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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Mejor morir a pie que vivir de rodillas - It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees - Pancho Villa

And so I pray I am today as honest
with myself, with life all around me and below and above me,
with all who I encounter.
Jimmy Santiago Baca - Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande


The title of my first posting is a famous quote attributed to Emiliano Zapata who proclaimed, "It is better to die on your feet to live on your knees." It is one of my favorite quotes because it pretty much sums up my mentality. Dignity ranks among the most important words in my vocabulary, right up with there with loyalty, honor and respect. I give it freely and I measure every person I encounter on the measure they dole out. I comport myself as a guest in all people's lives and I treat everyone as an honored guest in mine.

Also included in my first posting is my quote from Jimmy Santiago Baca, a distant cousin who has done quite well for himself by writing poetry from his heart as he describes the richly delicious culture of our people. I love, admire and respect the man for giving so much dignity and respect to a people whose existence pre-dates America itself and who's struggle to endure has been anything but easy. My people have pressed on, against all odds to retain their unique culture and are finally just beginning to realize that the often painful effort to maintain their world view has turned out to be well worth it. Day by day, the world is coming to know the Chicano experience with the rise of musicians, actors, writers and poets who share our beautiful culture with the world. God bless them all. They deserve all the accolades and profits for their contributions to the Human experience.

This blog is dedicated to every small voice on the planet. My greatest hope is that this becomes a place where people from all walks of life can come to express their feelings and share their perspectives because every person has the God-given right to speak freely. I will be posting on various topics and anything is fair play.

As a Latino who identifies myself to be a Chicano, I most definitely have a world view that is particularly unique to me. I will say outright, I am an American and I do love my country however, I have my own ideas regarding what is right and what is wrong. Undoubtedly, we will not agree on every point which I discuss and I respect your opinion. I expect that you will do the same. I invite you to express yourselves freely but I do reserve the right to remove postings that I consider to be offensive or in poor taste. I expect my censorhip will be quite limited because I am pretty thick-skinned and besides, this is my world and you are just passing through it!

There are people who share my descent who describe themselves as Mexican-American but that descriptive falls short for me because I was not born in Mexico and moreover, modern-day New Mexico was only part of Mexico proper for 22 years after they won their Independence from Spain. Be that as it may, as previously stated above, I identify myself as a Chicano. This descriptive had its birth during the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.

Here Chicano is defined according to

A relatively recent term that has been appropriated by many Mexican descendants as unique and therefore reflective of their unique culture, though its first usage seems to have been discriminatory. The most likely source of the word is traced to the 1930 and 40s period, when poor, rural Mexicans, often native Americans, were imported to the US to provide cheap field labor, under an agreement of the governments of both countries. The term seems to have come into first use in the fields of California in derision of the inability of native Nahuatl speakers from Morelos state to refer to themselves as "Mexicanos," and instead spoke of themselves as "Mesheecanos," in accordance with the pronunciation rules of their language (for additional details, refer to the file MEXICO on this same subdirectory). An equivocal factor is that in vulgar Spanish it is common for Mexicans to use the "CH" conjunction in place of certain consonants in order to create a term of endearment. Whatever its origin, it was at first insulting to be identified by this name. The term was appropriated by Mexican-American activists who took part in the Brown Power movement of the 60s and 70s in the US southwest, and has now come into widespread usage. Among more "assimilated" Mexican-Americans, the term still retains an unsavory connotation, particularly because it is preferred by political activists and by those who seek to create a new and fresh identity for their culture rather than to subsume it blandly under the guise of any mainstream culture.

Doubtless, I have great pride in my roots which are a mixture of European and Native American. There is a term "mestizaje" which means "mixed nature." It is a very popular and accepted term in Mexico however, it does not enjoy as much popularity north of the US-Mexico border for 'assimilated' Spanish-speaking citizens born in the US. Unfortunately, as part of the assimilation process, many Latinos deny they have any mixed blood and prefer to believe the myth that they are 'true' Spaniards. They prefer to claim a heritage of exclusively European ancestry. Nevertheless, I love the term Chicano because it pays tribute to my Indio roots. The reality is that, unlike the Quebqois of French Canada who brought their women to the new world, the Spanish did not. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of Spaniards took new world women as spouses and lovers and their progeny were the mestizos.

To my way of thinking, to deny my Indian roots would be tantamount to denying my ancestral mother. My people eat foods that were and continue to be the typical staple of new world Indios. The food I was raised on in New Mexico where I was born and raised is the food of the indigenous people and not their Spanish conquerers. While I can trace my family's roots directly back to the Chavez, Luceros, Gutierrez and,the Bernals who arrived in the New Wolrd with Coronado in the mid-sixteenth century, I am equally proud to claim my maternal, Indio roots pre-date that by tens of thousands of years.

In 1925, Mexican author, Jose Vasconselos wrote La Raza Cosmica. In it, he refers to ascendency of a new, mixed-blood race of people whom he refers to as the Cosmic Race. Chicanos are part of that cosmic race. The poem written in 1983 by Lorenzo Roberto Almada,in memory of Roberto Alaniz is a decent insight to the Chicano World View - It is worth taking the time to read.

I have covered a tremendous amount of history in these few lines. As time passes, I will always endeavor to share what I do know with you. I was educated at The University of New Mexico where I recieved two degrees. As a scientist and historian I find my intrests are highly varied.

I had the distinct pleasure of studying under Professor Charles Truxillo and I thank him for igniting the tremendous pride I have in my roots and, for my people. I also had the distinct honor of studying under the Historian, Tobias Duran whose Doctoral Dissertation, "We come as Friends" reads like a novel. I also studied under Sociologist, Felipe Gonzales PhD, Director of the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute. I can never thank these three men for all they did to help me see how blessed I am to be a Latino and more particularly a Chicano.


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