I look back on where I’ve been, where I am going, and am so grateful for the family I’ve been given. My grandparents taught me respect for heritage and my elders. My parents taught me rebellion against “The Man” because they grew up in the 60s and 70s and have seen it all. My tias taught me how to laugh loudly, while my tios taught me how to fight back and fight fair. My primos taught me to never take myself too seriously and I don’t. I take the Raza, as a whole, very seriously. This generation is unfolding in front of our eyes daily. In arizona and Puerto Rico La Raza is marching almost daily for a right to unbiased education. In New York City, we are dancing in front of Senator Chuck Schumer’s office and declaring a hunger strike until the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) ACT is passed. Some of our familia denies their cultural connection to our undocumented brothers and sisters. I say American citizens are all Latinos and should be juntos. We did not create this cultural divide, nor the Eurocentric/ economic boundary called a border. They are the ones to separate us by our culture. Political and education groups erase our historical wins and see us as simply brown people that speak Spanish. I don’t know what they aim to gain in all this, I only know that I feel bullied and less important in this country. I think we owe it to ourselves and the United States of America to keep educated on our history and modern politics.
I can look back on my time as a Brownie from around the way and remember instances like mom loosing her lowrider slang when she put on heels and a business suit to go work at the law firm. I recollect how my father held his Aztec Warrior poise around his friends but if he spoke to a person in a place of authority, he stooped just a little, and said, “yessir” a few more times than necessary. Both my parents would turn to me and say, “Don’t be like me, mija. Be smart. Go to college. Be something when you grow up.” Well, now I’m grown and educated. I don’t stoop around anybody and I never wear high heels even though I am only 4’9″ tall. I do my best to speak loud and proud because I’m down and Brown por La Raza. I belong to my parents, but Ethnic Studies and academia is why I also belong to America and La Raza. When I visit my familia in Texas, my barrio accent returns with each drop of sweat in the southern heat. My Tias ask me when will I finally be done with school. My cousins say, “…why do you have to go to grad school, can’t you just get a job now?” or “…what are you, some kind of activist?” I smile and write down everything they say. I write memoir and poetry to tell our story. We are more connected than just by blood. We are all connected by heritage, patriotism, and nationalism through education.
The D.R.E.A.M. Act is the thing we need to help build this nation we belong to. The D.R.E.A.M. stands for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors” act. The bill will make it so that our little primos that have been in the USA since they were at least 15 years old, can join us in becoming the next scholars or U.S. military soldiers for this country. Undocumented students that have never known, or little know, their country of origin aren’t asking for something outlandish, they are asking to belong here. In America, you can’t get something for nothing, so why not let the children that have been here for so long already become what they are. The Latino community is becoming educated so that we can build a nation that is alert and aware. It’s up to the world of academia to inform the world at large of what everyday gente are concerned with and it has been the plan since Santa Barbara 1968:
For all peoples, as with individual, the time comes when they must reckon with their history. For the Chicano the present is a time of renaissance, of renacimiento. Our people and our community, el barrio and la colonia, are expressing a new consciousness and a new resolve. Recognizing the historical tasks confronting our people and fully aware of the cost of human progress, we pledge our will to move. We will move forward toward our destiny as a people. We will move against those forces which has denied us freedom of expression and human dignity. Throughout history the quest for cultural expression and freedom has taken the form of a struggle. Our struggle tempered by the lessons of the American past, is an historical reality.
For decades Mexican people in the United States struggle to realize the ”American Dream”. And some, a few, have. But the cost, the ultimate cost of assimilation, required turning away from el barrio and la colonia. In the meantime, due to the racist structure of this society, to our essentially different life style, and to the socio-economic functions assigned to our community by Anglo-American society – as suppliers of cheap labor and dumping ground for the small-time capitalist entrepreneur- the barrio and colonia remained exploited, impoverished, and marginal. ”
This manifesto is valid today as it was back then, the only difference now is that the struggle includes all Latinos and Americans, not just Chicanos. How will you be spending this “Human Rights Summer”?
Is anyone out there going back to college because of the Ethnic Studies ban in arizona? Leave us a comment, Thank you!
DREAM Act Info: http://dreamact.info/
“Human Rights Summer” a call to action: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/06/06/18649996.php
El Plan: https://www.utpa.edu/orgs/mecha/st_barbara.html
Hunger Strike Vigil [VIDEO]: http://blip.tv/file/3724864
by Viktoria Valenzuela