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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Did You Know All Chicanos Are Gangbangers?

I never realized the negative connotations behind the term Xicano until I heard a few different people interpret it. Don't get me wrong, I already knew that some people considered people who called themselves Chicanos, some type of "crazy activists." But when I was still back in California, I was taking an undergrad Chicano/a Studies course, where the capstone consisted of a final group project. There was one group that interviewed friends around campus, and asked them how they identified themselves, be it, Hispanic, Latino/a, or da dum duummmmm-Chicano/a. After answering the question the interviewee was asked why they identified with a particular term. I didn't care for the responses of those who answered Hispanic or Latino/a, I was more interested in the responses of the Chicanos/as. The most common response as to why some students referred to themselves was because they believed it was the same as saying Mexican-American. Others actually acknowledged that the term carried a politicized charge to it, and therefore associated with the ideology behind it. Aside from this, there were a few who didn't see a difference between the labels so they just chose Chicano/a over the other two, but they believed in the fluidity amongst them, so in essence if you were a Mexican born in the U.S., you could be either one of these terms, or even just a Mexican-American. Then of course you had those who were plain old 'Mericans!

What had caught my attention though had been an interview with someone who had said he considered himself Mexican-American, and when asked why not Chicano? He went on to say something along the lines about him personally not liking the term, because it was a term mainly used by gangbangers, so he personally didn't care for it. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one in the class that was taken aback by his response. What made it worst, was that this fucker was a friend of mine. Remember that thing about the building crumbling and the nuclear mushroom from my last post? Rinse and repeat. I shook my head at his explanation, and was thinking man, me and this guy are going to have some words. Apparently I didn't have to, because another friend of the Chicano persuasion had already had this discussion with the guy, and had spit some much needed Xicansimo at him. Then again the guy with the gangbanger comment, a few years later told me that the Black Panthers were terrorists after he saw me post something on facebook I believe. I told a friend to offer him a slap with a summer sausage during the secret santa exchange.

I'm not sure if it just has to do more with that region of California. Don't get me wrong, it's not the first time I've heard someone say that Chicanos are gangbangers, I've heard similar before in my hometown. Here's what I understand, there's a sense that those who claim the label Chicano are associated with the red gang. Those associated with the blue gang refuse to claim the term, because of the whole ustedes del norte, nosotros del sur mentality; because part of the mentality is Chicanos/Mexican-Americans are from the north, and Mexicans are from the south. For example, I've seen the red gang hang the UFW flag on their walls, because of the red, but also because they consider Cesar Chavez a Chicano, and therefore from the north, and associate him with the red gang. I know, craziness. I am not trying to justify my friend's ignorance, because in all honesty, I don't think he sees it that way, I think, he truly believes that only cholos are Chicanos and vice versa, he doesn't see the discrepancies between the gangs, because that's all he's seen, or maybe that's all he chooses to see. It's strange, because I sit back and wonder, since I'm in Chicano/a Studies, does he think all I do is study cholos, or that I'm trying to join some type of academic gang?

I keep shaking my head even as I write this post. He gives me props for what I'm doing, but does that mean that he has set aside is ignorancia, and that maybe he accepts that he is mistaken about his whole established "All Chicanos are gangsters" outlook? I guess I'm sitting here trying to figure him out, he had to have seen some people claiming their identity to be Chicano/a who were trying to raise some awareness or trying to promote some type of positive cause for the raza. Then again, he could just have selective memory. He seems like the type that would think, "look at these uppity Messicans, they should be happy with what they get. Why are they raising such a fuzz? Can't they see the powerful folk see no color lines?" Come to think about it, he'd probably be the Latino version of Aaron MacGruder's Boondock's character-Uncle Ruckus. My friend would be the highest of the Highspanics, the ultimate Tio Taco, heavy on the beans n'rice.

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