Eastside Story and Chicano Soul at MCCLA Galleries in San Francisco (August 9 – September 12, 2014)

Eastside Story and Chicano Soul

Eastside Story and Chicano Soul

Posted in Aztlan, California, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Art, Chicana/o Books, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Mural, Chicana/o Music, Chicana/o Studies, Chicana/o Youth, Chicano Movement, Community, Cultura, Education, Knowledge, Lowrider, Movimiento, Pachuca, Palabra, Photography | Leave a comment

Open Letter to MALCS: MALCS 2014 SUMMER INSTITUTE: ANOTHER SACRIFICE?

17 July 2014

Dear Colleagues, Community Members, Family and Friends:

Once again, I write this letter with care, love, respect, and not a little fear.

Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) is an organization I hold very close to my heart. As a young West Texas A&M University student wandering around Austin for my unofficial tour of the University of Texas’ graduate school program, I came across BookWoman. At this bookstore, I bought two books that went on to blow my mind and change the course of my scholarship and by extension my life’s path: Este Puente; Mi Espalda: Voces de Mujeres Tercermundistas en Los Estados Unidos (1989) and Chicana Critical Issues (1993). Up to this point, I had very limited knowledge of Chicana/o Studies or Chicana Feminism. I loved Faulkner, Hemingway, English Romantic Poetry, the plays of Federico García Lorca, the short stories of Chinua Achebe. I had no knowledge of the cultural production of Chicanas/os in the United States (or for that matter any of the literature of people of color in the United States). That was to come in the final semester of my final year at West Texas A&M.

In these books, I encountered the work of strong women. It seemed as if Norma Alarcón, Gloria Anzaldúa, Toni Cade Bambara, Antonia Castañeda, Ana Castillo, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, Emma Pérez, Nellie Wong, Patricia Zavella (just to name a few) whispered in my ear and let me know that every doubt, every insecurity, every fear I had was legitimate and they were here to support me, mentor me, sustain me. For as long as I could remember I had felt so alone in classrooms, meetings, readings. Finally, I was not alone. There were so many others.

I did not know what MALCS was, but I learned. How wonderful – a Chicana/Native feminist-centered organization that works tirelessly for issues about which I care very deeply: social justice, access to education, discrimination, environmental justice, working class identities, sexuality and gender justice, etc. The discussions at the MALCS Institutes I have been able to attend have without question lived up to MALCS’ original Declaración (1983) and updated mission statement (1991).

However, sadly, this is not the case for the Summer 2014 MALCS Institute. I have said before that I was excited to be included in the MALCS site committee. I was honored to have the piece I wrote become the opening statement for the Institute’s 2014 Call for Papers. And of course I was hurt when President Barceló removed me from the site committee in May.

Nevertheless, I find it imperative that I let our diverse communities know one thing. I have expressed the following concern in both public and private communication via email, conversation, written correspondence. Please take a moment to allow me to address it here.

Sponsorship for the MALCS 2014 Institute.

There are numerous in-kind contributors to the MALCS 2014 Summer Institute at Northern New Mexico College. All of these are local and that is wonderful. However, I ask you to pay attention to one of the major “2014 MALCS Summer Institute Sponsors:” Day and Zimmerman S.O.C. Los Alamos.

MALCS Sponsors

MALCS Sponsors

Screenshot: http://malcsnm2014.com/sponsors/ July 2014

I have stated before that I voiced concerns regarding sponsorship from Los Alamos National Labs. I have also stated that I was reprimanded by Dr. Barceló for voicing these concerns. President Barceló’s blind spot has now become the MALCS Executive Committee’s informed decision to endorse taking sponsorship, funding and association from Day and Zimmerman S.O.C. Los Alamos.

I did not grow up in northern New Mexico. I did; however, grow up in Canyon, Texas. Therefore, I know I have the experience to speak to a large part of the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) issue. For over thirty years, my mother worked at Pantex (a nuclear weapons facility). We had great benefits, job security, excellent union representation. Pantex has been a significant employer for much of the populations of color in the Texas Panhandle. It does come at great cost. There are widespread health issues – thyroid cancers, thyroid imbalances, lymphoma, blood cancers, various tumors, etc. When I taught at Brown University, we discussed national areas of sacrifice. Many students were not familiar with this term. I named the effects of living in these areas. To emphasize these effects, I listed every member of my family who has been diagnosed with cancer. To me, this was significant, but nor particularly exceptional (at least not exceptional in the Panhandle). The students were stunned. How could that much cancer happen to one family across generations?

There is no small amount of evidence that links cancer to the radiation produced by nuclear energy and its accouterments. We all know the cancer rates around the Trinity Site in Alamogordo, New Mexico are astounding. We know the effects of the major crises like Chernobyl or Fukushima. Organizations such as Honor Our Pueblo Existence (H.O.P.E.) led by Santa Clara Pueblo elder Marian Naranjo address these issues and struggle to make LANL accountable on a daily basis. I voice concern over the sponsorship of the MALCS 2014 Institute by Day and Zimmerman S.O.C. Los Alamos knowing that it is a double-edged sword. Los Alamos National Labs supports both the community and NNMC in innumerable ways. In just as many ways, it harms.

This we know. But I ask you to consider thinking about Day and Zimmerman, the corporation that provides Los Alamos National Labs with both management and security services. For over 100 years, this corporation (based out of Pennsylvania) has worked in the fields of energy production (oil, nuclear), weapons production, weapons disposal and security management.

They have established, acquired or contracted with the following military suppliers and partners during the past 70 years: Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Cressona Ordnance Plant, Lone Star Ammunition Plant, Korat Air Base in Thailand, Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, SEACOR, Lockheed Martin, American Ordnance, Mason and Hanger, AREVA.

The Iowa, Kansas and Lone Star Ammunition Plants were key manufacturers of military weapons during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The Lone Star Ammunition Plant, in particular, increased operations during the Vietnam War.

Day and Zimmerman built the Korat Air Base in Thailand (1967), which housed the United States Air Force in Vietnam and from which the USAF was to support U.S. interests in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. According to the Public Health division of the Veterans Affairs, veterans who served at Korat between 1961-1975 are at high risk for exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange.

The Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, the largest ammunition storage depot in the United States is charged with the storage and disposal of chemical weapons and several areas of chemical agent contamination such as mustard gas. The depot also joins with the military for these projects: Navy Special Forces high-desert training; Navy Undersea Warfare Center, Marine Corps Sniper team training and weapons testing; Army Ranger high-desert training. This facility sits in southwestern Nevada—60 miles from the eastern border of California. It borders the northern Paiute Walker River Indian Reservation and is only 30 miles from the reservation town of Schurz, the burial place of Ghost Dance prophet Wovoka.

Lockheed Martin is one of the world’s largest defense contractors. It currently operates the only fully operational uranium enrichment plant in the United States. This is in Paducah, Kentucky. And unfortunately, there is more. Lockheed Martin partners with Areva and Urenco. Areva, the world’s largest nuclear energy company is also a partner of Day and Zimmerman. With Areva and Urenco, Lockheed Martin is currently building a second uranium enrichment plant in Eunice, New Mexico. Eunice is less than 18 miles south of Hobbs, New Mexico in the southeastern part of the state. There are also plans to build another uranium enrichment plant in Idaho. But this is not all. Lockheed Martin is also contracted to operate U.S.-México border security systems in southern Arizona. Lockheed Martin is also putting out money to legalize drones for civilian use by the United States on the border.

Day and Zimmerman also merged with Mason and Hanger, the parent company of the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. As I mentioned above, Pantex is a nuclear weapons facility. Aside from Pantex and LANL, Day and Zimmerman’s Energy Department also has a security contract at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. WIPP has been a great source of concern in New Mexico and is a particular concern of H.O.P.E. at Santa Clara Pueblo. And as many of you may have heard, a radiation leak did occur in February 2014 at WIPP. Following that leak, 21 workers tested positive for radiation exposure.

Cressona Ordnance and American Ordnance were and are producers/suppliers of ammunition and other military weapons. SEACOR owns, operates, invests in and markets equipment for the offshore oil and gas industries.

Other notable holdings of Day and Zimmerman are NPS Energy Services and the Atlantic Group, which address issues of energy and power maintenance. Also included in Day and Zimmerman’s holdings are Protection Technology Incorporated and Reliable Security, which provide security to LANL and other corporate, high tech, pharmaceutical, chemical, educational and government facilities.

For me and for the members of our communities who live in national areas of sacrifice; live near or cross the U.S.-México border, serve in the military, it is imperative we inform ourselves of MALCS’ sponsors. It is imperative we know this. As working class women, many of us have family who served in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us suffer the health consequence of exposure to herbicides and radiation. I mentioned cancer above, but there are incredibly high amounts of immunodeficiency diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis in our communities of color, particularly among women.

Undoubtedly, this has been a tedious document to get through. Please know I appreciate the time you have invested. And allow me to take just a few moments more.

Once again, I am aware of the complexity of the issue. Corporations such as Day and Zimmerman provide good jobs to many of our rural communities, but at what cost? I recognize the value of the MALCS Summer Institute. I also know considering the hostile environment at NNMC and the manner in which some of us were removed, resigned, or just simply ignored from the site committee, I may not attend this Institute; however, I encourage the audience of this letter to demand that a conversation be held at the 2014 Institute regarding the politics of this major sponsorship. I am somewhat familiar with the diverse fields of Africana Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Ethnic Studies, Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, Native Studies, Queer Studies, and Women Studies. The literature and theory that are at the foundation of all of these fields demand a critique of exactly the kind of activities in which Day and Zimmerman engages.

Within days of beginning graduate school, I discovered that Este Puente; Mi Espalda was the Spanish translation of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. The voice of Gloria Anzaldúa was, for me, a new voice. Her words arose from the page: “We are each accountable for what is happening down the street, south of the border, or across the sea.” As the MALCS Site Committee, we chose to embrace the connection between our bodies and our environment. We chose to embrace environmental science and environmental justice. How can we, in good conscience, have this conversation when we do not hold ourselves or the partnerships we cultivate accountable? We have worked so hard to form a model of women of color feminism and social change in MALCS, how can we let this go unaddressed? How do we call for a more just world, how do we honor our antepasados, our elders, the seven generations to come when we eat from the poisoned table of Day and Zimmerman?

Finally, I ask that we return just for a brief instant to This Bridge Called My Back. In her Foreword, Toni Cade Bambara describes the beautiful potential of communication: “Now that we’ve begun to break the silence and begun to break through the diabolically erected barriers and can hear each other and see each other, we can sit down with trust and break bread together.”

In the spirit of the women of color feminists/activists who have come before me, I ask that a discussion of all of the issues raised in this letter be held widely across diverse groups and forums as it concerns all of us. And I ask in particular that a discussion regarding these issues be held at the 2014 MALCS Institute at Northern New Mexico College.

Sincerely,
Dr. Patricia Marie Perea

RELEVANT LINKS:

MALCS Declaración (1983) and updated mission statement (1991) -

http://www.malcs.org/
Day and Zimmerman’s Corporate History – http://www.dayzim.com/About_DZ/History

“Thailand Military Bases and Agent Orange Exposure,” U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs – http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/locations/thailand.asp

“Baseline Report: Aeronautics and Defense Sector,” Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development – http://www.veterans.nv.gov/cmsdocuments/Aeronautics_And_Defense_Sector_Report_1. pdf

“MTADS Demonstration at the Walker River Paiute Reservation,” Naval Research Laboratory – http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFj AA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.serdp.org%2Fcontent%2Fdownload%2F5565%2F7732 3%2Ffile%2Fux-2001-fr- 01.pdf&ei=ZX3IU9bGL4qf8QHD14HABg&usg=AFQjCNGXK-tLLB-ss72DF6Pkd8- iJaaafQ&sig2=B3msAPRBSGWLWZc3rS85mA&bvm=bv.71198958,d.b2U (Important PDF)

“Uranium in the U.S.A. – A Quick Look at the Industry Today,” The Center for Land Use Interpretation – http://tucson13.nytimes-institute.com/2013/05/31/moving-to-plan-b-for- border-surveillance/

“What Are The Chances You’ll Soon Encounter A Drone? The FAA, Boeing (BA), Lockheed Martin (LMT) And Northrup Grumman (NOC) Will Help Decide,” International Business Times – http://www.ibtimes.com/what-are-chances-youll-soon-encounter-drone-faa-boeing-ba- lockheed-martin-lmt-northrup-grumman-noc

“Mason & Hanger to merge with Philadelphia company,” Amarillo-Globe News – http://amarillo.com/stories/1999/04/15/new_merge.shtml

Marian Naranjo, founder of Honor Our Pueblo Existence on LANL and water

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUOXr3mQzDc

“Crews Locate Area of Radiation Leak at New Mexico Nuclear Waste Site

http://rt.com/usa/new-mexico-nuclear-waste-radiation-484/

“LANL Waste Contract Denies Cat Litter Role in WIPP Radiation Leak,” The Albuquerque Journal – http://www.abqjournal.com/424455/news/contractor-litter-not-to-blame.html

Posted in Aztlan, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Healing, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Ideology, Chicana/o Politics, Chicana/o Power, Chicana/o Studies, Chicano Movement, Community, Cultura, Decolonization, Education, Environmental Racism, History, Indigenous, Knowledge, Land, Language, MALCS, Mexica, Mexican, Movimiento, MuXer, New Mexico, Palabra, Politics, Quotes, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Spirituality, Unity | Leave a comment

Slow and Low: Keeping the Lowrider Tradition Alive

Editor’s note: The following post was originally published in our sister website: Aztlán Reads on June 5, 2013. The post is republished here one year later to update everyone as a friendly reminder that Lowriting: Shots, Rides, and Stories from the Chicano Soul is now available for purchase direct from Broken Sword Publications and through your local bookstores. 

Additionally, Notes from Aztlán is proud to officially announce that Lowriting: Shots, Rides, and Stories from the Chicano Soul will be featured as part of Cal State L.A.’s Cup of Culture series on Monday, November 17, 2014.

Several contributors to Lowriting, including Art Meza and SJ Rivera will be present to read and discuss the lowrider tradition as well as to sign copies of the book for your Chicana/o literature collection.

Event Details: Monday, November 17, 2014

Take a trip down memory lane and explore Chicana/o communities, as writers, storytellers, and photographers share their contributions to this historic anthology about the cars, music, and history that have shaped Chicana/o history in L.A. and beyond.

CUP OF CULTURE presents: Lowriting: Shots, Rides & Stories from the Chicano_Soul

3:15 pm • San Gabriel Room on the 3rd Floor • University-Student Union

California State University, Los Angeles

5151 State University Drive

Los Angeles 90032

See you then. 

—-

artmeza
Many believe lowriders cruised their way to Los Angeles from El Paso, Texas, and still others will tell you they came from the other side of the Mexican border in Cuidad Juarez, but nobody can deny that lowrider culture literally reached new heights thanks to Los Angeles and, well, hydraulics. In fact, you can’t tell the story of transportation in the City of Angels without talking about lowriders.

You see, a lowrider isn’t just a car, and they’re not merely for driving from point A to point B. They also represent the social, political, and artistic struggles and triumphs of Chicano culture.

Lowriders are one element of  “La Pachucada,” the Pachuco style born in El Paso, Texas, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Mexican actor German Valdes brought the zoot suits pachucos wore to the silver screen, and the Godfather of Chicano Music, Lalo Guerrero, sang about the style on many of his songs. Mexican-American pachucos took great pride in their appearance, so naturally that meant their cars had to be “reet complete” (cool) as well.

parade

I first experienced lowriders as a kid watching the movie Born in East L.A. Watching a car bounce up and down the way it did was unbelievable to me. I mean, cars weren’t supposed to do that. As I grew up in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles and went on to junior and senior high school, lowrider sightings were common. You’d see them cruising around school every day as the 3 o’clock bell rang and school was let out.

Now that I’m an adult, I go out and look for lowriders. Though I don’t own a lowrider of my own, I hit every car show I can. I appreciate their beauty, their owner’s creativity, and overall need to be original or have something all their own—just like we try to be as individuals. About a year and a half ago, I began snapping pictures of lowriders with my phone, editing them, and sharing them with friends and family.

cinco

Sandbags that were used to lower cars in the late 1930s were replaced by hydraulics in the 1970s. Then, the cult classic movie, Boulevard Nights, introduced the rest of the world to the late 1970s lowriding scene happening on Whittier Boulevard in East LA.. One of the taglines from the movie was “Everything happens on the boulevard.” Whittier Boulevard was the place to see and be seen. Customized classic cars cruising low and slow turned the boulevard into a car show every weekend. The 1991 movie Boyz N the Hood introduced many more to lowriding and how it was done on “The ‘Shaw” also known as Crenshaw Boulevard.

Nowadays, lowriding has become a universal phenomenon. Local car clubs have gone international with chapters all over the world. My photos of lowriders have also reached a global audience thanks to the efforts of a hometown fan of my work—my wife. She’s been supportive of my photography hobby and helped me open up an Etsy shop to sell prints of my photos.

impala

One of my friends, Santino Rivera, who happens to be an independent publisher, approached me with the idea of collaborating on a book about lowriders and the culture they embody. We’re in the process of putting it together—its working title is Lowriting: Shots, Rides, and Stories from the Chicano Soul. The book will feature my photography and include poetry, short stories, and essays about lowrider culture.

Some big names in the literary world—I don’t want to give anything away just yet—have offered to contribute their work to the book. But I also know from my own experience that lowriders have an impact on the average person, too. Santino is currently accepting submissions, so if you’re interested in contributing, email him at SJR.BSP@gmail.com. Let’s keep the tradition of riding slow and low alive.

– by Art Meza (photos and article)

Posted in Aztlan, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Art, Chicana/o Books, Chicana/o Community, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Ideology, Chicana/o Literature, Chicana/o Poetry, Chicana/o Studies, Chicana/o Youth, Chicano Movement, Community, CSULA, Decolonization, Education, Family, History, Knowledge, Los Angeles, Lowrider, Nepantla, Pachuca, Palabra, Photography, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Unity, Zoot-Suit | Leave a comment

Vicki Ruiz: A Chicana Scholar

Biography

Vicki Ruiz’s passion for women’s histories and oral narratives started in her home as her mother and grandmother narrated stories.  As a result, Ruiz was motivated to search such histories in her local library. From reading and listening to these narratives, history became her passion.  Vicki Ruiz was much more motivated when she met Luisa Moreno and told her “I know what I’m going to do for my dissertation. I’m going to write about you.”  Luisa Moreno replied, “No, you are going to write your dissertation on the cannery workers in southern California. You find these women.” From that moment on, Ruiz began her life’s work in Chicana history.[1]

Currently, Vicki Ruiz, awarded in 2005 as one of the 21 Leaders of the 21st Century, is the Dean of Humanities and a history Professor at the University of California, Irvine.  Yet, these professional titles and awards were never in Vicki Ruiz’s vision.  In an interview with Kate Morris, found in the UCI website, Professor Vicki Ruiz mentions wanting to “become a high school history teacher after completing her bachelor’s at Florida State University.”[2] Although she was a gifted student who had “graduated summa cum laude from FSU,” she did not believe she could go to graduate school because she was “neither rich nor smart.”[3] After much persuasion, Ruiz applied to graduate schools and was accepted to Stanford’s history department.  Under the guidance of Professor Albert Camarillo, Ruiz “became the fourth Mexican-American woman in the United States to receive a doctorate in history” and the first doctorate in such department.[4]

As she was writing her doctoral dissertation, she often questioned herself whether or not she was capable of completing such task.  Throughout her struggle, she always remembered her mother who struggled to receive some sort of education because she had to economically support her own mother and two sisters.  Remembering her mother’s life, Ruiz was motivated to continue in her pursuit to obtain a higher education.  She states, “When I attended Stanford, she and my father did [everything possible to] send me money every month.  My mother always emphasized education–the education she felt she could never get herself.”[5] As many first generation college students can relate, her mother’s dream became Ruiz’s reality, which she was able to pursuit due to her dedication and enormous family support.

As a professor at UCI, Ruiz guides students to fulfill their educational dreams.  Vicki Ruiz states that since 1996 she has helped fourteen students receive their Ph.D. and that “most of these scholars have received tenure-track, tenured or public history positions.”[6] Ruiz states that “one of the nicest and perhaps most astute comment made about [her] as an instructor from a former graduate student thanked [her] for [her] ‘gentle heart and ruthless pen.’”[7] Her dedication demonstrates the importance Ruiz places on her students and her desire for them to be successful.

Aside from helping her students in UCI, Vicki Ruiz is involved with her community.  As director of UCI’s Humanities Out There (HOT) outreach program, “Ruiz integrates oral history and conventional archival sources to personalize her work, connect past and contemporary issues and, above all, make history accessible.”[8] The HOT outreach program is available to Santa Ana’s K-12 schools, where Ruiz teaches younger generations the importance and techniques of oral history.  Through this program, students are able to make connections with their own families.  Ruiz states, “I want to see HOT get out of the classroom and make connections with the community.  I believe our obligations as members of the university do not end at the campus parking lot.  As citizens, we have a responsibility to a larger community.” [9]

Vicki Ruiz is a perfect example for future Chicanas of the multiple possibilities that higher education can open on an individual’s life.  Ruiz’s work is greatly appreciated since it incorporates women’s narratives and their experiences into history.  Through her extensive research, Vicki Ruiz is one of the leading women who has written and incorporated ‘herstory’ into history books, giving justice to women who have participated in past events and have been overlooked.  As Morris states, “with Ruiz’s help, the (women’s) oversight is being corrected.”[10] Vicki Ruiz has various publications and has recently completed Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, demonstrating how Latinas make history in various areas of society.

Major Themes/Issues

Vicki Ruiz’s works and incorporation of women’s histories have made her one of the leading researchers in such field.  Based on her extensive line of works, Ruiz’s field of interests consists of 20th century Chicana history with an emphasis on women labor. Such interests can clearly be seen through two of her most recognized works which are Cannery Workers, Cannery Lives and From Out of the Shadows in which Ruiz presents women’s living and working conditions. Through these two books, one is able to understand that women do indeed have a narrative of challenging the limitations that society has imposed on them. In addition, Ruiz’s books demonstrate that women have always been fighting for equality and their rights, which challenges the societal idea that women are submissive.

Vicki Ruiz has also been involved in various coediting works that involve Latina women. Such works involve Created Equal: A Social and Political History of the United States(2003), Latina Legacies: Identity, Biography, and Community (2005), and American Dreaming, Global Realities: Re-Thinking U.S. Immigration History (2006). In one of her most recent collaborations, Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia(2006), Ruiz and other editors bring together various narratives of women in the United States, creating a three-volume collection. All the encyclopedia entries mention women’s involvements in various aspects of society from migration patterns to challenging their limitations within the American society. This encyclopedia challenges the notion that women’s history and migration to the United States is a recent issue and that instead, “their legacy stretches back hundreds of years to the founding of St. Augustine in 1565.”[11]

In Las Obreras: Chicana Politics of Work and Family (2000), Vicki Ruiz pieces together issues that Chicanas have and continue to experience in society and within their homes. The book is divided into four sections in which each section demonstrates a stage a woman might encounter in society or in the home. In this collection, various Chicana writers discuss issues such as sterilization, women as garment workers, and balancing work and home. Through these works, readers are able to understand how well-rounded women are and the various issues that they are constantly struggling with. Ruiz finalizes the collections by demonstrating how women have challenged such experiences.

Ruiz’s ultimate purpose is to incorporate and voice women’s storylines into history books.  In her works, Ruiz presents the various roles that women have taken, which have often been disregarded.  Voicing the unheard, Ruiz gives women a history in which they can empower themselves with the hopes of moving forward and challenging any limitations they might experience in their lives. Through these narratives, Ruiz helps readers understand that women have and will continue to have a history of fighting for their rights and challenging limited roles. In presenting these narratives, Ruiz hopes to give women their own space to describe their triumphs and their struggles within the home and in the greater society.

Analysis/Criticism

In her UCI website page, Vicki Ruiz gives a discussion on her book, From Out of the Shadows, in which she states her purpose for writing this book.  Ruiz stated that she wanted readers to understand what it was like to be a woman during the 1930s, “to recognize the opportunities available to Mexican women in the U.S. and what was beyond their grasp.”[12]By just looking at the title, one is able to understand where women’s position in historical narratives has been, in the shadows.

In this book, Ruiz takes women out of the shadow that has kept them invisible to society and presents them as living figures with true experiences and struggles.  This book is greatly appreciated because she presents the narratives of women in the 1930s and makes the reader sympathize with women’s lives during this time.  On the other hand, From Out of the Shadows reads as a textbook since it is full of dates and the entries are very choppy. In many occasions, one is unable to understand a historical event since Ruiz quickly moves to another topic; she leaves the reader wanting for more information. Comparing her to other Chicano writers, she reads as Rodolfo Acuña’s works Occupied America andAnything but Mexican. Overall, one feels empowered by such narratives and appreciates the experiences that Ruiz presents. In addition, readers are able to make connections with their own lives and are able to realize that these issues continue to be present today.

Vicki Ruiz’s dissertation, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives, reads more like a monograph in which she sticks with the issue through the whole book. The title for this book is self-explanatory and Ruiz completes what she sets out to do. In Cannery Women, Cannery Lives, Vicki Ruiz focuses on women’s labor movements during the 1930s through 1950s. Ruiz demonstrates the importance of women in challenging their living and working conditions and how they created such movements. Vicki Ruiz does a wonderful job in presenting women not only as workers, but as movement organizers, experiences that are often forgotten in history. Her work serves as a guide to continue in the struggle, searching better working and living opportunities for the most discriminated.

Aside from presenting narratives empowering women, there are some issues with From Out of the Shadows.  Although she attempts to empower women, it seems that this text presents some of the same narratives that are found in her other book, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives.  When comparing these two books, it seems as if Ruiz did not incorporate enough research to her latest book in order to distinguish it from the other.  Although it is important to mention women in labor movements, her chapter on “With Pickets, Baskets, and Ballots” reads like a chapter that can be found in Cannery Women, Cannery Lives. There is no new information about working women in the 1930s.

From reading her dissertation, it seems as if she rephrased the book over in From Out of the Shadows. Although her interests involve Chicanas and labor, Vicki Ruiz’s book mentions a lot of issues that she had already covered in her dissertation. It would have been better if she would have gone beyond the women’s labor movement during the 1930s and 1950s while at the same time making connections on how the previous movements helped others.

Vicki Ruiz is a historian of the past, present, and the future since she presents the past to make sense of the present and foretell the future. In demonstrating the past, Ruiz challenges the idea that women do not have an extensive history and gives voice to those narratives through her works. In using the present, Ruiz makes sense of what women continue to experience, therefore making connections with the past. Through her narratives, future generations of women can guide themselves in their search for equality and the demanding of their rights by looking back at their history. In addition, presenting past and present narratives, future generations can no longer be told that women do not have a history.

Although Vicki Ruiz plays an important role of recording Chicana history, she passively presents such narratives. Compared to other Chicana writers, Ruiz does not truly challenge issues that limit women from becoming successful members of society. Although Natalia Molina’s anthology, Fit to Be Citizens?, and Ruiz’s monographs do display on going historical events that limit women, their approach in presenting these narratives are different. Molina challenges such notions through theoretical frameworks rather than merely presenting ‘facts.’

Alicia Gaspar de Alba is another example of how Ruiz is different from other female writers. In her most recent collaboration with Alma Lopez, Our Lady of Controversy: Alma Lopez’s Irreverent Apparition, Gaspar de Alba not only presents what happened in the 2000s with Alma Lopez’s controversial image, Our Lady, she also challenges the conditions that were being placed on the artist and her work. Through theory and aggressively challenging women’s limitations, Gaspar de Alba gives readers more understanding on her position on these issues and how through her works she is acting against such limitations. Most of the information that Alicia Gaspar de Alba provides is not available in Vicki Ruiz’s books, which questions her position in her works.

In comparing Ruiz with other Chicana writers, it can be observed that her stance as a historian is very limited and narrow. It is appreciated that she is one of the first Chicanas that has brought women’s narratives to light. On the other hand, it would be appreciated if she would write such accounts with more aggression and if she stated her stance.  In addition, based on her two monographs, one cannot truly get a sense in her position since most of her works are co-edited. In her co-edited works, her voice as a Chicana historian is lost since her role as a researcher is not visible, rather she is acknowledge as a person who helped piece all the works together.

- by Marisela

Bibliography

  • American Dreaming, Global Realities: Re-Thinking U.S. Immigration History.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006, co-edited with Donna R. Gabaccia.
  • Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987) National Women’s Political Caucus Distinguished Achievement Award (in fifth printing).
  • Created Equal: A Social and Political History of the United States (New York: Longman, 2003, brief edition, 2004, second edition, 2005, AP edition, 2005) co-authored with Jacqueline Jones, Peter Wood, Elaine T. May and Thomas Borstelmann
  •  From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) American Library Association, Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1998
  • Las Obreras: Chicana Politics of Work and Family (Los Angeles: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Publications, 2000)
  •  Latina Legacies: Identity, Biography, and Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) co-edited with Virginia Sánchez Korrol
  • Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia,3 vols. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), co-edited with Virginia Sánchez Korrol (Project grants include $140,000 from the Ford Foundation and $299,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities).
  • Mapping Memories and Migrations: Locating Boricua and Chicana Histories(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, in press), co-edited with John R. Chávez.
  •  “Migrations and Destinations: Reflections on the Histories of U.S. Immigrant Women,” Journal of American Ethnic History (forthcoming, Fall 2006), co-authored with Donna R. Gabaccia
  • “Nuestra América: Latino History as United States History,” Journal of American History (forthcoming, December 2006)
  • The Practice of U.S. Women’s History: Narratives, Intersections, and Dialogues (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, in press), co-edited with Eileen Boris and Susan J. Kleinberg
  • Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U.S. Women’s History Third Edition (New York: Routledge, 1999), co-edited with Ellen DuBois (1st ed., 1990, 2nd ed., 1994) An abridged second edition published in Japan, 1997. American Education Association Critic’s Choice Award
  • Western Women: Their Land, Their Lives (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988), co-edited with Lillian Schlissel and Janice Monk
  • Women on the U.S.-Mexico Border: Responses to Change (Winchester, MA: Allen and Unwin, 1987, reprinted by Westview Press, 1991), co-edited with Susan Tiano


[1]  “Vicki Ruiz,” 2006. University of California, Irvine. 20 April 2011. <http://www.humanities.uci.edu/history/faculty_profile_ruiz.php>

[2] Karen Morris, “Vicki Ruiz: Historical Perspectives,” 2003. 20 April 2011. <http://today.uci.edu/iframe.php?p=/Features/profile_detail_iframe.asp?key=110>

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Vicki Ruiz,” 2006. University of California, Irvine. 20 April 2011. <http://www.humanities.uci.edu/history/faculty_profile_ruiz.php>

[7] Ibid.

[8] Karen Morris, “Vicki Ruiz: Historical Perspectives,” 2003. 20 April 2011. <http://today.uci.edu/iframe.php?p=/Features/profile_detail_iframe.asp?key=110>

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Vicki Ruiz and Virginia Sanchez Korrol. Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, 2006. Indiana University Press.

[12] “Vicki Ruiz,” 2006. University of California, Irvine. 20 April 2011. <http://www.humanities.uci.edu/history/faculty_profile_ruiz.php>

Posted in Aztlan, Chicana/o, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Studies, Education, Knowledge, Movimiento, MuXer, NACCS | Leave a comment

Soy Ilegal

Soy Ilegal

Since the beginning we, la raza odiada
the hated race
have been caught in the middle
just as we are now
between the fall of Tenochtitlan
and the migrant farms that feed a nation
in this modern day version of divide and conquer
1492
1942
2010
what’s the fucking difference?
we are all just a bunch of savages
Pachucos y wetbacks
soy ilegal

A flame to the codex
our history was/is destroyed by the original conquest
we have been fighting for our identity since Queen Isabella
ordered the rape of the land, the natives and the legacy
as we were oh so graciously pulled from the jungles
into modern day slavery
but you just call it industry
we may not have been brought across the ocean in ships
but we are in bondage just the same
hiding our tongue
afraid to give any clue about our identity
and so we have no identity
soy ilegal

I am neither here nor there
a wanderer without a motherland
the immigrant does not see me as brother
In Mexico I am a pocho
in the USA I am a dirty Mexican
the US Census says I am White
and to the voting population of Aryan-zona I am the enemy
my whole life has been shadowed by the original struggle
always asking: who am I?
soy ilegal

I am tired of Mexican being a dirty word
I am tired of being told my history doesn’t matter
I am tired of being an invisible pawn in an ancient chess game
you have taken my food
adopted my style
banned my language
and changed my name
the knife cuts deeper and the conquest stretches farther
yet we remain in defiance
this is American History X
and you shall not destroy it
soy ilegal

- by S. J. Rivera

Posted in AmeriKKKa, Aztlan, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Art, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Ideology, Chicana/o Literature, Chicana/o Poetry, Community, Decolonization, Education, History, Immigration, Indigenous, Knowledge, Land, Language, Nepantla, Palabra, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Unity | Leave a comment

For Alma – Hell is a Place on Earth

Preface: /ɡwɑːtəmɑːlə/

what do we know of /ɡwɑːtəmɑːlə/

what does anyone

how much do they mention in the public schools, here

in college

on the street, in whispers

or maybe screams

That it was conquered by Spain

its people cast aside

while the land was raped

No.

That it became a so-called Banana Republic

a Los Norte Americanos

whom look down their noses

perched atop man-made borders

No.

That the C.I.A. helped to overthrow

the government and dismantle the country

effectively sending them back to the 1500s

once and again

forever

No.

That over 200 thousand people were killed

over a 30 year civil war

that the USA helped to wage

only to leave it as one of the most

violent countries in the world

with nothing more than an apology?

No.

They teach none of this

No one speaks of /ɡwɑːtəmɑːlə/

except to say:

isn’t that where all those gangs are from?

God, what a shithole…

And a hole in the world opens up

and sucks all the apathy down inside of itself

some might call it a rabbit hole

others a wishing well

but down we go and see how far

this disease from Amerikkka travels…

For Alma:

Hell is a place on earth/

Por Alma:

El infierno es un lugar de la tierra

[Hell is a place on earth

sometimes

and we all get what we deserve

in the end]

Alma: a woman’s name

daughter, sister, mother…almost

a descendant of the Maya

her name means: the soul

though I am sure that she lacks exactly that much

if such a thing even exists

and I know she knows this because

Alma murdered people

in cold blood

she helped rape and

torture others

like herself

she did these vile things

all in the name of love!

Huh?

But…how can that be?

¿El amor?

How can “love” draw so much blood..?

because en los estados unidos

there is enough love to go around

and then some…

In Amerikkka, we export a twisted version of amor

wholesale!

to any third world hellhole that will buy it

like so many Happy Meals and armor piercing bullets

the love of yourself

the love of your barrio

the love of your block

your city, your state, your nation

Love!

Amerikkkan style

we love our guns and our gods

we love our football and fast food

our fast women and faster talking politicians

and we love ourselves to death

for it’s our national pastime

this l-o-v-e-!

this culture of destruction that we gift

our neighbors with time and again

neighbors like Alma

like so many other women

in their own versions of Hell

seeking that which they wish to escape

blood in/blood out

love in/love out

survival of the fittest

the ones with the most heart

putting in work

punching the clock

vying for the love

of blood-stained streets

and homies in shallow graves

A history of violence

cradled Alma from birth to the death

of her soul

her stillborn child and beyond

because she chose to be like the men who abused her

rather than be victimized by them

Alma chose love

Amerikkka sends another love letter

out to sea, message in a jagged bottle

knowing that some small child somewhere

someone just like Alma

will find it on the sand

read it and take the instructions to heart…

right after she carves out the corazon of those

who would do her harm

but before anyone can point any fingers at Alma

or any of these daughters and sons of blood

you must first understand that

this is all a product of Amerikkkan ingenuity

all/of/it

it is our gross domestic product

and we excel at manufacturing it

packaging it

distributing it

marketing it

and consuming it

wholesale death

the tattoos, the slang, the apathy

the penchant for extreme violence

the self-loathing

and course, the love!

we birthed this

rather, this is a mass produced product

of what some would call

a comedy

others a tragedy

depending on political affiliations

both of which are gangs in their own respect

and both of whom claim

to love their constituents

During the late 90′s

the Clinton administration deported

countless Guatemalan refugees

tens of thousands of desperate people who

fled from a country of death and

decades of war

where all they found was an instruction manual

on how to hate yourself and kill people

in 10 easy lessons

what do you think they brought back home with them?

from Amerikkka?

land of rape and honey

after we schooled them and then fucked them off

what were their souvenirs?

their trinkets?

all you need to do is listen to Alma’s story to find out

because she will whisper dark love songs in your fat ears

while you close your eyes and she slits your neck again

people like to remember the Clinton administration for

blow jobs and saxophones

condom-covered cigar tubes and toothy smiles

the greatest economy and

all that white-washed Kenny G jazz

and so much LOVE!

but he should be remembered for other things

like NAFTA and fleecing of Amerikkka

the new genocide on the third world

and the invention of people like Alma,

precious Alma with her deep eyes

which you could drown inside of

from falling into a tunnel of death and love

Alma, who sheds tears for her victims yet

knows she carries her Hell with her

in every space she dwells

Alma, a victim since day one but also a patron saint

of killers and of women

who choose the sword

in the name of amor

Talking heads and demagogues will point to her with scorn

with their blood-dipped fingers

to these so-called slums with disgust

clucking their tongues saying:

See! We must keep this kind from entering

Amerikkka!

Abandon all hope ye immigrants who enter here!

We must prevent them from poisoning our soil

and spreading their seed!

We must exterminate them

and all those like them!

We must build a wall! 

And then a wall on top of that wall

because we have to be sure!

Death to all who oppose us!

And their nationalism runs cold through the veins

of killers and murderers

Because these same people

these blood lusters and people hustlers

either do not know

nor do they care that it is

THEM

their own self-preservation

their own waste

their own cognitive dissonance

their own treachery

their own hatred

their own policies

their own cracked mirrors

that have created Alma

but no one wants to remember these things

they all just want to point fingers

or bury their heads in the sand and giggle

we can all watch the same film and hear Alma’s story

we can listen as she describes her nightmares

we can empathize

maybe

or turn away in disgust

but what we can never do is forget

that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

we reap what we sow and we have sown so much

hatred and violence worldwide

that we could submerge the earth in blood by now

were it not for modern plumbing

All of our hate

all of our rage

all of our lies

all of our loathing

all of our treachery

all of our thievery

all of our neglect

all of our disbelief

all of our pride

it all goes down the drain

and we never think of it again

ever!

but it should be no surprise then that these same gutters

eventually come to an end

and empty themselves out into something else

and we have been ignoring our sewage for far too long

So do not pity Alma

Her’s is but another wretched and warped story

from the red, white and blue

¡Amerikkka!

she has her scars and her burdens

and she will carry them to her grave

but you should pity yourself

and me

and everyone around you

who make excuses

or simply ignore the conditions

that create people like Alma

for she is us

and we are her

and there is so much goddamned blood

on all of our hands

and it never

washes

off

– by       Santino J. Rivera, 17 November 2012

*for reference: http://lightbox.time.com/2012/10/29/alma-a-tale-of-guatemalas-violence/#end

Posted in AmeriKKKa, Aztlan, Chicana/o Healing, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Literature, Chicana/o Poetry, Chicana/o Studies, Community, Cultura, Decolonization, Education, History, Indigenous, Knowledge, Language, Mexica, Mexican, Migrant, Movimiento, MuXer, Nahuatl, Nepantla, Palabra, Quotes, Racism, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Spirituality, Unity | Leave a comment

A Scholar: (¡qué catedrático ni qué demonios! no eres más que un maestro!) Ruminations

I guess it is because I have never mastered the English language – or any language for that matter – that I am intrigued by the meaning of words. The word scholar is one example of the vagaries of English meanings. In Spanish I am called a catedrático – a professor so I would assume that I would be a scholar — a person who has studied a subject for a long time and knows a lot about the field.

Like professor the word catedrático sounds more impressive than it is.  However, my family had a way of bringing me back to earth and deflating my sense of self importance.  When I told a relative that I was a catedrático,  he answered “¡qué catedrático ni qué demonios! no eres más que un maestro! (Like hell you’re a professor! You are just an ordinary schoolteacher).

Supposedly a scholar is an intelligent and well-educated person who knows a particular subject very well but who often knows little about life. Without a sinecure he would probably starve.  For my relatives he/she was a person who teaches twelve hours a week (if that) and gets paid three times as much as the ordinary worker.

However, the great irony is that the more a catedrático teaches the less of a scholar he/she is in the eyes of his/her peers. The mentality runs if he is so hot, why isn’t he teaching two classes a semester? The truth be told, the word teacher has been downgraded to the point that some people repeat the stupid saying “those who can’t teach.” The people who say this are usually those who can’t deal with their own children.

The scholar often runs away from being a teacher, and in the fashion of academe they create their own class pecking order. I marvel at my former students – so called Marxists – who make it a point after passing their terminal exams to immediately start putting crema on their tacos and add the term Dr. to their names imbedding into their persona.

When you tease them about it they answer “I’ve earned it (the title)”. So did my relatives earn respect but they do not tattoo it on their chests. Basically what I object to is the expectations that the title creates.  It sets a context that demands veneration and let’s everyone know their official position in society. In real life it is like the service ribbons we wore above our hearts in the military.

Scholars are obsessed with their professional or academic ranking. They unconsciously or consciously perpetuate a pecking order of the sciences, social sciences, humanities and “non-content” areas such as education, which like physical education is a pedagogical field distinguishing it from content areas of study.

The influence of the title doctor is pervasive — just like the label scholar it conditions research topics and trajectories of enquiry. The result is a narrowing research topics, reducing them to esoteric Chicana/o areas that admittedly have cultural value but detract the field of Chicana/o studies away from working class studies, which it was originally intended to pursue. It limits the questions asked by not only the scholars but the field itself, creating an internal class pecking order.

It is important to study and understand the socialization of Chicana/o scholars and the distance that it creates between them and the community. Epistemology is important because it asks questions about “How” what we know and how we know it is logical. The questions we ask must be answered before we can start to develop theories or what course of action is justified. Without this process we remain an inchoate field of study.

Simplifying the epistemological process, it is similar to working out mathematical equations by breaking down fractions to their lowest common denominator. It gives one a coherent pathway for sound thinking.  In order to know the nature of knowledge one must understand that others aren’t always familiar with a subject and that empirical knowledge is not based on books.

A mechanic does not have a doctor qualifying him but he sure in hell has more knowledge than I do about engines. Unfortunately, it is not a problem that we as a community can ruminate about because people feel attacked.

Along these lines it is interesting to read Facebook and read the individual Dr. Scholar Facebook pages and see what so-called Dr. Scholars are saying about the border crisis caused by U.S. policies such as the War on Drugs. Out of ten randomly selected Dr. Scholar sites – two of which were posted by Central American scholars there was relatively little or no comment on what is happening on the border. It is as if activism has been separated from their roles as the custodians of the Truth.

I have to admit that this partially due to the summer vacation. I weekly send out about 4-5000 emails with my blogs. The number of responses from Dr. Scholars that they are on research leaves jumps during the summer months to over 200. A lot of them are on sabbatical leaves something that my Dr. Mechanic cannot take.

Doing research without grants is no longer part of the job of being a Dr. Scholar who has to have extra time to be a scholar. This is ironic since I have met many medical doctors in Mexico who write excellent history as a hobby.

For over fifty years I have averaged six to twelve book reviews a year. They have little scholarly value but I do it because I want to stay current with the literature. The books supplement my activism. So quite frankly I am disappointed with the reasoning in the Dr. Scholars’ books. The research is good but their analyses of the past are weak. Unlike Dr. Mechanic they don’t know how the engine works.

I am currently reviewing a book on the influence of Chicana/o scholars on Mexican pedagogical ideas and the reverse during the 1920s and 1930s. Dr. Scholar discovers George I. Sánchez and his role in Mexican education. Thus far in my reading he has not acknowledged what made Sánchez unique which was that he was an activist. The ideas of John Dewey and the rest were important but Sánchez and the Mexicans based their ideas not only on books but on experimentation. Sánchez was a leader in the Mexican American Movements of the fifties and sixties, so much so that I would gladly call him Dr. Sánchez.

As for the title that I most cherish it is Maestro or teacher. I learned more as a junior high school teacher than I did in all of my research. It changed me. So take no offense to my ruminations, I am not a doctor and offer no prognosis, just a teacher trying to learn how the pinche engine works.

– by Dr. R. Acuña

Posted in AmeriKKKa, Aztlan, California, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Community, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Ideology, Chicana/o Politics, Chicana/o Power, Chicana/o Studies, Community, CSUN, East Los Angeles, Education, History, Knowledge, Los Angeles, Mexican, Movimiento, Nepantla, Palabra, Politics, Quotes, Racism, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Unity, Vendido | Leave a comment

Child Refugees, Understanding the Crisis Panel at Caracen (7/18/14)

Understanding the Crisis

Understanding the Crisis

Posted in AmeriKKKa, Aztlan, California, Central American, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Healing, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Politics, Chicana/o Power, Chicana/o Youth, Chicano Movement, Community, Cultura, Education, Family, History, Immigration, Indigenous, Land, Language, Maya, Mexica, Mexican, Migrant, Movimiento, MuXer, Nahuatl, Nepantla, Palabra, Politics, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Transnational, Unity | Leave a comment

How Do We Fight Back? : Turning the Other Cheek? Take a Toke?

We must recognize that government is not the problem — we are. Government only works when people are involved and frankly we are not. We believe what the media tells us, ignoring that it is controlled by the one percent. Through the media and the outright bribes, the Kochs and their tribe control a majority of our elected officials — from local elected public officials to the Supreme Court, to the president.

Meanwhile, we dream of nirvana, a place of continuous pleasure. For many the consuming issue has become pot, and the dream that when it is legalized like in the sixties they can go to bed taking one last hit before they sleep, and then light up again to usher in another day.

They stumble through life with the more ambitious among them dreaming of becoming part of the system seeking to become “part of the solution rather than the problem.” This scenario is played out on Facebook with Chicanas/os posing with politicos smugly believing that they are doing their best for their people.

Tragically the will to fight back has been taken out of them. They have been domesticated by the old biblical sayings such as turn the other cheek – and sayings that have never been followed such as “the meek shall inherit the earth” — rules written by the one percent to appeal to pendejos during the early stages of Christianity.

Even activists are conditioned to believe that it is futile to fight back – join the system instead of resisting it. They are reduced to just wanting to take their toke or take a vacation so they can escape reality.

The truth be told, it is frustrating to fight back. It is aggravating to constantly fight with vendors and government brokers over trivial problems.

My family just spent over a year fighting Kaiser Permanente over claim that should have taken five minutes to resolve. The same is true of the Bank of America and the government bureaucracy that rely on frustrating you, knowing that very few people will fight back!

However, the materialist side of me has taught me that if I want to change things I have to fight for changes on earth and not nirvana. Materialism has given me a sense of community. It instructs me that the more education people have the more responsibility they have to change reality – change does not happen by escaping.

In the initial stages of Chicana/o studies, it was expected that full professors would take most of the burden of pressing the administration. They were the most protected by the institution. Unfortunately, this did not always happen and some complained that those at the forefront got all the credit forgetting that leadership requires visibility and sacrifice.

A factor in the success of CSUN’s Chicana/o Studies Department has been its refusal to turn the other cheek. It took criticizing Chicanas/os and Latinos who betrayed the interests of the student community. Although distasteful, Chicana/o Studies is currently criticizing the administration for disrespecting us and distorting the truth. The current controversy may take us over the cliff; however, the alternatives are to turn the other cheek or take a deep puff on a joint.

The truth has become an obsession with me. I am currently exposing a lack of respect by the California Attorney General’s office that is supposed to vet judicial appointments. I won’t bore the reader with a litany of judicial improprieties of the state and federal court system. However, the system supposedly vets judicial appointments to insure the appointment of impartial judges.

This past month I received an email from Michael E. Whitaker, a Supervising Deputy Attorney General in the Employment & Administrative Mandate Section of the State Attorney General’s Office. It began “I am in the process of vetting Judge Audrey Collins who has been nominated by Governor Brown to be an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal.” Whitaker wanted to speak to me. I made arrangements for him to call me at my home.

However, Whitaker intentionally shined me on after I made my feelings about Collins known – evidently he was not serious about vetting her. I followed up with numerous emails that he ignored. In my email correspondence I made it clear that Collins was the most biased judge that I had encountered.

This was based on the fact that she did not recuse herself during my trial although she had personal and professional ties to the defendants — the University of California and its counsel. The defenses’ lead counsel was a personal and professional friend of Judge Collins and he wrote a letter of nomination for her during her appointment to the federal bench. The vice chancellor at the University of California Santa Barbara at the time of the controversy was her law professor at UCLA and she had professional and personal ties with the UC, i.e., she was active in the UCLA law alumni association that through Ralph Ochoa and others played a major role in my case. From the beginning she was antagonistic toward us.

At trial, Collins allowed her clerks to run wild; they sat and ate with defendants’ counsel. Her head clerk took a count for the defendants’ team and she seemed as if she were interviewing for a position with the UC. Collins’ rulings were questionable; she severely limited the number of documents my attorneys could present. As the plaintiff I had the burden of proof, and this was especially harmful because I had two causes of action.

When the draw of jurors appeared to go our way, Collins dismissed three minority jurors saying that it would not be fair to have too many minorities on the panel. At the time having minority jurors was an anomaly — rarely if ever were white jurors dismissed because there were too many white jurors on the panel.

At the end of the trial she had a group of mostly Latino prisoners led into the court room in chains and dressed in prison garb. Judge Collins was visibly shaken by the verdict that went in my favor. When my counsel spoke to the foreman of the jury he commented on how solicitous the judge was of the defendants but he thought it was like a criminal case where “the judge was required to protect the defendants’ rights.” Collins never cleared this relationship up.

It is difficult to prosecute a case against someone that has “deep pockets.” The UC spent $5 million on the case. Evidently Whitaker was not in the mood to hear the truth. So I feel that it is my moral duty to expose his office and his malfeasance. Once appointed appellate judges for all practical purposes the appointee is on the bench for life.

If those of us who have benefitted most from the system do not complain and expose elected officials, judges like Collins and public officials like Michael Whitaker who should? Not everyone has equal access to resources.

A student once told me that she admired me because it seemed as if I was always getting arrested for a cause and that her father seemed mute. I pointed out to her that if her father missed a day of work, her family missed a meal whereas I could list the arrest on my resume as “community service.”

The problem was not her father, but the Latino leaders posing for photos – like my father used to say smiling, “como changos comiendo caca.”

– by R. Acuña

Posted in AmeriKKKa, Aztlan, California, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Community, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Ideology, Chicana/o Politics, Chicana/o Power, Chicana/o Studies, Chicana/o Youth, Chicano Movement, Community, Decolonization, Education, History, Knowledge, Language, Politics, Quotes, Racism, Resistance, Social justice, Unity, Vendido | Leave a comment

Aztlán Underground – Decolonize

Posted in Aztlan, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Hip Hop, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Music, Chicana/o Power, Chicana/o Studies, Chicana/o Underground, Chicana/o Youth, Chicano Movement, Cultura, Decolonization, History, Indigenous, Knowledge, Maize, Mexica, Movimiento, MuXer, Nahuatl, Nepantla, Palabra, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Unity | Leave a comment