Why I Am Not a Chicano
I suppose I could call myself a Chicano if I wanted to. After all, I am an American of Mexican descent, and that's what Chicanos essentially are -- Americans of Mexican descent who, like me, were born in this country.
But I never really wanted to call myself a Chicano.
And while I respect the achievements of the Chicano movement and their fight for the rights of people like me, I can't help but sense a sad irony in a movement that fought for the rights of people of Mexican descent -- yet seemed to treat the word “Mexican” itself like a dirty word.
I suppose if I had grown in an environment where the word “Mexican” was constantly being used as a suffix to words like “dirty,” “lazy,” “crooked,” and “evil,” I'd hate the word “Mexican” too.
But I didn't.
I grew up in the company of Mexican immigrants who did not call themselves “Latinos” or “Hispanics” or “Spanish people” but instead called themselves MEXICANS. Why? Because most of them were either born in Mexico or were descended from people born in Mexico.
Most of my Mexican relatives did not necessarily brag about being Mexican but they didn't act like it was anything to be ashamed of, either. Indeed, for many years, the strongest and most positive influence upon my life came from my Mexican
relatives, not my non-Mexican relatives.
And in many ways, my Mexican relatives will always influence my life.
I suppose I should call them my Mexican-American relatives. After all, many of them were born in this country like myself and some even served in the US Armed Forces.
But most of my relatives tended to refer to themselves as being Mexican for the same reason many of my mother's Polish-American relatives referred to themselves as being Polish -- it was easier.
Anyway it doesn't really matter what you call yourself as long as you're proud of your ancestors and, more importantly, act in such a way as to make your ancestors proud of you.
As for the sad individual who feels the need to put down somebody else's ancestors in order to make himself or herself feel better... Well, neither Spanish nor English has enough cuss-words for me to say what I think about that type of person...
Labels: Chicanas y Chicanos, Familia, Mexicanas y Mexicanos, Mexicano-Estadounidenses, Polaco-Estadounidenses