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Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Silo and the Impending Student Body

I read Warren Ellis and Adi Granov's Iron Man: Extremis (2005), and there was a scene that really stuck with me. First a brief summary: Tony Stark gets a call from a friend after a man, infected with a techno organic virus goes on a killing spree. Stark gets his ass handed to him, and then decides he needs to infect himself with the techno organic virus in order to be more connected to his armor and really technology in general.

There's a few other things of importance that can be mentioned, like that in an interview Ellis spoke about how he received a call from Marvel to pitch a story for Iron Man. He wrote back talking about Tony as a futurist. That tends to be an important theme in Ellis' work. He has been referred to as a futurist as well.

But anyhow this isn't a post about exploring all these great interesting themes that are touched upon in Extremis. But there was one scene that really stuck with me. It's in the first issue. Tony has an interview with a man who makes documentaries, John Pillinger. Pillinger goes through and questions Stark about his past as a developer of military weapons. Stark is forthright about all his dealings. Before you know it the interview is over, and Stark asks Pillinger, "Why am I a ghost of the twentieth century?" Pillinger responds: "Because your arms work of the nineties still haunts the poverty and war-stricken countries they were deployed in."

If you've read any of Ellis' work you'll find that a major theme for him is ghosts and haunted places. Not necessarily in the supernatural sense, but more so in relation to the hidden history of places, but as you can see from the above exchange between the characters he is also referring to past misdeeds or possibly even to the (after) effects of technology that we don't pay attention to. I came across something by Homi Bhabha as well, where he talked about ghosts, I believe more in reference to culture. Anyhow, I just found that interesting, and thought it was worth a mention.

But the other part of that scene that stuck with me long enough to necessitate that I write about it, was when, with all due respect, Stark tells Pillinger:
"Have you changed anything? You've been uncovering disturbing things all over the world for twenty years now. Have you changed anything? You've worked very hard. Most people have no idea of the kind of work you've done. Intellectuals, critics and activists follow your films, closely, but culturally you're almost invisible, Mr. Pillinger."
Pillinger responds that he doesn't know if he has actually made a change. But this is more about the truth found in Stark's words and I related it to Chicano/a Studies texts and scholarship. The fact that only intellectuals, critics, and activists watch this man's films, shows that yes he is culturally invisible, and this is very unfortunate, because he is stuck within a category only for people with "special interests." I heard or possibly read somewhere, Ellis write about "not getting stuck in the silo." That is to say, that he tried to read far and wide, not only things that were of interest to him, but he also tried to challenge himself to write different things.

Now in terms of Chicano/a Studies I began to think about the silo. In academia we have to be stuck in our silos, because we of course want to be able to specialize in the specific area and be able to lecture students about the subject we specialize in. But there are so many texts, films and documents that I believe only get shared from professors to students or which are researched by other scholars. Chicano/a Studies has a wealth of materials that should be read far and wide, not just when a person enrolls in a course. Nor is Chicano/a Studies only for Chican@s. I know, some people are thinking, "no shit Sherlock." Unfortunately, Chicano/a Studies texts, art and literature sometimes tend to seem like a special interest category. Of course this doesn't only apply to Chicano/a Studies. Also I understand that Chicano/a Studies was never really meant to be mainstream, it was more to establish the historical experiences and culture of Mexicans in the United States. But when I read something that has an impact on me like say, Occupied America, Sometimes There is No Other Side, Racial Fault Lines, Critical Race Theory, This Bridge Called my Back and Massacre of the Dreamers, I also wonder if anyone outside of Chicano/a Studies has read these works. Or if anyone else likes to read far and wide.


For example, at a coffee shop once, I met an older man, who began a conversation with me, and then went on to briefly tell me about the history of the English language and then he started talking about Junipero Serra. This man didn't have an advanced degree, he had just read far and wide. He had not only read fiction, he read history books also.

With the information super highway at our fingertips I wonder how many people read far and wide? How many take the time to use the internet to learn. As much as I hate to say it, I wonder how many really use Wikipedia when not needing it for a research paper, but just to become more well-informed on a subject.

Sometimes I think that so many people would benefit or become enlightened by reading from the works found within Chicano/a Studies, but then I wonder how many actually would read any of it, without having to read from it? I think it's great that there's also people who enroll in courses just to learn about the culture, then there's those of the culture, who might think it's an "easy A," but nonetheless want to become more informed about their culture; but those are the people who for the moment have a special interest. I think we'll also begin to see an upward trend in which people are not interested in the subject, but will enroll in courses nonetheless to disavow what is being taught and learned, while expounding their own ideologies about white nationalism. This is of course not limited to white nationalists either, there are Mexican-American students who will admittedly enroll in classes because they disagree with what they think the intent of Chicano/a Studies is, and want to also disavow the history and subject matter, and flippantly call it bias.

About a year ago, at a job interview I was asked a question that caught me off guard. A person on the hiring committee asked me, "How would you handle a situation in which a student says something racist in your class?" I truly didn't know how to respond to that, mainly because I guess I never had that experience. I fumbled through a response where I would be diplomatic and ask to speak to the student after class. After the interview I wondered why this question was asked. Then I remembered that the Orange One was campaigning and there was a rise in white nationalist rhetoric and hate speech. I also thought it possible that the people on this hiring committee might have already experienced this, because they all taught under, "Ethnic Studies." Then I realized how naive I was, because although I was in California, it didn't mean that every single institution of higher learning was filled with students with a special interest in the subject. As it turns out I neglected the students who felt ignored due to the color of their white skin, and decided they wanted to share/impose their now intellectualized white nationalist narrative. Then recently I found out that, at the university I interviewed for, they had an incident involving a white nationalist, who was given an opportunity to speak in a classroom. I'm quite sure that man had already made some waves on the campus, and then I was even more sure, that that was why I was asked the question about how I would handle a situation with a student that might say something racist.

A quick side note, the villain in Ellis and Granov's story is a white nationalist who wants to take on the government and "make things right."

I apologize for how scattered my thoughts were in this post, but it has been a while since I've posted on here. That's why I jump from a comic book, to culture (briefly), the silo, and what Chicano/a Studies and Ethnic Studies courses will be facing in the future. I spent the last couple of years writing horrible academic things. I also spent time messaging with an Amazonian Mexicana from Arizona. Aside from that I spent too much time in my headspace and not enough time for myself and the outside world.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Cause

Last year while having a conversation over a couple of beers with my roommate he mentioned to me, that an old friend of his had just been released from prison and had gotten in touch with him. That friend contacted my roommate to harangue him about "the cause" he had left behind. You see, my roommate and his friend used to be a in gang together. What "cause," you might wonder.

Well, the farmworker and raza cause of course. You see the red gang has based some of their ideology and symbolism around the farmwoker and United Farm Workers struggle. Years ago, I remember walking past my brother's bedroom, and I saw the UFW flag on his wall. Although I wasn't super familiar with the interconnectedness between the red gang and the labor union, I knew a big reason it was on his wall wasn't because he necessarily sympathized with the farmworker struggle, was a union member/volunteer, let alone a farmworker, I knew he had the flag on his wall because it was red.

[Mexican American Red flag with Eagle]
United Farm Workers are not a gang.

My mother was a UFW volunteer and activist. Therefore she had amassed quite a collection of UFW memorabilia in the form of buttons and flags. When my brothers began to get caught up in the red gang ideology, they began wearing UFW buttons. They would talk about being down for "the cause," just not around me, because they knew I didn't play that bullshit. But my mother had heard them talking to friends and telling them how their mother had been down for "the cause." My mom was upset about this and explained to them, that she was never a chola, and the UFW had nothing to do with gangs. But my brothers in turn tried to explain the red gang's history and affiliation to the union, to which my mother just shook her head, as in, "Estan pendejos."

This is UFW memorabilia, NOT gang paraphernalia 
I personally did not know how the red gang had twisted the UFW mythology to accommodate their own agenda. Seeing the red union flag in the bedroom, I knew it had nothing to do with allegiance to the union. It was all about the colors. And I also understood that the red gang saw themselves as the Mexicanos in the northern California who were embattled with southern California Mexicanos. According to them they felt looked down upon because the Mexicanos from the south like LA, would look down upon them for working in agriculture. That was where my knowledge of the decades long "war" between raza began and ended.


I recently read, Blood in the Fields: Ten Years Inside California's Nuestra Familia Gang (2014) by Julia Reynolds. Through her book I learned how much the red gang tied their own ideology or more specifically agenda to the United Farm Workers and the labor movement since the gang's beginnings. It was more than just about the colors and the symbolism. It's not to say that the gang was a natural extension of the UFW and consisted of people who tried to steer toward the UFW's cause. Not at all. It was just something they sympathized with being that many of the young Mexican Americans in Salinas, actually were farm laborers. Later, the Mexican American laborers evolved from being a group of Mexican American laborer friends and into a gang, it became convenient to associate their cause with the UFW's symbolism and "raza" rhetoric when brainwashing other Xican@ youth. But really that's where the affiliation with "the cause" ended. Some of the men Reynolds interviewed in the book seemed conflicted, believing in "the cause" but not knowing where "the cause" for the raza began, and "the cause" for gang profiteering began, because that's how blurred the lines were. They were both one and the same. And who was the enemy? Well Mexican@s from southern California of course!

Some of the older men and men who had left the gang, interviewed by Reynolds, were able to disentangle the web of deception, and admitted that the true "cause" for the gang was basically making money through criminal activities. It had nothing to do with Cesar Chavez's ideology of non-violence. Again, the red gang's association with the UFW and raza speak, is just a convenient way to persuade Xican@ youth toward their "cause."

What is truly insane for me, is that growing up, the first thing I knew about Mexican agricultural laborers (besides my parents being farm laborers themselves), was the UFW and their struggle. I had friends in the red gang, but I had never heard or seen much about the UFW or anything else pertaining to labor struggles. It was mainly just about making sure that you wore your red t-shirt or belt to let it be known who you were affiliated with. But I noticed that with my brothers and their friends, they have grown up learning about the UFW through the gang. That is they learn about the gang first, and then through the gang they begin to learn about their historical roots and how they tie to the UFW and farmworker struggles. This is mind blowing, because there are generations of Xican@s learning about the UFW "cause" and using their symbols based on what they hear from the red gang. Blurred like a motherfucker.

Did you know Cesar Chavez was member of the red gang? Well not in that he got jumped in or that he is the founder of the red gang, but because he's a Xicano from northern California! We need to go and tell Rodolfo Acun~na to update the next edition of Occupied America to make sure he highlights Chavez's time as a norte~no!

(-______________________________________________________-)

SMPC

Either Chavez is spinning in his grave or if he were alive and did not adhere to his own ideology of non-violence, he would probably be bitch slapping quite a few Xican@s down with "the cause."

I really have no words for the whole rationale. All that comes to mind when I have family who are trying to explain the red gang's ties (or "the cause") to the UFW is for me to say, "Estas mas pendejo, que baboso."

But going back to my roommate who had moved on from gang life, and was now living far from Salinas; after he told me about the friend who had castigated him about forgetting "the cause," I asked him, "What was the cause? Terrorizing and killing your own people?" He looked dismayed and just said, "Yeah,"

Reynolds' book tells the history of the prison gang, Operation Black Widow, but also about those out on the street specifically focusing on Salinas, and Mando, a young man who killed a drug dealer, under the orders of a shot caller, who was working as an informant for the FBI. The informant gave the green light while under the FBI supervision, which takes Reynolds through some bureaucratic crap, where the FBI refuses to acknowledge that they allowed this to happen under their watch. You might be familiar with the case if you have watched the Gangland episode that focuses on the same subject. If you want to get the gist of the book, the Youtube video below is a documentary about the same topic. Reynolds wrote the documentary and released it through PBS in 2006.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Barbershop Chiste and Cuento

Over the years barbershops have provided a space for conversation. Where you can chat it up with your barber about local chisme or a place where at least the barbers know your name. I'm not the most conversant person, but whether here or in the Midwest I enjoyed sitting waiting my turn to get my haircut, while the barbers eithber joked with eachother or told stories to the customer they were giving a trasquilada to. Barbershops can be like the bar you frequent where the bartender remembers you whenever you come in, except they won't yell out "Norm!". I can't really complain about any of the barbers I've interacted with. Although I'm sure some might complain about their clients if they feel they didn't get a fair tip. 

I haven't had a steady barbershop in some time. Recently I started going to a local shop, and I was reminded that barbers have some great stories and jokes. When I first walked in to the shop, the barber, was working on an older man, just shooting the breeze. I sat down as the barber began to tell him a joke. The joke went along the the lines of, "There was this apartment building. And one day the devil is walking by and he decides he's going to set on fire. So he does. The building is burning up and there's people running out, and people dying in the fire. But there's one woman who is just sitting there. The devil looks and at her, like, 'What the hell.' So he walks up to this woman and he tells her, 'hey, can't you see the buidling is on fire? Aren't you afraid of being burned to death? Why don't you try to run out?' The woman looks at him, and says,'No I'm not afraid of burning to death. Do you want to know why?' The devil looks at her, and asks,'Why?' She replies, 'because I'm married to your brother.'"

Personally I had never heard that joke, so I thought it was great.

Not  long after, the barber had finished cutting the man's hair. It was my turn to sit in the chair. As I sat down another man walked in to get his haircut as well. He and the barber clearly knew eachother, and started chatting. Apparently the man, was currently on worker's comp due to an injury he had suffered at work. The injury was bad enough that the man is unable to do any of the physical work the man had done before, He is now talking with a lawyer, becuase he's afraid about being fired, since it sounded like he had mainly done hard labor most of his life. Anyhow the barber began to give his own account of an incident in which he suffered a workplace injury (before becoming a barber) and sought out compensation since he would no longer able to do the work he  had done for ~20 years. 

The barber talked about having to haggle with the company lawyer about a settlement. The company lawyer apparently offered him $5000.00 and said, "Five thousand dollars is a lot of money. With all that money you can go back to Mexico, buy yourself a taco stand and you can be set for life, because you'll have your own business." 

The barber, musta had the same perplexed look the devil had when the woman sat there as the building burned. 

The barber's response to the lawyer: "Sounds good. But I tell you what, I'll take the  deal only if you come with me to Mexico." 

The lawyer asked him why.

The barber told him, that if he thinks he can live off five thousand dollars, then he should be able to do the same if he thought it was such a great deal. The barber then told him he was a fucken asshole. Although as it turns out the barber is Salvadoran (alos possibly a U.S. citizen) and seemed a bit offended about being grouped as a certain type of Latino, just because he is brown. He said the lawyer was clearly upset about being called an asshole and kicked him out of the office. Things ended up working for the barber, he got a settlement and was able to get trained as a barber.

By this point the barber was finishing up my haircut. So I didn't get to hear any other stories or jokes. But a couple of things came to mind, like the oral tradition of passing down jokes, but even these things relating to racial or social issues. Encounters with the ignorant masses.

In my hometown my old barbers had seen military action in Vietnam and Korea. They recounted bits of this to me. Other times it was baudy jokes. Either way barbershops have been great places for cuentos and chistes.

XX

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Barrio Abides

Abelardo wrote an interesting essay about the barrio. I interpreted his essay as being about space. This is possibly because my background is mainly in literature, and we tend to read into texts and apply a whole bunch of "-isms." It's been some time since I read that essay, but it's in Here Lies Lalo.

But Abelardo's essay is just a way for me to segue into this post about the barrio and what an interesting and sad place it can be. Interesting in that it tends to right the wrongs committed against the people who live in it. Sad because sometimes those who live in it suffer unjust punishment, and they go without any comeuppance.

For example, in my hometown, the barrio rectified a situation. A young man associating himeself with a gang came into my barrio, running his mouth about a rival. The young man who was in my barrio running his mouth got shot. He survived and apparently told the police who shot him. The police arrest the suspect. The young man who surived the gunshot kept coming back into my neighborhood. You would think after running your mouth in rival territory you would think twice about coming back to run your mouth. Apparently the huevos on this young man were huge, or he just couldn't stay out of our neighborhood for whatever reason. I think he had family there which gave him another reason to keep coming back. Regardless, he made no bones about flaunting his gang affilitaion. One other time he came back and he was with a friend, looking at  some cars that were up for sale. These cars usually get parked at a corner, across the street from a local market. As he was there looking at the cars a few guys from the neighborhood and rival gang walked up on him, and assaulted him. As far as I know he managed to walk away from the assault. I'm not sure if the other young men were friends of the person he accused of having shot him or if they just saw a guy who they recall running his mouth and decided in typical gang fashion to rectify the situation. Anyhow, barrio karma caught up with him, and the end result was that he was assaulted. I don't know if he still comes to the neighborhood, but if he still does after that, it's no longer about huevos, it's about gran pendejismo.

Another example is of a cop driving through a neighborhood in Salinas. If you weren't in the know, last year a couple of cops killed a Mexicano with hedge clippers. According to the officers involved the man was being "erratic." When they told him to put down the hedge clippers he kept walking away from them, and they blew him away. They claimed self-defense. Gun versus hedge clippers. Why they didn't try to use a taser first, I don't know. Trigger happy? A working class Mexican life means nothing? I don't know. This has been endemic of Salinas PD and Monterey County Sheriffs for some time though. And they have gotten away with it for many years. Anyhow, this time around the people of Salinas didn't stand for it they protested and as usual the police department responded in riot gear, dogs, and shotguns, threatening to shoot people as they pushed them back. I have a friend whose mother still lives in neighbhorhood in Salinas. He recounted how an officer in a cop car was patrolling their street, when suddenly his cruiser started getting pelted with objects. The officer was scared as fuck according to my friend. The barrio was apparently still upset about the unjust killing of the man with hedge clippers, and a couple of others who had been gunned down, before him. The barrio didn't let this go. The cop survived the encounter with the barrio, but it came to show the barrio doesn't forget.

And the barrio is cruel to its own. As I heard about a man pushing a cart selling paletas, but was threatened by some adolesecents. The man ran away, and the young men took some of their spoils, by taking a bunch of the paletas for themselves. I don't know if a police report was ever filed or if the man got to keep his job as a paletero after the incident. Or if maybe he started protecting himself by carrying a weapon with him. What happened to him is fucked up, it shouldn't have happened and it just shouldn't happen.

I get nostalgic about the barrio. But then I shake my head at it for some of the mamadas that happen to it's own residents. It protects, it gives, but it also takes.

XX

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Is Over

I've been having a difficult time of  late, when it comes to coming up with blog topics. Maybe it would be easier if this were a topical blog. Like about sports, maybe specifically football. Or ranting and raving specifically about politics. I dunno.

I think it's the everlooming things already on my mind and a multitude of others that have not permitted me to think about different things to write about. Or maybe it's that I've been becoming one of the binge watching masses. How many hours of a tv show does one need to watch in order to be considered a binge watcher?

Horrendous.

But at least this gives me an excuse to go to a coffee shop, sip a hot caffeinated drink, and wade through my thoughts.

Halloween is over though. Unfortunately. I think I just realized that October  is my favorite time of the year. Maybe moreso when I was in the Midwest, as I have lamented the changing colors off the leaves, in the past. But it's also the horror films. It's the mood. Which will probably bring me back to something on religion and the day at some point. Or maybe now that I'm out in California, I'll say November or December are my favorite months of the year, depending on the amount of rain or how cold it gets. I used to dread California winters. People tend to underestimate the winter weather in California, believing that the entire state is in a consistent stage off sunniness.

Not in the town I grew up. We had a heater in our home. But my parents never turned it on, to save money. Those cold mornings were biting. Turn on the hose and the water wouldn't run, because it had frozen in the  pipes. Or it would take a while to come out the other end of the hose, but before it did, froze chards of water would shoot out first. The Midwest was cold. No doubt. Freezing, even, literally. But when my California hometown winters whipped you in the face, it would sting. In the Midwest I didn't feel winds like that.

I enjoyed the rain and the grey gloomy weather. Reading a book in that weather makes me nostalgic for being a teenager, being in my bedroom reading comic books on my bed. Sure if you had to to go to school and got drenched it sucked. But being indoors and just listening to the rain prattle away, as I followed the adverntures of four would-be Superman subsitutes, as the orginal had died about a year before, and this storyline would lead to the eventual return of the original, is something I miss. I've been accused of writing runo-on sentences often. That was one of them. Anyhow this was long before I drank coffee regularly, which would add to the coziness and comfort.

I could  maybe shift to writing about the freakshow that is current run for president. Especially on the Rebpublican side. The dicho my mom used, "Que haiga un loco y no dos," comes to mind.

Or I can write about another cop getting caught on video being abusive. None of my former cop friends have tried to engage me in a debate about any of this. Their brothers in blue are making my case for me. Go figure.

But anyway, Halloween is over.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I Didn't Know This Would Be An Emoticon/Emoji Post Until I Started Writing


I've been at a loss for words since I've been back in California. I'm not sure what it was about being out in the Midwest that inspired me to write more often, other than my own zeal to explore my interest in free writting through blog format. Well that, an my laptop still has a line of static running through it. It must have to do with ever looming deadlines and feeling a level of stress that only comes with being a graduate student in academia. Our futures aren't really set. I've met some great professors I thought were tenured, but somehow only ended up stuck with full time contracts. Renewed every few years. One professor received recognition for being an outstanding educator, yet nowhere near the job security only afforded to the current few in academia. I guess this is where that whole you have to love teaching thing comes in.

Let me abrutly change topics. I've been told that lately I speak in emoji or emoticons. 😕 Which tends to be true. I had not really noticed until it was pointed out to me. As I tend to do, I began to think about why I did this. Overanalyzed. Well for starters, I became a first time smartphone owner over the summer. So there's that. Now I have more emoticons at my disposal as opposed to having to create them manually. You remember how to do those things right? Remember? -> :) (-_-) :(

Part of this is a fault of the smartphone. So many different symbols and images to express my thoughts and feelings. There's even a poop 💩 emoji and what I imagine to be a passing gas 💨 emoji! But as I soon found out, some of these emoticons might look different depending on the type of cellphone software (ios vs android). My cellphone is an android device. But as I type this, I'm using an ios device though. So maybe it's best to just keep typing out my emoticons manually. Let me do this to myself (-_-).

Anyhow just a short a short disorganized over (psycho)analysis of my use of emoticons/emojis. Probably because I didn't have much else to write about. There I go over analyzing again.

Mexican Emojis image from:
http://pocho.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/mexicanemojis.png



Sunday, October 18, 2015

You Know You're Mexican, Right?

I asked my nephew if he knew he was Mexican.

I was driving him to soccer practice. I had been wondering if my nephew and nieces knew or understood that they were Mexican@s. That is, if they knew that both of their parents were Mexicanos, therefore that they were also Mexican and that the Spanish spoken in their family, was because they were Mexicanos. Or that their family engaged in certain traditions, like say, a rosca during the holidays, or the celebration of Tres Reyes Magos. They were Mexcianos, and they simply growing up in the U.S. and speaking English didn't make them American in the eyes of others.  Not only this, but I wondered if they would lose their Mexican identity through assimilation.

I guess I was wondering this because I noticed that my nieces and nephew mainly spoke English. They understand Spanish when it's spoken to them, but they reply exclusively in English. Well, unless it's their grandfather, who only knows Spanish, so my two older nieces reply in Spanish (mostly), but my nephew will either respond in English or he'll shrug his shoulders or make some other gesture that shows he gets what his grandfather is saying (kinda sorta).

This is somewhat strange to me. Especially considering how me, my sisters, primi@s have all grown up speaking Spanish as our first language. We are all for the most part bilingual, and Spanish was the dominant in our homes. English was the for the school, the teachers and our friends. It's even more strange to me that they mostly speak English, because my nephew's father is a Mexicano, who came not speaking a word of English. He's a laborer. A roofer to be exact. I'm guessing over the years he might have picked up some English along the way being around his boss, an Anglo. Or maybe from being around his children who all mainly speak English. I hear him speak to his kids in English, and he does have an accent. Somewhat thick. But his English isn't very choppy. Unlike my own father who still does not speak a word of English and similar to my nephew has to gesture to show that he understands, but has difficulty communicating his own thoughts in English.

It's not just an issue of language though. To get into everything that it means to be a Mexican@ through language, culture and history would be burdernsome. And something that we all would not agree on. Mexicano from Mexico versus Mexicano from the United States, anybody?

But knowing the history, culture, and language  are simply surface-level things, we can't just understand that we are Mexicanos, or know names and dates learned through Chicano/a Studies courses, without thinking critically about larger social issues, historically and presently.

But I had to wonder if my nephew and nieces know and understand that they are Mexican@s. As it is my nephew's father has had to adjust his language to accomadate this childrens preference. Will my nieces and nephew assimilate at such an early age that they will never know what it means to be a Mexican@. Or maybe I should rephrase that. Will they ever know what it means to be Mexican@ to me? Will they ever be as introspective as I am about the things I noticed and associated with my parents as Mexican@s? Such as hardworking, labor activists, Spanish speakers, La Virgen de Guadalupe, Catolicos, etc.

Maybe it was also the Xicano in me that was hoping his nephew would understand that he was Mexicano. Hoping that he wasn't so fargone thanks to assimilation that he considered himself just an American. And yes, by all intents and purposes he could be just an American . . . well, you know if a certain sect of America is okay with a Mexicano born in the United States, calling himself an American. You know, because he's not Anglo.

Calling himself American would be fine, but not knowing that he is a Mexicano does bring me a sense of bewilderment. I hear him speaking in English to all his friends, chatting with fellow gamers in English, and watching the Cartoon Network/Nicktoons/DisneyXD. So the thought crossed my mind, "Will he grow up thinking he's simply American, and never understand that he is in reality a Mexicano? Is my family over the next few generations going to lose it's Mexican identity, through children and grandchildren that grow up in an English speaking counry and everything that entails its popular culture?"

Maybe that would never happen, because as I've seen over the years. Those who want to embrace everything that encompasses our Mexican identity (history, culture, language, etc.), will do so, because they will meet others who have alredy done this, or they will take a Mexican-American/Chican@ Studies class at the university, and learn about their culture and history, and possibly begin to remember and (re)embrace not only their Mexican identiy, but their familys as well.

So as I drove my nephew, I wondered, and evevntually asked, "You know you're Mexican, right?"

My nephew, looked at me, nodded his head and said, "Yeah."

I smiled.

That was all I needed to hear.