In response to friend on Castro’s involvement in El Salvador: “Wendy then why was the United States financing Arena and the Salvadoran military? In was in El Salvador in 1991 and never saw a Cuban but I did encounter American military advisers. Castro can be criticized for the initial policy on LGBT but the shoe also fits the U.S. Change only began in both countries in the 1990s. You must remember Elizabeth Taylor’s valiant smuggling in of AIDS drugs. The truth be told, the world does not have a good history in re: to LGBT rights. We should all be ashamed.
Just a little story. My generation of Chicanas/os usually attended USC for graduate degrees. Many of its offering were after 4 PM and I don’t know of many Chicanas/os who had scholarships. It was the GI Bill and work. There were no freeways to UCLA that did not offer grad or regular courses after 4 PM. We usually lived in the basin and worked there so we could not afford to lose 2-3 hours driving to Westwood. Many Chicanos, Blacks and Asians were also critical UCLA being situated in Westwood and believed it should be where Cal State is today. This resentment increased when Pepperdine moved to Malibu to escape South Central. Previous to that Loyola had left inner LA.It is only until the 1960s that UCLA opened its doors. LA State, ELAC, LACC were/are the working class schools. Chicanas/os are becoming more numerous at UCLA because of the Chicana/o Movement; we should not forget that we are there because struggle and sacrifice of that movement.Lamentably USC and UCLA have become money making institutions with a third of their students being out of state and international students. How much is made on parking alone? In sum, we are at these institutions because we fought our way in not because we werw their first choice.
Thanks to see another New Year. Life has been good to me, I have remained a teacher. Got my first three degrees, BA, General Secondary and MA in History from LA State College and continued teaching a a teachers’ college. It was a gift, kept my arrogance in check. The death of others define my own mortality. 12/16
I was asked why I posted a photo on 19th century Chihuahua patriarchy because some of the remarks were frankly sexist. I published this response: ” It is part of history, it is a part we should remember and not repeat. I saw it during my research on Chihuahua,my colleague Jorge Garcia posted it to condemn it, it is part of the pretensions of Mexican Liberalism (Juarez, Diaz etc who wanted to be white) and it is being repeated today under the guise of neo-liberalism. We should have learned but didn’t, i.e., with the election of Trump.It is also my reaction to all of the postings exulting a Mexican cuisine that most poor people rarely eat. You also cannot deal with the attitudes by covering them up. Look at the photo, these are upper class Mexicans trying to be European. I am surprised that you would ask why I posted it. If the respondants are revolting they should be called out. It is like when I criticized Juarez for selling out the Mexican Indians some of my Mexican friends would not talk to me. The truth is the truth. We live in a cesspool and it will stay a cesspool for as long as we let it fester.
Is there a difference between Republicans and Democrats? The former are universally bad. Name one piece of social legislation since the 1950s and even before passed on Republican initiative. One of the things that I had against Bill Clinton is that undid much of this legislation, deregulating Wall Street and setting back welfare reform. He stepped up the War on Drugs. My criticism of Obama is that he never passed immigration reform even in his first two years. The truth be told, there has been no major social legislation out of perhaps Obama Care (a sop to the medical establishment and pharmaceuticals. However, objectively speaking Democrats are much better and do protect most social gains.
“Words and actions should help to unite, and not divide, the people of our various nationalities.” Chairman Mao
Rodolfo F. Acuña
People are often insulted by my sarcasm. However, I have never taken the movement lightly – I have always been this way. In order to explain myself I go way back. Before 1969 things were straight forward, we did not have to worry about elitism. In 1968 there were only 100 Latino PhDs according to ERIC, 50 of who were Mexican Americans.
By 1970 the number of Chicano undergrads and grads had grown considerably forming our so-called vanguard class. Those believing they were in the forefront were mostly concentrated at doctoral granting institutions. The presence of graduate students brought an almost immediate change. Chicana/o studies programs at teacher training institutions had a difficult time communicating with the avant-garde whose gods were their gringo professors. The vanguardia carried the works of Gundar Frank who quickly was replaced by Wallerstein. Most were elitist. I tried to hire one of them who told me that he had not studied for a PhD to teach high school. I admit I contributed to this because I insisted that everyone teach four classes and be on campus five days a week, holding office hours.
This elitism trickled down to the community where some barrio organizations were dominated by youth. The vanguardia in this instance called Chicano Studies cultural nationalistic. On one occasion one of these organizations demanded we get rid of our mariachis. Nationalism according to them was what caused sexism and kept us in a state of under development.
Universities became centers for the new escapist elitism. Many of the vanguardia did not see the contradiction of their criticizing those beneath them with participating in sniffing of white powder. This attitude was infectious and could have easily decimated ChS programs such as SFVSC. When I assumed the chair ship, I knew the students were going to be nationalistic, unprepared and Catholic. Many new programs ignored this and they quickly joined the fishes in ocean.
Therefore, I wrote into the course of study a class on Chicanos and Religion. We purposely hired Catholic and Protestant role models. Hired many high school teachers because the primary purpose of ChS was literacy – to read, write and think critically not to regurgitate Wallerstein and Brother Karl.
We brought in an Irish Priest, a member of the IRA and Mexican nuns. We worked closely with the Newman Center. This was criticized by the vanguardia. I remember an exceptionally that long question asked me by an exceptionally bright student in the 1980s at the University of Houston: what I would say if he asked inane question about Occupied America? I told you I would tell him fuck you and encourage him to write his own book. That was and is my personality; it fit the mode of the barrio kids I was working with.
For the past 60 years, I have not changed much. Coming from an elitist high school and being treated by my teachers as special I have been in a perpetual state of revolt against pedanticism. From day one, I listened to sages such as Octavio Romano who condemned the growing professionalism of Chicano academicians. They were however aghast when I proposed that we seed future generations by giving all of our students BA’s and in this way seed a second generation of college students. Even then there were class differences between research universities and teacher training institutions.
Thankfully we outgrew this infantile behavior. Today, even many Marxist embrace spirituality. However, Catholicism left me cynical. I believe in learning from history and I do not want to repeat the babosadas of 70s and 80s. Think about it, we had no problems when we were pagans; it was only after we insisted that was one true god that we started to kill others for not believing.
This is why I am reacting so harshly when I hear ex-Marxists whose generation was part of the problem repeating their errors and opening up unnecessary arguments. It is infantile to correct others for the use of Aztec or Maya words especially when I have not studied Nahuatl or Mayan. Perhaps I am simply in the fuck you stage. Academicians or scholars as they like to be called have pretensions of elitism and without realizing it they are being destructive. I am neither a Catholic or believer, a spiritualist nor in the vanguard. I just want to teach others and in order to do that infantilism is destructive of that end.
It really pisses me off that the millennials are being blamed for losing the election as if the Democrats had given them so fucking much. The generation that is blaming them had free tuition ($50 a semester in 1970) and abundant benefits. The millennials in California are paying tuition of $3500 a semester ($12,000 at UCLA and $18,000 at state universities on the East Coast, They have to pay for everything and work two jobs to make it. I have students who eat one meal a day and some that even work as strippers to survive and these smug son of bitches who point the finger at the millennials wallow in their senior citizen discounts and tax breaks.Ronald Regan said in 1968 that tuition should be raised so students are too tired to picket. Well did the millennial elect Reagan? Did they elect Bill Clinton who increased poverty by his so-called welfare reforms? Were they the stupid ones who erased the emails, invaded Libya and took usurious speaking fees from people who should have been in jail. Go to Boyle Heights and you see more senior citizen centers than youth centers. Given what I know right now if I lived and went to school today I never would have gotten my PhD. Could not have afforded it. I am an atheist but I still rememberand adhere to the saying “there for the grace of God go I.”
Latinos and the Fracturing Democratic Coalition
Protesters greet Hillary Clinton at East Los Angeles College, May 2016.
The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections saw old alliances and loyalties shattered by the fall of the Democratic Party and the rise of con man Donald Trump into so many pieces that they, like Humpty Dumpty, can never be put together again. Politics as we know them are beyond repair.
Although Latinos formed a vital piece of this makeup, the non-Latino American public made little effort to learn anything about them. The political pundits reduced them to numbers and stereotypes. Absent were Mexican American newscasters or political players; to the media, every brown-skinned person was an immigrant. Latinos — Hispanics in polite society — looked and thought alike.
The lack of intelligent an analysis failed to counter the fake news Trump and his supporters spread via social media and the networks. Truth be told, Latin American nationalities share colonial history but that is far as it often goes. They are racially and culturally different. Not all Latinos, for example, enjoy or eat spicy foods, and they do not all live in the same places.
Of the 55 million U.S. Latinos, 35 million are of Mexican origin. Some Mexican Americans have been in the U.S, since before the American Invasions of 1836 and 1845, while a large number of Latinos have arrived since 1980. The media and the political parties persist in treating them as if they were from the same.
This has facilitated the creation of a commodity, with some Mexican Americans declaring themselves “Latinos for Trump” in hopes of privatizing the moment and profiting from the brand. They have no nationality so it doesn’t matter if they have the authority to speak for the amorphous Latino.
Among many millennials this lack of consciousness has resulted in resentment. They know the issues. Attending their protests, you see placards bearing the words “Honduras,” “Palestine” and “No One is Illegal”; and posters denouncing neoliberalism and gentrification. These issues were absent from the Democratic Party’s narrative where, incredibly, there was little or no mention of Latin America or the killing fields of Mexico.
What the Democratic Party is missing is that Latinos are repeating the Baby Boom era of the 1960s. The median age of Mexican Americans is 25; the median for Non-Hispanic whites is 42.3. Although still lagging, their college enrollment has more than tripled. The college educated sector of the Mexican American community knows and thinks about the issues. They influence their parents and the narrative within the community.
It is doubtful that without the participation of the far left in the Mexican American community there will be any mass return to the Democratic Party. A recent Los Angeles march protesting Trump’s election numbered 20,000 participants. It was organized by a Chicana/o Marxist party without any backlash — something that would not have happened ten years ago.
Many millennials resented the arrogance of the Clintons, Hillary and Bill. The stakes in this election were huge. It was clear during the primaries that the Music Man was picking up speed and that positive sentiment for Hillary was primarily a reflection of Trump’s badness. Still the Democratic Party recklessly nominated Clinton, whose political baggage was enormous.
Clinton had too many IOUs. During the pipeline controversy, which proposed transporting crude oil from fields in North Dakota across four states, she tried triangulating this social issue. Despite a potential environmental disaster, Clinton stayed neutral until November 3, not wanting to offend her fossil-fuel-loving friends and donors. She flip-flopped only on the eve of the election. The informed knew of Clinton’s history of backing The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). She first called it a gold standard, and then stopped talking about it at all. Tired of the growing privatization, rising housing costs in their neighborhoods, and job loss, large sectors of American society turned against Clinton. Many did not vote for Trump, but stayed home.
The Democratic Party has lost its moral authority. Today there is only a faint memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-45). I remember my grandmother lighting candles to portraits of the Virgen de Guadalupe, the Sacred Heart, and Roosevelt. She lit them every night. The party’s scandals and its evident lack of principles have killed this allegiance. Many are disillusioned and believe that Democrats have no spine and cave in to Republicans all too easily.
Regardless of what Trump says or does, Mexican Americans and the core of other Latinos are not going away. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Mexican American population grew by 7.2 million as a result of births. These children are born American citizens. This number dwarfs the 4.2 million new immigrants who arrived in the United States during the same period. A wall won’t keep them out.
This new generation reacted to the election of Trump by walking out of school. Like the students walking out of Los Angeles and California high schools in 1994 in response to the draconian Proposition 187 that targeted Mexican immigrants, students are forming a collective historical memory. They will fight back. Cries of a Calexit have emerged — this time for the right reason.
Big Tent rhetoric alone will not bring in youth and disaffected Mexican Americans and Latinos. During the election cycle, Clinton tried to win over Latino voters by telling to look at her as their abuelita, calling to mind images of the popular Mexican chocolate tablets rather than any real connection with Latino communities. This gaffe was met by sarcasm from many Mexican Americans. Cultural pandering will not put the old alliances back together again. A popular front against Trump that includes Latinos can only be achieved through political education by a coalition that stands for something other than show politics. Otherwise the Trumps will continue to win the shell game.
The Bourgeois’ Dilemma
Rodolfo F. Acuña
The other day a colleague called it to my attention that I was wearing New Balance so in some way I was breaking a boycott. I pointed out that they were the only shoes I had. In retrospect I was becoming so gringo. I have never been for the indiscriminate application of boycotts. In 2010, the early stages of Arizona assault on immigrants and then on Mexican American Studies I questioned the call for a boycott of Arizona. I felt that it isolated Tucson and prevented friends for going there to show their support by visiting the Wall and standing in solidarity. Not all boycotts were like the Farm Worker Boycott.
Relating it to the New Balance Boycott, I will certainly not buy that brand again just like I won’t buy at Walmart. However, I believe it would be stupid for me to buy a pair of shoes that I wear for health reasons. Having diabetes, shoes are a big deal! You’d know if you had it. New Balance is one of the few brands that have triple width shoes. In my estimation if would be a bit more strategic to pass out buttons emphasizing not to buy New Balance. While I respect the sentiments of Debra Messing and Swae Lee, they are not my teachers.
In the 1960s I pointed out to a group of activists that we should dispense with introductions because the consumed so much time. We should substitute the intros by wearing combat ribbons like generals do telling the world which demonstrations we had attended with stars for each time we had been arrested. Maybe a platinum star for each time we had been fired. Not buying the products of our enemies would be and should have been taken for granted. Instead of throwing away the product the emphasis should be on not buying it. This, however, would take work; you would have to organize trips to the boycotted places. The truth be told, liberals don’t much cotton to work. It is easier to tell people to throw away things.
During the grape boycott, my understanding was that the purpose was to hurt the grape growers economically. It was not to have us run to our refrigerators and throw all of the grapes away. It was to go out and picket the super markets where the sales we made. No one thought of regurgitating and purging our bodies of the evil substance.
It kind of irks me because so much of our politics is for show. It reminds me of the 1960s when we purposely dressed down because everything seemed to be for show. I remember that students were ridiculed for dress up to go to classes. They were “bourgie.” We all followed this trend often without questioning. In the eighties I remember going to a meeting for the “Save the Van Nuys GM Plant open” at the machinist hall in Burbank. During the meeting the machinist rep whispered to me, “Rudy, I want to show you something after the meeting.”
After the meeting we went out onto the parking lot. Leroy led me to a brand new white Cadillac convertible. He had just bought it. I reflected that in activist circles this would be labeled “bourgie.” I thought to myself, “Leroy has been a worker all of his life. He has been involved in the labor movement. His labor had made this possible whereas I as a university professor apologize for wearing Rayburn Sunglasses.” That is the difference between the factory worker and the so-called cultural proletariat.
I am getting old and find myself getting cranky and I guess nit picking. But I get impatient between those calling for symbolic acts versus substance. At the university professors’ advocate but few will sacrifice for a cause. They will picket and even strike for higher wages but ignore increases in student tuition. They turn the other way while neoliberal policies have decimated the blue collar class. Privately they will complain about the administration but when confronted by administrators they get sick smiles on their faces. I got my fill during the UNAM (Universidad Autonoma de Mexico) when many Chicana/o Studies professors were unwilling to go to the edge of the proverbial class and to go over it. It is easy to say I am boycotting but any other thing to sacrifice. Instead professors smile at despicable people like the College of Humanities Dean Beth Say. Perhaps I should throw away my used New Balance shoes, go barefooted and smile.
The critics of the mural are now claiming that I am a bully and petitioning the provost to defend their rights. My feeling is that we should respond because the purpose of the Forbes’ and the student is to incite a confrontation. I really don’t care if they are pro-flag or pro-like, it is their business. But the safety of our students is our business. I urge them to join the Marines.
My response: JACK,
I REALLY DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK. I stand by my remarks. I would further say that it is Professor Robert Oscar Lopez who is taking the cheap shots and giving right wing groups fodder. We do have first amendment rights and the mural is protected by the free speech provision.
As you know, we have left you alone. We know that you do not identify as a Mexican American and don’t care much about the students, but that is your business. It is our business when a professor goes out of his way to create controversy especially where there is none. It is worse when he hides behind the veil of patriotism.
I don’t believe that I should be called a bully for questioning the patriotism of these alarmist that have not served in the armed forces. If they love the flag so much fight for it. I volunteered draft during the Korean War because at the time I was ill informed.
We have had incidents on campus due to ill informed agitators. Within the past three years the Minute Men threatened to come on campus and tear down the mural and to get me fired. Great, I responded by publishing their photos on Facebook Was this bullying or was it a case of protecting student rights? Now that you butt in to a controversy that you were not invited into I am answering you. When you were hired, the CHS Department supported your appointment because we believed that you would reach out to students, become a role model, butthis has not been the case. I am for constructive dialogue but before I criticize I want to be part of the solution and I will not give equal weight to bigots or opportunists who do nothing for ALL students, including Mexican Americans and Latinos. Just because a person has a Spanish surname does not give him or her license to speak for the group. They are certainly not immune for criticism.
On 4/24/2016 1:18 PM, Lopez, James wrote:
> CSUN Staff and Cal State System Staff,
> Regarding this article that appeared in — where a friend from UCSB and I were interviewed by Professor Robert Oscar Lopez about the mural at CSUN depicting an upside down American flag, along with a pro-choice slogan, amongst other things… Professor Rodolfo F. Acuña had this to say,
> “I think that we can give them too much importance. There is an appropo saying that pertains to the English lecturer, Robert Lopez, no lo conocen ni en su casa. Would it matter to students if he dropped dead? Like the tree in the forest that no one hears fall, he does not exist. This is the problem when anyone with credentials can claim to speak for a group.” (emphasis mine)
> This is DEPLORABLE! This is BIZARRE. Who says this about their colleague? Who says this about another human being??? This is what bullying looks like and it should not be tolerated whatsoever.
> I am a CSUN alumni (I graduated with two undergraduate degrees in the Humanities in Fall 2013). I AM A LATINO. And I stand in solidarity with Professor Robert Oscar Lopez. He is my friend and my mentor. Robert is also a great person.
> I am not sure who Harry Gamboa Jr. is but he wrote this regarding the article — “I share to inform of current far-right media propaganda attacks.”
> I never thought that expressing my own thoughts about an upside down American flag and a prochoice slogan would be considered a “far-right propaganda attack”. Is being prochoice the default position for Latinos or what? The last time I checked, the majority of us are PROLIFE porque todas las vidas nos importan.
> ( https://stream.org/not-latinos-stand-planned-parenthood-st…/ )
> If some students want to express themselves by drawing an upside down flag that is fine. However, if other students want to criticize those expressions that SHOULD be fine too — it shouldn’t be labeled a “far-right attack” because it isn’t. The First Amendment protects this.
> To answer Professor Rodolfo F. Acuña’s bizarre and abominable question if it would matter if something happened to Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez: si, claro que si nos importara. I don’t even know why anyone would want to ask such a ridiculous question. Seriously!
> CSUN Staff, I hope this comes to a resolution because this is not right.
> Thank you,
> James Lopez, a pro-life and pro-American flag Guatemalan American
In Solidarity with the People of Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rican people are going through hard times, a period when many of them are being forced to leave their island, being starved out and forced to come to the United States. The cause is similar to that of Mexico and Central America. The common enemy is privatization, a term that is difficult to understand for most Americans.
The other day I ran into a piece by Rafael Bernabe, “Puerto Rico’s Strike Against Privatization,” that was written in 1997 that described the process and why the Puerto Rican economy through no fault of their own is falling apart, accelerating the Borinquen Diaspora.
It came together in a massive-one Paro (work stoppage) against privatization on October 1, 1997. The action completely “closed down several government agencies—including most public schools and the University of Puerto Rico—while provoking mass absenteeism in many others.” By noon a 100,000 people poured into the Capitol building in San Juan. The tensions led to confrontations between the Concilio General de Trabajadores (CGT), the Central Puertorriquena de Trabajadores (CPT) and the AFL-CIO unions in Puerto Rico and the police.
According to Barnabe, the cause was privatization, the motivating cause of similar confrontations is Mexico and throughout the world. It was a familiar story:
“Ever since the 1940s Puerto Rico has had a significant public sector. By the late 1970s this sector included water, electrical power, shipping, telegraph and telephone, convention centers and several major hotels, radio and TV stations and a sizable network of public health facilities, ranging from diagnostic clinics to the largest medical center in the island.”
What this meant was that this sizable public sector provided jobs. Privatization ended all this and took “different routes: subcontracting activities to private companies (in electric power), privatizing the administration but not the actual physical installations (water authority), leasing public operations to private concerns (health system in the 1980s), as well as the outright selling of state-owned enterprises (shipping).” The struggle against privatization came to a head in the 1990s and today we are eating the bitter fruit.
The scenario is repeated and justified over and over: state-owned enterprises can be run more efficiently by the private sector. It will end corruption and provide government with revenues. The first to go always seems to be the telephone company. In turn it supports the privatization of “other government operations (such as the public radio and TV stations).”
Because the cost of buying this government project is so high a major telecommunications multinational usually takes over. This facilitates the buying of local officials and drives corruption – a corruption that crosses party lines.
Privatization has long roots that we will not explore at this time. In Puerto Rico it was Made in the USA:
“In the 1930s, economic hardship and stagnation in the troubled sugar industry, as well as the Roosevelt administration’s New Deal, fostered state-led economic reconstruction projects that many hoped would prepare Puerto Rico for independence by creating a more balanced, diversified economy. Such was the initial perspective of the PPD, led by Luis Muñoz Marín. Nevertheless, by the late 1940s the notion of both political independence and self-centered economic development were abandoned. The PPD instead adopted a program known as Operation Bootstrap, which offered tax and other incentives to U.S. investors.”
A similar process is occurring in the United States and Mexico where the private sector is infiltrating and then taking over the public sector. The universities are the clearest example. Education is a plum, trillions of dollars in real estate alone. The reason for escalating tuition is not the failing economy but a crass way to shift the costs of production from business that profits from an educated labor pool to the student and their families, the ultimate consumer.
In many ways we are all Puerto Ricans, the only difference is the Silence of the Lambs. The chickens always come home to roost.
 Rafael Bernabe, “Puerto Rico’s New Era: A Crisis in Crisis Management,” NACLA, http://nacla.org/node/4323?editionnid=4314&issuename=Colonial%20Capitalism:%20Crisis%20and%20Response%20in%20Puerto%20Rico&issuenum=6&volume=040&issuemonth=November/December&issueyear=2007&lilimage=files/covers/PRcover.jpg