Words from an Insomniac still trying to find her way

Enriqueta Vasquez and the Chicano Movement, writings from El Grito del Norte

Enriqueta Vasquez and the Chicano Movement, writings from El Grito del Norte delivers leadership and positive encouragement for the Chicano/a Movement it so desperately needs. Consisting of articles and essays written by Vasquez during the late 60’s early 70’s, we are reminded of the purpose and meaning of the struggle we represent as Mexican Americans and Latinos. In her ‘folk’ like wisdom and humor, her columns entitled “!Despierten Hermanos!” (Wake up Brothers and Sisters!), she raises her voice, awakening a sleepy  Raza about the wrong doings going on in our own country, by our own government against our people.

Vasquez wrote for El Grito Del Norte, a Chicano newspaper based in Española, New Mexico during the late 60’s early 70’s. During a time of racism and struggle for Mexican Americans, she wasn’t afraid to bring up such topics as the Vietnam war, social justice, Communism, or the meaning of Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16th. Having been born from the revolutionary flames from both parents and experiencing first hand, racism against Mexicans while living in Colorado, Vasquez began a journey which would later label her a pioneer for the people.

Vasquez is on fire with nothing short of truth and empowerment in her words and actions. In her letter Teach True Values, Says La Raza Mother, Vasquez points out the importance of being taught our ‘true’ history for once. We have been taught the Anglo version for so long, never identifying with it. Where does that leave us, our culture? Think about it as it is happening now, as the Tucson Unified School District chains our children to their books and their versions of America the beautiful. We are important and so is our culture and history. It is time again to stand up and fight for our right to be.

In her letter Tío Sam says: “Gimmie!”, Vasquez never falters as she addresses the obvious: America and her love for the almighty dollar. How our country’s officials force their way onto other lands, taking and never giving in return. I am ashamed that my country has never stood by the words “…One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  Our country has been long overdue of a proper “spanking.”

I must admit that this book of published letters and essays is not only a valuable tool to educate, but also a form of waking up those that have caved away in the political hibernation of ignorance. Students, use this beautiful tool to empower your thinking and voices. Teachers, teach from a voice that is on fire for la Raza just as yours should be. Thank you Enriqueta Vasquez, for waking up a sleepy people!

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