Acuña debunks myths and calls the Left out to task | mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration

* Note: It is my contention that, in addition to the reasons given below, MALDEF, NCLR and LULAC fail so miserably because they espouse a philosophy of submission and assimilation. The sheer idiocy of declaring "we are immigrants too!" is inherently flawed and ignores the historical reality of our indigenous (mazewalli) heritage. Unless these organizations actively work to reframe the conversation as being an indigenous issue, they are doomed to fail.
With all of the hype around Latinos these days, how could Arizona have happened? I thought we had power. One-third of Arizona is Latino and its neighbor California is the land of milk and honey – the favorite destination of politicos of all colors. Over fifty percent of Los Angeles is Latino; its mayor is Mexican American as is the mayor of San Antonio, Texas.

Arizona’s war on Mexican Americans does not make sense, especially in the light of the growth of the Latino population that now numbers 50 million. This nightmare seems out of place. Alabama maybe, but Arizona?

It is time that we try to find answers and admit our weaknesses. The most obvious flaw is that Arizona has exposed a weakness in Latino and Mexican American organizational infrastructure.

Mexican youth redefining the Left. Photo by Jorge Mexicano. Courtesy of Adbusters

A partial answer as to why Latinos are so ineffective is that the Latino population is having growing pains. It has grown dramatically in the past fifty years, going from a regional to a national phenomenon. This transformation has out stripped the capacity of traditional organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens and the American GI Forum to deal with this change.

Presently there are only two organizations that could be called national and they came about in 1968 with the founding of the Southwest Council of La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Their express purpose was to build a national presence for Mexican Americans. The SWCLR was the brainchild of Drs. Julian Samora and Ernesto Galarza who along with Herman Gallegos sold the project to the Ford Foundation.

Almost simultaneously MALDEF was formed in San Antonio, with a $2.2 million five-year grant from the Ford Foundation to implement legal services program. From the beginning Ford monies shaped the SWCLR and MALDEF.

In 1973, the SWCLR changed its name to the National Council of La Raza, and moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C. In the early days Ford micromanaged both organizations, controlling them by doling out funds.

For instance, at key junctures Ford threatened to withhold money if the organizations did not follow its advice. These organizations were fragile at first passing through precarious times.

In 1975 NCLR expanded its mission to include non-Mexican American Latino issues. Ironically, its dependence on Ford and other foundations lessened to the point that by 1980, the NCLR was for a time almost exclusively funded by the federal government, which created another set of problems, most noticeable of which was the influence of the powerful Miami cabal. Its trajectory changed as did its constituency.

Ford also shaped MALDEF. Ford fashioned its paradigm after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909 and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., established in 1937.

As Ford became more vested in the Civil Rights establishment, its own scope broadened to include the Mexican American. It funded the important University of California Los Angeles study of the 1960 Census. But even then it selected a non-Mexican American, non-expert in the field to head the project.

Ford knew little about Mexicans. Its playing card was its experiences with the NACCP. Few of its program officers had field experience or knew much about Mexican Americans.

As the Mexican American and Latino populations grew so did their dream of a national organization.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Acuña debunks myths and calls the Left out to task | mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration.

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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