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

a world

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.

The Silence of the Lambs is Slowly Killing Us

a catanoThe Silence of the Lambs is Slowly Killing Us
Rodolfo F. Acuña

It is often uncomfortable being a malcontent; however, the “Silence of the Lambs” is slowly killing us. About a year or so ago I wrote about the case of Ann Marie Catano in a blog titled “Say It Ain’t so Monte!” In it I criticized a longtime friend, Monte Perez, the president of Mission College. It was hard not only because I knew him but because we have fought so hard to get Chicanas/os into these jobs, and too often cannibalize each other.

So I proceeded with caution and spoke to many people about the denial of tenure to theatre instructor Guillermo Aviles Rodriguez. All of the facts suggested that Guillermo was highly qualified and the victim of an internal conspiracy. I wanted to know more about the case, but I was reluctant to become an advocate because it was a personnel matter, and I did not detect much movement or moral outrage from the Chicana/o Studies leadership on the Mission College campus. The protests were mostly from students.

However, I could no longer remain silent when I heard about the case of Ann Marie Catano, a spokesperson for the Student Empowerment group at L. A. Mission — it moved me. She was very vocal in protesting the termination of Professor Aviles Rodriguez. As a consequence, Ann Marie was suspended for the semester from attending Mission and any of the eight community colleges for speaking out in defense of her principles. This suspension prevented Ann Marie, a single mother, from completing her AA and transferring to Berkeley, which she had hoped to do in the fall.

Ann Marie Catano’s kids were removed from the campus day care by five Sheriff’s deputies. She received a signed letter from Monte telling her that she is banned. I found it to be excessive so in an open letter I asked Monte if it were true.

I did not expect the reaction from longtime friends who had historically been champions of student rights. Rosalio Muñoz and Al Juarez asked whether I had checked out the facts. Monte was a friend – part of the 1969 LA State palomia. I was disappointed because the silence allowed a whispering campaign that attacked Ann Marie’s character.

The silence allowed the injustice to compound itself.

Ann Marie is a special student. When I invited her to speak at California State University Northridge, Mary Pardo was impressed. Her spoken and written English was letter perfect. We all stereotype our own especially those from the barrios. She was clearly a fighter with a strong sense of justice.

Ann Marie was finally busted when four police jurisdictions descended on her car and allegedly found drugs in her car. (They were prescription drugs belonging to a friend who told police they were his). After that point, her case slowed to a crawl.

The other day I received this email:

“At that time I was the Vice President of Student Services. Monte directed me to do an investigation of Ann Marie Catano and the other student activist. He basically ordered me to find a way to find fault in her action. On February 20, 2014, a group of students, that included Ann Marie, interrupted a College Council Meeting. I was in attendance and this is when all of the next 20 months of activity began. Even though I was to initiate the investigation, I was targeted by several members of the faculty, one Board of Trustee member and a Professional Expert to be taken off campus. It took over sixteen months but they were successful. During the same period of time, six other Chicano/as were mistreated and falsely accused of things they did not do. Guillermo was denied tenure; Monica was offered an Interim Dean position but three days later it was rescinded by Monte; Darlene was an Interim Dean of Academic Affairs, applied for the full time position, was the number one choice of the committee but denied the full time position by Monte because his VP of Academic Affairs felt her not qualified even though she had done the job extremely well for over a year; Carlos was falsely accused of making racial remarks and without an investigation Monte put him on paid administrative leave until mid-October, when it was found that there was no cause; Ludi and Diana were pulled off a tenure committee because the person going through her last year of the process complained that they would not vote favorably for her tenure (which was not true).

Monte has become a Chicano/a obstacle. He has mistreated and hurt people in a way no other President or administrator has ever done in my almost 40 years of work experience. He has done all of this without concern for the community or students. He is at the beckon call of the faculty leadership, which has always disliked the idea of a Chicano/Latino campus and his Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Joe S. Ramirez
Former VP of Student Services at LAMC

I shared the email with Ann Marie who answered:

“I am at a loss for words. Last night I was telling a very good friend about this same exact story and all of these issues and I have been contemplating returning to the college simply to see what state it was in. I had no idea about Joe. That is a true loss for the students and the faculty. I was going through a very dark time recently and it was yesterday that I kind of just woke up and remembered who I am and what I am capable of accomplishing. And this message is a sure reassurance of all that I was thinking about. Thank you Rudy, I very much needed this. Please let me know what I can do to help. I am more than ready…

Joe Ramirez is the only vp that attempted to help me and any other students. He constantly donated to the cause and has my utmost respect, I know he was truly places between a hard place and a rock and we fought hard to ensure that no one retaliated against him while we were there. Monte is no Chicano, he’s a sellout…just as I told him to his face. He is a disservice to the students and to the Chicano community and has flat out forgot what his fight was for. I often wonder if his fall was because of power or greed or if he just flat out got bullied and spun his web into a giant tangle …”

What happened to Ann Marie and the mess in the community colleges is largely due to our silence, our silence permits this to happen, it gives it license. I wish Monte luck, I like him but his actions are hurting our progress. The Ann Maries are the hope of the future because they care and because they won’t be silenced. She needs no welcome back.

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Micro Thoughts on Chicana/o Studies

Micro Thoughts on Chicana/o Studies
Rodolfo F. Acuña

What amazes me is the lack of knowledge most educators and university professors have of pedagogy. Chicana/o Studies has been around for close to fifty years and I still hear inane questions such as why Chicana/o studies, and what is it good for. I have even been asked these questions by professional educators, practitioners who supposedly are Doctors in Education.
Chicana/o studies are part of a long tradition in academe called interdisciplinary studies that has been controversial only among less imaginative scholars. It is essentially crossing and thinking across boundaries. Historically these borders have been crossed to meet new needs.
Over a hundred years ago, we did not have the disciplines of sociology and political science that evolved from history. The new fields came about because they addressed needed knowledge such as urban and societal problems. They were experimental innovations. The problem was that as quickly as the new fields became institutionalized, they became territorial and also engaged in a disciplinary chauvinism.
Because most professors in interdisciplinary programs are trained in traditional fields, professors quickly revert to their disciplines. They take comfort in believing that their discipline places more emphasis on quantitative “rigor”. They think of themselves as “more scientific” than others; accordingly, their colleagues are seen as being in “softer” disciplines and incapable of grasping the broader dimensions of a problem.
Interdisciplinary studies are rooted area studies. They were influenced by pedagogical reformers such as John Dewey who believed in teaching the whole child. They believed in teaching the student and not the subject. Area studies focused on specific corpuses of knowledge such as countries and peoples. Thus, interdisciplinary studies became increasingly common in the United States and in Western education after World War II as the United States was forced to take a global worldview.
The war broke American isolation, forcing American universities to teach and conduct research on the non-Western world. The areas of foreign area studies before this were rare. After the war, liberals and conservatives alike became concerned about the U.S. ability to respond effectively to perceived external threats from the Soviet Union and China and the Cold War. The anti-colonial wars were reshaping world history.
In this context, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation convened a series of meetings to address this knowledge deficit, and the need to invest in international studies. The U.S. could no longer ignore the rest of the world.
The Ford Foundation was the dominant player in shaping the area studies program. From 1953 to 1966, it contributed $270 million to 34 universities for area and language studies. The National Defense Education Act of 1957, later renamed the Higher Education Act in 1965, allocated funds to universities for Area Studies and Foreign Language instruction.
The argument for Latin American, Asian and African Studies is simple. It is s a more efficient and holistic way of teaching about a country or area of studies. Learning a people’s language is not enough. A state department agent had to know the language, history, culture, literature of the country she or he would work in.

Many of us in the sixties believed that the same principle applied to Mexican American students whose population is today larger than most Latin American nations. Teachers like state department employees should know their audience. Knowing a couple of words in Spanish and eating enchiladas was not enough. A teacher should be an expert in the field of study.

Sadly the eurocentrism of society, the schools and the teachers has prevented this from happening and most teachers and schools have insisted in retaining a failed American model. Educational reform in the United States is very difficult.

I was once optimistic and believed that if we built a model program at California State University Northridge that institutions of higher education would examine the model. We have been extremely successful offering 166 sections per semester – employing 28 tenure track and over adjunct professors. Like they used to say in the army – never happen G.I. – not in our time.

My first tenure track position at the state college level was at Dominguez Hills State College. I had high hopes that I would be able to start a Mexican American Studies program there. The college was first scheduled to open on Paloverdes Peninsula, a wealthy sector of Los Angeles. It would be the 18th campus in the statewide system. However, land values soared on the peninsula. This led the California State College and University Board of Trustees to settle “on a 346-acre campus in Carson, overlooking junk yards, oil wells and tract housing.” What saved the college was the Watts Riots that pointed to the need for the site.

Its first president Leo Cain, a leader in special education, had hopes of making into a liberal college with experimental courses. In an interview Cain said that there was considerable discussion that the curricular offerings would be interdisciplinary. “The two issues that we talked about a lot were the interdisciplinary part…and the second issue was…we would not have a School of Education. We would make teacher education interdisciplinary and we would have all segments of the college work on the teacher education program. It was interesting, but it didn’t really work out that way, as you know.”

Cain had earned his bachelor’s degree at Chico State and master’s and doctoral degrees at Stanford. He also taught in public schools, and served in the Navy during World War II. He wanted to build a “small college” for undergraduates within the larger College that would be an experimental laboratory for higher educa¬tion – “this college-within-a-college will test a variety of curricular plans and will serve as a training ground for graduate students planning a career in college teaching.” Cain retired before this was full implemented.

I came out of an interdisciplinary background. I had a Master of Arts from Cal State LA in American history and an MA and PhD from USC in Latin American Studies that included History (Latin American and Mexican), International Relations, Spanish American and Brazilian Literature.

At Dominguez Hills we had extensive discussions on the curriculum. In essence the student was required to have two majors – an Area Studies and a discipline. At first I believed that this would be compatible for the creation of Mexican American Studies. However, there was dissatisfaction among the disparate disciplines as well as power struggles. As an assistant professor I was an outsider.

At the time the Mexican population in the surrounding area was not large with most Mexican Americans went to Long Beach State. So when the opportunity to go to San Fernando State College presented itself with the specific mandate to start a MAS program I accepted. The San Fernando Valley had a growing Mexican American population and it was home.

It almost seems ridiculous that at this time educators question what area studies are. Frantz Fanon, a trained psychiatrist, acknowledged when he moved to Algeria that he had to learn the national culture of the the people. He had to learn the language, history and culture of the people before he could understand and cure them. Apparently most educators do not hold themselves to the same standard.


a ralph-in-camp-smallHISTORY ABSOLVED HIM. Following the hysteria of Pearl Harbor over 100,000 Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Ralph Lazo was a 16 yer old student at Belmont High School, he was from Boyle Heights. He protested the inhumanity, declaring himself Japanese and went to Manzanar with his Japanese friends where he spent two years. A profile in courage.

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