Saludos desde Boyle Heights, CalifAztlán
This is the first written post for the new Notes from Aztlán blog. Its an idea that I’ve floated around in my heart, soul & mind for quite sometime. For several years now, I’ve wanted to do a digital journal that covered all the complex angles of barrio life from culture to politics to cuisine through my own Chicano point of view.
Life, however, got in the way. Yet, I also refused to undertake such a venture out of principle primarily because I did not want to be yet another Chicano succumbing to the abyss that is the current Raza hipster scene/trend that encompasses much of today’s “activism” where its more important to be seen at certain places and events than it is to actually do something concrete to change the conditions of the barrio.
In an odd twist of fate and irony, I begin a blog now at a critical moment in the Chicana/o community. It seems we say this every five years or so. But its always been true, then and now.
The Chicana/o community, culture, history, and identity are currently being attacked and threatened by an aging Euroamerican numerical minority intent on maintaining its power through the passage of racist laws aimed specifically at the Chicana/o community. This is nothing new, of course. In creating something out of nothing, this blog is one more Chicano defiant stance against the forces that seek to silence and erase us.
Obviously, change will not come from blogging, and as one of my friends on Twitter has indicated “the Internet has killed the activist” and I wholeheartedly agree. Being fluent in Marxism and every other Euroamerican theoretical framework, “occupying” a park, and signing online petitions is not change.
Change will occur in the streets through day-to-day grass roots organizing within specific communities be it the church, school, work, etc. I do believe, however, that every Mexican American, “Latino,” and “Hispanic” is a potential Chicana/o. Thus, Notes from Aztlán is an act of defiance. It is intended to create socio-political consciousness, while at the same time aiming to cover the diversity of local barrio life. Pretty simple, que no?
I don’t claim to speak for the Chicana/o community nor do I intend to. I do write, nevertheless, as a way of reclaiming a part of a rasquaCHe movement aesthetic that seems to have been stripped of its pure natural form and essence by the gentrification evil conglomerate that permeates our barrio life, which attempts to kill our spirit and erase our historical memory in order to pacify us for the capitalistic consumption of mainstream AmeriKKKa. We will resist and we will endure. Anyways, I might be digressing here and its only the first post. Ni modo!!!
I’ve had several blogs and/or websites in the past. A few years ago, I decided to create a sports collectors blog after rediscovering my baseball card collection during a house move. I called it The Perfect Game. It lasted a couple of years before Apple decided that iWeb no longer served its needs. I will certainly write about sports cards again from my Chicano perspective.
Going further back in time, I did create and maintain the Brown Beret National Organization website back in the 90s. In 1992, the organization regrouped after nearly twenty-year absence from the movimiento. I managed the website for several years in the late 90s before it was stolen by an ultra-right winger posing as a Chicano. I will definitely share that story at some point.
The 90s was a time when you could literally count the number of Chicanas/os on the Internet with one hand. Since then, the online world has changed and exploded to the point where we are vastly connected with each other more so than ever before. Despite the growth of Raza on the Internet, you can still count us using one hand.
But has this social media connection and networking meant progress for our people? Not really.
On the one hand, the Chicana/o community still suffers from extensive labor exploitation, massive deportations and raids, wholesale incarceration and criminalization, and an unequal educational system, among so many other things. We continue to struggle and survive, however.
The social media network, on the other hand, has the potential to fill gaps in how we respond to the increasing attacks on our community. It is still not, however, a unified social media network. Still, though, the potential is there. In 2011, for instance, several individuals decided to collaborate on a project to promote literacy in the social media community. As a result, Aztlán Reads was born.
Aztlán Reads is a grass-roots social media effort dedicated to promoting literacy in our communities. Easier said than done verdad? Aztlán Reads is more than an idea, however, it is one more Chicana/o weapon of mass education for self-determination.
Notes from Aztlán: Desde el Barrio, then, continues that idea of knowledge as resistance. In reality, however, you’ll merely find that its just a simple blog about a CHunti RasquaCHe from Boyle Heights. Enjoy. Siempre Adelante!!!
c/s (cultural sovereignty)