▶ On Being A Chicano de Aztlán via @Peta_de_Aztlán:
Update: June 6, 2015
First Posted Jan. 28, 2011
To begin with, I am First and Foremost a humane being of the dominant race upon planet Earth of human beings, the modern life species known taxonomically as Homo sapiens. Humans are composed of four major races: Black, Brown, Yellow and White. We are one family of humanity and share the same basic DNA. The concept of race is a social invention as ultimately we are of the same race. Racism, the idea that one race is superior over another is used to keep us divided from each other. There is no natural superior race. Ultimately we are one people with many different cultural characteristics, languages and backgrounds. Beneath the race labels there is the ethnic group.
An ethnic group or ethnicity is a socially defined category of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural or regional experience.
There is no wonder why, as an endangered species we are terribly divided on the edge of extinction. In social practice we do not act as one people and our many divisions for many reasons endangers our continued existence.
In relation to my ethnic identity I define myself am a Chicano of Aztlán. Chicano was a popular term first used by Chicano activists in the early Chicano Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Born in 1951, I am of the first generation of Chicanos. Some young ones spell Chicano as Xicano. In the Nahautl language the sound ‘ch’ is spelled with an X.
I stipulate that a Chicano is a multicultural indigenous native and U.S. citizen of Mexican ancestry. His self-identity is neither fully Mexican nor fully American ~ the hyphen in Mexican-American. Many Latinos refer to themselves by their nationality or country of origin. The Chicano exists in a kaleidoscope of clashing cultures in the USA. The Chicano is of a ‘lost tribe’ abandoned by his Mother Country of Mexico via the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, yet is still not fully accepted into White Amerikan society.
He is an alienated alien who does not completely immerse himself in Mexican culture nor is he comfortable in only White American culture. Many of us do not speak Spanish fluently and English is our dominant tongue. We are of La Raza Cosmic in the Americas and go by various names, though Latinos is the most popular term. We want other people to understand us as a diverse people as we need to better understand ourselves. Skin color alone cannot define us as we can range from the darkest Black to being White in appearance. It’s complicated!
As a Chicano of Aztlán I think of the U.S. southwest as Aztlán in recognition of the ancient name for these lands. Many Native-American activists refer to North America as Turtle Island. Aztlán (from Nahuatl: pronounced [ˈastɬaːn]) is the mythical ancestral home of the Nahua peoples, one of the main cultural groups in Mesoamerica. Aztec is the Nahuatl word for “people from Aztlan”. We are the original indigenous native peoples of these lands who were already here in the USA before there even was an ‘America’.
We have the natural right to call these lands whatever term we choose, not the European conquerors or their descendants. Keep in mind the origin of the term ‘Americas’. Amerigo Vespucci (March 9, 1454 – February 22, 1512) was an Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer. The Americas are generally believed to have derived their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.
Who has the natural and historical right to name America if not its original natives? How can descendants of original natives of Aztlán ever be considered foreign illegal aliens in their own homeland? Whether I am a U.S. citizen or not is not the issue here.
If my bloodline is of the original peoples of Aztlán I cannot possibly be an illegal foreigner in my homeland. It is similar to the Palestinian people in Israel. It is my natural birthright to be here now! Thus, I use the power of the word to define the U.S. southwest as Aztlán, not America. I use the term ‘America’ instead of Aztlán in conversation so as not to confuse or lose people, especially decent Americans who are ignorant of these matters.
Sometimes I spell America as ‘Amerika’ with a ‘k’ to remind us of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) mentality still in the minds of many White racists. Be sure, White racism is still alive and well in Amerika. We need to be reminded from time to time. We are not all well and wonderful.
It is a sad form of self-hatred to want to be other than what you are by birth and natural bloodline. For the typical American the above is a lot to wrap the mind around. Social racism remains one of the great divisors in Amerika, along with other great divisions, especially one’s economic-class status. We are still in a class society, class struggle continues, sometimes breaking out into forms of class warfare. We do not yet have liberty and justice for all.
As a Chicano of Aztlán I can relate to the term Latinos to describe La Raza Cosmica ~ all those who consider themselves Chicanos, Mexicans, Latinos, Hispanics or Native peoples of the Americas. To me, the most disgusting term for us is Hispanic, a Nixon era invention. Some of us secretly want to be White and the term Hispanic is more digestible as it hints of Spain and Europe. Alas, any social term for such a unique, diverse and multifaceted people is going to be vague and inadequate. We are what we are. It is what it is.
Those of us of La Raza always argue what to call ourselves as a people. When we reach a general consensus we will better unity and contribute to all of humanity. Let’s get out of closed circles of debate and come together. Each of us has our own right to self-identify as we wish. I am a Chicano de Aztlán.
We need to evolve beyond racial and ethnic politics and advocate the politics of global liberation. As humane beings, we must embrace all of humanity ~ all of us are of the same human family. At the same time, we need to openly embrace our cultural differences, those special qualities and unique elements of us that make the world more fascinating. Our world is changing now more than ever. We are in changing times. We must be receptive and welcome new creative changes in our lives and upon our global landscape. There are great changes happening, The winds of liberation are swirling around the entire globe.
Today there are great struggles going on around the globe for liberty and justice ~ land and bread. No matter what we call ourselves on an individual level or the terms we use to dialogue, let us remember that we are one family upon one planet we call Mother Earth.
Our basic survival needs must come to the forefront of our mass collective consciousness ~ the mass mind without borders: food, clothing, shelter, medical care and quality education. Let us never forget the basics of life.
We establish systems of governments, create administrative structures, build infrastructure, develop institutions and design political-economies to help administer to our basic survival needs and social requirements. When those man-made governments no longer serve our vital interests and refuse to bring about required reforms we have a sacred right to alter or abolish those governments.
In the end, a participatory global democracy is required for the people to be in power with control over the land and the institutions thereon, for us to determine our own destiny in the world. Even democracy is the lessor of evils. What is democracy for the majority could be tyranny for the minority.
The United Nations is a myth. There are no united nations under Empire ~ we exist in colonies, neo-colonies and scattered communities under the unjust power of what is still Amerikan Imperialism.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” ~ President John F.Kennedy
Venceremos! We Will Win!
+Peter S. Lopez aka @Peta_de_Aztlan
Sacramento, California, Aztlán