THINKMEXICAN

Your source for Mexican history, cultura, news and sports. An online community of artists, scholars and activists. From Chiapas to Chicago, we're connected! Editor: ChepeMX

Hello! My name is Hortensia J. Perez from Stockton, CA! My grandfather, who’s 93 years old, from Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, still continues to plant & work in our backyard, especially maíz in the backyard! I actually took these earlier today before we rip em off to make some tamales w/ hojas de maíz tomorrow! Just came across your post so thought I’d share! Saludos!

Related: Mexicans Continue Corn Planting Tradition

Mexicans Continue Corn Planting Tradition

Throughout the Eastside of Salinas, and many other Mexican communities in the United States, the tradition of planting corn continues. Whether it’s a small milpa in the backyard or a couple of plants in the front or side of the house (or even apartment building), many Mexican households find the way to at least plant a couple of stalks of corn this time of year. Seems fitting considering corn was created in Mexico’s Tehuacán Valley, and that Mexicans are known as the “People of Corn.”

If you planted corn at home this year and would like to share photos, feel free to send them to us!

Mexico to the Bronx: Angelo’s Tale

When Angelo Cabrera left his village in Zapotitlan Salinas, Mexico, to come to New York City in 1989 he was at the forefront of an immigration wave that has since drained his home region of a third of its population.

Like Cabrera, many migrants from Zapotitlan Salinas settled in the Bronx; most are unauthorized. Cabrera himself faced a number of hardships in his early days in America.

Shaped by these experiences, he is now an activist for Mexican Americans and even helped guide New York State legislation to secure easier access for undocumented students.

Read more about Angelo’s journey here.

Everyday We Hustlin’ III

“Everyday when I get off the exit by my house in San Bernardino I see the same white foo begging while the homie out here hustling making money, ” reads verdugodiscos’ caption to a photo that has garnered a lot of attention recently.

Without denigrating the truly indigent, this image captures perfectly what many of us see in the United States everyday: Whether it’s selling flower bouquets, fruit, tamales or even blankets off a freeway exit, our people are hardworking and are going to find a way to make it. It’s simply not in our ethos to hold up a sign and ask for help when we can help ourselves.

Mexico in the Middle of Migrant Humanitarian Crisis

Mexico is a country that historically has sent millions of migrants to the United States. Now the country finds itself caught in the middle of a fierce debate over how best to deal with the seemingly unending flow of tens of thousands of undocumented Central Americans crossing through Mexican territory.

CCTV’s Franc Contreras reports from Guatemala and Tabasco, Mexico.

Worldwide Protest Calls for Immediate Release of Autodefensa Leader Dr. Mireles

Citizens in 70 countries will gather Sunday, August 31, in a worldwide protest to demand the immediate release of autodefensa leader Dr. José Manuel Mireles.

Dr. Mireles has been jailed in a maximum security prison in Sonora for 2 months charged with illegal possession of firearms and drug trafficking, charges lawyers and human rights organizations say were fabricated by the government.

According to the statement made by his defense attorney, Talia Vázquez, Mireles was admitted to the prison hospital on August 19 because of problems with his glucose levels and high blood pressure.

Activists from throughout Mexico, the United States, and several countries in Europe and Asia are planning to participate in Sunday’s worldwide action in support of Dr. Mireles. Organizers say its objective is his immediate release from prison.

For more information, follow hashtags #LiberenaMireles #FreeMireles.

1970 Chicano Moratorium

44 years ago today, 30,000 marched in East LA in the Chicano Moratorium in protest of the Vietnam War, and in an act of self-determination for Chicanos. Historians believe the Chicano Moratorium was one of the largest anti-war protests of its day and the first to call attention to the number of Chicanos disproportionately represented in Vietnam.

Thousands who gathered at Laguna Park after the march to listen to speakers and performers were forced to run for cover after deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department began brutally attacking march-goers with night sticks. Reporter Rubén Salazar was one of them.

Salazar, who was a well-known journalist, was killed later that evening at the Silver Dollar Bar on Whittier Boulevard when sheriff’s deputies shot a tear gas canister into the bar. The canister hit Salazar in the head and killed him instantly. Salazar had clashed with local police in the months before his death, reports the LA Times. Ángel Díaz and Lynn Ward also died that day.

See documentary on the Chicano Moratorium. More stories here.

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Protests Greet Peña Nieto in California

An Aztec Dancer carrying a sign calling Enrique Peña Nieto a traitor to Mexico greeted him to Los Angeles yesterday. Peña Nieto was in California for a two-day visit with politicians and business leaders.

California happens to be home to the largest Mexican community in the United States.

Demonstrators representing various groups from those opposed to EPN’s energy reform to migrant advocates made their presence felt.

A recent survey published today by PewResearch reveals a majority of Mexicans, 57 percent, oppose the privatization of Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Pemex. Supporters of political prisoners Dr. Mireles and Nestora Salgado were present, as well, and vocal in demanding their immediate release.

A contingent of activists followed Peña Nieto from LA to protests today in Sacramento.

Photo credit: Dan Krauss, LA Times; Isela Martinez, Instagram; Jose Sandoval, Facebook.

Ruben Salazar and the Indigenous Imperative

by Marcos Aguilar

“The anniversary of Salazar’s assassination and the Chicano Moratorium, remind us of how far we have yet to go to achieve the basic levels of autonomy and self-determination Chicanismo imagined almost fifty years ago.”

Assassinated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during the historic Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War protest rally in East Los Angeles on August 29, 1970, journalist Ruben Salazar has become an enigmatic symbol of a low point in the crimes against the Chicano communities of Los Angeles. This date marks the anniversary of the killing of four people by police forces as civilians were targeted as enemies of state. With outrage over police violence echoing to this day across the United States, Salazar reported on the injustices protested by Chicano students and teachers in East Los Angeles high schools and had witnessed the massacre of students by CIA coordinated Mexican government forces in Mexico City. These experiences challenged Salazar to contribute to the struggle for civil rights through the media, instead of covering it up. Upon his return from witnessing the student massacre at Tlatelolco in Mexico City, Salazar reportedly stated, “Manito como han cambiado las cosas…”. Certainly, given the state of affairs we face with militarized police forces and continued systemic educational failure, the social causes the Chicano Movement stood for remain relevant to this day.

Understanding the Chicano Movement has been both personal and transformational to me. Born in 1970, I only came to understand Chicanismo in college while attending UCLA. As a committed student and community organizer, I eventually led the call for a UCLA Faculty Center takeover and a hunger strike in 1993 that led to the establishment of the UCLA Cesar Chavez Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. Two score and four years ago, basic proposals of the Movement such as Chicano Studies, had only started to take root in the university. Recent research projects have documented Salazar’s insightful writings about Chicanismo. “Mexican-Americans, though indigenous to the Southwest, are on the lowest rung scholastically, economically, socially, and politically. Chicanos feel cheated. They want to effect change. Now.” Clearly, Salazar echoes the voice of the Plan de Aztlan and Plan de Santa Barbara, seminal documents of the Chicano student movement. Once again, this anniversary serves to remind our community of the importance of expanding access to quality Chicana and Chicano Studies for our youth as indigenous peoples. This change is needed not in the sterile environment of a conference, but in every public, charter or private classroom, school and college our youth pay to attend.

Forty-five years after Salazar’s exacting words, Los Angeles, California still stands as the largest historically Mexican city in the United States. Of Los Angeles’ school district’s almost 500,000 students identified as ‘Latinos’ (about 75% of all LAUSD students). Around 200,000 LAUSD students are Spanish speakers classified as ‘English Learners’ - most certainly a euphemism for the District’s massive Mexican-origin student demographic majority. Yet, even as a majority, the Mexican community is timid in its demand for the effective implementation of research validated, community generated models of culturally relevant college preparatory curriculum and programs. Schools like magnets, charters and the recently expanded IB programs in LAUSD are great for the few who attend them but what about the roughly 80% of indigenous Mexican and Central American students who graduate ineligible to attend a UC or CSU, or the at least 40% of students who are pushed out every year and don’t even graduate at all. In 2011, the Office of Civil Rights of the U. S. Department of Education again documented the systemic educational discrimination prevalent for ‘English Learners’ in the LAUSD – but what has really changed? Accessible, required and well-designed Chicana and Chicano Studies courses in our high schools could change how poorly public schools engage our youth in a very short time. In education, inspiration is priceless and prescient. Chicana and Chicano Studies is above all else, a methodical, strategic and informed curriculum designed to empower and inspire our youth based upon culturally rooted values and inquiry into their own human condition. It is time to lay Salazar’s spirit to rest and demand more of public education in the spirit of the Plan de Santa Barbara, a seminal declaration of the Chicana/o student movement, “At this moment, we do not come to work for the university, but to demand that the university work for us.” Otherwise, Indigenous students will continue to ‘turn off and tune out.’

My daughter, a top graduate of Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory in East Los Angeles, just recently started UCLA as well. I am proud to think that students of my generation organized and sacrificed to successfully open the doors a little wider and make the university serve our community more effectively. My daughter is excited to take her first university level Chicana/o Studies course in the fall and I am hopeful that the experience will be true to the movement that birthed it.

While Salazar’s assassination most certainly deserves our respect, the injustices that plague us continue to demand our attention, now. It is our future, our Semillas, which ought to command our disciplined passion to regenerate as Indigenous Peoples and renew our own humanity in our ways. Ought we continue to operate as the minority demographic in our minds, or command the effective right to a public education we merit? To be sure, the clearest example of human autonomy and self-determination must be witnessed in the raising of our children. Shall we give them up to others, with contradictory values and imposed languages and then wonder in our old age why our progeny no longer sing our songs or worse yet, die for a city street name or in some foreign legion? We believe that Chicana and Chicano Studies today is as much about defending our access, “to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination,” as called for by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as it is a struggle for our own spirit, our very existence.

The anniversary of Salazar’s assassination and the Chicano Moratorium, remind us of how far we have yet to go to achieve the basic levels of autonomy and self-determination Chicanismo imagined almost fifty years ago. Mandated access to community-based pedagogy and curriculum, such as Chicana and Chicano Studies is one essential step towards closing the achievement gap and better serving the Indigenous youth LAUSD and other school systems struggle to retain. Sterile top-down standards-based exams will continue to do nothing to address the needs and potential of our most vulnerable youth.

“Chicanos will tell you that their culture predates that of the Pilgrims,” once wrote Salazar. I will tell you that this is still true, but how many of our youth today understand this? The imperative today is to remember our roots in order to bring about a world where many worlds fit.

Originally posted at Radical Regeneration

Marcos Aguilar has been an educational leader for over two decades, first as a prominent student activist in the nineties, then as a history teacher in LAUSD and finally as a traditional Aztec dancer and community organizer.

For interesting insights into the work of Ruben Salazar, please visit the Ruben Salazar Project