"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lunes con Lalo Delgado: A Tonalada de Wisdom for Your Week: The Chicano Movement: Some Not Too Objective Observations


Lunes con Lalo: 
A Tonalada de Wisdom for Your Week: 
The Chicano Movement: Some Not Too Objective Observations*

The Chicano Movement Identified

Is there a Chicano Movement because a few of us go around saying there is? Or, do some of us go around saying here is a Chicano Movement because we see it, and can now identify it?

It is possible that as movements go, ours is obscured by the many movements which force their way to national attention. This can be to our advantage, since we definitely cannot expect to gain much by mere publicity. Since I am one, who claims very loud and strong that there is a Chicano Movement in our country, the burden of proof rests upon my shoulders.

A movement of national significance has to have national common denominators and visible signs of identification. The first of these common denominators is, that as a movement of national scope, it is very much in the hands of the Chicano youth, and therefore the Chicano student, in particular in the Western states where the heaviest Chicano population exists. We must associate with the youth not in that it is primarily in their control, but also in that they have taken the initiative in establishing such a movement.

Because of the cultural overtones of Chicanismo, the youth have not attempted to divorce themselves from their parents and do their “own thing” or even fight or leave their parents as in the case of the “beautiful people.” The movement then has gone into the Chicano home and has, in fact, become a family affair. The wisdom of the movement is not to start from scratch; but to acknowledge the progress Chicanos have made up until now, and to take it from there, acknowledging and accepting all Chicanos, regardless of social status or meagerness or contribution to the movement.

A major common denominator has always been, of course, the evident neglect which Chicanos suffer in employment, educational, and political areas. The injured and abused Chicano cannot help but find companionship and a spirit of protest in other Chicanos everywhere in the nation.

As to visible signs of the movement, we can start with the very word “Chicano,” a word coined in the barrio to impose itself into our lingo and for the first time, force itself upward gathering respectability as it climbs into the very sacredness of church and school because there is no shame to the name, as many would wish to make us believe.

The Chicano handshake, although borrowed from the Black movement, has its own peculiar Chicano Flavor as it is seldom given without an abrazo (embrace).

The “Chicano-power” yell with its hypnotic significance of a people hungry to experience the power (economic and social) that we have merely observed others use for the last 100 years.

There is a brand new type movement – art, poetry, and a rebirth of the desire to wear our bright-colored zarapes, chalecos, and mañanitas. A basic frank and honest desire to be seen, heard, and acknowledge – similar to that of a newborn infant giving out its first cry.

Too, there is in the new “symbolism” a hatred for that force which has cuased us to betray (forget our language, customs, and values) in return for nothing; but the most common demonstrator and the most visible sign of the Chicano in the movement is “Orgullo” (Pride) which borders on the cocky side. However, it is this characteristic, which if respected, can end all racism.

Now, the Chicano no longer whispers when he talks to the Anglo. What is best, he stares with his brown or dark eyes, directly into the blue or hazel eyes of a man his equal.

from "The Chicano Movement Identified" from The Chicano Movement: Some Not Too Objective Observations (Totinem Publications: Denver 1971) by Abelardo B. Delgado.

Copyright 1971 Abelardo B. Delgado
Published with permission of Lola Delgado and the Lalo Delgado Estate

Excerpt has been divided into multiple paragraphs to improve web readability.

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