November 17, 2000

I am the only Nopalito in Stockholm Sweden

(It has come to our attention that our newspaper La Prensa San Diego, in its WEB incarnation, is widely read in various foreign countries especially in those where Mexican, Latinos, Hispanics reside. La Prensa San Diego forms a link to home and their culture and for some of them, La Prensa makes their stay a little more tolerable. One such reader sent us a letter that we wish to share with you.)

Orale, Oh, Great Tlatani!

I'll try and stick to the spirit and nature. I will write mostly in English as opposed to our own language, the language of the Chicanos, Spanglish. I live at the present time in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. I am here after having completed the required lessons in Swedish that enabled me to attend the University of Stockholm. It took me 2 years to accomplish this. I was able to learn a third language because of my Español and English. Never did I think that the two most conflicting aspects of my growing up Chicano would ever come so handy in learning a new language in record time. Of course, one has to count on ambition as well. But learning Swedish, with my bilingual background, helped me speed the process.

Oddly enough, I have decided to study for the teaching profession and am learning how to teach English and Spanish to Swedish children! Talk about ironies in life... Pero, that's another story for another ocasión.

The reason that I am in Sweden is because I fell for a `Swedeheart.' The story is quite complicated involving a myriad of events which this space doesn't allow for me to expound on. Being the kind of Chicano that I am, I was an illegal Chicano in the eyes of the men in Green when my "swede-heart's" visa expired. We had to decide whether to allow her to experience the life and times of Chicanismo in its most oppressed form, illegally, or not.

Although I was born in TJ, I was raised Chicano, and life has shown me that many a young lass from TJ is Chicano. I will return to that later. Having mulled the distressing situation, we packed our tiliches, took Xóchitl, born in San Diego Califaztlan, US Graded, and authenticated Chicana, still in diapers, and head for Scandinavia. After all, I was a little taxed by the Wilson years and this presented and opportunity for me to learn a new language, a new culture and a new continent and it was a challenge of sorts, an adventure if you will. After all, one only lives once!

Some of the time I felt that I was the first Chicano ever in exile. Remarkably, the facade, that I presented in Güero Califaztlan, that I was US graded, came to resonate as more desirable in Sweden than just being "Chicano." However, I kept insisting I was Chicano and not American, and I became gradually, less intimidating to them. So that's how I ended up here, in Sweden.

Once in Scandinavia, we settled down and began living the Snowy Way. Its cold here and I am the only Nopalito walking around here for miles on... I came to appreciate more my culture and being here has giving me the opportunity to be an ambassador of sorts for my culture i.e. the culture of Chicanismo. Here, some people perceive us as troublemakers. The because the local media only reports what the big media in the US reports. Usually, in the US, the Conglomerates (mainline media) report our lifestyle, events, and other issues that affect us, as negative. However, once every now and then a good report streams out and does us justice. But, most Swedes don't have the slightest clue as to what a Chicano is. Although the word " Chicano" has managed to come into Swedish dictionaries, much to my rejoice! We are called in Swedish: "Chicansk"!

To return to my promise of returning to the topic as to why I think TJ is also Chicano land, I argue that TJ is Chicano land because many of us, while not sanctified by the men in Green as authentic Chicanos, we are indeed Chicanos. Seen from the point of view that "we don't need no stinking papers" to say that our culture is a culture." If one looks closer to the barrios of TJ, there are many Raza who lives there and who to a large extent are making TJ a better place to live. Aztlan is Tijuana too.

Well, I'd like to thank Tezz for the space for this letter. It has been quite a pleasure having the chance to address such a fine, fine audience as the audience of La Prensa San Diego. I hope you all are well and remember that there is even Raza in Sweden Ese!!

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