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Murder in Progress » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

When I write about the Chicana/o community, it is more in the spirit of an examination of conscience than an indictment. Although I do not pretend to be member of any religious sect or group, it is a habit that I picked up after over twelve years of parochial schools. We were taught to examine our consciences daily and later to use a scholastic method of inquiry to test our assumptions.

Although the method had its flaws, it was good because it forced us to think. My criticism was that there was an over reliance on theology and when the thinking stopped that one fell back on faith, which is where I stepped off. However, to be fair it was used primarily as a method to interpret scripture.

Religion is part of culture but it often becomes so overwhelming that it neutralizes thinking. My feeling is that we have to use methods to go beyond these cultural biases, and this can be difficult.

I was listening to public radio last Sunday, to a discussion of the Italian economic crisis and how the rise of Silvio Berlusconi was possible. The gist was that it was rooted in Italian culture primarily the family which made the Italians insular and promoted distrust of anyone outside the unit. This made change difficult and one of the reasons for the rise of the mafia. The conclusion was that this insularity would hamper the reforms needed to get Italy out of its economic doldrums. While I have questions about this analysis, I don’t think it can be dismissed out of hand.

It is a cultural trait that many including Mexican Americans and Latinos share. We tend to be clannish, romanticize our families, and this carries over to our organizational work where many of us take on the identity of the organizations that we belong to. It becomes our family. For example, I am over protective of Chicana/o Studies.

Recently I wrote an article on the failure of Mexican American and Latino organizations to stop the carnage in Arizona. The suppression of free speech in Tucson has gone unrestrained despite the hype that we are a national minority. How is it that we can get the President of the United States to address our conventions, but not get him to enforce the Constitution in Arizona? There is nothing more fundamental than education and free speech which is being flagrantly denied.

Perhaps I could have been more diplomatic, used less offensive words. Some interpreted the word failure as harsh which in my method of criticism is not. I consider myself a failure for some of the failures of Chicana/o Studies. Few would argue with the proposition that the disparate Latino scholars have contributed to what I termed the Arizona failure.

For a lack of space I zeroed in on two organizations, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Council of La Raza. Both of these organizations have assumed the mantle of national leaders and should be evaluated with this in mind.

I did not mean to say that the organizations are failures. I was being very specific about their failure to stem the racist hysteria in Arizona. I thought I differentiated between MALDEF and NCLR. I do not really consider the latter to be a Mexican American organization – distance and time have changed its priorities.

MALDEF is another story. It is a national organization and it has done outstanding work in the field of litigation. It has, however, failed to stem the present racist hysteria within Arizona. As I pointed out, this is probably due to its organization structure. MALDEF is not the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It is more like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund which does not assume the mantle of a community organization. I reiterate my criticism is of organizational structure and question its ability to cope with the growing xenophobia in the United States. I do not question its value to the community.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Murder in Progress » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

About mexika.org (943 Articles)
Founder, mexika.org

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