Veteranas & Rucas: Curator Misses an Opportunity to Explain Chicana/o Identity to the Mainstream Press

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)

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3 Responses to Veteranas & Rucas: Curator Misses an Opportunity to Explain Chicana/o Identity to the Mainstream Press

  1. Melina says:

    What you point out is very interesting but also a bit short sighted—did your analysis consider the artist’s social locations? Education? Experience? The definitions you give and what you wanted to hear from her are very academic, so much so that someone with very little exposure to all of the complexities you mention would probably not have the tools to provide such a holistic or all encompassing definition of what is Chicano and Latino identity politics in the twenty-first century. From what I’ve read and heard about this artist, her life has mostly been in the New York City art world (an ultra White environment) as well as her family & friends in East L.A. While you are right to point out the parallels with the UCLA Hunger Strike and the urban party scene Rosales is archiving or speaking about, we must also be aware that there are many folks from the Eastside who never traverse or even think about institutions like UCLA or studies about Chican@s and Latin@s. Maybe the question that could be asked here is: WHY is Rosales’ definition, an archaic one, missing the opportunity to discuss said multi-dimensionalities? Where does her understanding of her identity stem from? Thank you for your post, thought provoking piece.

  2. adriana says:

    Hi Melina,

    Thanks for your comment. I think your points and additional questions are valid and worth exploring. I simply wanted to respond to how Rosales defined Chicano in that interview piece.

    In perusing this IG account, I have noticed that there are photos of people beyond East LA (photos of party crews and people form the IE, the OC, SGV, etc.), so I think that one has to be careful about definitions when moving beyond the area in which one lives. There are definitely multi-generational Chicanos all over the places that Rosales lists on her IG as locations of where the photos she posts were captured.

    Thank you for reading. I’m hopeful that as Rosales continues to curate this content that she will caption photos with more context about what was happening during the ’90s, ’80s, etc.

    • Guadalupe says:

      Thanks for your note and comments here. I want to reassure you that I had an extensive conversation with the interviewer about chicanismo. Some things were left out and edited. What I said and wanted to emphasize in the interview was that Chicano /Chicana was beyond 1st generation. I also said “there is saying in Spanish “ni de aquí, ni de allá” which means we are neither from here or there. So we came up with a word that defines that- The generation before us/me. More or less, similar as creating a space of belonging and so on. And that many of us choose not to indentify and Latinos or Hispanic. I am reachable if you want to discuss further and perhaps you get to hear my thoughts on that. Thanks for writing this post .

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