them King Arthur was never a real person.
You might say: So
who cares? What happened a thousand years ago doesnít matter now!
Thatís a standard reaction. But if you rely on fantasy instead of valid
history you have other fantasies that skew your life. Take the fantasies of
the West about people like the Texas Rangers or Wyatt Earp. Yes, now weíre
hitting closer to home, arenít we? The Texas Rangers were ruthless killers
who would shoot you down or in the back before they asked any questions. And
being unarmed didnít matter to them. They were Nazis on a smaller scale but
people wonít say that because they are afraid of the consequences. I have
often wondered why our people accept all the abuse that is directed at them.
One of the few to fight for his rights was Juan Cortina, who is still being
vilified in warped Texas histories. But how many Latinos know Cortinaís
story? Iíll bet most of us donít know much about him.
Why donít our people
stand up for their dignity and self-respect? Why are they constantly
tolerating insults? Why donít we promote valid history about men like Juan
Cortina and Elfego Baca instead of accepting the Hollywood dream factory of
sheer fantasy? Take Wyatt Earp as an example. He was a pimp and back
shooter. Yes, thatís the historical truth. The ďgloriousĒ thirty-second
fight at the OK Corral was over who would control the prostitution industry
in Tombstone. They donít mention that in the movies or even most books. Let
it be said once and for all that Wyatt Earp worked in the prostitution
industry of Tombstone, Arizona, was a back shooter, a bushwhacker who
finally had to flee from Arizona because he shot down his enemies in the
back as they were riding by.
Americans get their
sense of history from the movies. The nonsense about two gunmen walking
toward each other on main street is Hollywood fantasy. Most of those guys in
the West were back shooters but now theyíre made out as heroic gunmen. Earp
and Doc Holiday were anything but heroic yet they continue to make movies
about them. Movies make you think that John Wayne created the West. He
didnít and neither did anybody else from east of the Mississippi. Tejanos
created western ranching in Texas, Californios did it in California, and
Hispanos in New Mexico.
Why donít you see to it
that your children study about themselves and their valid history? Yes, you
and me, the whole community is to blame because we donít bother to educate
our kids. We leave it to the schools, and all they really get there is that
Latinos are vile people while the heroes are individuals like Davy Crockett
who came from east of the Mississippi river, all speaking English.
Incidentally, Crockett at the Alamo is about as big a myth as King Arthur.
If you donít study your
real history you are confused or lost. Iím sure youíll see what I mean just
by being here tonight. Stay tuned. Thank you.
NARRATOR: Thank you.
Our Latino seems to be saying that we have to know our history in order to
know ourselves. Next we have perspectives from the Immigrant.
IMMIGRANT: I am in this
country because I like it here. Iíll bet youíll never guess what I like the
best. Itís BOOKS. This country is fabulously wealthy in BOOKS
and thatís what I like best of all.
Most people think
immigrants are out working in the fields or in construction. That isnít the
case for everyone. I started in the fields as a little girl then I got a
janitorís job in a library then I worked my way into different aspects of
library work. Someday I hope to finish college work in Library Science,
si Dios quiere. It hasnít been a piece of cake by any means and Iíve
encountered people who donít think I have the right to work in a library.
They didnít mind when I was cleaning toilets but some sure resent me now. I
guess thatís the way itís always been with immigrants in this country. I
love it anyway. But Iím aware of very real dangers. For example, it has been
documented that a total of 4,742 Americans were lynched between 1882 and
1968. Of these 3,452 were African Americans. No one has studied how many
Hispanos were lynched. That is still to come. So living here isnít just a
piece of pie.
Another of the things I
like about American life is that you have to rely on yourself. Let me start
by saying we immigrants have paid the price for coming to the United States.
Let me set the record straight on what immigrants are doing for this
country. Immigrant workers, legal or otherwise, will pay around $500 billion
into the Social Security system during the next twenty years. Immigrants
collectively earn $240 billion a year, pay $90 billion a year in taxes, and
only claim a return of $5 billion per year. Thatís an 85 billion dollar
profit for this country. If you donít believe me check out People for the
Weíre get accused of
taking away American jobs! °Mentiras! We do the work Americans wonít
do. Now that Iíve worked my way up the latter, now Iím taking away an
Americanís job? Donít kid me. Nobody wanted to start with janitor work so
they gave me the job. I did the job and Iíve climbed up the ladder of
opportunity. We immigrants are the work ethic of this country. Now thatís
what we do for Americans like you and for your wonderful country.
Thank you, seŮora. That
information is very interesting and certainly a revelation to me personally.
Next we have the Hispano.
HISPANO: Thank you.
There are any number of ethnic labels used locally, regionally, and
nationally. Some are positive, many are derogatory. This applies to all
ethnicities which comprise the population of the USA.
Despite the belief of
some to the contrary--ďItís their name for usĒ they like to say--the
label used historically for New Mexicoís Spanish speaking population is and
has been Hispano, Hispanic in English.
Is it really ďtheir
name for usĒ? No, it isnít. I agree with Latino that we donít study our
history. And by the way, I donít believe HISTORY is boring. The word
HISPANO has its roots in a history that is more than 3000 years old
and it goes like this: at around 1200 B.C. the Phoenicians were the first
to record visiting a land which they referred to as Hispalis, the
Iberian Peninsula, and to the people living there as Hispani. So
Hispani is the name given to us some 3000 years ago. When the Romans
conquered the area they named it Hispaniarium which later became
Hispania and the people were referred to as Hispano. To this day,
the people who came out of Spain and Portugal are referred to as Hispano, as
are those Latin Americans who became products of the basic cultures of the
Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal. And no one speaking English gave it
Yes, we all recognize
that we are AMERICANS. Everybody knows that, but that isnít the
point. The reality is that we are not accepted as equals by racist
Americans. Notice that I am singling out ONLY racists.
Furthermore, be aware of differences which exist amongst our people: we
Hispanos of New Mexico didnít come to the USA, the
USA came to us.
Weíre not immigrants coming to the United States. We didnít change out names
so we could be ďAnglosĒ the way so many Ellis Island immigrants did. We had
a long history before we were made citizens of the USA. Indeed, our Spanish
history is longer than our USA history. Understand the point that Iím
making: historical New Mexicans are not immigrants who came to the USA.
Some people recoil
against the idea that New Mexicans are Spanish. You know why they do
that? Because they have bought the racist concept that ďone dropĒ of blood
can make you inferior. So if you have ďone drop of African bloodĒ that makes
you a black person. If you have one drop of Indian blood that makes you an
Indian. And so on down the line. The ďone drop race theoryĒ is ludicrous on
all counts but it is basic to racist American psychology. And some of our
people have bought it. Thatís why they ridicule anyone who refers to himself
as Spanish or Hispanic.
Iím sure you can make a
case for use of Latino. We are part of the Latin family, but so are
Italians, Portuguese, French, and Romanians. How come they donít refer to
themselves as Latin Americans? Thatís what they are, just like us.
The label Chicano
doesnít exist in any historical document as far as I know. There is no
reference to the label used by any historian before the twentieth century,
as far as I know. Being barrio slang, it was used sparingly in the 1940s but
became a rallying point during the Civil Rights struggles beginning in 1964
to 1970. The Chicanos, often militant, some people referred to them as
militontos, made demands at the college level and some new courses were
initiated because of the pressure. Thatís about as far as it went because
the community didnít embrace the militancy or the idea that anyone who
didnít use CHICANO was a phony, a ďTŪo TacoĒ sellout, someone
pretending to be ďpure Spanish,Ē which Chicanos ridiculed as ludicrous
fantasy. A fratricidal situation developed that is recognizable to this day.
Maybe thatís why weíre here right now??
Chicanos laud their
Indian blood, which is fine, but at the same time they denigrate the
Hispanic past. Put succinctly, Chicanos became as virulently Hispanophobic
as any racist Skinhead racist who hated Spain and its Catholic Church. For
example, in Albuquerque some so-called Chicanos worked against honoring Juan
de OŮate in observance of New Mexicoís 400th anniversary. Thatís
a historical fact.
Despite the fact that
Indians donít consider Chicanos to be blood brothers, Chicanos, seemingly
omniscient, promote the idea that Hispanos are more Indian than Spanish. How
do they know? ďWell, one drop of Indian blood makes you an Indian, thatís
how.Ē Thatís American racism, pure and simple.
Like American racists
who fancied they were fighting for purity of the white race, Chicanos
have made demands in favor of the ďmestizo raceĒ where race mixture is the
all important reality. Land grant swindles, failing public schools, the hell
of drug abuse, grinding poverty, illiteracy, poor academic achievement, all
are subordinate to acknowledging race mixing. And in the mixture the
Aztec Indians, who by the way came from Siberia if you have studied
anthropology, not some fabled Aztlan, are claimed and lauded as
progenitors of Chicanos. How is it possible that Chicanos from everywhere
came only from Aztec people? What happened to the hundreds of other tribes?
There was no mixing with the other tribes who lived all over Mexico and the
The truth be told, the
Aztecs were conquered by Spanish-led Indians who hated the Aztecs. Why isnít
that historical fact acknowledged? Why do we ignore historical realities
like the fact that the many Indian tribes in the Valley of Mexico hated the
Aztecs as war mongering cannibals who believed in daily human sacrifice? Why
arenít we aware that the flesh of sacrificial victims was sold in the market
place as food? The Aztecs are now often portrayed as heroic while Cortťs and
his Christian handful of men are villainized, the latter of which fits
nicely into ďTree of HateĒ American psychology which has always been used
against us. Are Chicanos in league with American racism?
the people of California referred to themselves as Californios, those of
Texas as Tejanos, the New Mexicans as Hispanos. Genome testing has now
proved that human DNA is 99.9% exactly the same throughout the human race so
racist ideas of ďpurityĒ or ďmixingĒ are invalid, in reality more social
than science. Furthermore, use of the label Chicano was doomed from
the start because there is not now nor has there ever been historically a
Chicano community. The effort came from individuals at various universities,
especially in California, and never became the fabric of community life.
Latino is still the preferred label in Texas, as is Hispano in
New Mexico. Take a quick look at the various organizations in Albuquerque:
the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Roundtable, the Hispanic
Culture Preservation League, American G.I. Forum. None of them employ the
Chicano in their organizational name.
Individuals can use
whatever name they wish. My feeling is that hate should not be fomented by
anyone. Live and let live. We all hate war, disease, ignorance, racism, and
all those ugly things, but we should not hate each other or we could wind up
in crematoriums, one group at a time. I invite you to read the short story,
THE WALL, which has been published on various websites. Thank you.
NARRATOR: Thank you,
Hispano. Now we will have a short rebuttal periodó
HECKLER: (seated in
the audience area and yelling) WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO DISCUSS THE NAMES THEY
REALLY CALL YOU??
but peering into the direction of the voice) Excuse me?
HECKLER: I said why
not discuss the names they really use?
NARRATOR: (trying to
be accommodating) Sir, I donít know what you mean. Like what?
GREASER. Donít tell me youíve never heard it!!
NARRATOR: Well, yes,
of course, but sir, at this juncture you would have to be on stage in order
to raise such questions.
HECKLER: (Taking it as
an invitation he strides onto the stage and into the spotlight.) OKAY, itís
time to tell it like it is. When are you going to face reality?? You say
youíre Chicanos, Latinos, Mexicans, Spanish and all the rest, but what you
really have to confront is when they call you a greaser, a spic, a pocho, a
surumato, a hodge-podge of mixed-blood mongrels of the human race but little
removed from savagery, on par with Indians and blacks.
NARRATOR: Sir, I meant
to say we will open it up for questions at the end. And the first thing I
would require is respect for all people.
HECKLER: Letís not
waste anymore of my time. Address the real issue: why do Americans think of
you as degenerate GREASERS?!
NARRATOR: Sir, youíre going to have to leave the
stage but let me say that we are not responsible for racist societies that
have targeted Amerindians, Africans, and Mexicans.
HECKLER: There you go
again, avoiding reality. Why not say redskins, niggers, and greasers?
Afraid to look the situation in the face?
NARRATOR: Sir, thatís
enough. (Looking to the wings.) Some one get this person out of here.
HECKLER: Face American
reality: a white skin symbolizes the light of knowledge, religious purity,
the beauty of innocence, faith, true joy, and life itself. Thatís what
people believe and you guys havenít even touched upon it. Integrity is the
key, along with humanity and high chastity in women.
LATINO, HISPANO: Are you kidding me?!
HECKLER: A dark skin
is the sign of darkness, wicked mongrelism, punishment and suffering,
ignorance and superstition, a lack of hygiene, pervasive squalor, laziness
and misery, decadence and death. Those are the real issues that you have to
discuss if you really want to face reality.
[Two burly stage hands come on stage and forcibly
drag the Heckler away to the wings while he continues to express himself
until his voice is suddenly silenced.]
You stand here and laud
your mestizo mongrels?! [To the stage hands as they drag him
offstage.] GET YOUR GREASY HANDS OFF ME!! Youíll hear from my
attorney!! When will you people ever learn?! Youíre nothing but rejects like
everybody says! Youíll hear from real AMERICAN LAW!!
shaken): I apologize, ladies and gentlemen. We didnít intend that scene,
itís not part of the program. Weíre back to normal again. As I was saying
before we got interrupted, we will now have a short rebuttal period in which
our presenters can clarify their commentary if they wish. We will maintain
the order of presenters by beginning with our Chicano.
CHICANO: Thanks. As
you have seen ladies and gentlemen, thatís what we have to confront. How are
we going to do it? The racist practices witnessed on this platform are
symptomatic of stubbornly held ideas that include, first, denying there is a
war at home along with todayís wars abroad, and the two are intimately
connected. Second, denying that both are racist wars, as well as apparently
forgetting that U.S. foreign policy is fundamentally rooted in American
racism. In 1500 the invaders arrived to take the land and the woman, and
then systematically worked to destroy the culture. The Europeans came from
Spain and later from England. Then came the Dutch to sell slaves, and even
the Russians came.
The Chicano has a
history of activism and cultural survival or we wouldnít be here. It was the
Chicanos who organized the Mexican American Civil rights movement during the
late 60's and early 70's.
So how should we
activate today? The same as yesterday: youíve got to have huevos. Do
you really think these eunuchs here tonight are capable of providing you
with leadership to face the realities of this country? You have to come to
grips with who and what you are. Only then can you face reality and work for
your goals. And let us admit that we have to study our history if we are to
succeed in American society, despite its penchant for fantasy as reality.
But you donít have to be Euro-clones to be happy or fulfilled.
Chicanismo always was,
and is, an idea. We all know, of course, that you cannot kill an idea.
Today, in widespread educational circles, the idea lives. We see the
elements of El Plan de
Santa Barbara bearing ripening
fruit, such as bilingual education, multicultural perspectives, and the
recognition that Chicano history is very relevant for today's well-rounded
education and for the self-esteem of Chicano and Chicana students.
Chicanismo, therefore, is not dead. It is our best weapon against American
racism. Thank you.
believe in American progress. I believe in improving what went before. This
does not include being ďdifferent,Ē not even being perceived as different.
When you belong you want to be like everybody else. Being different
is antagonistic, a threat to security of the whole. It is dangerous and
calls for incarceration, deportation, or being put on a reservation. If you
want to be happy, if you want salvation, ACCULTURATE. If that means
being Germanic in the British sense, so be it. The professor at UCLA had it
right when he said acculturation, through education or the work place or
whatever, was the key. ITíS WHAT ALL OTHER IMMIGRANT GROUPS HAVE DONE.
Why should you people be the exception?
Furthermore, itís time
we started talking like AMERICANS to everybody here present and the
rest of the world. You
know what I would like to hear coming out of Americans from here to the
White House? That America is for AMERICANS. Itís time to hear that
since Congress does not want to spend any more money on the current war,
that our mission is complete. All American forces and personnel will be out
of the war zone within 30 days!
We should create two
lists that include all of the industrialized nations of the world. The short
list contains the names of countries who went into the war zone with us. The
longer list contains the names of countries who did not. So be informed
that, effective immediately, countries who did not help us in time of war
will no longer be eligible for any kind of foreign aid from the USA. We
figure the money saved will pay for the war on terror, which we thought all
countries wanted to combat.
In the future, together with
Congress, American leaders will work to redirect this foreign aid money
toward solving the heavy social problems we still have at home. On that
note, a word to terrorist organizations. Mess with us and we will hunt you
down and exterminate you from the face of the earth, along with all your
friends. Thatís a promise!
It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens.
Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, "damn right."
America should be first and foremost for AMERICANS.
century of trying to help people like you and around the world has only
earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. The world
can now take care of itself. It is time to eliminate hunger in America. It
is time to eliminate homelessness in America. It is time for America to
take care of its own. And if you donít like it, no one will stop you at the
border when you move out.
If you want to
progress, be an American. If you donít want to be one, thereís plenty of
transportation out of here. If we want the same rights and privileges
as every other American we have to be true Americans. When in Rome, do as
the Romans. Well this is America and weíre as American as anybody else.
This is my country and no one is
going to take it away from me. NO ONE! And that includes everyone
MARÕA: We ARE here. The United States finally took count and
found out that within the last ten years our people have crossed the borders
into America not only fulfilling the American dream, but more
importantly fulfilling the destiny of our becoming the entire majority in
the Southwest There is nothing on this earth that can stop a movement of
people whose history revealed that they would once more govern not only
their lives, but their land.
We must have the heart, courage, and concern for the well-being of our
people. We must never forget that in some fashion or another we are related.
We are all Mexicanos -- different names, different places, different
native languages, but at the end we are Mexicanos. The states within
the borders know that it is a matter of time before we become the majority.
Those who doubt this may study the U.S. census of people at the borders. The
battle cry for many centuries has been about life and death for justice,
liberation, and land. As a people and a race, we have returned to those
times once again. The land itself cries for us.
It is our
responsibility to undo the mental brain washing imposed on us, making us
believe that we who reside in the United States of America are different. We
are not different but we are one.
"Nosotros somos uno."
We are the same
Mexicanos/Mexicanas that at times we see at the borders -- barefooted,
hungry, and chained. They are our sisters and brothers. These Mexicanos are
related to all of us. We are one, and there is no river, no border, no
agents or Minutemen that can ever stop the process of evolution.
Being a woman hasnít
absolved me from any responsibilities to God, country, family or community.
I call for all women and men to join together to pay respect to mother earth
and to women for being life givers and keeping our cultural traditions
alive. Thank you.
LATINO: We need to
learn to appreciate each other. Most people do not realize that many doors
were opened for la Raza because of the sacrifices of many of our past
leaders. Corky Gonzales was one of those leaders and a personal inspiration
to me. I remember him fondly because he told me once If there ever was a
fight for rights, to invite him and he really meant it.
Corky was one of the
leaders during the Mexican American Civil Rights Era during the late 60's
and early 70's. He did much to improve conditions in Colorado and to promote
communications. Cťsar ChŠvez improved conditions in the farm fields. Others
worked valiantly to improve conditions in the cities in California, Arizona,
the Mid-West, Oregon and Texas. There were leaders like Josť Angel Gutiťrrez
and Reis Lůpez Tijerina who also did much for the people, even if the
ordinary Fulano doesnít know it.
An organization that
has not received its due is the Brown Berets. The Brown Beret National
Organization of 60 chapters had to take a lot of the reactionary flack, but
because of its sound structure, they contributed to much of the youth
development and safety in the field. The Berets were able to organize many
events across the nation despite disruptors, and police provocateurs. The
Berets went to jail more than anyone because they were effective and not
afraid to practice their civil rights on the streets.
We must ORGANIZE.
You canít wait for white activists to do it for you. We all know that white
activists can wage passionate campaigns against oppression and human rights
abuses in Chile, El Salvador, South Africa and such, but NOT in the
ghettos and barrios of their own cities. WE have to do it. Thank you.
IMMIGRANT: I am
shocked beyond belief at what I have witnessed on this stage. What is
wrong with you people?! In my native country poor people donít get their
kicks by fighting each other. They realize the oligarchies and global
corporations are keeping them underfoot and poverty stricken. Why do you
hate each other so much?! Do you really think that blood is the thing that
matters? So you are Chicano or Hispanic or Spanish or Mexican or Indian, so
what, if youíre poor and uneducated? So youíre a mestizo! What of
it?! So youíre Indo-Hispano or Mexican American or Spanish American. Iíve
heard one person say he was no longer a Chicano but rather an Aztlano!
Who cares if you can hardly read or write English or Spanish? Iíve met tons
of ordinary people who donít respect anybody and numbers of university
professors who think theyíre gods!
You are the only people
I have ever met who fight each other over labels or blood instead of
oppression, crime, poverty, exploitation, lack of education and all those
things which most people value. What planet have you people been living on?
You have millions upon
millions of brothers and sisters in this country but for you people I guess
they are just someone to fight with instead of for. I have
lived next to Indian villages and there isnít a single person on this stage
whom I would consider to be an Indian. Neither are you Spanish unless you
were born in Spain, and I doubt that too. The people I have met in this
country are German, Irish, Italian, Polish and all the rest from all over
the world. They came here for a better life but all you people want is to
fight each other. Get ready. We, all of us, will soon be obsolete,
irrelevant, or dead.
HISPANO: I donít
believe that everything that came before is ďdead, obsolete, and
irrelevant.Ē Neither do I believe that Chicanismo is the only key to
ďthe good lifeĒ because we all have a right to pursue whatever we believe is
the essence of happiness. Acculturation is ďone size fits allĒ but so is ďChicanismo,Ē
whatever that is. Maybe Aztlanismo is next?! Maybe the Chicano will
tell us. For my money, all its done is fragment our communities with all
kinds of animosities. Look at whatís happened right here on this stage.
NARRATOR: We will now
open up the discussion to any presenter who wishes to add something by way
CHICANO: El Movimiento
is who and what we are, beyond our
heart into our very soul and being por vida. Like Che said, every
true revolutionary is motivated by LOVE, and that is what the Movimiento is,
was and will always be, about eternal love.
Yes, there are many
vendidos and tapados among us but whatever they are, they were never
Chicanas or Chicanos, in the first place. Race, color, nationality, culture
and tradition do not a Chicana or Chicano make; Chicanismo comes from the
heart, and it grows from there, outward throughout your mind forever. Anyone
who thinks you can quit the Chicano Movement was never in it in the first
LATINO: I believe the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo has to become a basic
factor in our reality. In that treaty, signed after years of war between the
United States and Mexico, Mexico was forced to cede about half of its
territory, the lands that would become the states of Texas, New Mexico,
Arizona, California and parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah, ceded to the
American government in exchange for $15 million in hypocritical reparations,
conscience money probably, for war damage.
Our people in 1848 were Mexican citizens, and the U.S. promised to respect
their rights as such, whether they chose to remain Mexican citizens and
relocate, or if they chose to stay where they were and eventually become
citizens of the United States. The federal government also set about
determining how much land belonged to Indian peoples under the terms of the
Treaty. In California, they asked the people in 1851 to provide proof of
their land grants and pretty much accepted all of the land claims that were
filed. The federal government lost half of California and realized that it
had made a mistake. If you really have Article VIII rights, real property
rights, you as individuals and as a people have superior rights. If we can
establish that you have Article VIII rights, you are the sovereign. If you
are the sovereign, you can say, 'I don't care what you pay; we will not
sell.Ē Indians are in a good position for court cases. All Latinos have the
obstacle of proving they were defrauded out of their lands. The crux of the
struggle is for the LAND. If you donít see it, your head is buried in
MARÕA: Our basic focus
has to be the family and especially our children. The military are trying to
sign up our kids to go fight poor people from some other nation. We must
recognize reality. Across the country, parents, teachers, and activists are
taking action to protect students from the lies, manipulation, and abusive
tactics of military recruiters who are going into the poorer communities and
trying to recruit our young people to fight their hateful wars. Rich kids
arenít targeted, just the poor.
Recruiters have no
place in public schools. They are predators who
lie to young people and manipulate their economic situation in order
to drag them away to fight bloody wars of conquest and occupation. We have a
right and an obligation to demand that they not be allowed to use schools to
recruit cannon fodder for their illegal, immoral wars.
HISPANO: Itís time to
act. If you lived through the struggles the 60's and 70's you know what
price has been paid. It's our youth that doesn't know. They have it easier
than we did, thanks to all those paladins that opened the doors of
opportunity. To continue the struggle is the ultimate sacrifice. We must
combat historical amnesia. It's more complex than just plain amnesia.
Perhaps it should be characterized as cultural amnesia or cultural
schizophrenia because the fatal flaw in our armor is the fight over European
or Indio roots. This fight is destroying all of us, whether we admit it or
is the key. According
to the U. S. Department of Education, 37% of Hispanics do not finish high
school, compared to the national average of 15%. In fact, overall statistics
show that Latino students do not succeed as well as non-Hispanic Whites,
African Americans or Asians. They have higher dropout rates, lower test
scores, and fewer college graduates, leading to less involvement in
community affairs. We must stress education to all our people.
Without education we will always be viewed with contempt and we wonít be
able to defend ourselves.
NARRATOR: I am
privileged to be able to draw this dialog to a close. Like everyone here
present, I too have something to say by way of summation, even though that
really isnít a Narratorís role. I have my commitment to our people so let me
just state this generation is being put into competition with workers from
all over the whole globe by the giant corporations. The trend is a race to
the bottom for the young of the world, including the USA, and especially
the barrios and ghettos. What you did for your kids estŠ a todo dar.
My entire family has achieved lots and I assure you, not one of my children,
nieces or nephews has ever had to shine shoes in downtown Los Angeles to
help the family make ends meet.
I hope I'm not speaking
for myself, that I'm not the only one that made a better life for my
children and the children of others. That would be a disappointment. But
the next generation will likely have a harder time doing the same for
theirs over time. My hope is that whatever we do to make a good life for
ourselves -- whether we become teachers, or social workers, or business
people, or lawyers, or poets, or scientists, or artists Ė my hope is you
will devote part of your life to making this a better world for your
children, for all children. My hope is that the next generation will demand
an end to war, that future generations will do something that has not yet
been done in history and wipe out the national boundaries that separate us
from other human beings on this earth.
I will now give our
presenters a brief moment for one short, final comment.
[The four males step
forward boldly, each wanting to make his last comment before the others.
They jostle and push each other disrespectfully until finally each one has
the following to say.]
ABOVE-IT-ALL: When I
write the Chicano version of ROOTS, you know what Iím going to call it?
CHICANO: I am a
Chicano from Califaztlan and Iím going to nominate each one of you for a
ďPurple Shaft with Barbed Wire ClusterĒ!
LATINO: If Iím a
Pachuco from PachucovilleÖŅal cabo que anyway what?
HISPANO: Get rid of
the confusion and fratricidal blood letting. Get a life!
ALL Four Males: WE
HAVE MET THE ENEMY [each one pointing at the others] AND THEY ARE YOU!!
NARRATOR: (Trying to
prevent the four from coming to blows.) Please: let us maintain our
composure. Think of what kind of example you are setting!!
[The lights flicker in
a strobe effect as the men begin fighting in slow motion, punching and
kicking, the Narrator, Immigrant, and Maria in the middle but unable to stop
them so the women scream. There now enters into the front of the audience
the Policeman, Immigration Officer, Army soldier, Sheriff, and FBI Agent,
all brandishing lethal rifles. The lights go up in strobe surrealistic
fashion and remain throughout the following scene.]
STOP WHAT YOUíRE DOING or you will suffer the full force of the law. You
characters know I mean it. I SAID STOP!!
[Everyone on stage
stops and peers confusedly toward the audience.]
FBI AGENT: [Addressing
the audience.] This audience is under protective custody until everything
can be sorted out. [The lawmen point their weapons at the audience.] Donít
try to leave the scene without prior approval.
[The lawmen now focus
on members of the audience, pointing their weapons at individuals. They
respond in character to whatever comments are made by individual audience
SHERIFF: You, let me
see your IDÖI said let me see your ID.
ARMY SOLDIER: Of
what nation are you a citizen? What proof do you have?
Do you have a passport? What do you have to prove your identity?
POLICEMAN: Do you
speak English? Speak up now! What kind of an accent is that?
the lawmen.) Hey, this is not part of the program. What are you doing?
ALL MALE PRESENTERS:
(Standing in a row on stage.) You canít do that. THIS IS
This isnít a police state. Weíve got rights!
[The lawmen all turn
toward the stage, form a straight line, lift their rifles and when the
POLICEMAN hollers ďReady, Aim, FIRE!Ē all rifles boom out in unison. All
presenters and the Narrator fall down dead. The entire theater goes to black
and we hear the song ďMaŮanaĒ by Peggy Lee, sung in its entirety, as the
At the end
of ďMaŮanaĒ the house lights come up and all characters in the play engage
the audience, with NARRATOR as MC, in a commentary-question-and-answer
Rubťn SŠlaz M.
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