ChicanaDiasporic: A Nomadic Journey of the Activist Exiled

Juanas and the Chicano Movement

Juana is a Mexican word for a woman soldier.   
Cervesas: Beers.   Maldiciones: Curses.
The golden ticket to access to the Chicano movement: learn how to shout, swear and how to drink beer.

Chicanas become superior at logistics, managing the working parts of the movement, writing the grants to keep the clinic doors open, organizing the conferences, marches, meetings—buying enough toilet paper for the conference bathrooms, frijoles refritos for the lunch and dinner breaks.
Chicanos, create the ideology—a curious mescla manufactured from ten thousand years of cultured brew carefully steeped by the golden sun of a bronze nation, not so carefully mingled with the romantic lure of enlightened history.

Through two poetic works, the first authored by Colorado activist, Rudolfo Corky Gonzales, Yo Soy Joaquin, and the second by poet Alurista, El Plan Spiritual de Aztlán, the Chicano ideology of Aztlán, develops during the late 1960’s as a political response to a century of Mexican American assimilation and cultural dissolution caused by the acquisition of Northern Mexico by the United States through the 1848 Treaty of Hidalgo. Aztlán is a Nahuatl word that describes the northern portion of Mexico, most of the Southwest United States, annexed in the Treaty. 
In 1967, Colorado activist Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales penned, Yo Soy Joaquin, a poem that would become the canon of Chicano identity. Gonzales’ Joaquin, a young mythological character, a Chicano every man that has the sangre cosmica, cosmic blood of a thousand year history, coursing through his bronze veins. Joaquin’s story signals the clarion call of a new race whose destiny is awareness, identity and pride, to overcome racial oppression through revolution.
In 1969 at the Denver Youth Conference, a young poet whose actual name was Alberto Baltazar Urista Heredia, but was known by the name, Alurista, presented a work that would become the second of the two works at the core of Chicano identity. El Plan Spiritual de Aztlán, offered young Chicanos at the Conference a connection to the past of bronze indigeneity; to the spiritually nativist culture and created an ancestral tether to a geographic Mexico that no longer existed. 

To the 1960’s Mexicans of the Southwest, the idea of Aztlán as an actual place becomes an opportunity to reclaim a homeland and culture--a symbol of place, if not the actual place. In the process of creating this nation of Aztlán, the word Chicano is also reclaimed to identify the people of this nation. Formerly a derogatory word used to describe laboring Mexicans, Chicano becomes a word associated with nation-pride and cultural identity.
Feminist Socialist scholar Yolanda Alaniz describes these poetic declarations of nationhood as well-meaning and beautiful, but clearly lacking any real agenda for an attainable goal of nationhood. One of the many issues facing the establishment of a Chicano nation was that a single Chicano identity could never exist—or at least be agreed upon in the approximately dozen states that had Mexicans that identified as Chicano. 

Chicano nationhood and identity relied on an ideology that was based upon a single, homogeneous race or nation—two words that do not have the same meaning. As Alaniz explains, there is a distinct difference between “race” and “nation” and neither can be characterized by a single cultural identity. 

The other issue with Chicano ideology--where are the woman in this race and nation building? Chicana Feminist scholar and Wisconsin native, Andrea "Tess" Arenas, conducting a workshop with the Latina Poetry Project created a response to the iconic work that is Corky Gonzales' "I Am Joaquin." Yo Soy Eva, answers the question asked by generations of Latinas. Soldadera, Curandera, Tonatzin, all the 'Eva's of el mundo', speaking for the tender gift of life, the invitation to heal, to cure, and to join in the struggle--all from the strength of a cheetah's growl. "Yo Soy Eva" celebrates the spirit and power of all Latinas, thirty years after Gonzales' gender specific clarion call.

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