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

Octavio Romano

Monday, January 03, 2011

Lunes con Lalo: Some Not To Objective Observations on Educacion in the Chicano Movement

Above left, Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado

The Chicano Movement
Some Not Too Objective Observations

by Abelardo B. Delgado

The Movement has been more visible in the schools and colleges and in particular, in these three states in this order: California, Texas, and Colorado. A wide range of Chicano expression has been displayed ranging from very mild petitions for Chicano Studies, Chicano counselors, Chicano administrators, to well-organized walk-outs and legal confrontations with school boards. One very significant expression is the demand to have the 16th of September acknowledged as a Chicano holiday without the student being punished or counted absent.

More sophisticated are the efforts in colleges to have organizations such as the United Mexican American Students (UMAS), MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), MAPA (Mexican American Political Association), NOMAS (National Organization of Mexican American Students), Black and Brown Berets, and of course, the nationally spread MAYO (Mexican American Youth Organization).

From demanding a Chicano curricula, cultural centers, Chicano speakers, to participating fully in minority programs and work-study programs, these organizations have introduced vital change in our favor in the institutions of higher learning, many here-to-force, restricted as sacred ground.

I have in my file two recent letters, one from UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) and one from Pan American College in Edinburgh, Texas, requesting that I go rap on Chicano contributions in the literary fields, as well as the movement. I have made trips as far as Minnesota for the same purpose, from here in Denver to Ft. Collins, Adams State College in Alamosa, Denver University, CU in Boulder, as well as the Chicano students swelling with pride when they hear said what they already know and feel.

I am, of course, small potato in this business and others like Corky Gonzales, Reymundo (Tigre) Pérez, José Angel Gutierrez, Mario Cumpean, Luis Váldez, Ricardo Sánchez, Sal Ramírez, and Narciso Aleman, spend much time making appearances in the campuses of the U.S.

Chicanos in institutions of higher learning are very careful not to fall in the cookie cutter and band themselves and organize at times with the sole purpose of maintaining their values and culture. They seek only the skills to complement what they already have for the purpose of going back to their communities and making a greater contribution in assisting their carnales.

A basic law governs participation at state-funded colleges and universities, and it is a true workable formula. State institutions are supported by state taxes and grants as well as heavy assistance from the federal government. Our parents have been direct and meaningful contributors to the economic stability of these institutions without even using them. This paying for service they never used has gone on for years, and now their descendents, their offspring, are merely demanding what is rightfully theirs.

The monkey wenches thrown our way are not valid: “First, you are not prepared to come here; you will waste your time and our time and money. Second, you are a bunch of free loaders who think because you are minorities, the world owes you a living; and third, you can get a loan if you wish.”

Examine if you will the arguments: You are not prepared – that is obvious. We went to “shitty” high schools and it is a wonder some of us finished those. But wait: the truth of the matter is that while Chicanos may not be prepared for college, academically speaking, neither are thousands of güero cousins whose only entry is that they weather the entrance exams (geared to them) successfully. The proof is in the pudding.

Chicanos once in and up on the academic life, manage to score as well academically, in spite of the true handicap of having been ill-prepared for college. As for wasting our time, I doubt it, for while our güero brothers can afford luxury of time, and spend six years in the student centers playing bridge or pinochle, we can't, and we would get out as soon as we would sense that we couldn't cut it.

As for wasting the Prof's time – not a chance. They way mass production has caught up with our universities, these guys have no more idea of who is in class, who they are reaching, or if the material is relevant and worth getting, for that matter. I'll concede to exception to this criticism if you concede to the many incidents where this is true.

As for the money being theirs, and us being free-loaders capitalizing on the fact that we are a brown minority, I have already proven how the thousands of Ramones, Joséses, and Jesúses have worked their butts off to pay for the Johnnies, Jessies, and Raymonds to go to college for the last fifty years, and never once did they question whether they were really getting a good education (they should have) or qualified or why it was not their children who benefited – time to collect those unused reserves is here.

The movement is very much in the colleges, high schools, and grade schools and it only pains us to see that now that we wish seriously to study and take advantage of education everyone else is walking out, bombing or discrediting the institutions we are about to benefit from. Of course, we are of such “mala suerte” that we are coming in just in time to be blamed for it.

Other parts of this series:

Part IV Goals 
from The Chicano Movement: Some Not Too Objective Observations by Abelardo B. Delgado, (Denver: Colorado Migrant Council, 1971), prepared by the Colorado Migrant Council. Published with permission from the Delgado Family. Special thanks for Dolores Delgado. (c) Abelardo Delgado 1971.

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