Abre tus ojos Chicanos y Chicanas!
I look among those who call themselves “tough” and “Soy Chicano/a”, who run the streets with a gun in their hand, drugs in their veins and in their brains, crying out: Eastside Bolen! La Primera Flats! 18th Street! This gang, that gang. But my brothers and sisters, do you understand the meaning of it all? Can you explain in all seriousness what and who you are fighting for? How has it benefited you or your familia? I dare you, challenge you to look deep within yourselves and find truth to what it is you are a part of. I guarantee you that the truth is very different from the display you put on in public.
I’ve seen it, I’ve lived within it and still I am saddened these gangs haven’t come together for the better. I’ve gone to a school where two different gangs from the same city were separated and divided into two time slots: the morning and afternoon classes. Two different gangs in one city! My parents were a product of gang life back in the 60’s and 70’s and though it wasn’t as violent as it has become over the last couple of decades, it’s meaning is still lost in translation.
I’ve watched my parents and their friends speak up about La Raza and staying together, being part of a family. But in order to belong to that kind of ‘family’ or ‘gang’ one had to be beaten up by the others to become accepted. What was Raza about that? Why was it necessary to beat a brother up to belong? To show one’s courage? Or to ensure that when needed, that person would stand up and fight? What are you fighting for in the first place?
Do you know what I see? I see a beautiful race of brothers and sisters fighting each other over street names and respect. Respect for what? For whom? How about standing up against those big rich people that have put us down for centuries? Those greedy pigs who give farm workers and fruit pickers low wages and inhumane treatment out in the fields? Why aren’t you coming together for that kind of respect? Respect towards your people? Do you think those government officials and police officers care what street you live on or what city you ‘represent’? All they care about is the color of your skin and how to lock you up and be an example; a negative example.
I see you beautiful young niños/children and I am saddened that you have chosen a life of dugs and violence; a life these politicians and law enforcements are handing out like candy. Why must you choose ‘THEIR’ way and not your own? Every day you choose to shoot someone not from your ‘hood’ or ‘barrio’ is another day those gringos laugh in our Mexican faces. Everyday you choose to graffiti someones property you allow law enforcement to degrade our people. Everyday you choose to commit a crime, you give in to their ugly descriptive words, again, about our people. You give them ample reasons for pushing us back and not allowing us us to get ahead. Don’t you want a better tomorrow, a better NOW?!? Instead of using your anger against your own people why not use that anger against a people that are really holding you down? I dare you to look beyond the box you have chosen to live in and see the disgust and reality going on outside for once.
I see you beautiful Chicanas becoming piñatas for your gangs’ pleasure. I see you being used with sex and forced by drug use in order to ‘belong.’ Belong to what?!? You are strong and will one day become mothers and voices for those nearest and dearest to you. Think! It isn’t illegal yet. Our Creator has given you the ability to give life, to be the voice for those who need you more than ever. You are better than sex and derogatory names, you are better than that man-made crap flowing through your veins. You are the voice of the future, of the NOW. You are important and deserve better than you think. And for those of you who are already mothers; it is time for CHANGE! No one is going to pay your way, or give you a thing without labeling you first as something negative. Stop fighting each other over a man. Instead be independent and brave enough to fight for a real cause. Real men will respect you; I promise. Stop relying on welfare and food stamps in order to live. You have a wonderful mind, a big enough heart, and a thirst for knowledge. Use it to better yourselves and earn your children’s respect. Remember; you are not a statistic, you are not a label and the government knows this. It’s time you should know it too!
It is time for my brothers and sisters to stand up for the cause, put down useless weapons and pick up useful ones such as your voices and your ideas and talents instead. You are part of a beautiful human race. One who respects each other, one who loves one another, and one who respects and loves nature; where everything began. It’s time to take back our PRIDE and HISTORY. It is time to stand up for our people and our self worth. We are more than just the street we live on or the city we reside in; we are intelligent warriors and peacemakers, we are a loving and respectful culture, but most importantly, we are a beautiful and beneficial people. I challenge you to cease bringing the violence into your communities and begin bringing in the knowledge and respect you have learned from your ancestors.
I dare you to put those beautiful creative minds to good use, to benefit ‘your’ Raza, your cultura/ culture for the better. Don’t let the government win by blaming you as the product of violence because you are Mexican, Hispanic, Latino, or Mexican-American. Prove them wrong as they should’ve been proven so long ago when they lied about giving us equality in the late 1800’s. Do NOT fight for a street or a city, but instead stand up for a land that has been ours since the very beginning. Be proud of your culture, your history, and yourself. Fight for the importance of life, and not for the self made honor representing a street or town you are from.
Be a proud Chicana/o, but for the people, not for the statistics those Rich people in power put you in. Work on building better relationships within your own families and in your own businesses. La Raza is who we are so let’s begin by treating each other as such. Let’s get involved just as those students in Tucson, AZ have begun to do so. Instead of fighting each other, their importance is fighting against a government that is against Mexican American Studies. Those government officials are threatened by the cause and effect of teaching a proud history and gaining positive, intelligent, successful students. Think of your children’s futures and how they will be forced to swallow Anglo history B.S. just as you once did when you were young, or are still being forced to swallow today. Remember, we are no longer a minority, we are just as important as everyone else.
Lastly, I dare you, challenge you to take a moment and think about RESPECT. What does that word mean to you deep down inside? What kind of respect do you want to give and receive? How can you achieve respect when you disrespect your brothers and sisters by shooting them down, by breaking their families’ hearts? Where is the respect in this? Instead of killing one another why not be brave enough to stand together for our RAZA? Can you imagine the fear you would strike in the hearts of government leaders with no choice but to listen? You can do bigger and better things when you stand together rather than destroying your people which is what they want you to do.
I challenge you to listen to your abuelitas and their stories of strength and survival. I ask you to listen to your abuelitos speak about honor and familia, about working hard and respect at the end of the day. Your grandparents won’t be around forever, so listen while you can. And for those of you who no longer have those wise leaders in your life, look to your parents, your Tíos y Tías/ Aunts and Uncles and listen to their stories. It is time to stand up for a purpose. I will be with you 100% my brothers and sisters! You are better than those gringos and politicians think you are! It’s time to show them why!
VIVA LA REVOLUCIÓN!
(Note: Author does not hold copyrights for images used for this post)