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

Octavio Romano

Saturday, February 25, 2012

El Paso Writers Update, Sat, Feb. 25, 2012

El Paso Writers Update, Sat, Feb. 25, 2012
Barnet Lee Rosset 

There was a lot of coverage of the death of Barnet Lee "Barney" Rosset, Jr. the founder of Grove Press. Grove Press of course has published many Chicano(a) authors throught the years, but most notable for publishing John Rechy's City of Night. See The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing.

On Rechy, there is a small reference to City of Night in American Songwriter, The Doors, “L.A. Woman” .

Ruben Salazar

A nice remembrance of Ruben Salazar on egpnews.com:
"Pioneering Latino journalist Ruben Salazar died at the hands of Los Angeles Sheriff’s as they broke up the August 29, 1970 Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War. Today, his story is an inspiration to the Latino community, and to all those seeking social justice. That’s why we should celebrate his birthday, and not just remember his death." READ MORE.

Benjamin Alire Saenz
Coming out this week: the young adult novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, about the friendship between two teenage boys.

Dagoberto Gilb

Dagoberto Gilb is mentioned in this interesting article by Krys Lee: Should We Still Be Using The Term 'Ethnic Literature'?: "Writers such as Susan Choi retreat from the label "ethnic" for the very reason that Le's story suggests: A term originally intended to empower those traditionally marginalized can be used to dismiss minority writers. The range of books being published today are remarkable, and writers of color are coming out of the best MFA programs, earning rave critical reviews, and most notably, writing about such diverse social and political backgrounds that makes it difficult to lump them into one category." (Huttington Post). Read more.

Gilb will read at DePaul University. The event takes place February 29 at 6 p.m. in Program Room 115 of the John T. Richardson Library located just inside the 2350 North Kenmore entrance from Kelly Hall. More info.

Oscar "Zeta" Acosta

Check out NiteTalk: Cog Nomen's Buffalo Brown Gives Us the Lowdown for some lowdown on Oscar Zeta Acosta.  "...one of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die." That is Hunter S.Thompson's quote. Check out this GQ UK interview: Gonzo management.

Miguel Juarez

Miguel Juarez is interviewed about Luis Jimenez' "Los Lagartos" sculpture and the victory the El Paso community realized in getting the city of keep the sculpture center in San Jacinto Plaza. Check out: San Jacinto Concept Plans Finalized, Foster Out Of Project.

Matt Mendez

"I find it hard to believe that either Huppenthal or Horne actually believe an armed rebellion is marching their way. Instead what Huppenthal and Horne really fear is democratic change. Tom Horne, now Arizona’s attorney general, has been a hardliner against immigrants and immigration for years, accusing “Illegals” of voter fraud and accusing the Obama administration of pursuing the “illegal” vote when the justice department challenged Arizona’s voter ID law. “I think the motive is that the more illegals that vote, the better the Obama administration thinks it will do.”  Huppenthal and Horne are not working to stave off revolution but cynically fomenting a culture of fear in Arizona, fear of immigrants and, as Sherman Alexie accurately points out, of an educated underclass in the hopes of keeping their political power." Read More.

Luis J. Rodriguez

A good update of Luis J. Rodriguez comings and goings: Check out: Updates since the New Year.


There's a lot of pub on the Librotraficante tour which will include our own Dagoberto Gilb. Check out: Free the Books: Librotraficante Caravan Heads to Arizona to Create "Underground Libraries"

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rodolfo F. Acuña: Arizona The End of the Stairway

Arizona: The End of the Stairway
The Abandonment of the Barrio
Rodolfo F. Acuña
Throughout the history of Mexican Americans, education has been considered the stairway to the middle-class. Education meant security and basics such as health insurance. This heaven meant better jobs and a small house or two for old age.

As with the European immigrant, the stairway was built in stages. Those with limited education could often get union jobs. After a generation or two in factories, Mexican Americans accumulated sufficient capital to keep their children in school, and a few sent them to college.

To build the stairway, workers and their families fought for compulsory education,  they petitioned school boards, and led walkouts protesting de jure and de facto school segregation.

Mutalistas,  el Congreso Mexicanista, Alianza Hispano-Americano, La Liga Protectora Latina, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), led campaigns for better schools. George I. Sánchez was a giant in advocating for this stairway.

However, it was not the 1960s that Chicano youth forced major breakthroughs. The Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) walkouts, the East LA School Walkouts, and small walkouts throughout the southwest and elsewhere had similar themes -- better education, more college prep classes, more Mexican American teachers, and the teaching of Mexican American Studies.

As a result Mexican Americans went to college in greater numbers. In 1968 there were about 100 Latino PhDs – a decade later they were an identifiable mass. In the intervening years at Cal State Northridge the Latino student population exploded from about 50 in 1969 to some 11,000 today.

Despite the gains the Latino dropout rate remains at about 60 percent; most barrio schools still offer a limited number of college prep classes.  A larger portion of Latino students are being recruited and admitted from parochial, magnet and schools on the fringes of the barrio.  Few males are enrolling.  In some universities the ratio of Latino female/male is 65/35.  

Like the nation’s roads, the Mexican American stairway to the middle-class heaven has fallen into disrepair. There are potholes everywhere. Outreach and special programs have become expendable and are under attack. The excuse is the budget.

Many Latino students could only afford college through financial assistance. However, early on financial aid was diluted by expanding the eligibility for assistance while shrinking funding.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the rising tuition. Without financial aid and loans, the bridge is beginning to tumble. At the California State Universities tuition will rise to $10,000 a year, which will put education out of the reach of students from barrio schools.

Putting this in perspective, I paid about $10 a year at Los Angeles State in the late 1950s; in 1969 fees amounted to about $50 a semester.

American corporations simply refuse to pay for the cost of social production. The baby boom generation that benefited from free education, the GI Bill, low interest housing, low gas and food prices, selfishly do not want to pay for the education of the young.

Mexico graduates more engineering students than the United States. Among sixteen 16 First World nations, the United State ranks number 13th in affordability. 

At the beginning of the last century, Mexican workers were excluded from unions and relied on self-help organizations. This became more difficult as the nation became highly urbanized.

The Americans consider themselves a generous people, and certain Americans are. However, this generosity does not extend to the poor. A few will give to the homeless on Christmas and feel somewhat less guilty, as long as it does not interfere with their Christmas meal.  They give through organizations that qualify them for tax exemptions.

Historically Latinos have had a small middle-class. They are generous to family members. However, there is not a tradition of contributing to philanthropic organizations. Selected immigrant groups send money back to their communities, such as the Clubes Unidos Zacatecanos that remit billions of dollars annually to Zacatecas.

Latinos usually give through their churches. But, philanthropy is seen as foreign to most Latinos, especially Mexican Americans. They are concentrated in the working class. At the turn of this century, 25.8 percent of Mexican-born immigrants lived in poverty, over double the rate for natives.  

According to one report, “[c]urrently, 53 percent of Latino households make charitable contributions to charities as opposed to 72 percent of all U.S. households.” It could be argued that comparisons are not fair. Poverty plays a role, as does the tax code where the middle-class get write offs. The reason Mexicans give for not contributing more is that they are not asked.

Let’s face it; we all owe our careers to the stairway. Without that stairway we would not have a middle-class to broker our gains in population into political and economic power. National Latino and Hispanic organizations cater to the middle class. 

Keeping the stairway somewhat operable will be the greatest challenge for Latinos. Let us not be naïve and believe that everything will return to as it was in 1970 or 80. Tuition will continue to spiral. In California, fifty percent of the professors’ salaries and operational costs are derived from student tuition.

Surely administrators are blame for the inflation with university presidents earning in excess of $300,000 annually with perks. The bureaucracies in the university makes navigating them near impossible, and professor salaries at the top are near $100,000 annually and more.   

I will not argue that professor salaries are not justified, just that they are part of the problem.  I ask myself, would most teacher unions oppose plans to begin alternative institutions that did not include teacher contracts?

After long deliberation I have come to the conclusion that whether teacher unions or others like it or not, we have to find our own solutions. The maintenance of the stairway should be our first priority.

Presently Latino education is not very high on the priority list of progressives in this country. Perhaps they have seen too many movies on the Alamo.

I am under attack for a statement that I made in the early 1990s when educational access was again being limited. I said that we would not allow ourselves to be pushed into the intellectual ovens of ignorance and lack of opportunity. Education is a basic right, and we who are active with youth know the consequences of not being able to read.

The stairway represents the only hope for many.

In the near future we will be making a call for Latinos and others to come to a meeting to explore the possibility of starting a non-profit university that would keep the costs under $1,000 a year.  

It is criminal how many for profit schools have sprung up in the past decade. Full-time students at for-profit schools paid an average of $30,900 annually in the 2007-2008 academic year. This was almost double the $15,600 average paid at public universities. The average cost of attending a private nonprofit college was $26,600.

If the government can allow such outlandish costs to be handed down to students then it can sanction real non-profit universities. The truth be told, universities and colleges have become as predatory as the loan sharks and Wall Street.

We will outline a plan which we will telecast throughout the nation in an effort to get retired teachers and professors to put together a non-profit institution. This is imperative because public education today is being privatized. Even at the California State Universities which were once called the “people’s college” there are for profit entities where students can get an alternative education – at a cost.   

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En nuestro mexico febrero 23 - dejo carranza pasar los hijos de Reagan

En nuestro mexico febrero 23
dejo carranza pasar esos de alla del norte, los hijos de Reagan


En nuestro mexico febrero 23
dejo carranza pasar americanos
diez mil soldados
seicientos hay airoplanos
buscando a villa por todo el pais

comenzaron a hechar expediciones
los airoplanos comenzaron a volar
por distintas y varias direcciones
buscando a villa
queriendolo matar

los soldados que vinieron desde texas
a pancho villa no podian encontrar
muy fatigados de 20 horas de camino
los pobres hombres se querian regresar
los de a caballo no se podian sentar
y los de a pie no podian caminar
entonces villa les pasa en su airoplano
y desde arriba les dijo good bay

comenzaron a lanzar los airoplanos
entonces villa un gran plan les formo
se vistio de soldado americano
y a sus tropas tambien las transformo

en nuestro mexico febrero 23
dejo carranza pasar americanos
diez mil soldados
seicientos hay airoplanos
buscando a villa por todo el pais
Qué se creían los soldados de Tejas,

Que combatir era un baile de Calquís,

Con la cara llena de vergüenza

Se regresaron todos a su país. 

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recent and Recommended Books of Note

Recent and Recommended Books of Note



A Power among Them: Bessie Abramowitz Hillman and the Making of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America

University of Illinois 978-0-252-03230-1
The extraordinary life of labor activist, immigrant, and feminist, Bessie Abramowitz Hillman
Karen Pastorello's pathbreaking biography of Bessie Abramowitz Hillman places Hillman at the center of events that marked the founding of Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA). Born in Tsarist Russia to an educated family, the teenaged Bessie Abramowitz immigrated alone to Chicago to escape an arranged marriage. 

Empowered by her connection to the social feminist reform movement centered at Hull-House, she was one of the first to walk off the job as a button sewer in September 1910 in protest of an arbitrary reduction of wages. Within weeks, more than thirty-five thousand workers followed the lead of Abramowitz and her cohorts. A massive strike resulted, paralyzing men's clothing manufacturers in Chicago and paving the way for the organization of the men's garment industry under the United Garment Workers (UGW).

In 1914 Bessie Abramowitz Hillman led a breakaway group from the exclusionary UGW to reorganize as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and was the first woman appointed to the general executive board of the new union. While married to Sidney Hillman (the ACWA's first president) and raising two children, she traveled throughout the rural Northeast, organizing workers in sweatshops that had relocated from unionized metropolitan areas. 

In the 1930s she worked to bring black laundry workers into ACWA, and during World War II she established child-care centers and recreational facilities for the children of war workers. After the war, she served on numerous federal commissions on women and labor, seeking to end race and class injustice and improve the quality of life for working women.

The description of Hillman's career as a feminist in the labor movement indicates the prominence of women labor activists in that movement during the early and middle twentieth century. Drawing from newly discovered, official union records and valuable interviews of family members, Pastorello traces the life of a key female labor activist whose sixty-year career spanned Progressive Era social feminism and the feminism of the postwar labor movement.

 Demanding Child Care: Women’s Activism and the Politics of Welfare, 1940-1971

Univ of Illinois 978-0-252-03625-5
Natalie M. Fousekis
A revealing study of early child care political action and advocates in California
During World War II, as women stepped in to fill jobs vacated by men in the armed services, the federal government established public child care centers in local communities for the first time. When the government announced plans to withdraw funding and terminate its child care services at the end of the war, women in California protested and lobbied to keep their centers open, even as these services rapidly vanished in other states. 

Analyzing the informal networks of cross-class and cross-race reformers, policymakers, and educators, Demanding Child Care: Women's Activism and the Politics of Welfare, 1940–1971 traces the rapidly changing alliances among these groups. During the early stages of the childcare movement, feminists, Communists, and labor activists banded together, only to have these alliances dissolve by the 1950s as the movement welcomed new leadership composed of working-class mothers and early childhood educators. In the 1960s, when federal policymakers earmarked child care funds for children of women on welfare and children described as culturally deprived, it expanded child care services available to these groups but eventually eliminated public child care for the working poor. 

Deftly exploring the possibilities for partnership and the limitations among these key parties as well as the structural forces impeding government support for broadly distributed child care, Fousekis helps to explain the barriers to a publicly funded comprehensive child care program in the United States.

"A gripping tale of California politics, working women's activism, and the welfare state. Fousekis introduces readers to a remarkable cast of characters: ordinary women who recognized that to support their families they needed the peace of mind that quality child care could provide; visionary educators and teachers who understood child care as part of public education, and not social assistance; and male allies in the legislature and public service who were instrumental in policymaking."--Eileen Boris, coeditor of The Practice of U.S. Women's History: Narratives, Dialogues, and Intersections

"A delightful book of interest to students and scholars of the welfare state, second-wave feminism, social reformers, the history of education, and the anti-Communist movement. Fousekis does an exemplary job of integrating women's personal stories into the childcare movement."--Robyn Muncy, author of Creating a Female Dominion in American Reform, 1890–1935

Natalie M. Fousekis is an associate professor of history and the director of the Center for Oral and Public History at California State University,

Rascuache Layers: Toward a Theory of Ordinary Litigation
 University of Arizona Press (September 1, 2011) 
ISBN-10: 0816529833 ISBN-13: 978-0816529834
Alfredo Mirandé, a sociology professor, Stanford Law graduate, and part-time pro bono attorney, represents clients who are rascuache---a Spanish word for "poor" or even "wretched"---and on the margins of society. For Mirandé, however, rascuache means to be "down but not out," an underdog who is still holding its ground. Rascuache Lawyer offers a unique perspective on providing legal services to poor, usually minority, folks who are often just one short step from jail. Not only a passionate argument for rascuache lawyering, it is also a thoughtful, practical attempt to apply and test critical race theory---particularly Latino critical race theory---in day-to-day legal practice.

Every chapter presents an actual case from Mirandé's experience (only the names and places have been changed). His clients have been charged with everything from carrying a concealed weapon, indecent exposure, and trespassing to attempted murder, domestic violence, and child abuse. Among them are recent Mexican immigrants, drug addicts, gang members, and the homeless. All of them are destitute, and many are victims of racial profiling. Some "pay" Mirandé with bartered services such as painting, home repairs, or mechanical work on his car. And Mirandé doesn't always win their cases. But, as he recounts, he certainly works tirelessly to pursue all legal remedies. 

Each case is presented as a letter to a fascinating (fictional) "Super Chicana" named Fermina Gabriel, who we are told is an accomplished lawyer, author, and singer. This narrative device allows the author to present his cases as if he were recounting them to a friend, drawing in the reader as a friend as well.

Bookending the individual cases, Mirandé's introductions and conclusions offer a compelling vision of progressive legal practice grounded in rascuache lawyering. 

This is an important volume for anyone---practicing or teaching---involved in the legal defense of Latinas and Latinos.

 Becoming Mapuche: Person and Ritual in Indigenous Chile

University of Illinois, 978-0-252-07823-1 Pub Date: 2011
Magnus Course

A nuanced exploration of one of the largest and least understood indigenous peoples
Magnus Course blends convincing historical analysis with sophisticated contemporary theory in this superb ethnography of the Mapuche people of southern Chile. Based on many years of ethnographic fieldwork, Becoming Mapuche takes readers to the indigenous reserves where many Mapuche have been forced to live since the beginning of the twentieth century. Exploring their way of life, the book situates the Mapuche within broader anthropological debates about indigenous peoples in South America. 

Comprising around 10 percent of the Chilean population, the Mapuche are one of the largest indigenous groups in the Americas. Despite increasing social and political marginalization, the Mapuche remain a distinct presence within Chilean society, giving rise to the burgeoning Mapuche political movement and holding on to their traditional language of Mapundungun, their religion, and their theory of self-creation.

 In addition to accounts of the intimacies of everyday kinship and friendship, Course also offers the first complete ethnographic analyses of the major social events of contemporary rural Mapuche life--eluwün funerals, the ritual sport of palin, and the great ngillatun fertility ritual. The volume includes a glossary of terms in Mapudungun.

"In Becoming Mapuche, Magnus Course asks a question at once anthropological and Mapuche: what does it mean to be a 'true person'? On a theoretical level, this question allows the author to skillfully traverse back and forth across the abandoned terrain between the categories of classical modernist anthropology and those of its postmodern critique. In choosing this analytical strategy, the author has produced a remarkably rich ethnography of a rural Mapuche community, one that touches on the themes of both phases of anthropological thought in a rich synthesis of themes. 

Further, in finding this systhesis, Course has surely begun to fulfill his own hope expressed herein, that of freeing Mapuche ethnography from its sub-disciplinary isolation and showing the way to comparisons with Andean and Amazonian societies and far beyond."--Peter Gow, author of An Amazonian Myth and Its History

"Becoming Mapuche makes significant contributions to South American ethnology by providing ethnographically based explorations of Mapuche concepts. Magnus Course also greatly contributes to more general theoretical concerns in anthropology such as social personhood, theories of exchange, and kinship studies. Written in a clear style, the book is both accessible to general readers and stimulating for anthropologists."--Jonathan D. Hill, author of Made-from-Bone: Trickster Myths, Music, and History from the Amazon

"An insightful ethnographic account of the way the rural Mapuche person is constituted through different modes of men's sociality and how the centrifugal expansion of relations across time and space gives rise to collective social events. Course presents the stunning new political possibilities that emerge from a rural Mapuche class-based identity that challenges the ethnic perspectives held by urban Mapuche intellectuals and indigenous rights activists."--Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, author of Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche
Magnus Course is a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.

I'm Neither Here nor There: Mexicans’ Quotidian Struggles with Migration and Poverty  

Paperback Duke University Press Books (June 13, 2011)  

ISBN-10: 0822350351 ISBN-13: 978-0822350354

Patricia Zavella (Author)

I’m Neither Here nor There explores how immigration influences the construction of family, identity, and community among Mexican Americans and migrants from Mexico. Based on long-term ethnographic research, Patricia Zavella describes how poor and working-class Mexican Americans and migrants to California’s central coast struggle for agency amid the region’s deteriorating economic conditions and the rise of racial nativism in the United States. 
Zavella also examines tensions within the Mexican diaspora based on differences in legal status, generation, gender, sexuality, and language. She proposes “peripheral vision” to describe the sense of displacement and instability felt by Mexican Americans and Mexicans who migrate to the United States as well as by their family members in Mexico.
Drawing on close interactions with Mexicans on both sides of the border, Zavella examines migrant journeys to and within the United States, gendered racialization, and exploitation at workplaces, and the challenges that migrants face in forming and maintaining families. As she demonstrates, the desires of migrants to express their identities publicly and to establish a sense of cultural memory are realized partly through Latin American and Chicano protest music, and Mexican and indigenous folks songs played by musicians and cultural activists.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Lunes con Lalo: Focus Groups

Lunes con Lalo
Poetic Wisdom for Your Week
by Abelardo B. Delgado
Focus Groups

Hocus pocus,
out of focus
focus groups,
a few months
end up dictating
what must be done,
outlining health needs
shared by an entire community.
The vocal ones
even dare
prioritize and program
for those needs.
Those who best articulate
concerns and issues
determine the future
of the many who won't speak out.
Humans are consistently
misrepresented, politically,
ethnic and racial wise
and geographically as well.
Some go to heaven, others to hell.

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from La Llorona: 43 Loronas of Abelardo
(c) Abelardo B. Delgado
Published with permision of the Delgado family.

Rodolfo F. Acuña: Why Not Enjoy Yourself? Let the Younger People Take Over You Have Paid Your Dues

Why Not Enjoy Yourself?
Let the Younger People Take Over
You Have Paid Your Dues
Rodolfo F. Acuña
Chicana/o Studies at Cal State Northridge will be taking close to sixty Latinos and Asians students to Tucson later this month. It will be our third trip as a group within a year. Friends keep saying, “That is a big responsibility; you have paid your dues; why don’t you slow down and enjoy life?”  In other words, take it easy, and let the young people clean up our mess.

Some make ridiculous statements such as that you must enjoy the pressure. What is probably meant to be a compliment is an insult. Only someone who is nuts enjoys constant stress and sleepless nights.

Frankly, I would be delighted if others would step up. No one enjoys constantly working as if there were no more tomorrows.  No one enjoys sandwiching in writing and teaching, and never having enough time to edit and reflect – the tension of being constantly on stage gets to you.

I often wish that I would have become a monk. But, as a member of a community – a husband, father, grandfather, and teacher – I have no choice but to fight.  The bottom line is that I care about the kind of world we leave behind.

Many of my Latino friends tell me not to worry; the Latino population is booming, and we are the future. Today Latinos are just over 15 percent of the population – over 50 million. If we were a nation, we would be the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. By 2050 Latinos will be almost a third of the U.S. But will it really make a difference?

Knowing history I realize that what we do today will affect 2050. Population is not a silver bullet, and this growth is precisely what worries me.

In the 1970s I had a conversation with the late Willie Velásquez, the founder of the Southwest Voter Registration Project, who was at the time leading a drive to register more Mexican Americans. I asked Willie if he were not being overly optimistic about the importance of registering and voting Mexican Americans. We could register more Latinos, but what was being done about the quality of representation once we turned out the voters?

Willie responded that everything went in cycles, and we first had to register our people. Over the years I have thought about this conversation. Looking at the outcome, I think Willie is probably turning over in his grave when he sees the quality of our political representatives, especially the trend of some Latinos running as Republicans.  Who would have thought in the 1970s that Mexicans and other Spanish-speaking people would today be Hispanics?

As a group Latino politicos have not been especially progressive. Indeed, they have been less than courageous when it comes to police brutality and capital punishment. Latino politicos have been invisible during the escalation of tuition that is killing access to higher education for most.  Few have spoken out on the Middle Eastern wars thus empowering President Barack Obama as he wags the dog’s tail.

In 2050, the Latino population will reach 30 percent. Surely, the gene pool will get darker; today in Los Angeles the probability of a first grade male marrying or partnering up with a Latina is about fifty percent. The only factors slowing down this process are where people live, go to school and economic class.

Has the political awareness of Latinos and Mexican Americans grown proportionately?  I don’t think so! Political consciousness is like vocabulary -- it is learned and acquired, and it is not cultivated through the use of third grade clichés such as the Decade of the Hispanic or Chicana/o power. It is learned through political education and awareness.    

The growth or development of political consciousness depends on individual and group experiences. The media has a lot to do with this socialization process.

However, when we look at the content of most programs Latinos have access to, it is disastrous.  Univision, the largest of the Spanish language networks, is run by conservative investors, and its content is heavily influenced by right wing Cuban Americans in Miami.  Consequent to this, the most informative pundit is Jorge Ramos, a Mexican transplant who is progressive on immigration but to right of center on Latin American and domestic issues. This begets programs such as Don Francisco that features contests such as Señorita Colita (Miss “Little Tail”).

The Democratic Party and the left have done very little to fill the vacuum in the Latino’s political education, although it is becoming its largest bloc of voters. It takes Latinos for granted because they have no other place to go, given the racism of the Republican Party.

Truth be told, the left media like poverty has fed off the Latino’s misery while reaping the benefits of their votes. It sheds tears over racism and inequality, theorizing about it and doing little more.

Aside from “Democracy Now,” there is not a prominent Latino writer nurtured by this gaggle of left media that includes The Nation, Mother Jones as well as others. The tragedy is that, if and when the Latino community votes Republican, there will be expressions of shock and blaming the victim.

What I have learned during my years of struggle is that I don’t have enough money, or  prestige to change the group. I probably would have even less influence if I were at a a pampered professor at a prominent university, so I make changes through teaching working class students and by example.

At the moment I am concentrating on Mexican American and Central American students, a sector that includes most Latinos. According to the 2010 Census, Mexican Americans are officially 63 percent, and could be as high as 70 percent of the total Latino population. The Mexican origin population will grow the fastest during the next forty years due to Mexico’s proximity to the United States and the median age of Mexican women.

U.S. births are disproportionately Latino, accounting for one-in-four of the nation’s newborns in 2008. The growth is driven by Mexican Americans women who account anywhere from about 20 percent to 50 percent more children than non-Mexican Latinas.

The median age of Mexican origin women in the U.S. is 25, compared with 30 for non-Mexican-origin Latinas, 32 for blacks, 35 for Asians and 41 for whites. The typical Mexican American woman, ages 40 to 44, gives birth to 2.5 children versus 1.9 non-Mexican-Latinas.

Demographers predict that most future growth in the U.S. among Latinas will come from women with documents.  Most of the growth within the Mexican American community will be poorer, less educated and concentrated in the working class sector.

The reality is simply that it is becoming more hazardous and costly for working class Latin Americans to migrate to the U.S. through the Mexican corridor that has been closed to them by drug gangs spawned by U.S. policy that has channeled the drug trade through Mexico.

In this scenario, the Mexican American middle-class plays an exceedingly important role. Necessarily they have to advocate for the civil rights of those not enjoying their privileges. However, the increase in tuition is threatening the stairway we built in the late 1960s for more Mexican Americans and Latinos going to college. There are also class divisions that occur among people of all color.

The only factors slowing this down assimilation are food and group consciousness, which lasts only so long.

Arizona as in the case of California Proposition 187 (1994) reminds the group that racism still exists. It defines who the bad guys are. However, this political education has to go much further.

In the past couple of years I have been writing pieces on Arizona to educate a small circle on the importance of that struggle.  Good education is often a case of redundancy. It is the practice of constantly deducing and then applying lessons – much like the conjugation for verbs in Latin.

That is why we are taking students to Arizona. We want to educate them, and the best way is for them to experience it. In the last two trips, we have also been taking Asian students with us because we live in a multi-racial society, and we have to learn to work together. We share humanity.

Many of the students who have gone on the trips had never been out of California, some had never been out of LA.  This effort will pay off because they in turn will use a more sophisticated political vocabulary, which they will teach their family members and eventually their children.    

(c) Rodolfo F. Acuña 2012

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Recent Releases

Recent Releases

Billy the Kid and Other Plays
(Chicana and Chicano Visions of the Americas series) [Paperback]
University of Oklahoma Press (December 10, 2011)
Language: English ISBN-10: 0806142251 ISBN-13: 978-0806142258
Rudolfo Anaya (Author), Cecilia J. Aragon (Afterword), Robert Con Davis-Undiano (Afterword)

While award-winning author Rudolfo Anaya is known primarily as a novelist, his genius is also evident in dramatic works performed regularly in his native New Mexico and throughout the world. Billy the Kid and Other Plays collects seven of these works and offers them together for the first time.

Like his novels, many of Anaya’s plays are built from the folklore of the Southwest. This volume opens with The Season of La Llorona, in which Anaya fuses the Mexican legend of the dreaded “crying woman” with that of La Malinche, mistress and adviser to Hernán Cortés. Southwestern lore also shapes the title play, which provides a Mexican American perspective on the Kid—or Bilito, as he is known in

New Mexico—along with keen insight into the slipperiness of history. The Farolitos of Christmas and Matachines uncover both the sweet and the sinister in stories behind seasonal New Mexican rituals.

Oscar Castillo Papers and Photograph Collection
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press (December 2, 2011)
Language: English ISBN-10: 0895511401 ISBN-13: 978-0895511409
Colin Gunckel (Editor)

Since the late 1960s, photographer Oscar Castillo has documented the Chicano community in Los Angeles and South Texas, from major political events to cultural practices to the work of muralists and painters. His photographs explore major themes (social movement, cultural heritage, urban environment, and everyday barrio life) and approaches (photojournalism, portraiture, art photography).

The Oscar Castillo Photograph Collection includes over 3,000 images by the photographer that are available through an online digital archive at UCLA.

Colin Gunckel brings together essays by scholars and artists who consider the social, political, historical, and aesthetic dimensions of Castillo's work. An illustrated section features selections from the digital archive. The book includes illustrations from the digital archive, a detailed finding aid for the Oscar Castillo Papers, a small collection of correspondence and other documents housed at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, and a collection-level description of the digital archive. A selected bibliography completes the volume.

This book is made possible in part with support from The Getty Foundation.

Trans-Americanity: Subaltern Modernities, Global Coloniality, and the Cultures of Greater Mexico (New Americanists)
Duke University Press Books (December 21, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0822350831 ISBN-13: 978-0822350835
José David Saldívar (Author) 

A founder of U.S.-Mexico border studies, José David Saldívar is a leading figure in efforts to expand the scope of American studies. In Trans-Americanity, he advances that critical project by arguing for a transnational, antinational, and "outernational" paradigm for American studies. Saldívar urges Americanists to adopt a world-system scale of analysis.

"Americanity as a Concept," an essay by the Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano and Immanuel Wallerstein, the architect of world-systems analysis, serves as a theoretical touchstone for Trans-Americanity. In conversation not only with Quijano and Wallerstein, but also with the theorists Gloria Anzaldúa, John Beverley, Ranajit Guha, Walter D. Mignolo, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Saldívar explores questions of the subaltern and the coloniality of power, emphasizing their location within postcolonial studies.

Analyzing the work of José Martí, Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, and many other writers, he addresses concerns such as the "unspeakable" in subalternized African American, U.S. Latino and Latina, Cuban, and South Asian literature; the rhetorical form of postcolonial narratives; and constructions of subalternized identities. In Trans-Americanity, Saldívar demonstrates and makes the case for Americanist critique based on a globalized study of the Américas.

Gangland: The Rise of the Mexican Drug Cartels from El Paso to Vancouver
[Paperback] Paperback: 288 pagesWiley; 1 edition (December 13, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1118008057 ISBN-13: 978-1118008058
Jerry Langton (Author)

The members of Mexico's drug cartels are among the criminal underworld's most ambitious and ruthless entrepreneurs. Supplanting the once dominant Colombian cartels, the Mexican drug cartels are now the major distributor of heroin and cocaine to the U.S. and Canada. Not only have their drugs crossed north of the border, so have the cartels (in 2009, 230 active Mexican drug cartels have been reported in U.S. cities).

In Gangland, bestselling author Jerry Langton details their frightening stranglehold on the economy and daily life of Mexico today—and what it portends for the future of Mexico and its neighbours.

Offering a firsthand look from members of law enforcement, politicians, journalists, and people involved in the drug trade in Mexico and Canada, Gangland sheds a harsh light on the multibillion dollar industry that is the drug trade, the territorial wars, and the on-the-street reality for the United States, with the importation of narco-terrorists. With the unstinting realism and keen analysis that have made him an internationally respected journalist, Langton offers the bleak prospects of what a collapsed government in Mexico might lead to—a new Mexican warlord state not unlike Somalia.

Details the emergence of the Mexican drug cartels—the transformation of middlemen who ferried drugs from Bolivia and Colombia to the U.S. and Canada into self-styled entrepreneurs

Describes how the growth of the cartels led to violent territorial wars—with Felipe Calderon declaring war on the cartels in 2006
    An unflinching examination of the world's most lucrative—and deadliest—drug cartel, Gangland lets readers explore, with brutal clarity, the newest front on America's latest war.

    Decolonizing Native Histories: Collaboration, Knowledge, and Language in the Americas
    (Narrating Native Histories) [Paperback] Paperback: 272 pages
    Publisher: Duke University Press Books (December 30, 2011)
    ISBN-10: 0822351528ISBN-13: 978-0822351528
    Florencia E. Mallon (Author)
    Decolonizing Native Histories is an interdisciplinary collection that grapples with the racial and ethnic politics of knowledge production and indigenous activism in the Americas. It analyzes the relationship of language to power and empowerment, and advocates for collaborations between community members, scholars, and activists that prioritize the rights of Native peoples to decide how their knowledge is used.

    The contributors—academics and activists, indigenous and nonindigenous, from disciplines including history, anthropology, linguistics, and political science—explore the challenges of decolonization.

    These wide-ranging case studies consider how language, the law, and the archive have historically served as instruments of colonialism and how they can be creatively transformed in constructing autonomy. The collection highlights points of commonality and solidarity across geographical, cultural, and linguistic boundaries and also reflects deep distinctions between North and South.

    Decolonizing Native Histories looks at Native histories and narratives in an internationally comparative context, with the hope that international collaboration and understanding of local histories will foster new possibilities for indigenous mobilization and an increasingly decolonized future.

    Proud Americans: Growing Up as Children of Immigrants 
    [Paperback] Paperback: 258 pagesPublisher: CreateSpace (December 3, 2011
    ISBN-10: 1466294566  ISBN-13: 978-1466294561
    Judie Fertig Panneton (Author)
    Children of immigrants are different. They are their parents' guides to American ways. PROUD AMERICANS: GROWING UP AS CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS includes a collection of inspirational stories about approximately 50 people’s joys and struggles while coming of age in the United States as children of immigrants.

    Included are Hollywood stars, high-profile media and business people, award-winning athletes, members of the President’s cabinet, elected officials and those whose names may not be recognizable but whose stories are certain to be memorable. You’ll meet people like Tony Xiong, whose dream is to become a police officer. Who would have guessed that's what he would want to become after growing up with two gang-member brothers who were often in trouble with the law? Then, there’s Natalia Estrada, a hair stylist who is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who were farm workers.

    Estrada’s coming-of-age wisdom shows how she dreamed of a different heritage but grew to become a proud Mexican American. Dorothy Takeuchi remembers growing up as the child of Japanese immigrants and the time her family was forced to live in internment camps in the United States. In spite of the hatred and discrimination she witnessed, Takeuchi harbors no resentment and is proud to be an American. Hani and Maher Ahmad know what it’s like to have people call you names because of the color of your skin or the sound of your last name. They both lead productive lives and work against discrimination. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta mentions he's the son of Italian immigrants in every speech he gives. Panetta remembers his parents' reminders that they came to America to give him and his brother better opportunities. "Make us proud," they would tell him.

    PROUD AMERICANS' author Judie Fertig Panneton is a child of immigrants, who are Holocaust survivors. This is her second book based on a collection of stories. Her first was THE BREAST CANCER BOOK OF STRENGTH & COURAGE. She is an award-winning journalist with experience as a print, TV, and radio reporter. Also featured, based on research, are individuals including: Hines Ward, Dr. Mehemet Oz, Jay Leno, Ann Curry, George Stephanopoulos, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rahm Emanuel, Jennifer Aniston, Christina Aguilera, Michael Savage, IvankaTrump,Apolo Ohno, Maria Menounos, Maurice Sendak, Timothy Geithner, Michael Dukakis, and Margaret Cho

    MEX/LA: Mexican Modernisms in Los Angeles 1930-1985
    [Hardcover] Hardcover: 224 pages
    Publisher: Hatje Cantz; Bilingual edition (December 31, 2011)
    ISBN-10: 3775731334ISBN-13: 978-3775731331
    Mariana Botey (Author), Harry Gamboa (Author), Ana Elena Mallet (Author), Catha Paquette (Author)
    The years from 1945 to 1985 are often identified as the moment in which Los Angeles established itself as a leading cultural center in America. However, this conception of its history entirely excludes the very controversial presence of the Mexican muralists, as well as the work of other artists who were influenced by them and responded to their ideas.

    It is likewise often thought that Los Angeles' Mexican culture arrived full formed from outside it, when in fact that culture originated within the city--it was in Los Angeles and Southern California that José Vasconcelos, Ricardo Flores Magón, Octavio Paz and other intellectuals developed the iconography of modern Mexico, while Anglos and Chicanos were developing their own. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Clemente Orozco, Alfredo Ramos Martínez and Jean Charlot made some of their earliest murals in Los Angeles, influencing the Mexican, Mexican-American and Chicano artists of the 1970s and 80s. MEX/LA: Mexican Modernism(s) in Los Angeles 1930-1985 focuses on the construction of different notions of "Mexicanidad" within modernist and contemporary art created in Los Angeles. From the Olvera Street mural by Siqueiros, to the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and the Disney silver-screen productions, to the revitalization of the street mural, up to the performance art of Guillermo Gómez-Peña, MEX/LA explores the bi-national and hybrid forms of artistic practices, popular culture and mass-media arts that have so uniquely shaped LoThe years from 1945 to 1985 are often identified as the moment in which Los Angeles established itself as a leading cultural center in America. However, this conception of its history entirely excludes the very controversial presence of the Mexican muralists, as well as the work of other artists who were influenced by them and responded to their ideas. It is likewise often thought that Los Angeles' Mexican culture arrived full formed from outside it, when in fact that culture originated within the city--it was in Los Angeles and Southern California that José Vasconcelos, Ricardo Flores Magón, Octavio Paz and other intellectuals developed the iconography of modern Mexico, while Anglos and Chicanos were developing their own.

    David Alfaro Siqueiros, Clemente Orozco, Alfredo Ramos Martínez and Jean Charlot made some of their earliest murals in Los Angeles, influencing the Mexican, Mexican-American and Chicano artists of the 1970s and 80s. MEX/LA: Mexican Modernism(s) in Los Angeles 1930-1985 focuses on the construction of different notions of "Mexicanidad" within modernist and contemporary art created in Los Angeles.

    From the Olvera Street mural by Siqueiros, to the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and the Disney silver-screen productions, to the revitalization of the street mural, up to the performance art of Guillermo Gómez-Peña, MEX/LA explores the bi-national and hybrid forms of artistic practices, popular culture and mass-media arts that have so uniquely shaped Los Angeles' cultural panorama. s Angeles' cultural panorama.

    The Aztecs: A Very Short Introduction
    (Very Short Introductions) Paperback
    Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (December 14, 2011
    ISBN-10: 0195379381ISBN-13: 978-0195379389
    David Carrasco (Author)
    This Very Short Introduction employs the disciplines of history, religious studies, and anthropology as it illuminates the complexities of Aztec life. Readers meet a people highly skilled in sculpture, astronomy, city planning, poetry, and philosophy, who were also profoundly committed to cosmic regeneration through the thrust of the ceremonial knife and through warfare.

    Davïd Carrasco looks beyond Spanish accounts that have colored much of the Western narrative to let Aztec voices speak about their origin stories, the cosmic significance of their capital city, their methods of child rearing, and the contributions women made to daily life and the empire. Carrasco discusses the arrival of the Spaniards, contrasts Aztec mythical traditions about the origins of their city with actual urban life in Mesoamerica, and outlines the rise of the Aztec empire.

    He also explores Aztec religion, which provided both justification for and alternatives to warfare, sacrifice, and imperialism, and he sheds light on Aztec poetry, philosophy, painting, and especially monumental sculpture and architecture. He concludes by looking at how the Aztecs have been portrayed in Western thought, art, film, and literature as well as in Latino culture and arts.

    Billy the Kid's Last Ride
    [Paperback] Publisher: Sunstone Press (December 20, 2011)
    ISBN-10: 0865348472ISBN-13: 978-0865348479
    John A. Aragon (Author)
    The orphaned, bucktoothed, New York Irish boy speaks Spanish and wears a Mexican sombrero. He claims his name is William Bonney. His amigos call him ''Kid.'' To newspapers in the New Mexico Territory and across America, he is ''Billy the Kid.''

    William was among the bravest of the McSween alliance in the Lincoln County War. He was lucky, too--lucky enough to shoot his way out when the rest of his faction was cornered and slaughtered in battle. He was later captured and condemned to hang, but he killed his guards and escaped. Now, William has one last chance. He heads into Old Mexico with his lover, the fierce Apache maiden Tzoeh.

    There he hopes to start a new life, live in peace and obscurity, and be forgotten. But powerful Anglo ranchers plot to use William's hot temper, unmatched courage, consummate loyalty to his amigos, and superb skill with a six-gun for their own ends.

    Blurred Borders: Transnational Migration between the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States 
    (UNC Press ISBN  978-0-8078-3497-8
    Published: September 2011

    In this comprehensive comparative study, Jorge Duany explores how migrants to the United States from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico maintain multiple ties to their countries of origin.

    Chronicling these diasporas from the end of World War II to the present, Duany argues that each sending country's relationship to the United States shapes the transnational experience for each migrant group, from legal status and migratory patterns to work activities and the connections migrants retain with their home countries. 

    Blending extensive ethnographic, archival, and survey research, Duany proposes that contemporary migration challenges the traditional concept of the nation-state. Increasing numbers of immigrants and their descendants lead what Duany calls "bifocal" lives, bridging two or more states, markets, languages, and cultures throughout their lives. 

    Even as nations attempt to draw their boundaries more clearly, the ceaseless movement of transnational migrants, Duany argues, requires the rethinking of conventional equations between birthplace and residence, identity and citizenship, borders and boundaries.

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