National politics almost always put Chicanos in weird, awkward, contradictory and often bizarre places and positions. Let me rephrase that: national politics almost always put this Chicano in weird, awkward, contradictory and often bizarre places and positions, lest I commit the cardinal sin of speaking for anyone but myself. But yeah. This is truly Bizarro World now but not for reasons you might suspect. In fact, there are so many crazy things going on at this very moment, it’s difficult to put them all into context and I wake up each morning, not by alarm clock, but with Rod Serling narrating the day’s itinerary.
A long time ago, in a barrio far, far away, a cranky, old vato wrote a book called Anything But Mexican, and it went on to become a staple of Chicano Studies in a country that refuses to acknowledge the existence of Chicanos and Chicanas. That vato’s name was Rodolfo Acuña, whom I’ve met before when I published my own book in support of his getting banned. I got the feeling he thought I was a hack but that’s tale for another day.
Acuña, who is considered the godfather of Chicano Studies, is also partly famous for having his own books banned during an era when people could not be bothered with such things. The philosophy behind his book(s), its title, as well as the stigma along with it has stuck with me ever since.
You see, back when They banned one of Acuña’s books, no one cared. At least, not on a national level. His book (Occupied America), was of many books that were banned in the state of Arizona, but at the time, it was a real snoozer of a story for the very same people making daily headlines now by standing in the airport and or standing in the middle of a highway near you.
I mean, can you imagine? Book banning! On a large-scale, and by proud racists! Occurring during a Democratic administration no less! GASP!
“Yawn,” said the liberals.
This was also during the time that the Hate state of Arizona started asking anyone who looked illegal (see: Mexican) for their “papers.” Again, no one cared. Oh, sure, there were a few blips here and there, but nothing even close to what’s going on right now. If these things sound pretty fascist that’s because they were, literally. But no one gave a shit. Why? Mexicans.
Certainly, no one was walking out of their office, sobbing on camera or squatting on the sidewalk screaming: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! when any of this occurred.
The premise of Acuña’s book is that anything (and I mean anything!) is just fine and dandy, so long as it’s not Mexican. That’s the kicker. See, we live in an age where “Chicano” is a dirty word and calling a Latino “Mexican” is a slur. Chicanos hate themselves so much these days they refuse to even call themselves that. And Mexicans? Well, they just keep doing what they do: survive.
Any and every cause under the sun in the United States of Hashtags is A-OK just so long as it’s not related to those goddamn, dirty, sneakin’, chili-chokin’ pepper bellies.
Save the whales? Black Lives Matter? Free Palestine? Feel the Bern? Bring back our girls? Women’s March? No Ban? No wall? These are all liberal and democratic-approved causes and you’re free to pursue them, just know that the fine print says: ANYTHING BUT MEXICAN.
I’m curious to see if these bright faced young people will start camping out along the Mexican border. My guess is no.
So, the point I’m making is not new. Acuña made it a billion years ago and it just keeps on repeating itself ad nauseam in this ridiculous story we call “America,” but the current flavor of the day is immigration and refugees, specifically relating to Muslims, and everyone has collectively lost their shit over it, because, in case you didn’t see it on the “NEWS,” these are the end days…please buy toothpaste and dick pills from our sponsors.
If you pay attention at all to the fake news, you’ll notice that many people are freaking out due to Donald Trump’s latest fiasco, the not-really-new-immigration restrictions that were sorta-kinda-already-in-place-but-no-one-cared-cuz-it-was-a-dem-Prez, and all of a sudden everyone and their rat-faced granny is an immigration activist. I take issue with this on several levels. Why? Allow me to count the ways, snowflake!
All of a sudden, out of the fuckin’ BLUE, all of these people, and the media, and desperate, gasping politicians “care” about immigration issues and refugees?! Huh? Did I miss something..?
OH!!! Wait, that’s right! These aren’t Mexicans we’re talking about. Silly me! By all means, carry on with your ironic signs…
As far as Mexicans go in this country, no one has ever given a fuck. Why? Because they are considered sub-human by the McMasses who see fit to use them for convenience, labor and as a scapegoat. Again, this is nothing new, but all of a sudden everyone is an immigration rights activist. Right…
Where were all these bleeding heart fuckheads when images of children being held in cages and piled on top of each other in conditions only comparable to gulags and extermination camps were in the news? Where were they when all the NAFTA bodies of women and girls were found buried in the sand by the thousands?
Where were these oh-so-concerned citizens when Brown mothers were thrown in for-profit prisons indefinitely, separated from their kids and held without any sunlight and made to WORK and with diseases rampant in conditions akin to internment camps?
But now they care!?
They were silent for SB1070. They were silent when it was “papers please” in Arizona. They were silent when these kids were sent back to war-torn shitholes and sentenced to death with a one way ticket by the same politicians and talking heads now pleading for “the resistance.” Please.
So, fuck you, pal! Fuck you, you fucking hypocrites! Fuck your resistance signs and your cries for attention. For decades Mexicans and Chicanos have asked for this kind of resistance and solidarity and have been handed a shit sandwich for our trouble. It makes me sick to see these same people now pour out of the woodwork in support of whatever the flavor of the day is, when they could not be bothered just one month ago about the same issues! And make no mistake, those same issues persist! But do I see people flooding detention centers? Are folks standing in solidarity with the children in cages? Nope!
This is why I say that national politics put Chicanos in awkward positions and make us bitter when Johnny and Jane Come Lately start asking us for help when it’s convenient to them! Where the fuck were you when we asked?
Do I not empathize with the plight of refugees from war-torn countries? Of course I do! And fuck Donald Trump, but for the love of god, the hypocrisy and cherry picking activism in this nation makes me want to vomit. I have no issues with the refugees in question, but I do take issue with the masses of hypocrites who have all of a sudden found their voice ONLY because the President of the United States is a person they do not like.
Not once did these assholes care when the Obama administration deported more people than any other administration. And when we told people this they rolled their eyes about it because it was Mexicans. Mexicans and Chicanos are ALWAYS expected to toe the line when it comes to other people’s causes, but few if any of those people we support ever support us! Why is that? Anything but Mexican, that’s why.
So, spare me the sky is falling/end times rhetoric. This is business as usual for government, it’s just convenient now for you to care.
Mexicans and Chicanos have always got the shit end of the stick in this country. For many of us, the resistance has never ended, so it’s comical to see people form “the resistance” now. All of these groups who are now fighting for equality have never bothered before, so it’s hard to take any of them seriously. I question how many of them are doing it for brownie points aka virtue signaling, Vs how many of them genuinely care. Because that wasn’t the case not too long ago, and by not too long ago I mean last month.
And if your endgame is to place another neo-liberal in office who will continue the same practices that put kids in cages and mothers in for profit detentions centers, then you can shove your “resistance” up your self-righteous ass.
As a Chicano, I’m always stuck in the middle or not in it at all. We’re not immigrants yet we’re treated as foreigners. Liberals embrace foreigners with opens arms and balk at people in need here. It’s goofy.
Newsflash: this administration will come and go, just like the ones before it, and just like the ones after. We will still be here, simultaneously resisting and thriving in this weird fucked up place that treats us like bastard children and pits us against each other.
It’s been said that Trump has galvanized so-called progressives and united them against “evil.” To this I just laugh. Fuck you, man. If who is in the white house dictates your “give a shit” barometer, then you’re a dim-witted asshole and deserve all the butthurt you’re currently enduring right now.
And you might be saying to yourself: these issues are important! You should care!
And you’re right, they are and we should. But also ask yourself why YOU didn’t care when many of us asked in years past.
Anything but Mexican, it’s not just a book title, it’s not just a catchy phrase, it’s a way of life. Make sure to get yourself another steaming hot cup of chinga tu madre and add some sugar to sweeten it to your liking. We just brewed a big enough pot to last the next four years and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Author Louis Negrete discusses his latest work “Chicano Homeland.” Focusing on the Chicano movement at its epicenter in Los Angeles, Negrete brings to life the issues that triggered this wide-ranging civil rights movement – police brutality, institutionalized poverty, demands for better schools, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and defense of undocumented immigrants. He blends personal experiences and eyewitness accounts with stories of the many leaders, organizations, and successful political strategies. Negrete provides a vision of how a new generation of activists – who represent the largest minority voting block in the country –might revive this crucial human rights movement.
About Louis R. Negrete: Negrete is a Chicano, born and raised in Los Angeles. He served as Director of Project Head Start for the Council of Mexican American Affairs and then as a founding faculty member of the new Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Los Angeles. For 35 years, until his retirement, he was Professor of Chicano Studies at Cal State L.A. “Chicano Homeland’ is his first book.
While Trump demands Mexico build us a border wall, the US is Building Prison Walls in Mexico—What’s going on?
The United States is building walls and militarizing both the US-Mexico border and Mexico’s southern border. The US is also building prison walls throughout Mexico and militarizing police as living walls to repress and reign in popular movements. When Mexican police fire on striking teachers and normal school students, they’re using weapons made in the USA. When indigenous and labor activists are locked away as political prisoners, they’re locked away in US funded jail cells. The Alliance for Global Justice Tear Down the Walls Mexico delegation will visit with indigenous and labor leaders, family and supporters of political prisoners, ex-political prisoners, anti-torture activists and experts on police, border and prison militarization. We will investigate US prison imperialism in Mexico and relate that to similar programs in other parts of the world.
Our investigations will not be neutral. AfGJ has established itself as the expert on US prison imperialism and we are part of a broad national and international movement against border walls and police abuses. We know which side of the walls we’re on—the side that’s tearing them down! Our two goals will be to learn and, more importantly, to apply what we learn. We will work with our partners to build a broad front against Washington’s and the US and Mexico’s oligarchies as they try to lock us into a future of misery for the many and mega-profits for the few.
We will also pay special attention to the role of Colombian advisors who are training tens of thousands of Mexican military, police and prison officials. Colombia has acted as a proxy for the US in Mexico to do what the US cannot do openly. It is very worrisome that Donald Trump has chosen General John Kelly to head up the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly, who currently oversees the US Southern Command said of Colombia, “The beauty of having a Colombia – they’re such good partners….When we ask them to go somewhere else and train the Mexicans, the Hondurans, the Guatemalans, the Panamanians, they will do it almost without asking. And they’ll do it on their own….But that’s why it’s important for them to go, because I’m–at least on the military side–restricted from working with some of these countries because of limitations that are, that are really based on past sins. And I’ll let it go at that.”
Well, General Kelly, we aren’t letting it go at that. AfGJ is working with partners in Mexico and Colombia to tear down your walls of oppression.
Our delegation will begin in Tucson, Arizona where we will hold a forum on The Drug War: Today’s Big Lie. We will examine how this so-called war is being used to justify the border wall, police militarization and mass incarceration in the US, Mexico and around the world. The next day we will tour border “security” installations and the wall on the US side before crossing into Sonora to visit the town of Cananea. There we will meet with striking miners and their families who will tell us how they have been affected by the issues we’re studying. From Cananea, we will travel to the state capitol of Hermosillo, where we will meet with leaders of the teachers union and hear about their successful struggle to free their political prisoners from Cefereso #11. We also hope to visit the prison itself, the first private, for-profit prison in Mexico, built with US funding and designs. We will then travel to Oaxaca, which has been ground zero for the teachers union struggles. In Oaxaca we will visit an indigenous village, meet with a variety of popular movement leaders as well as take some tourist time to visit the incredible archaeological site of Monte Alban. We will finish the delegation in Mexico City with a series of meetings with experts on prison and police militarization as well as activists defending the rights of undocumented immigrants from Central America.
Throughout the delegation we will be asking the question, “What’s really going on?” and “What can we do about it?” We will examine closely the curious relationship between the US and Mexican capitalist class. Remember when candidate Donald Trump went to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto? What was notable was how well the two got along while managing to sidestep that nasty subject of the border wall Trump wants the Mexicans to pay for. Seriously—what’s going on? The truth is that the US and Mexican oligarchies have always mostly gotten along. And the governments they buy are like twins joined at the hip (where the pocket is). In Mexico, presidential election after election is stolen from the Center-Left. In the US, it’s no secret that the man “elected” actually lost the popular vote by more than 2 ½ million votes. What can we do about that? We can organize and we can mobilize. And we can realize that we the people must unite across borders to build our own wall of resistance. And that, friends, is what this delegation is all about.
The cost of the delegation is $1,400 and includes all in-country flights from Hermosillo to Oaxaca and from Oaxaca to Mexico City, all delegation-related land travel, lodging, meals, translation services and other delegation related costs. Our hosts in Mexico will be the Peoples Human Rights Observatory and the Mexican League in Defense of Human Rights.