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Candidates Shape Policies on Education 10 Is Higher Ed Governance Stewardship or Sham? 13 Getting the Hispanic Vote 14 College Summit – Helping Minority Students 17 Navigate the Road to College


OCTOBER 06, 2008


2008 Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award 20 Winners Offer Hope & Inspiration

Dr. Manuel Penichet: Innovative Researcher, 26 Devoted Mentor

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Latino Scorecard on Higher Education 28 UNM Responding to a Call of Urgency 30 Why Chicano Studies? By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca 34


Building a Bridge to College: Simple Steps for Parents 38

New York City Tech’s Professor Espinoza-Sánchez is First on Five 40 Counts – Inspires Students with Impressive Accomplishments Latina Business Leader, a Change Agent for Justice 42 and Opportunity * These articles are available online at: www.hispanicoutlook.com

Hispanic Outlook Magazine, October 6, 2008. Presented at the Annual NACCS Conference (National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies), Austin, Texas, March 21, 2008. Posted on Immigration, Education, and Globalization: U.S.—Mexico site, Saturday, March 29, 2008

By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca
Scholar in Residence, Western New Mexico University (an Hispanic Serving Institution); Professor Emeritus of English, Texas State University System–Sul Ross; Founding Director of the Chicano Studies Program, University of Texas at El Paso, 1970; Founding Member, Mexican American Studies Program, Texas State University System—Sul Ross, 1996; Founding Member, Chicana/Chicano and Hemispheric Studies Department, Western New Mexico University, 2007.


orty-five years ago when I began university teaching after some years as a high school teacher of French, there was no Chicano Studies. That is, no Chicano Studies as an organized field of study. To be sure, there were Mexican American scholars working on various aspects of Mexican American life and its cultural productions, scholars like Aurelio Espinosa, Juan Rael, Arturo Campa, Fray Angelico Chaves, George I. Sanchez, Americo Paredes, and others. Important as this scholarship was, it emerged amorphously, reflecting independent intellectual interests rather than a scholarship reflec-ting a field of study. This is not to say that some of these scholars may not have considered their work as part of a field of study conceptualized as Mexican American Studies. Despite its lack of an underpinning, it was a field of Mexican American Studies, its constituent parts subsumed as American folklore. This situation created a critical barrier to the public discussion and dissemination of information about the presence of Mexican Americans in the United States and their contributions to American society. Until 1960 and the emergence of the Chi-

cano Movement, Mexican Americans were characterized by mainstream American scholars– principally anthro-pologists and social workers–in terms of the queer, the curious, and the quaint. That is, regarded as a “tribe,” Mexican Americans were categorized as just another item in the flora and fauna of Americana in precisely the same way American Indians were cate-gorized. The Chicano Movement–that wave of concientizacion that came to bloom among Mexican Ameri-cans in the 60's transforming them into Chicanos– helped to change American perceptions about Mexi-can Americans. While Mexican Americans knew much about Anglo Americans, Anglo Americans knew little about Mexican Americans. From 1848 to 1912–the period of transition for the conquest gene-ration of Mexicans who became Americans per the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848–Mexican Americans were regarded poorly by the American public. So poorly, in fact, that the terri-tories of New Mexico and Arizona were delayed statehood until their populations were predominantly Anglo American. In Two Years before the Mast, Richard Henry


Dana described the Mexican Americans as “an idle, thriftless people” who could make nothing for themselves (1959: 9). And in 1852, Colonel Monroe reported to Washington that “the New Mexicans are thoroughly debased and totally incapable of selfgovernment, and there is no latent quality about them that can ever make them respectable. They have more Indian blood than Spanish, and in some respects are below the Pueblo Indians, for they are not as honest or as industrious” (Congressional Globe, 32nd Con-gress, 2nd Session, January 10, 1853, Appendix, p. 104). Four years later, W.W.H. Davis, United States Attorney for the Territory of New Mexico, wrote a propos his experiences with Mexican Americans that “they possess the cunning and deceit of the Indian, the politeness and the spirit of revenge of the Spaniard, and the imaginative temperament and fiery impulses of the moor.” He described them as smart and quick but lacking the “stability and character and soundness of intellect that give such vast superiority to the Anglo-Saxon race over every other people” (New Mexico and her People, 1857, 85-86). In 1874, General William Tecumseh Sherman quipped before a committee of the House of Representatives that Mexico be prevailed upon to take back the territory of New Mexico (Arnold L. Rodriguez, “New Mexico in Transition,” New Mexico Historical Review, XXIV, July 1949, 186). And in 1902, Sena-tor Albert Beveridge of Indiana objected to statehood for the New Mexico Territory on the grounds that “the majority of people in New Mexico could speak only [Spanish]. . . . Illiteracy was high and the arid conditions of the southwest imposed serious limita-tions on agriculture” (Robert W. Larson, New Mexi-co’s Quest for Statehood 1846-1912, 1968: 215). Even after 64 years as Americans, Mexican Ame-ricans were considered foreigners in their own land. Little thought was given to the fact that Mexican Americans were not immigrants to the United States, that they were a “territorial minority” cum Americans as a booty of war, that the border had crossed them, and not the other way around. By the 20th century, mainstream Americans had forgotten that as a consequence of the U.S.–Mexico War of 1846-1848 Mexi-co was dismembered, giving up more than half of its territory to the United States: a territory now consti-tuting the states of Texas, New

Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, as well as parts of Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma, a territory larger than France, Spain, and Italy combined. During the period of Americanization from 1912 to 1960, Mexican Americans fared little better despite their efforts to become Americans. During this period, from 1913 to 1930, more than a million and a half Mexicans made their way north from Mexico to the United States, owing to the destabilization of Mexico during its civil war from 1913 to 1921. This influx of Mexicans to the United States plus the population of Mexicans who were part of the conquest generation came to constitute the primary population of Mexican Americans that has given rise to their present demographics in 21st century America. We have no definitive count as to the numbers of Mexicans who came with the dismembered territory. Figures range from a low of 75,000 to 300,000. The dismembered territory was certainly not void of population, considering the cities that were part of the annexed territory–San Antonio, El Paso, Santa Fe and the San Luis Valley of Colorado, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and Pueblo, Colorado, not counting the hundreds of smaller communities dotting the land-scape. The third factor in the demographic growth of Mexican Americans was the 20 year immigration compact between the United States and Mexico that brought thousands of Mexican “braceros” (laborers) into the country between 1942 and 1962. This demographic troika of Mexican Americans (conquest generation, civil war refugees, and braceros) now numbers some 30 million, its growth due principally to fertility abetted certainly by a small but steady annual ingress of immigrants since 1962. These 30 million Mexican Americans are 66% of the American Hispanic population. That is, two out of three American Hispanics are Mexican Americans. These are not undocumented workers; they are Ame-rican citizens. But in the current wave of nativist hysteria, American Hispanics including Mexican Americans are regarded as aliens whose expedient deportation is desirable in the national interest. As American citizens, Mexican Americans have been thrown into the mix with undocumented Hispanic workers not only from Mexico but


throughout Latin America, under the rubric of “illegal immigrants.” This is “Why Chicano Studies?” Americans need to understand that Mexican Americans are not a new population. That they have been part of the American enterprise for 160 years. And this is why after almost 40 years I am still convinced about the need for Chicano Studies.


hen I joined the English Department at New Mexico State University almost half a century ago, I was the only Mexican American in the department and unaware about Mexican American Studies, though I had studied Spanish literature, Mexican literature, and Latin American literature as well as English literature and American literature. My parents taught me about Mexico. I knew that a branch of mother’s family had settled in San Antonio, Texas, in 1731. But about Mexican Americans in general, I knew nothing except that we had relatives in Chicago and Pittsburgh (whom we visited often), as well as in Texas. In my comparative studies classes at the University of Pittsburgh between 1948 and 1952, I learned nothing about Mexican Americans except what I learned from the long-time Mexican American com-munities there. But none of that information spurred my curiosity to learn about the history of Mexican Americans in the United States. The apodictic value system of the United States held me firmly in its grip, reinforcing the mantra that I was an American. Later, a Chicano poem would ask: If George Washington was my father, why wasn’t he Chicano? And later, I would ask: Why do our teachers and textbooks emphasize a special relationship between the United States and England as the mother country. In a coun-try of E Pluribus Unum (One out of many), the United States has many mother countries. The population of the United States is the world.


n 1970 I was recruited to be founding director of the Chicano Studies Program at the University of Texas at El Paso, first such program in the state (and still there). By this time, I had become conscientized as a Chicano. From 1967 on, I had become identified as a Quinto Sol Writer, that is, among the first wave of Chicano writers of the Chicano Renais-sance which had its beginning

in 1966 with the creation of Quinto Sol Publications headed by Octa-vio Romano. By 1970, I had written extensively about Mexican Americans and their plight in the United States. In the Fall of 1969 I had taught the first course in Chicano literature in the country. By 1970, I was finishing up Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature, first literary history in the field (University of New Mexico, 1971). In 1969, California had organized the first Chicano Studies Program in the country. In the following two years many more Chicano Studies Programs were inaugurated throughout the Hispanic Southwest. But all was not serene in Aztlan–the name Chicanos chose to identify the Hispanic Southwest, that territory dismembered from Mexico as a consequence of the U.S. War with Mexico (1846-1848) and annexed by the United States per the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidal-go signed on February 2, 1848. The Handbook for the organization of Chicano Studies was developed in California as El Plan de Santa Barbara (The Plan of Santa Barbara). This was the blueprint we used in developing the Chicano Studies Program at the University of Texas at El Paso in 1970. Our guiding principal per the Plan de Santa Barbara was: a Chicano Studies Program not control-led by Chicanos is not a Chicano Studies Program. Not surprisingly, Chicano students, faculty, and community leaders pressed hard for Chicano control of the Chicano Studies Program at the University of Texas at El Paso, despite institutional and system resistance. That resistance was so obstructive, that only a student takeover of the administration building with the president as hostage in December of 1971 precipitated the necessary impetus for the institution-alization of Chicano Studies. Reluctantly, the intransigence of the university turned to half-hearted support for Chicano Studies. Our aim was to embed Chicano Studies courses in as many departments as we could. Our recruitment efforts were effective, bringing to the UT El Paso campus Chicano luminaries like Rodolfo de la Garza in Political Science, Donald Castro in English, Hector Serrano in Theater, and Tomas Arciniega in Education. We increased the number of Chicano faculty substantially, but still nowhere near a percentage reflecting our numbers in the


American population or our numbers in El Paso–a community more than 75 percent mejicano at the time. More than half the students at the University of Texas at El Paso in 1970 were mejicanos, but Mexi-can American visibility on campus was restrictted to the maintenance workers, janitors, and gardeners. Our objectives for Chicano Studies were twofold: not only would Chicano Studies help us to enlighten both Chicanos and non-Chicanos about who we were, but Chicano Studies would enable us to promote our visibility beyond maintenance workers, janitors, and gardeners. Moreover, Chicano Studies would provide the missing pieces of American history anent Mexi-can Americans. Chicano Studies would show Ameri-cans the rich heritage of Mexican Americans and the splendor of their indigenous past. This was one way to bring Chicanos into the consciousness of the American mainstream, though Chicano Studies was not explicitly a mainstream venue. Chicano Studies was the alternative to the mainstream. That was Octavio Romano’s argument in the editorial of the first issue of El Grito in 1967. Since the American mainstream rejected Chicanos, Chicanos would establish their own institutions and outlets for their cultural productions. Chicano achievement was not predicated on the approval of the mainstream. While Chicanos wanted to be in the mainstream they would not be brown copies of whites in the mainstream. Now, almost forty years later, looking back on the progress and evolution of Chicano Studies I wonder how much mainstreaming has taken place. And whether mainstreaming has been the ignis fatuus it has always been for Chicanos. In a recent edition of The American Tradition in Literature published by McGraw Hill, the 2500 page anthology did not include one American Hispanic writer (that is, an Hispanic writer who is of the United States and not from Hispanic America). Not till page 2299 do we see an Hispanic writer: Isabel Allende, the Chilean writer who now lives and writes in the United States. Not one Chicano writer appears in the McGraw Hill anthology which purports to be the American tradition in literature. This situation would be like including Chinua Achebe in the anthology as representative of African American writers. Five decades later Chicanos are still invisible to

the American mainstream, although a number of Chicano writers have made their way into that mainstream. Despite Chicano nationalism, there is a wave of Chicanos who desperately seek approval of the white mainstream which progressively validates Chicanos who most reflect its values. In the background, however, silent running, are those diehard Chicano venues like Arte Publico Press and The Bilingual Review Press which continue to nurture the aspirations of Chicano writers still marginalized by mainstream presses. In 1968 the absence of minority writers in anthologies of American literature, especially those anthologies used in colleges and universities, was so exacerbated that the minority caucuses of the National Council of Teachers of English banded together as the NCTE Task Force on Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English, issuing a blistering report entitled Searching for America which detailed just how bad the situation was. Along with Carlota Carde-nas Dwyer and Jose Carrasco, I was a founding member of that Task Force. The NCTE Report inclu-ded the piece on “Chicanos and American Literature” by Jose Carrasco and me, later reprinted in The Wiley Reader (1975). In 1970 I sent a piece on “Chicano Poetry: Roots and Writers” to Richard Ohman then editor of College English. He returned the manuscript with a note saying he didn’t think the article would be of much interest to the readers of College English, besides he was already considering a piece on Chicano literature for an upcoming issue of College English. The piece turned out to be an essay on Chicano literature by a non-Chicano. The following year I presented “Chica-no Poetry: Roots and Writers” at the First National Symposium on Chicano Literature organized by Ed Simmen at Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, and published as part of the proceedings along with the presentations of Tomas Rivera and Jose Reyna. In 1972 the piece was reprinted in Southwes-tern American Literature. In the meantime, I fin-ished my work on Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature (University of New Mexico, 1971), first study in the field. By 1971 the Modern Language Association had sanctioned a Chicano Caucus, as had the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. It appeared that the Chicano voice was gaining in volume. It also appeared that conceptions of Chica-


nos were changing. Helping that change along was establishment of La Luz magazine in Denver in 1972, the first Hispanic public affairs magazine in English, organized by Dan Valdes as Publisher and me as Associate Publisher. Over the ten years of my tenure with La Luz we published dozens of pieces by Chica-nos in various genres. In 1973 Washington Square Press brought out my anthology of We Are Chicanos which included many of the early luminaries of the Chicano Renaissance.


hile there was headway in making the Chicano presence in American society more visible, Chicano venues began to shrink as that visibility gave more prominence to Chicanos who became more attractive to mainstream purveyors. By the 1990's Chicano venues for literary production had dwindled to a handful from what had been hundreds of ephemeral “garage presses” intent on promoting the jinetes of Chicano literature. By the 1990's there had not been a dramatic integration of Chicano perspectives into the academic disciplines. The dozens of Chicano Studies programs (including those that were departments) dwindled as well to a few, although today there are two doctoral programs in Chicano Studies. Nevertheless, since the 1990's there has been a retreat from using Chicano Studies as a disciplinary anchor for promulgating the story of Chicanos in America. Chicano Studies has become a subset of Hispanic Studies and Latino Studies, seemingly more palatable terms than Chicano Studies much the way the term Latin American became a more palatable term than Mexican American when the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was organized in Cor-pus Christi, Texas, in 1929. The term Chicano has been lost in the lexicon of Hispanicity and Latinismo. More attention seems to be paid now to members of Hispanic groups in the United States with minimal population numbers compared to the 30 million Mexican Americans currently in the U.S. population (not counting the purported numbers of undocumented Mexicans in the country). Of the 45 million American Hispanics counted in the Census, two-thirds of them (66 percent) are Mexican Americans. The subalternization of Chicanos in Hispanic Studies emphasizes the point: Why Chicano Studies? Why? Because Chicano Studies is being cut off

a medio grito, as it were, aborting its premise and promise. This does not mean, of course, that the study of Chicanos cannot go on without academic programs of Chicano Studies. But rooted in an academic setting of respect and encouragement, Chicano Studies pro-vides the ground and lens from and through which to illuminate the historical processes that have brought Chicanos to this point in American history. These are the same heuristic considerations that undergird other disciplines. However, suspicions about the ideological agenda of Chicano Studies have wormed their way into the debate over Chicano Studies, raising questions about objectivity, questions Chicanos raised in the 60's and 70's about the institutional disciplines that did not include the presence of Chicanos in their purview. This does not diminish the value of continuing the construction of a Chicano narrative; it just inter-poses inhibitions to that construction. The Chicano Studies programs at the University of Texas at El Paso and California State University at Northridge have endured because of their academic rigor and the passion of their faculty. This is not to say other Chi-cano Studies programs lack rigor and passion. Whether a Chicano Studies program should be disciplinary or interdisciplinary remains a question of academic inquiry and perspective. At the University of Texas at El Paso the Chicano Studies Program became interdisciplinary. But my concern is: without Chicano Studies in the academy, who will advocate for Chicanos therein? In the current public debate over immigration we see the growing hostility to-wards Chicanos who are perceived as part of the undocumented hordes of Mexicans invading the United States as Lou Dobbs and CNN characterize the situation. he immigration debate avers the proposition that Americans, by and large, know little about Chicanos other than what they learn about them through public media. Everywhere today, Chicanos are being assailed by nativists and jingoists who see them as progeny of “black” Spaniards and savage Indians. Chicano Studies becomes, therefore, the instrument through which Americans can come to see Chicanos in their own right rather than through the normative view of mainstream Americans. For the past 39 years I’ve taught Chicano literature to undergraduates, Master’s students, and


doctoral candidates. Most of these students have been Chicanos. The students we also want to reach are non-Chicanos. But they have not signed up for Chicano Studies courses in numbers to suggest that we are reaching them with our story. This is also why we need to keep and strengthen Chicano Studies, why Chicano Studies must be imbricated into the study of the American experience. Last semester (Fall 2007) I taught on-line the introductory graduate course to Chicano Studies which is part of our Interdisciplinary Master’s Program at Western New Mexico University. All the graduate students were Chicanos. This indicates the work the Chicano Faculty Caucus has to do in promo-ting to all our students, especially non Chicanos, the Chicano courses in our embryonic Chicano Studies Program. Como una hija querida, tenemos que defender Chicano Studies porque si no, perderemos nuestro futuro. That’s too important a future to lose, too exacting a price to pay. This is the exact moment of history for Chicanos to rise to the occasion. Inaction sustains the status quo. Now, more than ever, we must band together in common cause. Chicano Studies deserves no less. Everywhere, there are xenophobic and fascist forces that threaten the existence of Chicano Studies. Mainstream suspicions about the ideological agenda of Chicano Studies has become paranoiac. In Arizona there are legislative initiatives to remove from the schools programs deemed to be

seditious, programs that promote divisiveness and breed revolution, pro-grams like Chicano Studies– any ethnic studies pro-gram that challenges Western values. One Arizona legislator believes that such an initiative will restore the image of the United States as a “melting pot.” As Chicanos we must ask ourselves: what is driving this current wave of xenophobic fear? At this point in time, it is diminution of this fear that is the essential mission of Chicano Studies.


hirty-eight years after my initial experience with Chicano Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, I have become part of

effort in Chicano Studies at Western New Mexico University, an Hispanic Serving Institution whose student body is about 51 percent Hispanic. I’m excited by the venture as are my Chicano colleagues on campus. Our joint efforts as a Chicano Faculty Caucus brought the Chicano Studies program into being. It’s a nascent program ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century, secure in the knowledge of its his-torical past. Chicano Studies has never been about windmills or revolution; it’s about our place in the American sun. Copyright © 2008 by the author. All rights reserved.


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