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

Octavio Romano

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Movement and Familia: Some Not Too Objective Observations by Lalo Delgado

The Chicano Movement: Some Not Too Objective Observation
La Familia

by Abelardo B. Delgado
I'm fortunate to have come back from the Midwwest Chicano Conference where I did not only get a chance to capture a live specimen to speak of in this chapter, but three. 

I am referring to three of the, perhaps, most beautiful families in the whole Chicano Movement. I say “perhaps,” because I'm sure in your community there is also a family that is involved and committed to La Causa as much as my three examples, if not more so.

The three families are the Dominguez, the Castillos, and the Gonzales. The Dominguez and Gonzales are from Colorado, and the Castillos are from the Westside in Saint Paul. Of these families, if we are to capture their true value in the Movement, we must refer to the very earthy Chicano phrase, “Son de toda madre.” 

The value lies in the total family effort and spirit which could have only come about after much pain and suffering, and after having had agood roots to start with. As Mr. Gonzales (he would object to the 'Mr.' but as a sign of respect, we will leave it in), put it – “from the two-year old to the eighty-two year old abuelita, it is a total commitment.” Castillo has his strong sons and beautiful daughters. Dominguez has his talented children. All three families possess the common characteristics of Chicano values which, in turn, makes them uncommonly precious.

I had just landed in Sioux Falls and wonder if there are any Chicano families here. 

To continue: the common characteristics of the Chicano families in the Movement are (1) they are saturated with first-hand information of the injustices rendered to Chicanos which continue to abound, (2) they have been victims of discrimination, put-downs, neglect, abuse, and exploitation. 

These families have always been on the receiving end. We were always sensitive to the shafting, but few of us were ever able to know where it was coming from. These families are examples of the new breed of our-spoken, defying, challenging, resisting, acting Chicanos. 

Thus, the term “activist” used in that context not only applies, but we admit it with pride. These families make their lives “a casa abrierta” where other Chicanos can come in for inspiration consolation, advise “animo,” and their value multiplies with each one whoever comes in contact with them.

Why it is of extra value to involve the whole family in the movimiento is very evident. First, it is in keeping with the cultural heritage we bear. Second, it makes for a cohesive effort which has more weight, and frankly, it saves the family in that it gives it meaning in life and augments the amor.

You see the deterioration all about us in which any family relations are accidental and isolated; where dialogue between loved ones is reduced to formalities, curt and forced replies, grunts, and plain hatred. The boy cannot wait to escape the prison called “home.” 

The wife and husband seek fulfillment away from each other. These ailments are White middle-class America, but like termites, they have eaten into our Chicano communities. More and more fail as we try to approximate ourselves to those foreign values displayed on T.V. Commercials.

It would be healthier for the whole American scene if all turned communist or found another cause – ecology – anything to give it the meaning needed for existence. We are in that sense lucky to rediscover our Chicanismo, our carnalismo, our nation, our causa, our revolucion, our plan of attack. I happen to know first-hand of the opposite, of what it means not to have your family with you in the Movement, for each move you make becomes a painful anchor.

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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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