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It's all in the books

Chronicle Features, San Francisco RELEASE DATE: On or After June 28, 1996 LATINO SPECTRUM by Roberto Rodriguez & Patrisia Gonzales Responding to Royko: It's All in the Books In response to columnist Mike Royko's challenge of a few months ago regarding "What has Mexico done besides give us tequila?", we came up with a list. Our list is not one of dates and personages. Instead, we have compiled a reading list. Admittedly, it takes a lot more work to read books about a people's history, but whose history can be satisfactorily reduced to an inventory of accomplishments? For this column, we decided it would be more appropriate to focus on the history of Mexican Americans as opposed to the history of Mexico itself, because every time someone in the U.S. bashes Mexico, those who have to live with those indignities are the Mexicans or Mexican Americans who live here. And besides, the history of Mexican Americans goes back to both sides of the border.

To learn the history of Mexican Americans, we recommend the following primers (which can be special ordered from any bookstore): "Chicano" by F. Arturo Rosales; "500 Years of Chicano History" by Elizabeth Martinez; "Occupied America" by Rodolfo Acuna; "Roots of Chicano Politics" by Juan Gomez Quinones; and "The Mexican American Heritage" by East Los Angeles high school teacher Carlos Jimenez. These books generally cover history from colonial times to the present and emphasize the regions that are today considered the American Southwest and Midwest. "Chicano" is the book written in conjunction with the recent four-part PBS special by the same name, while Acuna's book is perhaps the most widely used book in Chicano studies classes.

"Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas 1836-1986" by David Montejano is a good read on the history of Mexicans under white domination in Texas. Similarly, "An Illustrated History of Mexican Los Angeles" by Antonio Rios Bustamante and Pedro Castillo is a good history of Southern California. Also, an insightful book that covers the mass Mexican deportations of the 1930s is "Decade of Betrayal" by Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez. Excellent books on Chicanas include: "Between Borders: Essays on Mexicana/Chicana History" by Adelaida del Castillo; "The Emergence of the Modern Mexican Woman: Her Participation In Revolution and Struggle for Equality, 1910 to 1940" by Shirlene Soto; "Chicana Critical Issues" edited by Norma Alarcon; and "Chicana Voices: Intersections of Class, Race and Gender" edited by Teresa Cordova.

Books that examine the 20th century Mexican American civil rights movement are: "Memories of Chicano History: Autobiography of Bert Corona" by Mario T. Garcia; "Chicano Politics" by Gomez-Quinones; and "Youth, Identity and Power: The Chicano Movement" by Carlos Munoz, Jr. Additionally, readers should go to their bookstores or local libraries and ask to see bibliographies on Mexican/Latino books and titles from TQS publications in Berkeley, Calif., Arte Publico Press at the University of Houston and Bilingual Review Press at Arizona State University. All three seminal publishing houses have been instrumental in the flourishing of Chicano/Latino literature. Through these books, readers learn that Mexican Americans are largely a mestizo people with indigenous roots and literature that predate Columbus. They are people who can claim codices (picture books) that go back thousands of years to the Toltecs and Mayans (who built massive pyramids and observatories, and independently discovered the mathematical concept of zero).

Unfortunately, much of that original literature is gone. When the Spaniards arrived in the Americas, the Aztec and Mayan libraries were destroyed and virtually every codex was burned by Spanish priests. Many of these same book-burners--who literally rewrote the history of the Americas--are used today as primary sources by scholars of pre-Columbian history. Despite this history and in spite of the Inquisition, there was a lot of literature produced in the Americas during the colonial era. In this vein, Arte Publico's "Hispanic Recovery Project" is helping to reconstruct the rich literary history of Latinos in what is today the United States. What one can find through reading is that Mexicans weren't always slaves or minorities. Even after the Mexican American War (1846-1848), Mexicans were still powerful legislators throughout the Southwest. However, except in New Mexico and parts of Texas, the descendants of Mexicans eventually became completely disenfranchised. The history of Mexican Americans is varied. In some cases, they were powerful landowners who exploited Mexicans, Indians and blacks. In other cases, they were landless and powerless and were lynched and discriminated against by rich Anglo settlers. Perhaps the work of compiling a book on the educational, artistic and scientific accomplishments of Mexican people is a job for a future historian. But what we should always keep in mind is that history is more than memorizing names and dates; it is understanding not just the who or when, but the why of history. (Copyright Chronicle Features, 1996)

 

Latino Spectrum News

I received this from another listserv and thought I'd share it with my fellow REFORMISTAS.

Chronicle Features, San Francisco RELEASE DATE: On or After August 9, 1996 LATINO SPECTRUM by Roberto Rodriguez & Patrisia Gonzales Death of Hero Recalls Anti-Discrimination Struggles

When historians write the civil rights history of the United States, Dr. Hector Garcia, founder of the American GI Forum, will no doubt be included.

When he died on July 26, he was described by the media as the "Hispanic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." That's not who he was, but how else could the media portray him if they knew nothing of him? The truth is, Garcia embodies what the media has done to Latinos--kept them invisible except in the politically charged contexts of alien invasions and criminality.

"He was a leader unto himself," says Martin Ortiz, director of the Center of Mexican American Affairs at Whittier College in Southern California.

Above all, his fighting spirit was always felt by those around him. The brief media stories about Garcia noted that he was a civil rights champion, yet did not explain what struggles he participated in. Most Americans have probably never heard of the GI Forum. Worse still, and sadly, most Americans probably can't name--out of the dozens that exist--another Latino or Latina leader with the equal stature of Garcia.

The GI Forum was formed by WWII veterans in 1948 to combat discrimination against Mexican Americans. It came into prominence in 1949 when Felix Longoria, a war hero, was refused burial in his hometown of Three Rivers, Texas because of his race. At the behest of Garcia and the GI Forum, and thanks to the intercession of then Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson, Longoria was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

But Garcia didn't stop there. He spent his entire life fighting against discrimination. In 1968, he was named to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and in 1984, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

We predict that when any of those other leaders die, if they get any media coverage at all, they will be similarly described as "the Hispanic version" of someone else.

When Cesar Chavez died in 1993, we saw kids go into shock, thinking that their "boxing hero" had passed away. Of course, boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez lives, yet many Americans still don't know who the other Chavez was. Incidentally, Cesar, along with his wife, Helen, and Dolores Huerta founded the United Farm Worker's union in 1962.

Another aspect of this story that few Americans seem to know is that Latinos were still being subjected to Jim Crow laws long after WWII--even after having served in the war with distinction. Few seem to know of their historical struggles, from coast to coast, to do away with segregation and discrimination.

Martin Ortiz himself faced much discrimination after the war in his home state of Kansas and adds that it was not atypical of what other people of color faced. A few years after the war, Ortiz, who had been a U.S. Marine, ended up at Whittier College, where he encountered more rampant discrimination. In the town of Whittier, he couldn't get a haircut, enter hotels or be served at restaurants. Today, a $3 million scholarship fund at the college is named in his honor.

Frank Bonilla, professor emeritus at Hunter College, New York, experienced racism firsthand in the South, where he lived as a teenager, he was forced to drink from "Colored" fountains, ride in the back of the bus and attend a segregated black Catholic high school.

During World War II, Bonilla served in a segregated regiment composed of Puerto Rican soldiers and white officers. After the war, the soldiers spent two weeks in Puerto Rico where they were received as heroes. "They gave us the fanciest reception and dinner," says Bonilla. However, when they arrived back on the U.S. mainland, "We were given a five-cent dixie cup ice cream."

The racism they encountered after the war spurred Puerto Ricans to organize. The alliance between the Puerto Rican Young Lords organization and the Black Panther Party of the 1960s was not accidental, says Bonilla. The groundwork had been laid the previous decade by returning veterans. Pete Sandoval reminds us that when he came home after the war, segregation was alive and well in Garden City, Kansas. After forming the Latin American Club in 1945 and after struggling for three years, the organization helped dismantle the segregation there, even before the founding of the GI Forum. He and his wife were the first Mexican Americans permitted into the city's swimming pool and its theater: "Somebody forgot to tell the white theater-goers [that the era of segregation was over], because they chased us into the balcony."

In a sense, that's how we sometimes feel--that the struggles of Garcia and his contemporaries have been relegated by society, and particularly the media, to the balcony, if not the basement. We look forward to reading about those other leaders who also anonymously helped change the political landscape of this country.

(Copyright Chronicle Features, 1996)

Latino Spectrum is a nationally syndicated column, distributed through Chronicle Features. They can be reached at PO BOX 370394, El Paso TX 79937 -- 915-593-2387 or XXXROBERTO@AOL.COM.

Bob Diaz
Assistant to the Dean for Staff Development,
Recruitment and Diversity
University of Arizona Library
1510 E University
Tucson Az. 85720-0055
520-621-2101
JDIAZ@BIRD.LIBRARY.ARIZONA.EDU


DOLORES HUERTA:The UFW's Grand Lady of Steel

"Dolores (Huerta) is totally fearless, both mentally and physically," Cesar Chavez once remarked.

Cesar Chavez commented on her role in the union, "No march is too long, no task too hard for Dolores Huerta if it means taking a step forward for the rights of farm workers."

For more than 20 years, Dolores Huerta has been one of the UFW's most visible symbols.

Senator Robert Kennedy acknowledged her help in winning the 1968 California Democratic Primary movements before he was shot in Los Angeles. She was co-chair-with now Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and Assemblyman John Burton-of the California delegation to the 1972 Democratic convention.

Learn and discover all about DOLORES HUERTA's monumental social and political achievements at the "LaRed Latina" WWW site (url on my signature) under "Special Features" or go directly to the site at:

http://www.inconnect.com/~rvazquez/huerta.html

Saludos, y Buena Suerte


Roberto Vazquez 
Regular Mail: P.O. BOX 2693
The University of Utah 
SLC., UT 84110-2693
robert.vazquez@m.cc.utah.edu
rvazquez@inconnect.com
"LaRed Latina" WWW site: http://www.inconnect.com/~rvazquez/sowest.html 
 

PANCHO CLAUS: MULTIPLE VERSIONS

THE TEX-MEX VERSION OF THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS


Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring-Caramba Que pasa?
Los ninos were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas,
While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a fightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?
Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.
I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto
Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,
Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos-
For none of the ninos had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad
-- Jim and Nita Lee (Dec. 1972)
 

A BILINGUAL CHRISTMAS

The following, entitled "Feliz Navidad," is a take-off by students from
Mexico on the American Christmas poem, "A Visit From St. Nick."

'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring.
Caramba! Que pasa?

Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in vestidos and some in pijamas.
While mama worked late in her little cocina,
El Viejo was down at the corner cantina.

The stockings were hanging with mucho cuidado,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas would feel obligado
To bring all the children, both buenos and malos
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?

St. Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero!
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came, and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
"Ay, Pancho! Ay, Pepe! Ay, Cuca! Ay, Beto!
Ay, Chato! Ay, Chopo! Maruca!, y Nieto!"

Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho,
He flew to the top of our own very techo!
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.

Then, huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala;
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the ninos had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like el viento.
And I heard him exclaim and this is verdad,
"Merry Christmas to All! Feliz Navidad!

Ordering information previously posted in ReformaNet:

A revised version of Pancho Claus (Twas the Night Before Christmas)--c.1955
Lalo Guerrero, c1992 Jose Luis Orozco Revised Lyrics--can be heard on Jose
Luis Orozco's tape/CD, "Pancho Claus," available thru Arcoiris Records,
P.O. Box 7428, Berkeley, CA 94707. Phone no. is 510/527-5539.

Also on the recording are: El Burrito, Naranjas y Limas, Navidad Campesina,
El Atole, Chocolate, De Colores, Las Posadas, Noche Buena, La Pinata and
Nanita Nana.

Beth Nord
Sunnyvale Public Library