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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Enriqueta Vasquez: Eminent Historian for "The Women of La Raza"

am going to go out on an (academic) limb and call The Women of La Razaby Enriqueta Vasquez both a treasure and a living codex. I will also say this about Enriqueta herself: Vive en la sabiduria -- she lives in wisdom, wisdom of an elder, wisdom of the elders, an elder who also leaves footprints and also walks in beauty. Her words and generational knowledge are gifts to us, and I will say that her epic book is a must-read, especially for those interested in the history of Chicanos in general, but even more specifically, the history of Chicanas in this country. For the rest of the column, please go to:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The National Council of La Raza's Name Change: A National Capitulation

The National Council of La Raza's Name Change: A National Capitulation

Thursday, September 07, 2017By Roberto RodriguezSpeakout | Op-Ed

The National Council of La Raza's (NCLR) recent name change to UnidosUS is bizarre and incomprehensible and its rationale that their name was "getting in the way of their mission" strains credulity, especially because it was also purportedly trying to be more relevant to the young. This action, coming from the nation's largest Latino civil rights coalition, simply reeks of outright capitulation -- this at a time when the communities that it seeks to represent are under the most relentless attacks in modern history, compliments of the current White House occupant and his allies. 

For the rest of the column please go to:

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Spanish Inquisition Lives On in Arizona's Ban on Mexican American Studies

The Spanish Inquisition Lives On in Arizona's Ban on Mexican American Studies

Friday, August 11, 2017

I have always viewed Arizona's effort to eradicate Mexican American Studies (MAS) as something akin to an unholy Inquisition. For some, that will sound hyperbolic; not for me.
US district Judge Wallace Tashima is expected to make a decision soon on whether the 2010 Arizona House Bill 2281 legislation, which bans Arizona public schools from offering ethnic studies classes, was passed with the intention of discriminating against Tucson's Mexican American students.

For the rest of the column go to:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mexican American or Mexican Mexicano?

During a time of changing identities, I remember a student of mine at the University of Arizona once defined himself as a Mexican Mexicano, this in contrast to Mexican American, as was the case for many of his classmates. I understood that identity. For the rest of the column, go to:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Law Enforcement Violence in 2017 "Normalized"

by Roberto Rodriguez

The recent exoneration of the Anaheim and Bakersfield, California police officers, respectively, who killed Adalid Flores, who was carrying a cell phone, and 73-year-old Francisco Serna, who was carrying a crucifix, drives home the mantra of “no convictions” that has been made by criminal justice activists. In three recent high-profile trials involving the officers who killed Philando CastileTerrence Crutcher and Sylville Smith, all officers have walked.
For the rest of the column, please go to:

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


The Arizona Daily Star:

The Mexican American Studies trial is underway in Tucson’s federal court, and yet the historic trial will never receive the national coverage it merits. The trial will determine whether the 2010 anti-Ethnic Studies HB 2281 legislation, which resulted in the elimination of Tucson’s highly successful K-12 Raza Studies Department, and which was initiated by former state schools’ superintendent, Tom Horne, was motivated by racial animus.
At stake here is whether Arizona can determine what constitutes permissible versus impermissible knowledge in its schools, this within the context of a “civilizational war.”
For the rest of the column in the Arizona Daily Start, please go to:

Longer version of the article with active links to the study re the hate mail in the Arizona Daily Star and the Arizona Republic between 2010-2012.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Twenty years ago, I wrote “The X in La Raza,” a political essay I referred to as an “anti-book.” I did so at a time when people were beginning to write Chicano or Chicana with an X as in Xicano or Xicana.
Though “The X in La Raza” was not a response to this development, rather, it was a response to myself, an essay I had written in 1981, titled “Who declared War on the Word Chicano? For the rest of the column, go to: ” 

(Part 1 of this essay is at: Affirming a Macehual or Gente de Maiz Identity:

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Affirming a Macehual or Gente de Maiz Identity. Part I of 2

A couple years ago, someone from California wrote me to tell me that: “Mexicans are taking over Chicano Studies.” 

Apparently, the person did not know I was born in Mexico. And they knew less about what this topic triggers within me. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, I did become part of the Chicano Movement, and thus identified as such during that time, though throughout most of my life, my constant identity has been Mexicano. At times: Me-Xicano. For the rest of the column, go to:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Arizona Court to Decide What We Can Learn

by Roberto Rodriguez

Not sure that most people know that as a result of draconian legislation, it has been in effect “illegal” to teach ethnic studies in Arizona since 2010. It is one of the twin laws that we in Arizona will never recognize as laws, regardless of what anyone says or however the courts rule.
However, in about a month (June 26-30 and July 17-21), the constitutionality of the anti-ethnic studies HB 2281 legislation will be put to a test. At that time, the long-anticipated trial will be held to determine whether there were racial motivations in terminating Tucson Unified School District’s highly effective Raza Studies Department. For rest of column, please go to:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Diaz Epitomizes Education and Responsibilty

by Roberto Rodriguez

How time flies. Watching Cynthia Diaz at this year’s Centro Guerrero convocation at the University of Arizona brought back memories of when I first saw her. I did not actually meet her at the time. I first saw her on an “I miss my mom” poster when she was 15 and fighting in Phoenix to bring her mother back from Mexico as she had been inhumanely deported (whisked away from her home under false pretenses at the crack of dawn) by the migra that year.
The next time I saw her was at UA. She told me that a mutual friend had sent her my way. This was the fall of 2013. At the time, she still looked the same age as the young girl in the poster.
For the rest of the column, please go to:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

HEMISPHERIC INDIGENOUS CONSCIOUSNESS SUMMER CLASS: University of Arizona graduate students can enroll themselves in the class. For everyone else, anyone in the country can take classes at the UA so as long as you apply to become a non-degree seeking student. You would need to apply for that (quick application), then once accepted you can enroll in classes. For more info, please contact Indira Arce at UA-Mexican American Studies: or (520) 626-8103 Please share/post, forward, etc. to any prospective graduate student who may be interested.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Teaching, Selling or Consuming Cinco de Mayo

It is that time of year: it is either time to teach, sell or consume Cinco de Mayo.
If one decides to teach it, then people come to learn of a great anti-imperialist struggle (1861-67) fought by poor peoples, and a day that memorializes a heroic battle in Puebla on May 5, 1862, that eventually culminated with the kicking out of the French from Mexico in 1867.
If one decides to sell it or consume it, then one becomes part of that capitalistic practice of debasing anything sacred and turning it into a tragicomic holiday where drinking and white sales become the norm.
It is a time when the media will go to the local bar and then ask drunk gringos (and nowadays even drunk Mexicans,) the meaning of Cinco de Mayo and the response is usually: “It’s Mexican Independence Day” or “who cares … it’s just a time to party.
For the rest of the column, go to:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


LIBERATION OR SOCIAL JUSTICE: Was the early Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s involved with social justice issues? That is what one of my students excitedly wanted to know, after returning from a national conference in which the primary theme was social justice.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


I have long wanted to have this debate... so on my part, here is the opening salvo. Comments are welcome:

In Chicano Manifesto (1971), Armando Rendon made the radical claim that the United States and Mexico were technically still in a state of war (1846-1848) because the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was violated prior to even its signing, and that therefore, a state of war continues to this day.

Rendon’s claim was based on war having been waged against Mexico; half of its territories were illegally seized via war or threat of war during the 1830s through the 1850s; and several of the articles (Article VIII and XI) from the treaty were altered and one (Article X) was outright deleted​. These articles had to do with land rights and the human rights of the peoples that remained in the former Mexican territories.

Here, I am not agreeing or disagreeing, but actually positing something even more radical: that people of Mexican descent (including Chicanos/as) that live in this country, live in a permanent state of dehumanization and thus also part of a permanent state of insurrection that has been ongoing since the days of Columbus, Cortez and Pizarro and other “conquistadors,” one that never ended, and technically, can never end.
For rest of the column,please go to:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Do All Lives Matter? inShare Email

by Roberto Rodriguez
April 10, 2017

The question at the Cesar Chavez lecture at a packed auditorium at Sierra College was, do all lives matter?
It was a great forum and a great dialogue, but in a sense, it was the wrong question. The reason is that each time the answer will invariably mischaracterize, misdirect, or at best, deflect. In case there is any doubt regarding this answer, one only need examine Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent ordering of a review of dozens of existing consent decrees between the Justice Department and police departments nationwide. For the rest of column, go to:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Beware of Poisoned Orange Tree

by Roberto Rodriguez

The White House appears to be an ethics-free-zone. And it appears to be intentional.

The reason there are few ethical guidelines designed specifically for presidents is because it has always been assumed that the person at the helm of the most powerful nation on Earth would have little incentive to abuse the office of the presidency of the United States of America, precisely because he would be the most powerful person in the world. For rest of column, go to:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Re-indigenization is Underway

by Roberto Rodriguez

Fleshing the Spirit: Spirituality and Activism in Chicana, Latina and Indigenous Women’s Lives is a book that I regularly teach. As I was going through my students’ papers this past week, I came to the realization that something radical is happening within these communities alluded to in this book. It is a process referred to as re-indigenization.

This is a huge development, not simply in the history of this country, but on this continent. I venture to say that this process has been going on for at least a generation, though with the rise of this administration, this process appears to be accelerating now even faster. In addition, it is greatly accelerating precisely because of the hostility of the current administration, which actually rises to the level of a full-scale immigration war against these communities.

For the rest of the column, go to:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


by Roberto Rodriguez

It appears that an all-points bulletin has been issued in search of this nation’s soul. It is no secret that the current administration’s policies, including its budget priorities, have triggered a profound questioning of this nation’s beliefs and ethos.
In effect, it is war, over people.
This is not metaphorical, but actual choices being made by the current administration: the Pentagon, Wall Street and the Border Wall versus Meals on Wheels and Sesame Street. Translation: Bombs, prisons and profit versus the needs of human beings, seniors, children, and education.
And yet, it is not so much these anti-human policies and choices, but the very existence of this administration that has caused people to profoundly question everything regarding the roots and foundation of this nation, including what it means to be an American.
For rest of column. please read (and share)

Thursday, March 16, 2017



The Smiling Brown Play/presentation/performance was historic. It was nothing short of amazing. Below is the schedule for March 12. I can say it was intense. The good news is that it was taped. This project is akin to the Vagina monologues. The most important aspect of Smiling Brown is the dialogue. From the discussion held at the end, it was decided that we may do it again for 5 de Mayo in Tucson, but also in Phoenix in April and possibly in San Antonio before the actual premiere in Los Angeles. It will also make for great curriculum. With the footage from Jason Aragon of Pan Left, we will produce, perhaps a mini-documentary and perhaps a 10-12 minute version that can be used in schools and other educational settings. The topic of color and light-skin preference is very powerful and in many cases is taboo. The project is ongoing. Feel free to send in writings/poems, recordings or videotaped testimonios. March 12 at the Tucson Festival of books barely scratched the surface. But also, that is a reminder; Smiling Brown will also be a book. Send to: More details later. At the moment, a huge thank you to all participated in the Tucson preview and all those who have sent in testimonios to different parts of the country. In the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018, there will be a Smiling Brown tour. The hopes are for the premier in the Spring of 2018 in Los Angeles. Will keep everyone posted re this.


Light skin preference and the denial of Indigeneity.
by Roberto Rodriguez.

What this project/book/play examines is light-skin preference in the Mexican, Central American and Andean communities of this nation, particularly in relationship to indigeneity and denial of indigeneity. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this is a taboo topic in these communities. The reason for that is because the play primarily examines the internal dimension to this phenomenon; i.e. how it plays out within family/relatives/friends. The external of course manifests as racial profiling in all of this society's institutions. Part of what the play chooses to examine are the earliest memories when children become conscious of their color and that there is meaning attached to their color, and of course, most of these memories are negative.


Somos Mas Americanos – Tigres del Norte

Dulce Juarez (tape)

Why am I so Brown? By Trinidad Sanchez

SMILING BROWN 2:30-4:30pm

Opening Poem: Susana Sandoval 7 min (live)

Susana is a poet, human rights and Indigenous rights activist. She recently spent 3 months at Standing Rock.

Sarah Gonzalez MC
Sarah Gonzales is an artist, community organizer and educator living in Tucson.

Roberto Rodriguez Dr. Cintli: Genesis of the Smiling Brown Project:
Associate Professor in Mexican American Studies at the UA, founder of the Smiling Brown Project and a life-long writer. Currently writes for Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
Mictlani Classroom powerpoint re color preference.
As a critical educator my objective has been to interrogate colonization through a decolonizing curricular and pedagogical focus in a K-5 classroom setting; the most decolonizing experience that I’ve provided my students is the opportunity to love their humanity, contrary to the dehumanizing goal of colonization. This self love objective is rooted in the study of this ancient energy of Tezcatlipoca as experienced by my students’ love for the color of their skin, expressed through art and poetry. 

The Vai Se Voi family: Presentation on raising their family right (and importance of Indigeneity to family/community).
Chanequeh Vai Sevoi, Tetaviecti, Cajeme, Sewailo, Gigi Naamu, Tuituli, Marisella Kurues, Chucho, and Maria. Calpollequeh of Teoxicalli Pueblo Tlamanalco. Maria and Chucho are the proud parents of 6 beautiful children, instilling self-love and self-worth through cultura.

Anabel Aguayo: Morena Color de Llanta:
Anabel is a social worker and a graduate of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

Alexandria Partida; live testimonio
Alexandria is a University of Arizona graduate and an aspiring doctora.

Monica Contreras - live testimonio
Monica Contreras is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona's Mexican American Studies program. She is a former MEChista, proud Chicana and was born in Arizona.

*Diana Diaz - videotaped testimonio
Diana Díaz was born in Fresno, CA to Mexican and Salvadoran migrants. She graduated from the University of Arizona with my Bachelor's in Art with an emphasis in Linguistics.

Eva Alcalde & Mictlan Alcalde testimonies
Eva (mother) and Mictlan (son) were both born in Tucson. Mictlan is aspiring to be a warrior artist, and his mother is a visual artist. Eva has received her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from Arizona State University School of Social Work. Mictlan attends Roskruge Middle School and is in the 6th grade.
Alfred Chavez taped testimonio
Alfred, a graduate of Northern Arizona University was born and went to school in Tucson. He has dedicated his testimonio to his Nana Nellie.

Timo Padilla poem
Timoteio is a public health educator, poet and emcee working within the anti-violence movement. Timoteio organizes, educates and works to end violence against women, and build solidarity with LGBTQ identified folks, while considering intersections of privilege and power as they relate to masculinity. Timoteio pursues this work through a decolonizing framework, dismantling systems of oppression, while building towards indigenous resilience. 

Ruben Botello: Anglolocation:
Ruben is retired and works at Americas and Caribbean Islands Union & American Homeless Society  

Susana Sandoval & Karizma Blackburn: testimonios
From Chicago, Susana was our opening poet. Her daughter: Karizma Blackburn is a writer, vocalist, activist who has traveled to Kenya and Standing Rock, North Dakota to fight for water rights. 

Juvenal Caporale:
Juvenal is a PhD candidate in the Mexican American Studies Department at the University of Arizona. His research interests include street gangs, criminalization, and youth identity and resiliency.

Tara Truddell: poetry and performance of her works and the works of her father, the late John Truddell. 

Armando Bernal:
Armando, born in Tucson, is a long-time Tucson educator and a retired librarian.  

Leilani Clark poem
Leilani is a Tucson native, long time immigration, human and Indigenous rights activist.She currently lives in Las Vegas.

DIALOGUE WITH AUDIENCE: Moderated by Sarah Gonzalez

Piel Canela
By Anna NietoGomez

“I grew up believe everyone’s skin color was some color brown.  Perhaps that is because I am brown, and people in my family were either lighter or darker than I. It’s rather funny that of those who are some color of brown, I do not know who is darker or lighter.  I don’t even describe what color of brown I am.  I think it is because it changes from season to season, and it seems to be a different color now that I am older.  But when I see a picture of myself it is a smiling brown, but not the color of a brown crayon… “

For an article on this topic, please go to Nakum Journal:…/smiling-brown-gente-de-bron…

Thanks to all who have assisted in this process, including everyone presenting on March 12, and also: Evelina Fernandez, Jose L. Valenzuela, Andrea Romero, Cathy Gastelum, Marc Pinate, Milta Ortiz, Jose Garcia, Anna Ochoa O’Leary, Ada Wilkinson-Lee, Kyle Peterson, Anahi Herrera, Elizabeth Soltero, Jason Aragon and Brillana Barraza.

Because it is an ongoing project, we are still looking for stories, written, recorded or videotaped: Inquire or send to:

You can support this project with a tax-deductible donation to the University of Arizona Foundation.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Something radical is happening in this country, and whatever is happening here, is actually also affecting the rest of the world. That’s the macro view. Whatever is happening is also happening at a personal level. Fear is taking hold and gripping entire communities.

For the rest of the column, go to:

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Time for Brown Berets to be Seen in Court?

The Brown Berets have a storied history in this country, somewhat akin to the Black Panthers. But for this story, what concerns us is their recent history in Tucson, Arizona. Two weeks ago, two members were assaulted and arrested, charged with aggravated assault against police officers, while part of a protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And it was not the first time they had been singled out, assaulted and arrested. For the rest of the column, please go to and share: Time for Brown Berets to be Seen in Court?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Aztecas del Norte: We can not be illegal on our own continent

“In the academy, [American Indian scholar] Jack Forbes created a path to bring Chicanas/os and others “home.” By this, I mean that Forbes provided historical knowledge about understanding that our legacies have always been deeply rooted in this hemisphere.” — Melissa Moreno, professor, Woodland Community College
Scholars in Chicano studies and related disciplines, since the 1960s, have long debated the idea of when Mexican Americans as a people(s) came to be. This is something that the discipline has grappled with since its creation in the late 1960s. Yet, it is a debate that has been rekindled both by the extreme anti-Mexican climate in this country, and also by the work of a pre-eminent American Indian scholar from a generation ago, who posited a seemingly controversial proposition: that these peoples, rather than foreigners, in fact are native or indigenous to these lands. For the rest of the column, go to: