October 13, 2000
By Diane Rios
Why is it so bad to say I'm Chicana? Tell me something, do you too laugh at me when I say I'm Chicana? I'm temporarily confused and can not comprehend the reason for those who look down on me and shy away from embarrassment when they hear me say this word.
I'm just like any other daughter any other student any other co-worker. But my father tears the word off my wall and off my clothes. "It's derogatory," he says with anger. If I say I'm American you will laugh and say the color of my skin is not American. If I say I am Mexican you will say the English accent in my Spanish is not Mexican. So I choose to call myself Chicana, a political and ethnic term used in the 1960's by our people. What I need help in understanding is why you like me if I say I'm Mexican, Latina, Hispanic, Mexican American, but you hate me if I am Chicana? What wrong did Chicanos of the 60's do to earn such a negative connotation.
One of the top issues that continuously appears in the presidential debate between Bush and Gore is Education. As a future teacher, the voices of my students will be one of the most important aspects of teaching. In 1968 students, calling themselves Chicanos, protested for better education. If you have taken a Chicano studies course than you have the Chicanos to thank for opening the road. Where was the wrong in wanting Mexican and Mexican-American history and literature incorporated into the curriculum, insisting the school district hire more Mexican American teachers and administrators, wanting improvements in instructional equipment and facilities to more closely resemble those in affluent high schools, and most importantly, wanting a challenging education that emphasized college preparation instead of industrial trades? These Chicanos were met by brutal action on the part of the police who were responsible for beating and arresting several student activists. We should honor their struggle and carry Chicanoism with pride.
But then why does my father not accept this Chicana? Why do many adults hold a grudge against Chicanos? Why does my friend call me with disgust and anger because a professor he once admired revealed his true feelings about Chicanos? Do I tell him everything is going to be allright? Can you tell me it will be allright? At least if you attempt to justify the way you feel about Chicanos then I can bring an end to this confusion. The truth in all this is that racism exist among our own people and nothing can justify the hate for a Chicana.
Diane Rios is a student at San Diego State University.