|El Espiritu de Zapata
|Vive en Nosotros
Alejandro Serrato -President/Webmaster
Rich Gettler- Vice President
Marisol Plascencia- Secretary
Martha Hernandez- Internal/External Rep.
Dr.Sandra Orellana -Faculty Advisor
Dr.Abel Abaya - SecondaryAdvisor
While MEChA is a student movement, there are many other brave chicanas and chicanos that have united in order to protect the rights and the interests of our people. We are Zapatistas that are enthusiastic supporters for Raza Determinism (for our people to be able to be independent, successful, and autonomous). There are plenty other sister organizations of MEChA. We are simply a student-based organization. An active MEChA member can graduate and become part of other Civilian and Occupational Chicana/o Political Movements. We encourage all guests to contact their local organizations and get active! A good way to start is by checking out our related links. We all have an opportunity to become a part of something powerful and just; because if we don't protect our people, our culture, and our voice...who will? Mobilize Raza?
|Si se Puede!
MEChA is a nationwide organization. The chapter at California State Universtity of Dominguez Hills is just one of the many that dot the state of California. We believe we have the right to determine or own course of action under the general goals and objectives of the liberation of La raza (Chicanos/Mexicanos/Latinos). MEChA stands for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan. Our purpose is to promote, to educate our people, and act on issues that affect La Raza. We also work to encourage Chicana(o)/Mexican/Latino students to stay and finish high school where we recruit them and help them finish college, thus empowering them with ablilites that will allow them to help our community. We also strive to achieve social justice, equal educational opportunities, as well as economic and political rights for la raza. We build alliances and cooperate with other local and national organizations (i.e. for e.g. Raza Rights Coalition, Union del barrio, Partido Nacional La Raza Unida, National Chicano Moratorium, United Farm Workers, American Friends Service Committee, Chicano Press Association. La Union Hace La Fuerza... In Unity There is Strength.
Purpose of M.E.Ch.A:
Each word in M.E.Ch.A. symbolizes something. Movimiento, means that the organization is dedicated to the movement to gain self-determination for their people. Estudiantil, identifies the organization as a student group for we are part of our Raza's future. At the heart of the name is the word Chicano. At first seen as negative, now is taken as a badge of pride. In adopting their new identity, the students committed themselves to return to the barrios, colonias, or campos and together, struggle against the forces that keep our people oppressed. Lastly, the students affirmed that they were from Aztlan, the legendary birthplace of the Aztecs, which reputedly is today's Southwest.
M.E.Ch.A. originated in the Southwest but quickly spread throughout the United States. M.E.Ch.A.'s primary role in the Chicano movement are:
1. To increase the number of Chicano students in higher education and to ensure that all necessary assistance is offered for successful completion.
2. To take part in the direction of the movement towards Chicano self-determination or control over one's destiny.
3. To socialize and politicize Chicano students on their particular campus, to the ideals of the movement.
4. To establish close working relations in the barrios, assisting in all that has to be done to reach justice and equality for our people.
5. To educate and mobilize barrio youth towards self-determination and not self-destruction.
We are the community and for the community.
|What is Aztlan?
|Who is Chicana/o?
What does it mean to be Chicano/Chicana.
Chicano/a is not an ethnic term. It is not a national term. Chicano/a is a political term and most important a state of mind. Chicano/a is a term that applies to a diverse group of people. Who are we? We are the descendants of Indian nations who were suppressed and colonized by European forces (Spain). While these Invaders succeded in hampering and destroying some parts of our culture and religion they could not anticipate what the results would be. The Meztiso was born. The Meztiso took the religion that was forced upon him and made it his own. He kept the celbrations of his ancestors but replaced the European idols that were forced upon him. After hundreds of years of social strife and revolutions the Meztiso nations were born, only to be stolen later by the descendants of other European invaders, Steven Austin and the United States who were maddened with the ideals of Manifest Destiny. Driven to destroy all people in their way to achieving a nation that would reach from coast to coast. We, the Xicano(Chicano) nation had been settled in the southwestern region of the United States since 1598, almost 200 years before the New English settlements became a seperate sovereign nation.
We became a foreigner in our own land. Most of our ancestral land was stolen by force, trickery, or by the legal system. Our culture was also stolen from us and made into something that is now thought of as truly"American" . The treaty that was to hand over these lands (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) was broken countless times and continues to be broken every day that our peoples are regarded as foreigners in their own soil. Many of us did not cross the border...the border crossed us!
Millions of our people treked a dangerous journey to look for a better life because Mexico and all of its South American sisters, was still ruled by the descendands of the same people who tried to suppress us. And now here we are. Indeed we do a heavy weight upon our hearts and many sad stories to remember, yet we continue to celebrate our culture, our triumphs, and our tragedies. We clebtrate and salute the indigenous people of the Americas, whose beautiful and unique culture has survived colonization, industrialization, and globalization. We celebrtate the culture of our Motherlands, wether it is Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, ect. And we celebrate our Chicano culture that has adapted and evolved here in the united states. We, the Chicano/a Estudiantil Nation, devote ourselves to this task of helping our people/culture survive becuase we know that we already have the tools to unite, educate, and mobilize ourselves. "Hasta La Victoria, Siempre!"
The Philosophy of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan
The fundamental principles that led to the founding of Movimiento
Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán are found in El Plan de Santa Barbara (EPDSB).
The Manifesto of EPDSB sees self-determination for the Chicana and Chicano
community as the only acceptable way to gain socioeconomic
justice. El Plan argues that a strong nationalist identity is a necessary
step in building a program of self-determination. Self-determination, in
this regard, challenges those involved in principle struggle to respect the
rights of all Chicanas and Chicanos. EPDSB stresses that in organizing
M.E.Ch.A., every opportunity must be taken to educate Raza. Also El Plan
exhorts M.E.Chistas to preserve Chicana and Chicano culture in this
culturally diverse society, while resisting European colonialism through a
strategic use of education, both in the community and on campus. Thus, a
Chicana and Chicano Nation is a necessity defined as an educational,
socioeconomic, and empowered Chicana and Chicano community of the Southwest.
The Manifesto of EPDSB warns us in part:
We recognize that without a strategic use of education that places value on
what we value, we will not realize our destiny. Chicanas and Chicanos
recognize the central importance of institutions of higher learning to model
progress, in this case to the development of our community. But, we go
further: we believe that higher education must contribute to the formation
of a complete man and woman who truly values life and freedom.
Proceeding the Santa Barbara conference in 1969, at Denver, Colorado was the
National Chicano Youth Conference that drafted the basic premises for the
Chicano and Chicana Movement in El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán (EPEDA). A
synopsis of El Plan stipulates: 1) We are Chicanos and Chicanas of Aztlán
reclaiming the land of out birth (Chicano and Chicana Nation); 2) Aztlán
belongs to indigenous people, who are sovereign and not subject to a foreign
culture; 3) We are a union of free pueblos forming a bronze nation; 4)
Chicano and Chicana nationalism, as the key in mobilization and
organization, is the common denominator to bring consensus to the Chicano
and Chicana Movement. 5) Cultural values strengthen our identity as La
Familia de La Raza; and 6) EPEDA, as a basic plan of Chicano and Chicana
liberation, sought the formation of an independent national political party
that would represent the sentiments of the Chicano and Chicana community.
Both EPDSB and EPEDA served as the historical foundation for the
establishment of a viable Chicano and Chicana Movimiento, and are therefore,
fundamental to the M.E.Ch.A. philosophy.
The Chicano and Chicana student movement has been plagued by opportunists
that have sought to rechannel the energies of our people and divert us from
our struggle for self-determination. The educational plight of Chicana and
Chicano students continues to be ignored by insensitive administrators.
Overall, Chicano and Chicana junior high, high school and college push-out
rates have risen since 1969, forcing many Chicanos and Chicanas to a life of
poverty. These factors along with a growing right wing trend in the nation
are combing to work greater hardships on Chicanos and Chicanas. New
repressive and racist immigration laws are continuously directed at our
Gente. The Federal government is campaigning to pacify and assimilate our
Gente by labeling us "Hispanic." The term "Hispanic" seeks to anglicize and
deny our indigenous heritage by ignoring our unique socioeconomic and
historical aspect of our Gente. These factors have made it necessary for
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán to affirm our philosophy of
liberation (i.e. educational, socioeconomic, and political empowerment) for
our Chicano and Chicana nation.
Joining with other community-based Chicano and Chicana nationalist
organizations, M.E.Ch.A. is committed to ending the cultural tyranny
suffered at the hands of institutional and systematic discrimination that
holds our Gente captive. We seek an end to oppression and exploitation of
the Chicano and Chicana Community.
El Plan de Santa Barbara
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
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.
As a result, the self-determination of our community is now the only
acceptable mandate for social and political action; it is the essence of
Chicano commitment. Culturally, the word Chicano, in the past a pejorative
and class-bound adjective, has now become the root idea of a new cultural
identity for our people. It also reveals a growing solidarity and the
development of a common social praxis. The widespread use of the term
Chicano today signals a rebirth of pride and confidence. Chicanismo simply
embodies and ancient truth: that a person is never closer to his/her true
self as when he/she is close to his/her community.
Chicanismo draws its faith and strength from two main sources: from the
just struggle of our people and from an objective analysis of our
community's strategic needs. We recognize that without a strategic use of
education, an education that places value on what we value, we will not
realize our destiny. Chicanos recognize the central importance of
institutions of higher learning to modern progress, in this case, to the
development of our community. But we go further: we believe that higher
education must contribute to the information of a complete person who truly
values life and freedom.
The destiny of our people will be fulfilled. to that end, we pledge our
efforts and take as our credo what Jose Vasconcelos once said at a time of
crisis and hope: "At this moment we do not come to work for the university,
but to demand that the university work for our people.''
For the Movement, political action essentially means influencing the
decision-making process of those institutions which affect Chicanos, the
university, community organizations, and non-community institutions.
Political action encompasses the elements that function in a progression:
political consciousness, political mobilization, and tactics. Each part
breaks down into further subdivisions. Before continuing with specific
discussions of these three categories, a brief historical analysis must be
The political activity of the Chicano Movement at colleges and
universities to date has been specifically directed toward establishing
Chicano student organizations (UMAS, MAYA, MASC, M.E.Ch.A., etc.) and
institutionalizing Chicano Studies programs. A variety of organizational
forms and tactics have characterize these student organizations.
One of the major factors which led to political awareness in the 60's
was the clash between Anglo-American educational institutions and Chicanos
who maintained their cultural identity. Another factor was the increasing
number of Chicano students who became aware of the extent to which colonial
conditions characterized their communities. The result of this domestic
colonialism is that the barrios and colonias are dependent communities with
no institutional power base and significantly influencing decision-making.
Within the last decade, a limited degree of progress has taken place in
securing a base of power within educational institutions.
Other factors which affected the political awareness of the Chicano
youth were: the heritage of the Chicano youth movements of the 30's and
40's; the failure of the Chicano political efforts of the 40's and 50's; the
bankruptcy of the Mexican- American pseudo-political associations; and the
disillusionment of Chicano participants in the Kennedy campaigns. Among the
strongest influences of Chicano youth today have been the National Farm
Workers Association, the Crusades for Justice, and the Alianza Federal de
Pueblos Libres, The Civil Rights, the Black Power, and the Anti-war
movements were other influences.
As political consciousness increased, there occurred a simultaneously a
renewed cultural awareness which, along with social and economical factors,
led to the proliferation of Chicano youth organizations. By the mid 1960's,
MASC, MAYA, UMAS, La Vida Nueva, and M.E.Ch.A. appeared on campus, while the
Brown Berets, Black Berets, ALMA, and la Junta organized the barrios and
colonias. These groups differed from one another depending on local
conditions and their varying state of political development. Despite
differences in name and organizational experience, a basic unity evolved.
These groups have had a significant impact on the awareness of large
numbers of people, both Chicano and non-Chicano. Within the communities,
some public agencies have been sensitized, and others have been exposed. On
campuses, articulation of demands and related political efforts have
dramatized NUESTRA CAUSA. Concrete results are visible in the establishment
of corresponding supportive services. The institutionalization of Chicano
Studies marks the present stage of activity; the next stage will involve the
strategic application of university and college resources to the community.
One immediate result will be the elimination of the artificial distinction
which exist between the students and the community. Rather than being its
victims, the community will benefit from the resources of the institutions
of higher learning.
Commitment to the struggle for Chicano liberation is the operative
definition of the ideology used here. Chicanismo involves a crucial
distinction in political consciousness between a Mexican American (or
Hispanic) and a Chicano mentality. The Mexican American or Hispanic is a
person who lacks self-respect and pride in one's ethnic and cultural
background. Thus, the Chicano acts with confidence and with a range of
alternatives in the political world. He is capable of developing and
effective ideology through action.
Mexican Americans (or Hispanics) must be viewed as potential Chicanos.
Chicanismo is flexible enough to relate to the varying levels of
consciousness within La Raza. Regional variations must always be kept in
mind as well as the different levels of development, composition, maturity,
achievement, and experience in political action. Cultural nationalism is a
means of total Chicano liberation.
There are definite advantages to cultural nationalism, but no inherent
limitations. A Chicano ideology, especially as it involves cultural
nationalism, should be positively phrased in the form of propositions to the
Movement. Chicanismo is a concept that integrates self-awareness with
cultural identity, a necessary step in developing political consciousness.
As such, it serves as a basis for political action, flexible enough to
include the possibility of coalitions. The related concept of La Raza
provides an internationalist scope of Chicanismo, and La Raza Cosmica
furnishes a philosophical precedent. Within this framework, the Third World
concept merits consideration.
Political mobilization is directly dependent on political
consciousness. As political consciousness develops, the potential for
political action increases.
The Chicano student organization in institutions of higher learning is
central to all effective political mobilization. Effective mobilization
presupposes precise definition of political goals and of the tactical
interrelationships of roles. Political goals in any given situations must
encompass the totality of Chicano interests in higher education. The
differentiations of roles required by a given situation must be defined on
the basis of mutual accountability and equal sharing of responsibility.
Furthermore, the mobilization of community support not only legitimizes the
activities of Chicano student solidarity in axiomatic in all aspects of
Since the movements is definitely of national significance and scope,
all student organizations should adopt one identical name throughout the
state and eventually the nation to characterize the common struggle of La
Raza de Aztlan. The net gain is a step toward greater national unity which
enhances the power in mobilizing local campus organizations.
When advantageous, political coalitions and alliances with non-Chicano
groups may be considered. A careful analysis must precede the decision to
enter into a coalition. One significant factor is the community's attitude
toward coalitions. Another factor is the formulation of a mechanism for the
distribution of power that ensures maximum participation in decision making:
i.e., formulation of demands and planning of tactics. When no longer
politically advantageous, Chicano participation in the coalition ends.
Campus Organizing: Notes on M.E.Ch.A.
M.E.Ch.A. is a first step to tying the students groups throughout the
Southwest into a vibrant and responsive network of activists who will
respond as a unit to oppression and racism and will work in harmony when
initiating and carrying put campaigns of liberation for our people.
As of present, wherever one travels throughout the Southwest, one finds
that there are different levels of awareness of different campuses. The
student movement is to a large degree a political movement and as such must
not elicit from our people the negative reason. To this end, then we must
re-define politics for our people to be a means of liberation. The political
sophistication of our Raza must be raised so that they do not fall prey to
apologists and vendidos whose whole interest if their personal career of
fortune. In addition, the student movement is more than a political
movement, it is cultural and social as well. The spirit of M.E.Ch.A. must be
one of hermandad and cultural awareness. The ethic of profit and
competition, of greed and intolerance, which the Anglo society offers must
be replaced by our ancestral communalism and love for beauty and justice.
M.E.Ch.A. must bring to the mind of every young Chicano that the liberations
of this people from prejudice and oppression is in his hands and this
responsibility is greater than personal achievement and more meaningful that
degrees, especially if they are earned at the expense of his identity and
M.E.Ch.A., then, is more than a name; it is a spirit of unity, of
brotherhood, and a resolve to undertake a struggle for liberation in society
where justice is but a word. M.E.Ch.A. is a means to an end.
Function of M.E.Ch.A. to the Student
To socialize and politicize Chicano students of their particular campus
to the ideals of the movement. It is important that every Chicano student on
campus be made to feel that he has a place on the campus and that he/she has
a feeling of familia with his/her Chicano brothers, and sisters. Therefore,
the organization in its flurry of activities and projects must not forget or
overlook the human factor of friendship, understanding, trust, etc. As well
as stimulating hermanidad, this approach can also be looked at in more
pragmatic terms. If enough trust, friendship, and understanding are
generated, then the loyalty and support can be relied upon when a crisis
faces the group or community. This attitude must not merely provide a social
club atmosphere but the strengths, weaknesses, and talents of each member
should be known so that they may be utilized to the greatest advantage. Know
one another. Part of the reason that students will come to the organization
is in search of self-fulfillment. Give that individual the opportunity to
show what he/she can do. Although the Movement stresses collective behavior,
it is important that the individual be recognized and given credit for
his/her efforts. When people who work in close association know one another
well, it is more conductive to self-criticism and re-evaluation, and this
every M.E.Ch.A. person must be willing to submit to. Periodic self-criticism
often eliminates static cycles of unproductive behavior. It is an
opportunity for fresh approaches to old problems to be surfaces and aired;
it gives new leadership a chance to emerge; and must be recognized as a
vital part of M.E.Ch.A. M.E.Ch.A. can be considered a training ground for
leadership, and as such no one member or group of members should dominate
the leadership positions for long periods of time. This tends to take care
of itself considering tie transitory nature of students.
Recruitment and Education
Action is the best organizer. During and immediately following direct
action of any type--demonstrations, marches, rallies, or even symposiums and
speeches-- new faces will often surface and this is where much of the
recruiting should be done. New members should be made to feel that they are
part of the group immediately and not that they have to go through a period
of warming up to the old membership. Each new member should be given a
responsibility as soon as possible and fitted into the scheme of things
according to his or her talents and interests.
Since the college student is constantly faced with the responsibility
of raising funds for the movements, whether it be for legal defense, the
grape boycott, or whatever reason, this is an excellent opportunity for
internal education. Fund-raising events should always be educational. If the
event is a symposium or speech or debate, is usually an excellent
opportunity to spread the Chicano Liberation Movement philosophy. If the
event is a pachanga or tardeada or baile, this provides an excellent
opportunity to practice and teach the culture in all its facets. In
addition, each M.E.Ch.A. chapter should establish and maintain an extensive
library of Chicano materials so that the membership has ready access to
material which will help them understand their people and their problems.
General meetings should be educational. The last segment of each regular
meeting can be used to discuss ideological or philosophical differences, or
some event in the Chicano's history. It should be kept in mind that there
will always be different levels of awareness within the group due to the
individual's background or exposure of the movement. This must be taken into
consideration so as not to alienate members before they have had a chance to
listen to the argument for liberation.
The best educational device is being in the barrio as often as
possible. More often than not the members of M.E.Ch.A. will be products of
the barrio; but many have lost contact with their former surroundings, and
this tie must be re-established if M.E.Ch.A. is to organize and work for La
The following things should be kept in mind in order to develop group
cohesiveness: 1) know the talents and abilities of each member; 2) every
semester must be given a responsibility, and recognition should be given for
their efforts; 3) of mistakes are made, they should become learning
experiences for the whole group and not merely excuses for ostracizing
individual members; 4) since many people come to M.E.Ch.A. seeking
self-fulfillment, they must be seized to educate the student to the Chicano
philosophy, culture, and history; 6) of great importance is that a personal
and human interaction exist between members of the organization so that such
things as personality clashes, competition, ego-trips, subterfuge,
infiltration, provocateurs, cliques, and mistrust do not impede the cohesion
and effectiveness of the group. Above all the feeling of hermanidad must
prevail so that the organization is more to the members than just a club or
a clique. M.E.Ch.A. must be a learning and fulfilling experience that
develops dedication and commitment.
A delicate but essential question is discipline. Discipline is
important to an organization such as M.E.Ch.A. because many may suffer form
the indiscretion of a few. Because of the reaction of the general population
to the demands of the Chicano, one can always expect some retribution or
retaliation for gains made by the Chicano, be it in the form of legal
citations or merely economic sanction on the campus. Therefore, it becomes
essential that each member pull his load and that no one be allowed to be
dead weight. Carga floja is dangerous, and if not brought up to par, it must
be cut loose. The best discipline comes from mutual respect, and therefore,
the leaders of the group must enjoy and give this respect. The manner of
enforcing discipline, however, should be left up to the group and the
Planning and Strategy
Actions of the group must be coordinate in such a way that everyone
knows exactly what he is supposed to do. This requires that at least
rudimentary organizational methods and strategy be taught to the group.
Confusion is avoid different the plans and strategies are clearly stated to
all. The objective must be clear to the group at all times, especially
during confrontations and negotiations. There should be alternate plans for
reaching the objectives, and these should be explained to the group so that
it is not felt that a reversal of position or capitulation has been carried
out without their approval. The short, as well as the long, range values and
effects of all actions should be considered before actions are taken. This
assumes that their is sufficient time to plan and carefully map out actions,
which brings up another point: don't be caught off guard, don't be forced to
act out of haste; choose your own battleground and your own time schedule
when possible. Know your power base and develop it. A student group is more
effective if it can claim the support of the community and support on the
campus itself form other sectors than the student population.
The Function of M.E.Ch.A. - To the Campus Community
Other students can be important to M.E.Ch.A. in supportive roles;
hence, the question of coalitions. Although it is understood and quite
obvious that the viability and amenability of coalition varies form campus
to campus, some guidelines might be kept in mind. These questions should be
asked before entering into any binding agreement. Is it beneficial to tie
oneself to another group in coalition which will carry one into conflicts
for which on is ill-prepared or involve one with issues on which one is
ill-advised? Can one sagely go into a coalition where one group is markedly
stronger than another? Does M.E.Ch.A. have an equal voice in leadership and
planning in the coalition group? Is it perhaps better to enter into a loose
alliance for a given issue? How does leadership of each group view
coalitions? How does the membership? Can M.E.Ch.A. hold up its end of the
bargain? Will M.E.Ch.A. carry dead weight in a coalition? All of these and
many more questions must be asked and answered before one can safely say
that he/she will benefit from and contribute to a strong coalition effort.
Supportive groups. When moving on campus it is often well-advised to
have groups who are willing to act in supportive roles. For example, there
are usually any number of faculty members who are sympathetic, but limited
as to the numbers of activities they will engage in. These faculty members
often serve on academic councils and senates and can be instrumental in
academic policy. They also provide another channel to the academic power
structure and can be used as leverage in negotiation. However, these groups
are only as responsive as the ties with them are nurtured. This goes not
mean, compromise M.E.Ch.A.'s integrity; it merely means laying good
groundwork before an issue is brought up, touching bases with your allies
Sympathetic administrators. This a delicate area since administrators
are most interested in not jeopardizing their positions and often will try
to act as buffers or liaison between the administration and the student
group. In the case of Chicano administrators, it should not be priori be
assumed, he/she must be given the chance to prove his/her allegiance to La
Causa. As such, he/she should be the Chicano's person in the power structure
instead of the administration's Mexican-American. It is from the
administrator that information can be obtained as to the actual feasibility
of demands or programs to go beyond the platitudes and pleas of
unreasonableness with which the administration usually answers proposals and
demands. The words of the administrator should never be the deciding factor
in students' actions. The student must at all time make their own decisions.
It is very human for people to establish self-interest. Therefore, students
must constantly remind the Chicano administrators and faculty where their
loyalty and allegiance lie. It is very easy for administrators to begin
looking for promotions just as it is very natural for faculty members to
seek positions of academic prominence.
In short, it is the students who must keep after Chicano and
non-Chicano administrators and faculty to see that they do not compromise
the position of the student and the community. By the same token, it is the
student who must come to the support of these individuals if they are
threatened for their support of the student. Students must be careful not to
become a political level for others.
Function of M.E.Ch.A. - Education
It is a fact that the Chicano has not often enough written his/her own
history, his/her own anthropology, his/her own sociology, his/her own
literature. He/she must do this if he is to survive as a cultural entity in
this melting pot society, which seeks to dilute varied cultures into a gray
upon gray pseudo-culture of technology and materialism. The Chicano student
is doing most of the work in the establishment of study programs, centers,
curriculum development, entrance programs to get more Chicano into college.
This is good and must continue, but students must be careful not to be
co-opted in their fervor for establishing relevance on the campus. Much of
what is being offered by college systems and administrators is too little
too late. M.E.Ch.A. must not compromise programs and curriculum which are
essential for the total education of the Chicano for the sake of expediency.
The students must not become so engrossed in programs and centers created
along establishes academic guidelines that they forget the needs of the
people which these institutions are meant to serve. To this end, barrio
input must always be given full and open hearing when designing these
programs, when creating them and in running them. The jobs created by these
projects must be filled by competent Chicanos, not only the Chicano who has
the traditional credentials required for the position, but one who has the
credentials of the Raza. To often in the past the dedicated pushed for a
program only to have a vendido sharp-talker come in and take over and start
working for his Anglo administrator. Therefore, students must demand a say
in the recruitment and selection of all directors and assistant directors of
student-initiated programs. To further insure strong if not complete control
of the direction and running of programs, all advisory and steering
committees should have both student and community components as well as
sympathetic Chicano faculty as member.
Tying the campus to the barrio. The colleges and universities in the
past have existed in an aura of omnipotence and infallibility. It is time
that they be made responsible and responsive to the communities in which
they are located or whose member they serve. As has already been mentioned,
community members should serve on all program related to Chicano interests.
In addition to this, all attempts must be made to take the college and
university to the barrio, whether it be in form of classes giving college
credit or community centers financed by the school for the use of community
organizations and groups. Also, the barrio must be brought to the campus,
whether it be for special programs or ongoing services which the school
provides for the people of the barrio. The idea must be made clear to the
people of the barrio that they own the schools and the schools and all their
resources are at their disposal. The student group must utilize the
resources open to the school for the benefit of the barrio at every
opportunity. This can be done by hiring more Chicanos to work as academic
and non-academic personnel on the campus; this often requires exposure of
racist hiring practices now in operation in may college and universities.
When functions, social, or otherwise, are held in the barrio under the
sponsorship of the college and university, monies should be spent in the
Barrio. This applies to hiring Chicano contractors to build on campus, etc.
Many colleges and universities have publishing operations which could be
forced to accept barrio works for publication. Many other things could be
considered in using the resources of the school to the barrio. There are
possibilities for using the physical plant and facilities not mentioned
here, but this is an area which has great potential.
M.E.Ch.A. in the Barrio
Most colleges in the southwest are located near or in the same town as
a barrio. Therefore, it is the responsibility of M.E.Ch.A. members to
establish close working relationship with organization in the barrio. The
M.E.Ch.A. people must be able to take the pulse of the barrio and be able to
respond to it. However, M.E.Ch.A. must be careful not to overstep its
authority or duplicate the efforts of another organization already in the
barrio. M.E.Ch.A. must be able to relate to all segments of the barrio, from
the middle-class assimilationists to the vatos locos.
Obviously, every barrio has its particular needs, and M.E.Ch.A. people
must determine with the help of those in the barrio where they can be most
effective. There are, however, some general areas which M.E.Ch.A. can
involve itself. Some of them are: 1) policing social and governmental
agencies to make them more responsive in a humane and dignified was to the
people of the barrio; 2) carrying out research on the economic and credit
policies of merchants in the barrio and exposing fraudulent and exorbitant
establishment; 3) speaking and communicating with junior high and high
school students, helping with their projects, teaching them organizational
techniques, supporting their actions; 4) spreading the message of the
movement by any media available - this means speaking, radio, television,
local newspaper, underground paper, poster, art, theaters; in shot,
spreading propaganda of the Movement; 5) exposing discrimination in hiring
and renting practices and many other areas which the student because of
his/her mobility, his/her articulation, and his/her vigor should take as
hi/her responsibility. It may mean at time having to work in conjunction
with other organizations. If this is the case and the project is one begun
by the other organization, realize that M.E.Ch.A. is there as a supporter
and should accept the direction of the group involved. Do not let loyalty to
an organization cloud responsibility to a greater force - la Causa.
Working in the barrio is an honor, but is also a right because we come
form these people, and as, mutual respect between the barrio and the college
group should be the rule. Understand at the same time, however, that there
will initially be mistrust and often envy on the part of some in the barrio
for the college student. This mistrust must be broken down by a
demonstration of affection for the barrio and La Raza through hard work and
dedication. If the approach is one of a dilettante or of a Peace Corps
volunteer, the people will know it and act accordingly. If it is merely a
cathartic experience to work among the unfortunate in the barrio - stay out.
Of the community, for the community. Por la Raza habla el espiritu.
El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán
In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud
historical heritage but also of the brutal "gringo" invasion of our
territories, we, the Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the northern land
of Aztlán from whence came our forefathers, reclaiming the land of their
birth and consecrating the determination of our people of the sun, declare
that the call of our blood is our power, our responsibility, and our
We are free and sovereign to determine those tasks, which are justly called
for by our house, our land, the sweat of our brows, and by our hearts.
Aztlán belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather
the crops and not to the foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious
frontiers on the bronze continent
Brotherhood unites us, and love for our brothers makes us a people whose
time has come and who struggles against the foreigner "gabacho" who exploits
our riches and destroys our culture. With our heart in our hands and our
hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are
a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North
America, before all our brothers in the bronze continent, we are a nation,
we are a union of free pueblos, we are Aztlán.
For La Raza to do. Fuera de La Raza nada.
El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán sets the theme that the Chicanos (La Raza de
Bronze) must use their nationalism as the key or common denominator for mass
mobilization and organization. Once we are committed to the idea and
philosophy of El Plan de Aztlán, we can only conclude that social, economic,
cultural, and political independence is the only road to total liberation
from oppression, exploitation, and racism. Our struggle then must be for the
control of our barrios, campos, pueblos, lands, our economy, our culture,
and our political life. El Plan commits all levels of Chicano society - the
barrio, the campo, the ranchero, the writer, the teacher, the worker, the
professional - to La Causa.
Nationalism as the key to organization transcends all religious, political,
class, and economic factions or boundaries. Nationalism is the common
denominator that all members of La Raza can agree upon.
1. UNITY in the thinking of our people concerning the barrios, the pueblo,
the campo, the land, the poor, the middle class, the professional-all
committed to the liberation of La Raza.
2. ECONOMY: economic control of our lives and our communities can only come
about by driving the exploiter out of our communities, our pueblos, and our
lands and by controlling and developing our own talents, sweat, and
resources. Cultural background and values which ignore materialism and
embrace humanism will contribute to the act of cooperative buying and the
distribution of resources and production to sustain an economic base for
healthy growth and development Lands rightfully ours will be fought for and
defended. Land and realty ownership will be acquired by the community for
the people's welfare. Economic ties of responsibility must be secured by
nationalism and the Chicano defense units.
3. EDUCATION must be relative to our people, i.e., history, culture,
bilingual education, contributions, etc. Community control of our schools,
our teachers, our administrators, our counselors, and our programs.
4. INSTITUTIONS shall serve our people by providing the service necessary
for a full life and their welfare on the basis of restitution, not handouts
or beggar's crumbs. Restitution for past economic slavery, political
exploitation, ethnic and cultural psychological destruction and denial of
civil and human rights. Institutions in our community which do not serve the
people have no place in the community. The institutions belong to the
5. SELF-DEFENSE of the community must rely on the combined strength of the
people. The front line defense will come from the barrios, the campos, the
pueblos, and the ranchitos. Their involvement as protectors of their people
will be given respect and dignity. They in turn offer their responsibility
and their lives for their people. Those who place themselves in the front
ranks for their people do so out of love and carnalismo. Those institutions
which are fattened by our brothers to provide employment and political pork
barrels for the gringo will do so only as acts of liberation and for La
Causa. For the very young, there will no longer be acts of juvenile
delinquency, but revolutionary acts.
6. CULTURAL values of our people strengthen our identity and the moral
backbone of the movement. Our culture unites and educates the family of La
Raza towards liberation with one heart and one mind. We must insure that our
writers, poets, musicians, and artists produce literature and art that is
appealing to our people and relates to our revolutionary culture. Our
cultural values of life, family, and home will serve as a powerful weapon to
defeat the gringo dollar value system and encourage the process of love and
7. POLITICAL LIBERATION can only come through independent action on our
part, since the two-party system is the same animal with two heads that feed
from the same trough. Where we are a majority, we will control; where we are
a minority, we will represent a pressure group; nationally, we will
represent one party: La Familia de La Raza!
1. Awareness and distribution of El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán. Presented at
every meeting, demonstration, confrontation, courthouse, institution,
administration, church, school, tree, building, car, and every place of
2. September 16, on the birthdate of Mexican Independence, a national
walk-out by all Chicanos of all colleges and schools to be sustained until
the complete revision of the educational system: its policy makers,
administration, its curriculum, and its personnel to meet the needs of our
3. Self-Defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors at every
school, every available man, woman, and child.
4. Community nationalization and organization of all Chicanos: El Plan
Espiritual de Aztlán.
5. Economic program to drive the exploiter out of our community and a
welding together of our people's combined resources to control their own
production through cooperative effort.
6. Creation of an independent local, regional, and national political party.
A nation autonomous and free - culturally, socially, economically, and
politically- will make its own decisions on the usage of our lands, the
taxation of our goods, the utilization of our bodies for war, the
determination of justice (reward and punishment), and the profit of our
El Plan de Aztlán is the plan of liberation!
by Michael Bravo
Why I do not call myself Person of Color nor
We ourselves must seize the initiative, taking the
lead in our revitalization, fostering the general
understanding that we constitute living nations of
- Ward Churchill(1)
Many people often ask me why I call myself a
nationalist since it is such a reactionary and
oppressive ideology (it may be more appropriate to use
the term nationist).(2) First of all, ones love of
nation shouldnt be necessarily a bad thing now
should it? So-called progressives are often saying how
they love America, or the American people, but they
need to oppose the government. You know, peace is
patriotic, or dissent is patriotic and all of that
The other argument is that nationalism leads to
fascism! It should be obvious that that is false
logic. The resistances in many countries in Europe
during WWII were obviously done in defense of ones
nation, as well as being anti-fascist. In that sense
nationalism is good. Those who think the US should not
be in Iraq see the resistance as good but it is
Iraqi nationalism Iraqis are anti-imperialists. The
Germans come from a Christian country, as far as we
know all of the genocidal murderers (from Hitler to
those actually administering the gas) were Christians
to some degree. Do we automatically assume that
Christianity leads to Fascism? (OK some people do,
maybe not the best example.) Lets try Gandhi. Hes
definitely a hero of progressives (from Cesar Chavez
to Martin Luther King Jr.). Gandhi was a nationalist!
He was trying to rid a foreign colonizer, not
attempting to assimilate or integrate into a colonial
society. I have never heard an argument that he was
trying to prove that Indians were a superior race of
people over all others.
So what kind of nationalist am I? A Chicano
Nationalist. Its simple. I also see myself as an
emerging indigenist and Ive always been for the
working-class.(3) And, of course, I also identify
mainly as a human being. Thus I call myself a
revolutionary nationalist. I also see
"Chicana/Chicano" as a way of identifying a large
collective of indigenous people who have been
separated from traditional indigenous communities.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with
calling myself Hispanic or Person of Color? Often
on college campuses Chicanas and Chicanos are either
debating their identity, and the labels, or asking
everyone to quit debating it because it is divisive.
But if we do not define ourselves, will we leave it to
the colonial society to define us?
On Hispanic I just do not see myself as a
descendant from Spain. I dont take many trips to
Spain or have any relatives there I have more living
relatives born on reservations than in Europe (Its
zero by the way). Its not too hard. I see myself as
an indigenous person with a heritage on this continent
ranging from 11,000 to 50,000 years on this land. I
speak Spanish (it was my first language) and I speak
English, so what does that mean exactly? Lets take
the Spanish (or Hispanic/Latino) arguments and
place them over another grouping. Lets say
In the US African-Americans are recognized as
oppressed by their enslavement and continued
oppression within the society. Indigenous people were
enslaved and Mexicanos were subjected to indentured
servitude (a kinder, gentler slavery). But yet
African-Americans do not identify themselves as slave
masters (or even part slave master). They speak
English and practice Christianity. But yet
African-Americans do not identify themselves as
English. In the process of the enrichment of US
society on their free labor the whites mixed with
the blacks. And yet, they do not spend tons of
energy proving their amount of English blood or
develop schools of thought on their mulatto-ness. As
far as I know African-Americans do not celebrate the
day the first slave ship, or the first explorers that
led to the arrival of the first slave ship, arrived on
So, instead of celebrating genocide I choose to
clearly place myself on the side of surviving
genocide. Does this mean that I hate Spaniards,
Catholics, white people, or any derivatives of such?
No. Of course not, just the crimes of genocide and
colonization. (Yes, genetically, I probably do have
some European heritage.)
If we look at demographics I could be genetically
Spanish, Moorish, African, Jewish (I dont understand
how a religion is genetic but it seems to be), or even
Asian. But who is obsessed with genetics, but Nazis,
or other types of racists, anyway? Which leads right
into the next problem. If I define myself as a person
of color, Im allowing myself to be defined by my
genetics. That, to me, makes me a supporter of the
notion of race. As far as I understand the concept
of race has been disproved scientifically. The
notion of race itself is the basis for racism, and
that I would like to have nothing to do with.
True, racism does exist. But it exists because people
still support the notion of race, and more people than
we would like to admit still hold up the notion of
race and/or racial superiority. Aware or unaware
people still seem to hold up that notion. It will take
a great deal of work to eliminate that, and all of us
should be taking part in eliminating racism.
Does this mean that I do not see a common struggle
around the oppression of people with Asian or African
heritage? Obviously not! But that still does not make
it necessary that I identify myself primarily by my
skin color. That is much different than accepting the
reality that people attempt to oppress me on the basis
of my skin color.
For me Chicana/Chicano means being part of a People
a nation. To me calling myself by something else like
Hispanic, Latino, or Person of Color negates my
nationality. To call myself by those terms relegates
me and my people to an ethnic sub-group of a
colonial empire. The Chicana/Chicano people began to
develop as a people consciously in the 60s and there
was, and continues, a conscious attempt to thwart that
identity. (4) Some might say that constitutes genocide
(the elimination by a people, not always physically
but culturally as well). That will take a deeper study
into the original meaning of genocide and
Chicana/Chicano history from the period where we
consciously began calling ourselves that in that way.
Looking at us as indigenous people, there is clear
genocide and I would like to do my part by keeping my
identity as part of countering the holocaust here.
So why do people get so upset that I choose not to
call myself a person of color? Because it flies in
the face of the point of Civil Rights. The points of
the various Civil Rights movements were to gain equal
access within this oppressive society. Ultimately,
Gandhi went from being a good subject of the empire
to calling for an end to empire. He went from fighting
for equal access and the development of an Indian
owning-class, to fighting for true home rule while
hoping to eliminate the worst aspects of European and
Indian culture. (5)
Some Chicanas and Chicanos get upset because we do not
trust each other enough with that type of leadership.
Wed rather play it safe and try to get a piece of
the pie. People would rather settle for a chance to
get a good job than to be in control of our
communities. With all the pressure to make it, get
out of the barrio, and to become a credit to our
race, it is no wonder that many of us see that as the
We are more scared of some of us oppressing us than
what we have now. We have a right as a people, as a
nationality, to decide our fate collectively. Its one
of the few rights that we avoid claiming. Wed rather
struggle for the right to live in the suburbs and
completely westernize our children!
With all the above said, many people will consider
that this has nothing to do with the improvement of
peoples lives in the context of the US. People will
argue that self-labeling is just a minor matter of
preference. Personally, Ive never been harassed by
someone yelling, you darn Chicano, but I have been
harassed as a wetback, dirty Mexican, spic, and
greaser.(6) If this were truly inconsequential,
would the US government spend any time and energy
ensuring that indigenous nations be called
populations, ethnic groups and anything but
peoples and nations? Now think of the development of
the term Hispanic as having come from the
Ask feminists, there is something important between
the descriptions imposed, or accepted, by a group and
how that group is treated. And it follows that there
is a connection between the labels groups accept for
themselves and what they are willing to accept, or
demand, from society. Hispanic (and Latina/o) and
Person of Color implies someone whose needs will be
subsumed within the interest of the greater good (in
this case accepting a colonial order). Peoples or
nations on the other hand are recognized to posses the
rights of self-determination. It becomes a human
rights issue as opposed as a civil rights issue.
What does self-determination mean? It means the right
to freely determine political status, pursue economic,
social and cultural development. This could range from
complete national independence, either alone or as a
part of some wholly new amalgam (a confederation, say,
or some other kind of synthesis) of peoples. Ward
Churchill sites the Indian Law Resource Center,
History suggests that those who maintain and assert
their self-government, their freedom from outside
domination, and their own economic, social and
cultural development are most likely to eventually
gain [or regain] international recognition as peoples
who have the right to self-determination, regardless
of formal rules instituted by the colonizing force.
Its true that just a change of words means nothing.
But it is a first step. It cracks the false reality
placed before us. Like a woman in an abusive
relationship who quits believing the false image of
herself presented by her abuser, giving up the false
images of ourselves we are presented with can move us
out of our abusive relationship. Just because its a
nice house doesnt mean we need to continue to
accept our abuse.
Once we begin acting as a people, as a nation, we will
meet with resistance. The most discouraging will be
that from our own people, the second most discouraging
will be from the people of color who will call us
divisive, and even our white, liberal allies will be
concerned with our separatism. Our existence as a
people is at stake, and well need to overcome this
discouragement as part of our liberation.
Were not going to necessarily get our liberation just
by supporting anyone who is formally educated
either. (9) It has to come from all of us. The
language of liberation has to be developed and
practiced by all of us collectively. It cannot just be
the Hispanic middle-class defining the community to
the greater world. Because, unfortunately, the
interest of too many people is to keep their portion
of the loot gained through the exploitation of others.
Ward Churchill sums it up this way, In effect, by
naming ourselves, we name our destiny. The choice is
simple enough: we either internalize once and for all
the language or our oppression, adopting as both our
heritage and our future the dominant societys
self-serving inventions of us as tribes rather than
nations, or we can pursue a language of liberation
I think if we change tribes for ethnicities well
be on the right track.