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The Struggles Faced by Mexican Americans as the Catalyst for Chicano Movement

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By the year 1970, the Chicano movement was heavily dominated by young students in high schools and colleges. González explains how they focused on problems that they experienced at their educational institutions, and how they were committed to the concept of cultural regeneration. By definition, it is the glorification of a homeland. They wanted to renew or transform their community in a way that demonstrates how proud they are to be Chicanos and foster the beliefs and traditions of their culture together. González points out how another force or movement, called the Chicana movement, surfaced afterwards. 219). From this, readers can gather that the Chicana activists made sure to try harder in claiming their rights and equality. Having to struggle for equality with the men, who were treated better in comparison because of gender, and protesting for political rights and equality signifies how much of a bigger battle the women had to fight to achieve their goals. The Chicana movement ended up being divided into two categories: Topics that were continuously debated about included issues like child care, welfare rights, abortion and sexual discrimination in employment.

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The Chicano movement depended on cultural nationalism because it encouraged unity among groups of youth, ultimately creating one identity. However, Chicano activists primarily focused on social, political inclusion and civil rights. Cultural nationalism was limited because it held patriarchal ideologies that would exclude Chicanas from the movement. The progression in the level of thinking can be noticed when comparing Gonzalez’s text with that of Vicki Ruiz. In chapter four of ‘From Out of the Shadows,’ Vicki Ruiz describes the struggles Mexican American women faced in their communities during the 1950s. She explains how role reversals between men and women caused a change in consciousness when she says Since the Chicana movement occurred soon afterwards and in the 1970s, it can be noted that when the women took their husbands’ positions (as it was essential) they noticed that there were only slight differences between them and that they can work just as well as men, if not better. This could have encouraged them to fight for their rights and bring about feminism to a higher level.

Rodolfo Acuña argues in chapter five of his book Occupied America that Mexican Americans have long been racialized in the United States. While Rodolfo González speaks about the history of the Mexican Americans using a sentimental tone, Acuña adopts a more serious tone and discusses how people with Mexican origin have faced racial barriers that have determined the level of treatment and opportunity they would receive in the US. He offers concrete evidence, stating that Before the Chicano movement, Chicanos encountered many obstacles because of how little their number was compared to the Anglos. They were less than the majority, and this proved to benefit the Anglo people and give them the freedom to do more than verbally and physically abuse the Chicanos. However, the discrimination toward Mexicans increased in the wage labor market, and the “dual wage system” in which Mexicans and Chinese were paid less than Anglos persisted (128). This unfair treatment of the Mexicans around the 1890s contributed to confrontations, which overtime inspired the start of the Chicano movement.

Many Chicano activists fought to identify themselves during the Chicano movement and united with each other under one, primary identity of being Chicano. They fought to have their voices heard, confronting both the white people and the predominantly white American government with pride and dignity. In Rodolfo González’s poem “I Am Joaquin,” the speaker places himself at the center of a battle against history, circumstances, culture, society, and identity. The main focus of the poem is the speaker approaching the successes and confusion of every culture and demonstrating how they enabled him to create his own. He describes how the term Chicano has many connections with different parts of history in a poetic manner. By choosing his own definition of the word Chicano, he refers to himself as not only a Mexican, but a Spanish despot, Indian, Mayan prince and several other names. There is a sense of empowerment in the poem, and the speaker makes an effort to show how proud he is to be a Chicano. He describes himself as a person with dignity and power, repetitively calling himself by the words to encourage the reader to jump into his shoes and see the world from his perspective. He can be described as a hero because of the nature of his personal battle against those who dislike him and fail to accept him for who he is. He describes how small he feels in the world that surrounds him, and how despite this, he willingly fights and competes against his fears.

Since the speaker takes part in several cultures, there are lots of contradictions, like when he states that people of the Chicano culture are killed and are killing, and are regarded as weak but strong. During history class, students are taught that the Spaniard Cortes is recognized for destroying the Aztec civilization. It is particularly interesting when the speaker describes himself as both the symbol of pride for the Aztecs, but additionally the cause of their death. In the final stanza on the first page, the speaker says that he and that he’s but additionally claims that he is a (González 267). He is making a good point because he’s telling his readers that although he is considered a slave of the Spanish master, the lands he works on signify his responsibility and heritage. Despite the idea that he toils the dirt, he is almost being given the freedom to reign over the lands. He is a slave to his master, but he is a tyrant over the ground he works on.

The speaker writes about the struggles he had gone through throughout the poem. He uses words like and (278). These examples indicate how important they are in each and every feature of the Chicano culture, and how other cultures affect his. The” could be interpreted as the actual mines he was forced to work in as a slave, or it can be interpreted as a metaphor for the exhausting and gloomy social snobbery during his time. When the speaker claims he accentuates the level of misery and pain that he had felt about the experiences he had undergone, and how they had caused his heart to crumble in more ways than one. The reader can almost feel the emotion dripping from the pages, and more so when he statesThe use of personification allows the reader to connect with him on a personal level and almost understand how cruel not only the American government, but the white society had been to the Chicanos and Chicanas. They have made the and yet what they got in return was discrimination and inequality (275). The speaker is explaining how the Anglo people frowned at his and his community’s lifestyle, how they only took what they wanted to benefit themselves, but never took to consideration of the true values of unity and brotherhood. Like the Anglos, the Chicanos are people, and they must gain and conserve the right of equal treatment and opportunity in life.

Mexican Americans have faced many obstacles in the United States during the twentieth century, and among those were severe cases of racism and discrimination, receiving less pay while working the same jobs as the Anglos, and having few to no political rights. They struggled to gain the rights and equality they deserved, their self-determination and pride for their history and culture proving to be one of their strongest skills. The ideology of white supremacy did often get in their way, but after the rise of the Chicano movement, Mexican Americans succeeded in expanding beyond the rights of farmworkers and themselves alone. They achieved freedom from injustice and racism, which paved way for more lifelong opportunities in work and education than ever before. By challenging white supremacists and developing confrontations to captivate the public and spread awareness, they created reform and promoted Chicano nationalism, sending out one important message to all the people that watch and listen: that they are Chicanos, and they will remain proud and unafraid to be Chicanos– and that no matter how dangerous or gruesome their fights for civil rights and equality will be, they will never back down from achieving what they rightfully deserve. 

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