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ARTICLES
CHICANO/NATIVE AMERICAN PRIDE

MI RAZA PRIMERO
Yo Soy Chicano

Yo Soy Chicano.  I am a Chicano, I was not born a Chicano, I chose to be a Chicano, when being a Chicano was
not the in thing.  I have been told I was born a Spaniard.  I have been told I was born one of the indigenous
people, a Native American.  

Some time around the second or third grade I discovered that my world as I knew it was not all Spanish or
Spanish American.  My best friend Bobby was something called English and my other friend Katherine was
Irish, and I knew a little about Irish.  I like Irish; they wore green and sang neat song on Saint Patrick’s Day.  I
wondered if I might be this Irish thing.  I was told however I was Spanish, but I did not feel Spanish.  
Incidentally I stayed Spanish or Spanish American until I met Sandy in the 6th grade and knew I was not
Spanish, so I dropped Spanish and became an American.  Sandy shared her glasses with me and said she was
Mexican, I felt guilty saying I was Mexican because all my gente said they were Spanish.

From the day I dropped being Spanish and accepted being an American I stayed an American until the position I
was hired for was give to two Anglos fresh out of high school from Montana.  I was at this time a Vietnam Vet
with my first year of college behind me.  I questioned why, and in a discreet way was informed it was difficult for
Mexicans to learn the tasks the job required and would have to take instead an entry-level position.  I was no
longer an American, I was now a minority, and I was different.  Deep down under I felt American but my
personnel records listed me as a Mexican.

Less then a year later I sat in on what was called a fisherman’s meeting at a place called The Crusade for
Justice.  The voice of the speaker a man named Rudolpho “Corky” Gonzalez and he pointed to a picture of a
three-face person.  The profile on one side was that of an Indian, the profile of the other side was that of a
Spaniard and the face looking forward was that of a Mestizo, that was me.  The Mestizo, El Chicano and that
was me.  I was not born into it, it was not given me it by societies definitions, I chose to be a Chicano.

I must stop here for a moment and tell the world that first and foremost I am a Christian.  I was adopted into the
Royal Family, chosen by the Father and purchased with the life of his Son on the cross.  This is what makes me
not only a Chicano but also a better Chicano.  You will see what I mean as I will explain later.

It is difficult to describe what it is like being a Chicano.  We were the front-runners in the movement, el
movimiento.  Walking down the streets of Denver on September 16th, 1969 you cannot imagine the pride
running through my veins.  Dressed in my chaleco, blue jeans, and my sombrero and across my chest were
bandoleras.  In my hand I carried a lever action 30-30, ya basta, the revolucion had arrive.  The spirit of Emilano
Zapata floated above our heads and shouts of Viva La Raza and Chicano Power, Viva Mexico and Viva Atzlan
echoed down the streets of Denver, Colorado.  

The American dream, a three-bedroom house in the burbs, a white picket fence, and two kids.  A combination in
the likes of the Cleavers on Leave it to Beaver, or may the Stone family on the Donna Reed Show was now faded
by the reality I was a brown man in a white world.  My service to the country meant nothing.  My Associates in
Electronics was nothing more then another piece of paper to stick in a binder and be forgotten.  The only reality
that mattered was to crawl on my knees and look up to my Anglo patron and laugh at his jokes about lazy
Mexicans.  Play my good Mexican role and eventually become the token Mexican in a White world, a concept
that stuck in my throat, and a concept that stopped my breathing.

My Native American heritage called out to me but my so-called Spanish root shamed me with the crimes the
Spaniards had heaped up my Indian people.  I would then recoil at the sight of pictures of the Indian people’s
savage attack on the poor defenseless Spaniards trying to civilize my people.  I was no one, a ghost of the person;
I was neither Spanish, Native American nor just a plain American.

However sometime in the spring or summer of 1968 my identity was restored and the brown skin young man of 23
could identify with his true heritage, the mestizo.  The proud Indian, the remorseful Spaniard, the educated
American, the Mexican American, no, the Chicano.  I could walk and hold my head high on the job sight where
I took on the corporate powers for equality for La Raza.  In the community where the politico had taken our vote
for granted, asking for it but never giving anything in return.  The educational system that taught us the three R’
s but omitted the contributions my people had made to make this country great.

Becoming a Chicano meant a massive transition for myself.  My focus became the concerns of my people, the
Mexican American and in particular the children of my people.  I purged myself of the chains that had kept La
Raza bound.  The political party that took the vote of my people and gave them crumbs in payment addicted them
to welfare and kept them sedated with food stamps and a monthly check.  Later the same party, the Democrats
would take my people to court as the attempted to stop the party I choose to support, La Raza Unida under the
leadership of Jose Angel Gutierrez in Texas and Corky Gonzales in Colorado.  The declaration of the day by
Gonzales, “the two party system is the one animal with two heads eating out of the same trough”.   I would later
run as a candidate for the La Raza Unida for a Colorado State Office, needless to say I did not get elected.

I purged my self of the religion I was raised in by my parents.  The religion that would refuse to abide by their
doctrine in the concern for my child because I would not sanction my marriage in their church, a marriage that
has now lasted 40 years.  In the thinking of their doctrine my dying baby would wonder for all eternity in the
unknown, rather then to be in his rightful place, that being in the arms of Christ Jesus.  I would never again
participate in their rituals again; they were not the church of my Chicano identity.  This however did not equate
to walking away from my belief in the Almighty, I just knew I did not have to find Him in an Organize Religion.

For many the association with el movimiento was the same as the trend to move in a socialistic or liberal
direction.  This for me was not the case as I was committed to make my own way.  My activism of the day cause
some financial problems for my family, however we never missed or were late for a house payment, lacked for
food or clothing.  I continued not only in staying active in my community, but continued in furthering my
education.  This was a challenge when there were times I would have to hold down two jobs to meet my
obligations.  Chicano pride meant I could achieve anything I desired despite the obstacles society placed in my
path.

By 1974 the dream of a viable La Raza Unida party had pretty much diminished in Colorado.  So Tio Tacos had
opted to return back to the Democratic Party and get involved in politics in that venue.  I saw nothing but a
party of individuals that would continue to keep Latinos as slaves to the welfare system.  At the same time
weakening what little political strength Latinos had achieved by encompassing every radical liberal group into
their ranks.  Latinos were now competing for a piece of the political pie with everything from tree huggers,
animal rights weirdos and advocates of destroying the children of world starting in the womb.  In the early 70's I
became involved in the more conservative party available and became a registered Republican.

This was my destiny through out the 1970’s, however in 1977 I lost my last ties to my historical past with the
passing of my abuelita.  On a dark and bleak November day, we loaded her coffin into the back of my truck and I
took her home to rest in a valley in Northern New Mexico.  It was perhaps the longest drive I have ever
experience for the memories of my grandma would end with this drive.  She was my past and the question now
would be, who will be my future?  Little did I know as I made my trip in a matter of a few months I would be
given the answer to that question.

My grandmother has passed away; I will always remember her as the softest person in the world.  Grandma
taught me how to roll my own, not because she wanted to hook me on tobacco.  She did not want me to go behind
the barn and try experiment on my own, I was about 11 at the time, is this not wisdom.  You know I came to hate
tobacco because of her, because she would hand me the zig zags, the saceto de ponche (tobacco) and we would
roll our own, all was cool until I lit the cigarette.  Then I would get sick.  What wisdom, I do not know for sure
but she probably did not attend one day of school.

Grandma was the last person I visited before I left home to join the Army, and the first person I went to see when
I was discharged.  I still recall the conversations I would later witness between her and my daughter.  Mi
abuelita could not speak a word of English and my daughter could not speak a word of Spanish, yet they
somehow manage to converse with each other for hours.  This is something the most prolific education system
cannot provide two individuals.  

I took mi abuelita home we laid her to rest; I got drunk for one of the last times in my life.  I came back to
Colorado and sought a replacement for this wonderful lady.  One Sunday morning in a little Holiness church,
among a group of African Americans, in the Park Hill community I sat in a Sunday school class at the invite of
a buddy of mine.  I heard the story of a person who could accept me much in the same manner as my grandma,
love me unconditionally.  This was the story of a simple man, or so I thought, who historically had many titles,
but the world knew him simply as Jesus.  John 3:16, you look it up if you do not already know it.

So how does this revelation make me a better Chicano?  Allow me this simple explanation.  God hates the sin
but he loves the sinner.  So my secret is to make an attempt to be like-minded with God through his Son, Christ
Jesus.  This is not an easy task but it is possible.  

My first task as a Christian and my identity as a Chicano were to approach my co-directors of an organization
called CAUSSA.  This group was the Concerned and United Spanish-Surnamed Americans.  We had organized
and incorporated as a non-profit group so as to file a lawsuit against the Bell System for discrimination against
Mexicans Americans and woman in the workplace.  I would later organize a grassroots group of Chicanos called
MALO, the Mexican American League of Organizations.  I approached my co-directors and the membership to
add any disenfranchised group to our lawsuit; my reasoning was as a Christian I could not favor any one class of
individual over another even Chicanos.  I was voted down on this concept and resigned the organization that I
founded.  The lawsuit continued with only women and Mexican American, incidentally women were named
because we had a number of women in our organizations married to Anglos and we felt they needed to be
included.

The next transition as a Chicano.  I was now a Born Again Christian, a popular term at the time, I was still a
Chicano, with ties to my people La Raza and I needed to complete the trinity of my life.  Many things in the
natural life parallel the spiritual, or so my study of scripture.  I was taught early on by my first Bible Teacher
and Pastor at the time, which later became the Bishop of our denomination that as Christian it is first natural
then spiritual.  The easiest way to explain this is with this thought.  It is difficult to feed a hungry person the
spiritual food of Gods Love, if he or she has not ate for days, so first the individual must be given a natural meal
before being  feed the Bread of Life.  

I enrolled into a Bible college for a two-year program to get licenses as a Minister.  I began an extensive self-
study on the virtues of a Christian Life and looked for individuals I could emulate as maintaining those virtues.  
A name that kept appearing in my reading was that of Ronald Reagan, in the late 70’s his name kept appearing
as a contender for the Republican nominee for President and by 1980 he was well on the road to becoming the
nominee.  I joined the Reagan bandwagon and became part of the Viva Reagan a small group of Hispanics
supporting Reagan for President, and made a deeper commitment to the Republican Party.

President Reagan brought forth to light the two important concepts that completed the trinity in my life.  First
he restored the conviction I had grown up with as a child and a young adult, that being the pride in America and
being an American.  Next he gave back the dignity I had earned as a veteran and more specifically a Vietnam
veteran, the dignity that had been raped by a nation that had for one forsaken God.  Disgraced this great nation
by demeaning the virtues that its founding fathers had placed in its constitution.  And moved to deliver La Raza
and other minorities from the hands of a slave master called the welfare state.


To Be Continued:
Once again I must impose this disclaimer.  If you are offended by Chicano
(Mexican American) humor then I advise you do not click on Don Speedy
Gonzales above.  If you desire to laugh with me (not at me) then join me by
clicking on Speedy.