April 8, 2016
Open Letter from MEChA at the University of Wyoming to Johnson County School District #1, the Wyoming State Board of Education and the University of Wyoming College of Education:
The so called “Equality State” has proven itself to be xenophobic and racist time and time again. In a conservative state like Wyoming, there is a general discourse that dismisses issues of race at both an individual and institutional level. When people of color address these issues, they are brushed off as isolated incidents. Many will recall that Wyoming was thrust into the national spotlight in the late 1990s following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, thereby exposing the state to the broader climate and lived experiences of marginalized peoples. More than 20 years later, similar demonstrations of hatred and violence continue to target communities of color and other marginalized people not only in Wyoming, but across the country and world.
The image we share with you speaks volumes to the social injustices of our educational system in the state of Wyoming and across our nation. We have provided you all with a press release from John Egan, a substitute teacher in the Johnson County School District (Buffalo, WY), who witnessed a student project promoting racial violence and aggression. Also, there is an image which recreates the student project in question. Please be aware that the image of the student project itself might cause strong personal, and emotional reactions. There is no doubt that the product of this project symbolizes racial violence and hate, thus perpetuating racist and xenophobic ideologies. As is stated in the Wyoming Constitution in Article 1 section 3 and Article 7 section 10, no human being, regardless of race, class, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ability, residential status, or national origin, should ever have violence or hate targeted toward their own identity and background.
The lack of institutional acknowledgement and inaction within local and state governments in Wyoming, as well as at the University of Wyoming, denies marginalized people their experiences while simultaneously perpetuating ideals of prejudice, discrimination, and hate.
It is imperative that we raise awareness of these issues that often are shoved under the rug. It is time for the University of Wyoming to lead the state of Wyoming in the education of our youth with dedicated and required courses for the social relevancy and competency of all marginalized groups and to work in conjunction with K-12 schools to create atmospheres that value multiculturalism and complex historical, political, social, and cultural understandings of the world around us.
In this light, we fully support the currently petition being led by the United Multicultural Council at the University of Wyoming for individual colleges at the university to require their students to take both Diversity and Global Awareness courses as undergraduate degree requirements. As students, we demand a more well-rounded education for our youth in Wyoming both in our K-12 institutions, as well as at the University of Wyoming.
Furthermore, the College of Education at the university should provide more resources and educational courses toward preparing future educators on cultural competency in order to create an inclusive classroom environment for all students, regardless of background. Seeing as the majority of students in Wyoming will continue their educational careers at the university, it is the responsibility of UW to appropriately educate them on all matters, of race, diversity, inclusion, and social awareness. Given the current national rhetoric on xenophobia and racism, it is crucial that we incorporate curricula that provide our children with critical analytical skills that will lessen discrimination, prejudice and xenophobia.
We demand that the state of Wyoming and respective school districts refer back to and reinforce their anti-discrimination policies. We demand that Wyoming schools provide professional development that is culturally inclusive of communities of color and increases cultural awareness. We demand that the Johnson County School District appoint a neutral body to address larger concerns of discrimination as they arise. We demand that Wyoming schools offer a culturally relevant curriculum and learning opportunities where students can increase their cultural sensitivity in line with stated objectives in social studies curriculum and elsewhere. We demand that the University of Wyoming College of Education, as a primary producer of future educators in the state of Wyoming, continue to work with current and future teachers and school districts to improve methods of multicultural education.
As MEChA, we find the current set of events in Johnson County School District appalling and outrageous. We demand transparency from the Johnson County School Board and the Wyoming State School Board of Education surrounding this event and hope to create bridges via meaningful dialogue with all parties involved. We recognize the importance of community building as a necessary pathway to prepare the youth of our state. We will continue to spread awareness of this situation and will plan future actions as an organization if necessary.
We are here in hopes of building a nation-wide push with other universities, educational institutions and associations, and socially-oriented organizations to address the need for a diverse, inclusive curriculum for prospective students who are living in fragmented societies.
Thank you for your time,
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán
University of Wyoming
The Chicano Movement used innovations in technology to create media that represented the issues, the faces, and the perspectives of Chicanos. Colorado had a number of Chicano newspapers, including La Cucaracha in Pueblo. La Cucaracha and other newspapers in the Chicano Press Association communicated the news of boycotts, land rights cases, police brutality, labor strikes, protests, legal corruption, and the effects of discrimination.
Join us on Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. for the next panel discussion in conjunction with El Movimiento: The Chicano Movement in Colorado and Pueblo. Several reporters and staff from La Cucaracha will discuss working as a newspaper during the movement and covering important events.
The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Discussions are presented by El Pueblo History Museum and CSU-Pueblo.
The Pueblo Chicano Movement — through the work of activists from La Gente and Salt Creek — worked to protect the environment and barrios harmed by industrial waste. This panel discussion will explore the work done to stop asbestos pollution from Rockwool or to ensure clean water for residents of Salt Creek and the ultimate impact on Pueblo’s neighborhoods. The discussion will also focus on today’s neighborhood issues, including Pueblo’s West Side.
Pueblo residents are invited to listen to the history from the panel and join in on the conversation. The event is free and open to the public.
The panel is hosted by El Pueblo History Museum and CSU-Pueblo.
to reveal the truth
cold as fact
hot as passion
lightest known substance
fusion the union
timeless heart +
the sacred hoop
is not broken
except in the mind
of the imagination
if you are able
Guadalupe Rosales’s popular Instagram account, Veteranas and Rucas, has been receiving press coverage for the past few months. The account provides a glimpse into the Los Angeles area party crew, chola scene from the ‘80s and ‘90s, but occasionally, she will share images from the ‘60s and ‘70s or even earlier. The goal of the account is to highlight a segment of Chicano culture that is often maligned and overlooked.
In a recent interview with Elle magazine, Rosales said the following:
“Chicano is someone who is first or second generation; for example, my parents were born in Mexico and migrated to the U.S., and I was born in California. So I’m Mexican American/Chicano. Latino could be anyone who is Mexican or Central American or South American. My parents are Latinos, and so is someone from El Salvador.”
Elle’s author, Kira Garcia, accepted this definition without pushback or clarification. Rosales’s narrow definition of Chicano by generational status in the US leaves out a lot of gente, especially those with roots in the Southwest states that go back more than one or two generations.
Rosales’s statement also ignores the political identity and consciousness that those who identify as Chicano have. Primarily, those who identify as Chicano not only have a cultural awareness of their Mexican ancestry but also acknowledge the social and political activism of the movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s that brought us to where we are today.
Collecting photos from Chicano Los Angeles in the 1990s beyond party crews would indicate that there was a lot of political activity going on, especially with the anti-immigrant Proposition 187 that prompted protests and high school student walkouts. Just prior to Proposition 187’s passage, there was the well-publicized fight for Chicano studies at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1993.
When Rosales says that Latinos could be anyone who is Mexican or Central American or South American, she gives credence to a pan-Latino identity that many Mexicans and Chicanos have sought to distinguish themselves from. The term Latino doesn’t acknowledge indigenous roots, whereas Chicano, coming from the word ‘Mexica,’ does.
Because of her Instagram following and press coverage of her work, Rosales might be viewed as an authority on Chicanismo in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Hopefully, she will take into account some of the things that gente were doing beyond house parties and cruises that reflect the desire to improve our collective condition, while acknowledging that Chicanos cannot conveniently be put into a box that suits her liking or that of the editors of corporate media outlets.
— by Adriana Maestas (@AdrianaMaestas)