There was once a young, naive, loving, peaceful Chicanita who reluctantly left the comfort of her Mama’s bosom and went away to college at 17 years old. As the eldest this was very difficult for her Mama, and her, but her Mama knew she had to push her out!
Her eyes were filled with a strong desire to change the world by helping her people. Deep-down inside she always knew even if she didn’t change the world to improve things for Chicanos, she would be changing her immediate world (her family).
She felt she was going away to college to educate herself and to improve her life for herself and her family. Who started off as very very poor field laborers and then became small business owners.
She dreamed of traveling to far away lands, to eat exotic foods, to someday have a beautiful home and all that the American Dream encompasses.
She had a good and simple life till her 17 years of life. She was very protected and perhaps overly sheltered. Life was simple which entailed going to school, returning home and helping her Mama around the house and with her siblings, playing, visiting with her Abuelitos on weekends, which was her joy. She was “somewhat” street smart, but life had much to teach her.
It wasn’t long after arriving in college, that she and other new Chicano students were told they were one of the selected few, they were, if you will “Chicano elitist!” And they were also known as “agents of change,” she liked the term and though it was a good thing.
Only to find out that with this opportunity of being an “elitist agent of change” came the responsibility and obligation that they should one day return to their communities to improve other’s lives.
This was inculcated and indoctrinated in her from day one and now she felt traumatized, Chalé she didn’t want to return to her hometown, when she had worked so hard to get out of there! She started to feel a sense of guilt that if she didn’t return she was somehow letting people down.
She was invited and considered going to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade who were attempting to show solidarity with the Cuban Revolution by working side by side with Cuban workers. Something inside her told her not to go, and she was happy she did not go to Cuba.
She saw many Chicano professors preaching and marching to Chicano Power and Viva La Raza and returning in the evenings to their Anglo wives in the suberbs in their SUV’s.
She saw some older Chicano professors exploiting young naive Chicanitas mainly from the San Jouquin Valley. Several even became pregnant. Chicanas were viewed as sexual objects, cooks and caretakers!
She saw violence at peaceful marches, perpetrated by her people.
But, putting all this aside what was most crushing and disillusioning was that she felt she wasn’t only attempting to educate the “white man” but she felt she was also educating her Chicano brothers on how women should be treated and that we were more than the roles they relegated us to as care-takers or the “cocineras” (the cooks)! In her own home she had fought for the rights of women in her family, that they be recognized as more than “tortilla and baby makers!”
At Sacramento State the mujeres quickly learned that it wasn’t about the men relegating! We took charge to do things on our own. We were then labeled as lesbians. So if we weren’t subservient to the men’s wishes we were lesbians, “marriconas” or Macho Women!
The women were the real “movers and shakers!” We were the real organizers; we wrote, we planned, we organized, we delegated and directed, we made things happen!
YES, THAT CHICANITA WAS ME!
I never saw any real changes and the status quo continued, after six years, I left Sacramento State defeated, but at the same time exhilarated and scared for my first teaching position.
This wore on me and it was very challenging, it bothered me profoundly. I saw racism, sexism and all of the weaknesses of society, in my own people whom I had placed in high esteem.
So don’t talk to me about revolutions or movimientos! I marched with Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta. I protested against Coors and Safeway, and other companies.
Which is what is supposedly occurring now! If you interviewed 20 people on the streets and asked them what they are fighting for, you’d get 20 different answers and you have some followers who have no clue why they are out there protesting!
I believed that my people wanted equality in issues relating to better educational opportunities for their children, job opportunities, political representation and farm workers right’s to name a few. Forty-four years later we are still fighting for those same things. Many good things have been accomplished but…… not enough. Obviously were not doing something right! Perhaps just perhaps the tactics have to be changed. I’m reminded of what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over with the same results!
I reflect and see some of my old college friends still in the same location, same outfit, same thinking, smoking “grifa,” still writing proposals to receive grant monies from the government! Still singing the same song of “De Colores.”
I did became an educator and pray to my Lord that I positively affected some of my students. I know many had a positive impact in my life.
I also feel very strongly committed to changing men’s views on the roles of La Mujer Mexicana. But, this must start at home, since birth. This is another trait you cannot learn in the classroom, I don’t care how many women’s study courses you take!
At this point in my life the most important revelation that has come through very strongly is that I needed “Lord Power” not “Chicano Power” in my life! I have always known my Lord, but I did not have a personal relationship with Him. Had the Lord been a priority in my life I would have been a much stronger and secure person and perhaps not had questions on identity, who I was and how I fit in. I have always felt I straddled the fence (no pun intended); having been born here from a Mama born in Chicago and a Papa born in Guadalajara. Growing up I had a a strong connection and influence to Guadalajara, Mexico.
In retrospect, I felt my whole college career had been extremely “isolated,” by my doing, it’s not anything anyone forced upon me. Nonetheless, I now regretfully recognize I couldn’t name one Anglo friend or acquaintance I made while in college. I had Black friends.
It wasn’t until after I left college that I realized I learned more from the people I disagreed with than all the “yes” people I was surrounded by.
I now question affirmative action and bilingual education; what has changed, what has improved, has there been growth? Are we hindering our children?
Some of you might say you are a “vendida” a sell-out, not only because you married an Anglo, but because of how you think! I have never been a follower, except for my Lord.
And, I don’t think I am a vendida or a coconut or any other negative label given to people who think differently than the masses.
I’ve always been proud of who I am and where I came from and openly revealed that. I’ve never been ashamed.
I’ve always had my own mind and have always questioned. You may not agree with me and that’s fine. All of our life experiences make us the persons we are. You have your own life experiences, which make you the person you are.
My husband has never influenced my political views. I’ve developed those all on my own because of my personal life experiences.
Believe it or not God, Family and Country have always been important to me. As a child when I visited Guadalajara and could not find a toilet with running water, I was in disbelief! My travels have only confirmed I live in the best country!
Yes, I agree, I think we need to change some things and certain issues need to be addressed; we are not perfect. But, this is the greatest country!
I recall my Mama was very anti-immigration and would talk about it frequently. And without writing a book here possibly because of her personal experience with immigrating my father. She “fixed his papers” and then he abandoned us! This hurt her to her marrow.
I think she felt they took benefits away from her and other Americans besides the illegality of it all. She saw firsthand some of the illegal things that went on in our little town of Huron. Mainly illegal immigrants receiving two or three checks from unemployment under different names and addresses, receiving welfare, food stamps and WIC. Essentially our little town of Huron was lawless, it was like the Wild West. With high rates of people driving without licenses, drunk driving, drug abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, prostitution, venereal disease, child abuse physical and sexual to name a few of the lawless and evil activities that prevailed my hometown. It was “puro party.” That’s why our family sheltered us so much.
Her thinking only reinforced my belief that we need to take care of our own first! Our veterans, the elderly and the disabled. And, now it’s become an issue of security. So do I want a wall built? Heck yes, they can’t build it fast enough for me!’
Besides, my Lord my other saving grace was I had a Mama that had taught me to question and think, this was not a skill I had learned from a book or lesson in school.
I was always lead and protected by my Lord and I cannot Thank Him enough.
At this point I’ll stop here, I’m sure at 3:00 in the morning I’ll wake up and think of something else I should have included. Oh well that will be part 2.
Abrazos y Besos