An Analysis of the History and Resistance Movements Related to Chicano Studies
Chicano studies refer to the systematic studies of the Mexicano people in the present day United States. The genesis of the Chicano studies relates to the turbulences of the decade that started from 1960 onwards, where the Mexican American scholars in universities in Texas and California initiated a search for the roots of the Movimiento (movement). The disciplines linked to Chicano studies encountered immense resistance from various academic departments in the whole country. The acquisition of Aztlan, which is presently the Southwest region of the United States, led to the initiation of the social upheaval caused by the persons of Mexican origin in the US. The United States did not only occupy the Mexican land, but it also occupied all the natives of the land (Gutierrez 1). Additionally, the first movement towards the Mexican border occurred in 1836 with the inception of the Texas Revolt. The second movement occurred with the US invasion of Mexico in 1846, and the final border movement occurred in form of a real estate deal related to the Gadsden Purchase of 1853.
Navarro states that there are various themes related to the political history of the Mexicano (Mexicano Political Experience 1). First, he argues that the experience of Mexicanos in the United States couples with struggles and change. Additionally, Navarro articulates that The Mexicanos in Aztlan are occupied natives undergoing a reoccupation of their conquered land. Thirdly, he states that the Mexican people in the US have continuously endured the oppression and exploitation caused by the American imperialism and colonialism. Moreover, he argues that the American two-party dictatorships inhibit the success of the Mexican people in the US (Mexicano Political Experience 1). He continues to say that the Mexicano political experience in Occupied Aztlan has continually evolved through many distinct historical epochs, and these respective epochs highlight different political models. Additionally, Navarro argues that the Mexicanos are tantamount to the Palestine creed because they are natives of no country. Finally, he says that the Mexicanos of the 21st century living in Occupied Aztlan have the capability to liberate themselves and change occupied and colonized status. More intently, Navarro states that the Mexicanos and Latinos embrace a deficient liberal capital system (Mexicano and Latino Politics 1). The dissection will focus on analyzing the history linked to the Chicano people, and it will scrutinize the various resistance initiatives related to the Chicano Studies.
The History Related to the Chicano Studies
In 1972, a group of Chicano invaded Catalina Island, and their concern was the discrimination against the Mexican Americans which begun with the illegal takeover of Mexican land in 1848 (Ontiveros 897). Many forms of media ignored the civil rights movements linked to the Chicano people and they focused on the black civil freights movement excessively. More intently, the various forms of media in the US ignored important historical occurrences such as the Chicano Youth Deliberation Conference of Denver in 1969. Navarro begins his analysis by focusing on the aspect of internal colonialism, and he relates it to the pattern of exploitation and oppression (Mexicano Political Experience 5). Additionally, he relates internal colonialism to a form of modern capitalist practice of exploitation and oppression of racial minorities within the borders of a particular state. Because of the excessive levels of depression in the Aztlan region, a gap emerged between the Mexicano natives and the Americans. The Americans became wealthier while the Mexicanos became devastated by the conditions of dependency attributed to their extreme poverty levels. More intently, the Mexicano people encountered utmost levels of racism, and their conquest resulted from the forced entry of the United States into Aztlan. Navaro states that there were deliberate efforts to abrogate the culture, heritage, and the language of the Mexican natives.Thus, the Mexicans in Aztlan ended up being powerless and subordinate to the Americans (Mexicano Political Experience 8).
Much of the history linked to the Chicano studies highlights the aspects of internal colonialism, which is reinforced by the dynamics of liberal capitalism. Additionally, there was an unequal relationship characterized by unevenly distributed wealth and power, and this led to social stratification and ethnic conflicts in Aztlan. Moreover, Navarro argues that the uneven distribution of resources resulted in racial and ethnic antagonisms and racism in the respective institutions (Mexicano Political Experience 9). More intently, Navarro narrates that workers in Occupied Aztlan had to perform dirty and servile jobs that the Americans avoided. He continues to explain that internal colonialism highlights two major themes that relate to liberal capitalism, and the themes link to the economic and cultural aspects of the Mexicano people in Occupied Aztlan. Navaro argues that internal colonialism extracted labor, wealth, and resources from the Mexicano people in Occupied Aztlan. Hence, this had an adverse economic influence on the Mexican people in the region (Mexicano Political Experience 10). Additionally, he says that internal colonialism regulated the ability of the Mexicano people to appreciate and dominate the aspects related to their culture.
Much of the literature linked to the early Chicano studies lacked a strong theoretical framework. In many cases, the foundational literature of any new discipline often lacks the intellectual rigor others might desire. However, there was an urge to repossess the Southwestern locale of the US, which was originally Aztlan (Rios 59). Additionally, the ideology linked to the history of the Mexicano people is that they are not of Mexican or White origin. Thus, they are a unique social group with a particular history, culture, and language. More precisely, the term Chicano originated from this myriad of spectacular social-cultural dynamics and the political ideologies that were prevalent among the Mexicano people (Rios 59).
The Chicano encountered tremendous issues. Undoubtedly, in matters concerning education these concerns consolidated the urgency for an enhanced cultural and linguistic approach to the learning activities of Chicanos. More intently, the historical periods related to the Chicano studies highlighted the yearning for political independence, and the inception of the La Raza Unida party attests to this fact. Coupled with the commencing of the Chicano curriculum was an activism of advocating for the liberty of Chicano farmworkers and endorsing historical land rights especially in New Mexico (Rios 59). More importantly, the Vietnamese war was in play and soldiers of Chicano origin dedicated their lives entirely to the battlefield notwithstanding this utmost commitment when they came back to America they still encountered racial discrimination.
The borders moved and the people incorporated in Aztlan became the powerless minority and they were foreigners in their land (Gutierrez 25). Additionally, the historical perspective of the Chicano studies highlights gross discrimination and harassment coupled with violence in the hands of the state actors. Since the Americans were the majority, they advocated a new political culture and imposed a new legal framework, religion, language policy, and education system. Moreover, they imposed revamped economic systems and racial hierarchies (Gutierrez 25). By 1845, Texas constituted a state in the US and the Mexican population in the area drastically reduced because of the massive killings that were prevalent during the battles for the land. Many Mexicans were deported back to Mexico, and later on, millions of infants were born and they were of Mexican-American origin. In 1948, there was a re-emergence of Mexican activists, and they formed the American GI Forum (AGIF). The AGIF fought against discrimination, and it advocated the obtaining of the rights of first class citizens by Mexicans (Gutierrez 26). However, later on under the administration of President Eisenhower Operation Wetback came into play and this culminated in the deportation of many Mexicans.
Navarro states that he United States continually destroyed the Mexicanos’ culture, heritage, and language since it occupied Aztlan (Mexicano Political Experience 11). Additionally, the US maintained a colonial hegemony in Occupied Aztlan. The Americans advocated their rule by utilizing two groups of people, and these people were referred to as buffers and “want to be whites.” The buffers were those individuals that perpetuated the internal colonialism of Aztlan, and they were never for any significant changes. Navarro argues that the “want to be whites” refers to the individuals and organizations that emulated the Americans and were the zealots of assimilation, integration, and accommodation (Mexicano Political Experience 12). Navarro continues to emphasize that the political culture immensely contributes to the occupation of the Mexicanos in Aztlan. Additionally, Navarro scrutinizes the six core principles of the US political culture, and they are popular sovereignty, freedom, individualism, private property, limited government, and political equality (Mexicano Political Experience 16). He emphasizes that the political culture had an immense influence on the Mexicanos’ attitudes, beliefs, and daily lives. More intently, he says that the liberalism contributed to Aztlan’s occupation and internal colonization of its barrios and colonias. The liberal capitalist beliefs incorporated the Mexican political experience in Occupied Aztlan, and this initiated the Chicano movements later on. Thus, the Chicano studies came into play in various academic platforms in the US.
The history linked to Chicano studies consolidates both political and intellectual history. The works of Mexicano scholars such as Ignacio Garcia (a historian), and Carlos Munoz (a political scientist) contributed tremendously to the nurturing of Chicano studies (Mexicano Political Experience 20). Important to note, is that the historical aspects preceded the 1848 occupancy of Aztlan date back to between 40000 and 50000 years ago (Mexicano Political Experience 31). Additionally, this period consolidates many events, and they include the exodus into the Western hemisphere, the advanced Amerindian civilizations in Mesoamerica, and Spain’s political and historical experience. Moreover, other critical historical antecedents pertinent to Chicano studies include the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, the Spanish colonization of Mexico and Aztlan, and the fight for independence by Mexico from Spain. Furthermore, other critical historical aspects include the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and this culminated in the Mexican political experience and the acquisition of Aztlan (Mexicano Political Experience 31).
Resistance Movements Related to Chicano Studies
Navarro talks about the Aztlan Politics of a Nation-within-a-Nation (APNWN), and he emphasizes that APNWN offers Mexicanos and Latinos an enhanced vision of great change (Mexicano and Latino Politics 3). Additionally, he says that APNWN offers a way to annul the clutches of occupation and internal colonialism. Historically, the Unite States encountered a bloody civil war from 1861 to 1865, and the southern states demanded their liberation from the Union. Navarro acknowledges that currently the United States is a superpower and the initiatives attributed to the political endeavors of the Mexicano, and Latino people might not be fruitful (Mexicano and Latino Politics 4).
The Chicano movement became evident n the period prior to 1960. Nevertheless, its actual launch was apparent in Denver in 1969, with the occurrence of the Chicano Youth Conference (Rios 59). The levels of discrimination and oppression were devastating. There was discrimination in housing, employment, and the voting activities were explicit and rampant. Such atrocities culminated to the consolidation of the Chicano movements (epochs of resistance), and the movements fought against the corrupted institutional systems and dominant societies. Additionally, the notable civil rights movements coupled with Chicano studies were linked to the struggles attributed to the farmworkers and the activist activities of Cesar Chavez.
The stories of Cesar Chavez and the California grape strike are of much significance in analyzing the Chicano movements (Ontiveros 904). Caesar Chavez formed the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in 1962, and the entity utilized Saul Alinsky’s methods to increase the Mexican-American voter turnout. He formed the NFWA, and he was hopeful that he would obtain union protections for the Mexican-American people. The Mexican-Americans were one of the most exploited individuals in the United States. Chavez continually drove down the California Central and introduced himself to farmworkers while simultaneously obtaining their opinions and concerns while signing them up (Ontiveros 904). Initially, the Chicano movements received no media attention but with the inception of cameras in 1966, that trend was no more. With the extensive network coverage, the farmworkers won a contract with Schenley Industries, and this was the first time that the workers in California’s fields obtained support from a union.
Navarro argues that during the era of Chicano Movement between 1966 and 1974, Aztlan was a symbol for Chicano cultural nationalist academicians and activists that regarded it as a concept of self-determination. More intently, the activists believed that they possessed a legal and primordial right to Aztlan. Moreover, they incorporated this belief while they struggled to have a separate state (Mexicano and Latino Politics 6). By the 1970s, many Mexicanos discerned the aspect of internal colonialism. The Mexicano scholars and activists proved that the Mexicanos were victims of aggression, imperialism, and involuntary conquest all attributed to the US (Mexicano and Latino Politics 8). Navarro argues that many Chicano movements originate from the start of the Mexican Political Experience in Occupied Aztlan (MPEOA). He equates MPEOA to racism, discrimination, prejudice, and ethnic cleansing.
Navarro considers the Aztlan Politics of Separatism (APS) and the Aztlan Politics of a Nation-within-a-Nation (APNWN) as part of the main pillars of the Chicano Movement. Additionally, the foundations of the Chicano Movement related to two fundamental principles, and these are self-determination, and nationalism (Mexicano and Latino Politics 9). Self-determination refers to an immense force that motivates secessionist struggles in their pursuit of independence. The aspect of self-determination made the Mexicano people to search for full independence and sovereignty for their community. Their desired result was the redrawing of international boundaries at the expense of the State (Mexicano and Latino Politics 10). To scrutinize the aspect of Nationalism adequately, Navarro defines a nation first. He says that a nation is a place of birth or origin, it comprises of people united amongst themselves by common sympathies, and these common sympathies are non-existent between them and other people. Navarro states that, nationalism refers to a vital political force that assists in maintaining a nation, and it catalyzes the revolutionary or secessionist movements and struggles (Mexicano and Latino Politics 13). APS and APNWN depend on the principles of self-determination and nationalism to an immense extent. Thus, the Chicano movement became evident because of the underlying principles of self-determination and nationalism. Additionally, the concept of Mexicanismo closely relates to the Chicano Movement, and it advocates an integrated vision that guarantees solidarity and unity of action.
Any movement begins with a deep passion for nationalism. Navarro analyzes the aspect of Chicanismo, it is a form of cultural nationalism, and it tightly integrates with the concept of Mexicanismo. Vasconcelos La Raza Cosmica ideologically influenced the Chicano Movement by advocating the concept of Chicanismo (Mexicano and Latino Politics 18). The Chicanismo movement led to the inception of the term “La Raza Cosmica” (Cosmic race), and this made Chicano activists to appreciate their descent (Mexicano and Latino Politics 18). The Chicano Movement of farm workers initiated by Chavez operated on the underlying principles of self-determination and nationalism. Additionally, some events linked to the Los Angeles Chicano Movement in 1968 led to the hearing of controversial court cases in the US. Such cases include the “The East LA Thirteen” and the “Biltmore Six.” The East LA Thirteen case originated from 10000 Chicano students who walked out from East Los Angeles high schools to fight against the educational neglect and low-quality instruction for the Chicano scholars. The Biltmore case originated from fires set in the Biltmore Hotel while Governor Ronald Reagan was speaking at the hotel. The principal motivations of these Chicano Movements are tantamount to the aspects of self-determination and nationalism.
With the continuous pressure originating from Chicano farmworkers, Chavez was the spotlight in various forms of media (Ontiveros 905). More intently, Chavez appreciated the importance of television in the endeavors of the Chicano Movement. Additionally, in 1959 in his attempt to organize farmworkers he ensured that journalists from Oxnard, California filmed farmworkers as they set fire to a steel drum. The steel drum was full of job referrals being given illegally to exploited Mexican braceros (Ontiveros 905). The strategic approach of utilizing television made many viewers across America grasp the concepts linked to the truth, which was appreciating different races and creeds. Televisions played a tremendous role in conveying the cause of the Chicano Movement. Without a doubt, the airing of the Chicano Moratorium was an immense progress in the endeavors of the Chicano Movement (Ontiveros 911).
Navarro is extremely passionate in his writings, and he equates to Chicanos to the Mexicanos. More precisely, he categorically says that Chicanos are a product of the Spaniards and the indigenous populations (Mexicano and Latino Politics 18). He detests the Conquest of Aztlan by the United States, and he associates the liberal capitalist state with the utmost levels of oppression and discrimination. The history aspect of the Chicano studies consolidates the exodus into the Western hemisphere, the advanced Amerindian civilizations in Mesoamerica, and Spain’s political and historical experience. Additionally, the history encompasses the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, the Spanish colonization of Mexico and Aztlan, and the fight for independence by Mexico from Spain. Moreover, the historical antecedents include the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the Mexican political experience in Occupied Aztlan. The Resistance movements linked to Chicano studies operate in line with the principles of self-determination and nationalism. More intently, the Chicano movement certifies the efforts linked to the continuous endowment of the Chicano people. Overall, this is the desire of the Chicano people in the United States.
Gutierrez, Jose Angel. “The Chicano Movement: Paths to Power.” Social Studies 102.1 (2011): 25-32. Print.
Navarro, Armando. Mexicano and Latino Politics and the Quest for Self-determination: What Needs to Be Done. London: Lexington, 2015. Print.
Navarro, Armando. Mexicano Political Experience in Occupied Aztlan: Struggles and Change. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira, 2005. Print.
Ontiveros, Randy. “No Golden Age: Television News and the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.” American Quarterly 62.4 (2010): 897-923, 1014. Print.
Rios, Francisco. “From Chicano/A to Xicana/O: Critical Activist Teaching Revisited.” Multicultural Education 3-4 (2013): 58-65. Print.