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.

Rudy Acuña

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.

Rudy Acuña

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.
> (…/ )
> 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

Puerto Rico

In Solidarity with the People of Puerto Rico

A Quickie


Rodolfo Acuña

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[1] 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.”[2]

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.”[3]

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.

[1] Rafael Bernabe, “Puerto Rico’s Strike Against Privatization,” Solidarity, ATC 71, November-December 1997,,

[2] Ibid

[3] Rafael Bernabe, “Puerto Rico’s New Era: A Crisis in Crisis Management,” NACLA,


Gun Control

Gun Control
Rudy Acuña

I generally agree with Marc Cooper, respect his work. But I must take exception with his statement that the only thing that gun regulation would accomplish is to “fuel more gun sales.”

I am an opponent of the NRA I am also an opponent of feel good gun laws that accomplish nothing except fuel more gun sales. Cooper calls the “renewed call to ban AR15’s … another feel good measure. It is a bogeyman and a distraction.” He asks on what basis Congress “could ban the AR without banning the overwhelming majority of all firearms given that the AR uses the same technology AS MOST CIVILIAN WEAPONS.”

While I agree with the latter point, it is my feeling that you can say this of any this of any regulation. I am not a gun expert but enough about them to respect them having been in the army. Also in my lifetime personal combat has gone from fists, knives, zip guns and automatics. I can attest to the fact the more technical that they became the easier that it became to use them. Using a knife estaba carbon whereas pulling a trigger was far more impersonal. A zip gun was much different than a 45.

Marc is correct when he says “95 percent of gun homicides are inflicted with the simplest and cheapest of handguns, not with rifles of any sort. However, mass killings are the result of automatics. They give the punks a false sense of being bad.

Yeah the 1994 ban failed, the NRA and its congressional pimps De-fanged it. The truth be told, it will be impossible to pass any meaningful regulation. Congress is bought. However, that is not to say there are no other tactics. When II first started teaching in a college people would light up in the classroom. People howled when it was forbidden.

Yet they stopped. The regulation did not do it, what did it was the cigarette tax. Start charging those with AR 15’s ten grand a year to license it, make it a felony not to pay the tax, and it should trickle down. Handguns should be similarly taxed.

Society pays for the cost the destruction, the costs should be passed to the consumer. The money could be used for mental health and to the families of victims.

I agree with Marc that “It would be much more effective to focus on background checks, improvement of law enforcement data bases, much tighter auditing of gun sellers etc. Outlawing this or that weapon is a waste of time. And remember that the great surge in popularizing ARs was the initial proposal to ban them.” But who is going to pay for this, I say the gun owner. The smoker pays for his pollution (partially).

But a point that is being missed. Every one of us has to take individual responsivity. I don’t care what law is passed, if someone came into my class with a loaded or unloaded weapon, he would be ejected. Sometimes this can get sticky. It was a lot easier to even the field against a knife, a bat would do.

We should be grateful to have Marc tweak us and heed his warning that we cannot afford to make the mistakes of the past, We have to be clear on what we want—we don’t have many more times at bat.

Menudo is White 2014

Why is Menudo White?

When I began my research on Sonora, Mexico, I knew little about my mother’s home state other than my family’s constant references to it when I was growing up. I could always count on my mother singing Sonora Querida and on the ravings of the cooks (everyone in my family thought they were cooks) on the superiority of the sonorense cuisine – which I had to admit tasted better and fresher than other regional varieties.

In retrospect some of their bragging was downright chauvinistic such as that Sonorans made their menudo blanco because they washed the pancita thoroughly. According to my relatives the guachos (depreciative term for non-Sonorans) were too lazy to wash the pancita so they added red chili to hide the unwashed tripe.

I never thought seriously about researching Sonora until it came to selecting my dissertation topic, which was once a difficult choice. In history the rule of thumb was that you could not duplicate theses. It had to be original research. I remember cases where graduate students stole other graduate students’ topics. So you guarded your choices  theories often swearing people to secrecy.

Like most grad students of my time, my priority was to select a topic on the real Mexico, which of course meant Mexico City. Without knowing it I was committing the sin of the chilango believing that the provincias had little to offer. If it was worth studying at the time it was in D.F. Not much time was devoted to paying heed to Leslie Byrd Simpson’s book Many Mexicos.

From the moment I was admitted to the doctoral program my advisor said pick a topic, “you’re going to have to exhaust the secondary sources and that takes time.” Mexico City was out of the question. Two/three days riding a bus to and 2/3 days back. I was short on cash and time so it narrowed down my choice to the borderlands.

I chose Sonora because it was close. As Manuel Servin (my advisor) pointed out it was the staging area for the occupation of California and that Donald Rowland, another committee member was a Bolton Scholar. I could drive to Tucson and then occasionally to Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora where I could buy books and hit the major libraries and archives. The Bancroft Library was mecca (a short six hour drive).

All of this had to be sandwiched into a schedule that included full time teaching, grad work and community activism. As a consequence, there was an awful lot of stress in my family life. All of this would not have been possible without Francisco R. Almada’s Diccionario de Historia, Geografia y Biografia Sonorense that capsulized Sonoran history and opened the journey. (Later his Diccionario de historia, geografía y biografía chihuahuenses and other works on Chihuahua were a treasure trove in research for my Corridors of Migration.

Some of my wannabe Chicana/o scientist friends would probably not appreciate Almada’s method, which was pure story telling. He was not a professional historian, and like many Mexican historians of the time such as Chihuahua medical anesthesiologist Rubén Osorio Zúñiga, it was not Almada’s main occupation, he did it for the love of history.

Incidentally Osorio wrote classics in the field that most Mexicanists have never read. Among Osorio’s many titles is Pancho Villa, ese desconocido : entrevistas en Chihuahua a favor y en contra and  Tomóchic en llamas that recounted the bloody siege of a small Chihuahua village in the 1890s.

Francisco R. Almada was born in Chínipas, Chihuahua — in the Sierra Madres in the southwestern part of the state about forty miles and nine hours over the Sierra to Alamos, Sonora, the silver capital of the region and where Almadas ancestors hailed.

Today Chinipas, a small mining camp, is called  Chínipas de Almada, which was the ancestral home of the Chinipa Indians and where waves of Tarahumara were herded into first the Jesuit and then  Franciscan mission.  It is an isolated place with a turbulent history.

Almada is listed as a teacher, investigator, historian and politician, and served twice as interim governor of the state of Chihuahua. He started out as an assistant teacher and became the director of the school at the age of 20.  To my knowledge he never a tenured university professor/

In his early teens Almada joined in the antireelectionist movement that opposed the dictator Porfirio Díaz. His career involved electoral politics, serving as president of the municipality of Chínipas, with stints in the state legislature (1922, 1924) and in the federal Chamber of Deputies. Almada served in other capacities and was founder and president of the Sociedad chihuahuense de estudios Históricos (Chihuahua Society of Historical Studies).  Some of his published titles include:

Diccionario de historia, geografía y biografía chihuahuenses, 2a. Edición, Inédita, 1927

Gobernantes de Chihuahua, 1929

Apuntes Históricos de la Región de Chínipas, 1937

Diccionario de historia, biografía y geografía del estado de Colima, 1939

Guadalupe y Calvo, 1940

La imprenta y el periodismo en Chihuahua, 1943

    Gobernantes del Estado de Chihuahua, 1951

Diccionario de Historia, Biografía y Geografía sonorenses, 1952

Hombres de Nuevo León y Coahuila en la defensa de Puebla y prisioneros en Francia en 1862,

La revolución en el estado de Chihuahua, 1965

La revolución en el estado de Sonora, 1971

    La invasión de los filibusteros de Crabb al estado de Sonora, 1973

His Diccionarios de historia, geografía y biografía of Chihuahua and Sonora helped me immeasurably. It allowed me to form my own theories and an understanding of colonialism and the value of history maintaining it. Almada recreated the history of the ancestors of the conquerors but at the same time preserved the history of the conquered although in reality the Tarahumara were never dominated. The others  – the conchos, the tepehuanes and others were exterminated.

It is not so much that Almada and others did not care about this genocidal process, it was just that they did not think that it was that important. They wanted to preserve their history as written from the perspective of his history. It gives us a limited understanding of the past and is based mostly on written documents.

The importance of history is not so much the story, but how and why it occurred. I have the utmost respect for Francisco Almada but I wonder why he was not more sensitive to the plight of the Chihuahuan and the Sonoran natives. After all Almada’s ancestors in the 18th century had gone before the Spanish Inquisition to obtain a limpieza de sangre, a worthless document certifying that they were pure Christians.

The importance is not that they went before the Inquisition; however, but why people who underwent that horrific experience became more Catholic than the Pope.

You have to start with the story. WHY? Why the Middle East? Why is the story of the children at the border dismissed? Why the is reaction of a people who make the sign of the cross so inhumane? Francisco R. Almada helped me understand the story and my search for the why? I may not be able to fully understand my ancestors, no one choses their relatives. But understanding is much better than inventing stereotypes about guachos and infantile explanations of why the menudo is white.

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.



Back to 2014

I don’t like Donald Sterling–happy that he got what he did. But I hate hypocrisy. Everyone chimed in how much of a racist he was, it was a good jump in, but these same people daily ignore the racism around them. Go to a Laker game and from what I have seen the audience is does not represent the color of LA. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is worse — not an overwhelming number of blacks or Latinos there. Walk on the campus of UCLA and blacks are endangered, and the number of Latinos is no where its number in the streets. “Almost 75 percent of all Latino and 66 percent of all black students who go on to higher education in California go to a community college…in 2010, only 20 percent of all students who successfully transferred to four-year institutions were Latino or African American.” Even at that the community colleges are being privatized as is the case of the University of California campuses and the state universities. One of the reasons people are so worked up about Sterling is because he reminds them so much of their fathers and their lack of involvement in bettering what they left behind.

The Great American Game

The Great American Game


Rodolfo F. Acuña

Every four years, we have presidential elections. I have had friends who have not talked to each other because one supported Robert Kennedy and the other Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 Primary Election. With age I have concluded that it is stupid to play the game, Candidates during the election cycle will say anything that the electorate want to hear and in the process rewrite history.

My great sin was making the case that it mattered if we elected Chicana/o candidates that sometimes did. However, often it did not. White, Black and Asian candidates have often done a better job that Chicana/o or Latino elected officials. For example, when is the last time you saw a Chicana/o elected officials on the picket line protesting police brutality or for that matter the Dreamers. They are good at sitting in their office acting regal.

The presidential elections are more so. They involve self-interest, imaginary plancas, whether the candidate is a female or male, or even if they have some obscure strain of DNA that links them to la Raza.

So I expected to be deluged with the question of who I was for in the presidential primaries. They know that I will not vote Republican. So it comes down to Hilary or Bernie, so people think. They are disappointed when I tell them that I am not a Democrat. In presidential elections I have more often written in Gus Hall or voted for a Third Party candidate. I know they will not disappoint me.

I refuse to be a cheerleader – spent most of my life impersonating a historian so I put everything into a historical context. So the present debate over immigration is juvenile. In 1970 the unions were bitterly against the undocumented – most called them wetbacks. The Chicana/o Movement had its flaws but it championed the immigrant.  Wetback was and is a pejorative term.

Candidates argue about the 2007 Immigration Bill forgetting to read the entire bill. Progressives were against the bill because it legalized a bracero program that many of us considered a form of slavery. Everyone realized that this was now or never and that we had to fight for the strongest bill possible. It left millions of immigrants in the shadows that live here but can never become legalized because as an 18 year old they were arrested and lied about their status. Many have advanced degrees, are married and have children but can never be legalized.

I want a comprehensive immigration bill that recognized that the undocumented are not criminals and are here because of the malfeasance of the United States government. This positon is difficult to reconcile in a world that one picks the lesser of two evils.

I am concerned about Mexico Lindo. However, it has become like that movie “Touch of Evil.”  The government is corrupt and the United States is to blame. I could not support a candidate who did not pledge to 1) end the War on Drugs, 2) have Mexico cease its privatization programs and its gutting of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, 3) end NAFTA and Cafta, 4) censure the Mexican Government for atrocities toward Central American refugees traveling through Mexico, 5) respect indigenous rights and 6) boycott all Mexican institutions until the rights of the people are respected. The cartels exist because of the huge American drug market.  

We should be concerned about the atrocities committed around the world in the name of democracy. It is a contradiction to be against terrorism and then hold hands with the Saudi Arabians. Just like I condemn the Mexican government I condemn the unconditional support of the Israeli Government.  These injustices are fueling terrorism.

In order to put a brake on future wars, that candidates support of universal draft that include all classes and races proportionately, and that a graduated tax be instituted that taxed every American for the cost of the wars. Wars could no longer be paid for on credit.

That the military budget and the education budget be equal.

Finally, corporate violation be criminalized with corporate executives put in the same category as drug dealers.

In the interim it is ridiculous to look at political candidates as some sort of sports celebrity.

So until we get these concessions we must remember the words of the Pachuco and not take the pinche play so seriously. Most of you will be around in four years.

Why do People Lie?

Why do People Lie?
The Cobra and the Rattle Snake
Rodolfo F. Acuña

Everyone according to their upbringing have a certain level of intolerance. My family, for example, did not tolerate lying. It was better to own up to mistakes than to be caught in a lie. Lies were equivalent to sins of scandal. Thus, I build up an intolerance toward lying that reinforces injustice. That is why it is so hard for me to watch presidential debates or to tolerate crooks such as Antonin Scalia. Although an atheist, I found myself praying for a hell so he can burn in it.

I don’t know when but it was in the 1960s that someone told me to give it a rest and to be more like a cobra than a rattlesnake in a glass enclosure. When visitors to the zoo taunted the cobra, it would strike the glass a couple of times and then recline motionless. The rattlesnake would continue to hit the glass trying to strike the provoker until its head was bloodied to a pulp.

Having just gone through an ordeal of two years trying to get the California State University Northridge administration to own up to its lies surrounding the UNAM Center I felt like the rattler. It was the most frustrating experience in my life. The message was that Mexicans are dumb and we don’t give a damn what you think. At times, therefore, I acted like a rattler.

This time around having gone through my own form of anger management I was not as shocked by the lies. My mother would deal with similar situations by saying that it was just gringos being gringos. Nevertheless, it did not make the lies any more palatable.

I would have ignored it but this time the lies were more deliberate and perpetrated by an enemy of the department and a racist, Dean Beth Say. From what I have been able to ascertain: preparations for the UPenn-CSUN Mellon grant were in the works last spring (2015) spearheaded by the Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies. They wanted to increase the number of Humanities majors who are active in research and wanted pursue doctoral studies. Penn was writing the grant and CSUN would be a partner school. The Mellon foundation did come to visit in April 2015. For the exception of two graduate students in the Chicana/o MA program, no other Mexican Americans were invited indeed no one from the Humanities was present.

Meanwhile CSUN got $22M from the NIH to increase traditionally underserved students in science research. External groups flooded the campus but Mexican Americans and indeed Latinos were excluded. No one from the Humanities seems to have been involved at this time. This was an obvious slight and Luann Rocha, CSUN’s new Director of Development for the Oviatt Library and CSUN Information Technology (IT) division appears to have been the prime mover at this point.

Enter the cobra

I was stunned by the audacity of the institution and Beth Say crowing over how much they suddenly loved Latinos. According to Elizabeth Say, what “they” lack is opportunity. going on the say, “Cal State Northridge was honored to be selected to participate in the Pathways to the Professoriate initiative…We know well the quality of our students — what they sometimes lack is opportunity… Together with our other institutional partners, we can begin to transform the professoriate to better reflect and serve the next generation of university students.”

(This comes from a person who does not support immigrants on or off campus)

Obvious breaches were evident. I wondered why she had never contacted Dr. Renee Moreno who operated a highly successful McNair program. Why she had bypassed the ChS department that houses 80-90 percent of the Latin faculty on campus and runs a highly successful MA Program.

You expect professional people to learn from the past and perhaps I expect more from so-called academicians. We have just gone through a two year ordeal with the administration over a similar slight when they ignored ChS in entering in to an agreement with UNAM – aggressively attempting to undermine Chicanas/os on campus. Caught in blatant lies it would not admit that they were lies.

Successful mentorship programs are built through a diverse faculty. At CSUN only three percent of the tenured faculty is of Mexican origin. The Valley is 42 percent Latinos, about 80 percent Mexican. There is therefore a huge gap between the faculty and the students they teach.

We were also stunned that the University of Pennsylvania and the Mellon Foundation would seek Say’s expertise when she knows nothing about Mexican Americans/Latinos. While I do not like foundations I have to say that I was much more impressed by Ford that at least knew something about the players.

I had a pleasant exchange with Dr. Gasman (UPenn) about the objections of some faculty to the new accord with her university. She responded, “We are working with the deans of arts and sciences at all the partner schools. We have been in contact with her, the provost and president and have met with many humanities faculty at CSUN.” I did not expect this since someone was lying. I could not find any Chicanas/os or Latinos who spoke to Glasman. I have not yeat spoken to the two students who attended the meeting.

I was flabbergasted when the President responded “I have been told that Chicana/o Studies faculty and chair as well as EOP were included in discussions about the UPenn program. I was also told that CHS faculty and students participated in the site visit last summer as well as other Latino faculty and students from across campus. I will leave further details of these interactions to the department and college.” This was easily checked out: I spoke to the present chair and the outgoing chair both of who said that they had never been invited to a meeting.

As a cobra I cooled down. Jorge Garcia who has been here a long time as a faculty member and the Dean of Humanities wrote to Harrison: “After the procedural and insulting fiasco of the processes leading up to the UNAM-CSUN debacle, I find it impossible to accept the claim that you were “told that CHS faculty and students participated in the site visit last summer”. Who told you such a thing? Why would you believe such an allegation given the demonstrated bias against the Department in your administration. I have given forty years of my life to this institution and I cannot believe that you blithely say that you unquestionably took as factual what you were told in this matter. I have been accused of “loving the institution too much” when I say I built up sweat equity in this place. I am proud of the Department we have built for our community. Not many universities have such a unit and it has been built on the backs of faculty and staff. Unfortunately, I think this place and some of the people in it “nos hacen chiquitos”. Our lives and our task are made more difficult but we press on.”

As Jorge says we press on, but it is difficult when the administration, the U of Penn and the Mellon Foundation won’t listen to the Mexicans who they want to save. This is not the last of it. The CSUN and other universities don’t want to improve conditions for minorities. They want those administrative fees, as mentioned CSUN got $22 million from the NIH, another 3 million for the Oviatt Library to serve Mexicans and I cannot keep track of how much more. Latinos are a big commodity and if we don’t take charge, this money is going to be wasted much the same as it was in the sixties with the War on Poverty.

Redundancy and Chicana/o Studies 12-22-15

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Redundancy and Chicana/o Studies
El Tesonero
Rodolfo F. Acuña

Words often clash with each other or interfere with an understanding of different concepts. For example, “redundancy” is a noun — it means, according to the dictionary “the state of being not or no longer needed or useful.” It comes down to superfluous repetition or overlapping. However, when is something really redundant?

Redundancy, the noun, is similar to repetition — a lowly adjective that depends on the noun for its existence, although for redundancy to exist, “it is characterized by repetition, especially when unnecessary or tiresome.” Its synonyms are monotonous, tedious, boring, humdrum, and mundane.

Meanings change according to the language you are speaking. The definitions of redundant and repetition fit the Spanish word “tesonero,” which I was often accused of when growing up. However, the adjective here includes “tenacious” and “persistent” that explain repetitiveness.

In the past two decades I have found that accusations of “redundancy” and being “repetitive” are mostly been used to keep the critic quiet, to make the critic seem like a bore when in reality all learning is based on repetition. However, society dismisses them as monotonous instead of persistent. The English meaning has rubbed off on the beautiful sounding word tesonero.

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It seems as if repetition is today permissible only in education or the political arena. Witness the anti-immigrant debate where monotonous, tedious, boring, humdrum, and mundane assertions are repeated redundantly – never completing the circle. The only accepted redundancy is the approved information. It is doubtful whether communist propaganda would be tolerated although fascist reasoning is said to be free speech.

This spills over into the Latino and other minority communities where people are more interested in Dodger dogs or getting nose bleeds at Lakers’ games. I could see this at the university where every time I mentioned privatization or Chicana/o studies curriculum eyes roll.

Taking into account that mathematics cannot be mastered without reciting the times tables or Latin without declining verbs, I am going to once more be redundant or better still a tesonero.

I am obsessed with the topic of Chicana/o Studies because not even professors and students of the area of studies understand it – no matter how much people such as me lecture about it they don’t get it. The other day I was talking to an instructor at another institution who said he was in Chicana/o studies – he taught the only class on Chicanas/os at the college – a History of the Chicana/o. I patiently explained that he was not teaching ChS but history – there is a difference.

a barrio imagesChS is not a discipline, it is an area studies with disciplines within the program. Area Studies did not become popular in the American academies until after World War II. Prior to this the curriculum revolved around Euro-American Studies. Indeed, the required general Education course was Western Civilization not World History that is a product of the post 1960s.

WWII made it clear that although the U.S. was a world power, it was not prepared to assume a leadership role. Its ignorance of other nations and competition with the Soviet Union exposed a glaring weakness in its education system. Few educated Americans knew a foreign language or even a tourist’s knowledge of countries outside the northern part of Europe.

Even before the United States entered the war in November 1941, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) was established by the U.S. Army. It was a secret school near the Presidio of San Francisco to teach the Japanese language. The number of languages grew where a person could become conversant in a foreign language in eight weeks. A cluster of private language schools evolved around this school.

The greatest need to train personnel in a foreign culture came from business and the State Department. The Monterey Institute for Foreign Studies was established in 1955 and later renamed the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Meanwhile, American educational reformers moved to modify the curriculum. 1945 made it evident that the single discipline-Eurocentric model could not meet the needs of the truly educated American. Language was just one component in learning about another people. It was a struggle even when reformers wanted to substitute a course in World History for Western Civilization. It is controversy that rages to this day with many Americans believing knowing one language enhances their Americanism.

a 28971_r646x20000Educators advocated a veering away from the single discipline model of learning about foreign cultures to Area studies, which involve interdisciplinary fields of research and scholarship pertaining to particular geographical, national/federal, or cultural regions. The scholarship and teaching involves many heterogeneous fields of the social sciences and the humanities. Geography like languages was a lynchpin.

Simply it was a holistic and more efficient way to teach about corpus of knowledge of countries that were vitally involved with. Instead of just learning their language were would take courses on the total society. The learner would become an expert on China, the language, the history and the culture. Foundations such as Ford, Carnegie and the other gaggle of funders poured hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to perfect the model and also entice academe into reforming its infrastructure.

There were proposals to eliminate Schools of Education and to integrate pedagogical courses within the disparate Areas of studies. These discussions influenced Chicana/o educators such as George I. Sanchez and others advocating bilingual education. Many Mexican American educators followed and added the label bilingual-bicultural. Just learning the language was not enough for teachers to learn about Mexican American children.

When I put together the curriculum for ChS at San Fernando Valley State I became obsessed with the idea of reforming education credential component, and I believed that it was the best way was to incorporate pedagogy into the course of study. If the State Department and the military believed it was the most efficient and total approach, wasn’t it dumb to dismiss this research and not to educate teachers about Mexican American children instead of teaching them about American culture and expecting them to educate their students in a foreign environment. The result was an ugly American scenario.

This concept was further elaborated by a study of history. The Jesuit missionaries, although for perverted reasons, learned the language of the Indians and their ways. In contrast, American teachers teaching Mexican Americans knew nothing about their students beyond Hola Paco! This is ridiculous when over 80 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District and the majority of numerous other districts are Latino.

Chicana/o studies are therefore about pedagogy. It deals with teaching about geography, education, literature, history, language etc. It is based on the latest innovations in curricular reform. It sorely needed in a failed educational system where over fifty percent of the students are pushed out of school.

I am a tesonero, and proud of it. Learning takes repetition. I am a promoter of Chicana/o Studies because I am an educator and it represents the best and most proven method to teach teachers about Chicana/o children and to educate them.