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

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Lunes con Lalo: Economics and the Chicano Movement

Lunes con Lalo
The Chicano Movement Some Not Too Objective Observations


By Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado

I am aboard a Western jet, flying to Minneapolis to spend a couple of days with the Chicano brothers in the colleges there. I will be compensated with a thing they call an “honorarium” to the tun of $750. The plane ride cost $160. To my right, is a man, his wife, and three children, who are on this plane for the same purpose. It is a proper way to introduce this chapter on economics of The Movement.

One of the things I will do in Minneapolis is talk with Chicanos there about contributing to the National Chicano Aztlán legal defense. The trial in L.A. is on its last lap to pin Corky and Gurule on a charge of carrying two “pieces” with them. This weekend, there is a benefit in Denver, spearheaded by Ricardo Montalban for the educational funds of Tlatelolco and UMAS.

Everywhere you turn, the dollar sign is on top of our spiritual movement. There is, however, a very big difference. The dollar we speak about is usually in the control of Chicanos, and, by and large, for the improvement of Chicanos.

In the Southwest alone, Chicanos control over twenty million dollars worth of programs annually, and thousands of jobs. What we mean by “control of our own destinies” in the economic area at least, is beginning to happen. I would be the first to admit that we are still quite a way from this type of control being entirely true, since the question of dependency on the benevolent governmental agency, church or private foundation is still very ominous upon us.

The other fallacy about relating money to The Movement is that it is still very much a limited economic participation, and enjoyed by a handful of privilegiados. The masses of impoverished Chicanos who are La Causa and the very movement itself, remain intact and unaffected by the prosperous surge some of us would like to attribute to The Movement.

Those in the movement who see this huge discrepancy, or creation of major change in which greater portions, if not all, Chicanos can benefit, despair, and realize that as ugly as it may be to face it, some of us benefit directly from the movement and at times profit and enjoy advances economically. A new job, fatter paychecks, a new home, a new car, a color T.V., and a checking account.

There is, of course, those who rightfully enjoy these things and continue to remain sincere to their commitment – to assist others escape las garras de la probreza. A hang-up can also be bad about associating people who have money or positions as arbitrary enemies of the movement and write them off with our favorite cliché of “vendido." The question is: if you have money and a position, are you willing to use both for the advancement of our raza?

Last year, Joe Capp came over for a benefit in Denver, and a carnal, who was a little up on the copas, took the opportunity to hit Capp with a big question: “How come you don't help us with money?” Capp, true to his profession, took the question head on, and said, he had just recently learned of the Chicano Movement, and never really approached to help until then.

A new market as been opened with the Chicano Movement, the posters, the books, the buttons and medallions, the teatro, public appearances and rap, the music and even movies, but it must remain pure, uncontaminated by the profit demand and rather in the spirit of the comunidad de Aztlán; if we have, share and help; if we need, ask and take.

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Other parts of this series:

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, all right reserved. This may not be republished with out the permission of the Delgado estate.

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