Mi Música: Mexican American Music of Today

Selena gives a lesson in what she knew best: music

This video is a look back to a different time for Mexicans in the United States. One before the globalization of NAFTA that led to the displacement and migration of millions from Mexico, and before Latino marketing would invade our cultural domain. A lot has changed. But rather than reminisce we should have a discussion as a community on where we’re at today and how we got here.

How many times did Selena use a term other than Mexican or Mexican American in this video? Exactly. The time before globalization and consumerism will never return, but we could do better. Let’s start by having that discussion.


Emiliano Zapata Spoke and Wrote in Nahuatl

Part of a message written in Nahuatl to supporters of the Mexican Revolution sent from the headquarters of the Liberation Army of the South in Tlatizapán, Morelos, on April 27, 1918 by its Commander in Chief, Emiliano Zapata:

“…Axcan ocachi que me aic monequi ti mo zepampalehuizque ica nochi to yolo ihuan ica nochi totoyoquiliztli itech inon huei tequitl de necetiliztli mahuiztic, huelneli de necate tlen qui pehualtihque netehuiliztle tlen qui yolóhpia chipahuac nin pehualoni ihuán ámo qui poloa nin neltocaliz de cuali-inemiliz…”

“…Now more than ever we need to help each other with all our heart and with all our efforts in this great task of unity, which is truly the work of those who got into the fight, to keep their heart clean with those principles and to not lose faith in a life of respect…”

“…Ahora más que nunca hay necesidad de que nos ayudemos entre nosotros con todo corazón y con todo nuestro empeño en esa gran tarea de unificación digna, que es verdaderamente la tarea de los que se metieron a la lucha, que conservan limpia en su corazón esa empresa y que no pierden la fe en una vida de respeto…”

via comoespinademaguey


Indigenous Communities of Pómaro, Michoacán Oppose Disarming Autodefensas, Transnational Mining

The Nahua-speaking coastal communities of Pómaro, Michoacán, where 84.14% of the adults speak an Indigenous language, have suffered for years the plundering of their natural resources by foreign corporations. The Mexican Constitution clearly states that they must have the approval of Indigenous communities to extract its riches. Given the refusal of the villagers of Pómaro, these transnational corporations have used the Caballeros Templarios Cartel to sow death and extortion, buying off authorities in order to achieve their goal of operating in the area.

La Costa Michoacana is peaceful for the moment. Comunitarios managed to scare off the Templarios who now hide in the city of Lázaro Cárdenas. Comunitario members have set up checkpoints in the Duin, Cachán, Tizupan, Huahua and Caleta de Campo, but warn that the federal government’s announcement to take away their guns have left them with no choice but to resist, as disarmament would result in the return of the criminal element.

Video via Tejemedios



The Zapatista Escuelita (Zapatista Little School) project, which opened in August 2013, has now made available the first of several books, translated into English, as free PDF downloads.

The first in the series is the text, Autonomous Government 1: Freedom According to the Zapatistas. Download the PDF here.

Forthcoming books will be released in the coming months, at one month intervals, if not sooner, as follows:

    • Autonomous Government I (Available now: click here)
    • Autonomous Government II (Will be published no later than April 8th)
    • Participation of Women in Autonomous Government (Will be published no later than May 8th)
    • Autonomous Resistance (Will be published no later June 8th)

(via laprofesorarevolucionaria)


Keeping Traditions Alive at Mexico’s Top Mariachi School

PRI’s The World misses the mark on mariachi, and Mexicans — again!

Escuela de Mariachi Ollin Yoliztli is the first formal mariachi program in Mexico, and its director, Leticia Soto, happens to be a Mexican American from the San Fernando Valley who graduated from UCLA in ’13 with a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology. In fact, she helped revive that school’s campus mariachi, Mariachi de Uclatlán, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013.

Putting Soto’s background in context completely changes the narrative of this story, and most others on mariachi — and Mexican Americans, for that matter. A 50th anniversary is a great accomplishment for a student mariachi program, let alone one based in the United States, but the fact is that Mexicans in the U.S. have long led efforts to formalize the study and elevation of mariachi music’s artistic profile.

The first international conference on mariachi was held not in Guadalajara but in Tucson, Arizona. Several more institutions based around mariachi have been created in the United States in recent years. For instance, Texas and California have impressive mariachi-based school music programs, complete with elaborate state competitions. In contrast, we found no similar school music programs in Mexico.

All of this was, of course, missed by the folks at the BBC and their sister program, PRI’s The World. Instead of focusing on mariachi and its rich history, or on Soto and her unique story, they largely talked about mariachi’s negative stereotypes. But reporter Jason Margolis did mention Soto on his Twitter account. However, he referred to her as “American,” which is clearly a misrepresentation of her heritage. Another reason Mexicans need to tell our own stories. Tan-tan!

Related: Sebastien de la Cruz: The Face of the Future and San Antonio Says ‘In Your Face, Racists!’

Read more stories on Mariachi

(via laprofesorarevolucionaria)



Editor’s Note: This is a repost of an article first published on March 31, 2013 in the blog End 1492 by its author, Pakal Hatuey. With his permission, we’re sharing it in full.

March 31st has been designated as a state holiday in places like California to pay homage to Cesar Chavez, the…


The Delano Manongs: The Forgotten Heroes of the UFW

American farm labor movement’s finest hours – The Delano Grape Strike of 1965 that brought about the creation of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). While the movement is known for Cesar Chavez’s leadership and considered a Chicano movement, Filipinos played a pivotal role that began it all. Filipino labor organizer, Larry Itliong, a five foot five cigar-chomping union veteran, organized a group of 1500 Filipinos to strike against the grape growers of Delano, California.

For eight days they struck alone, getting thrown out of their labor camp homes, and facing violence from growers’ hired thugs and the sheriff’s department. Yet Larry’s story and the story of the Filipinos and their union organizing efforts that began in the 1920s in the US have virtually been forgotten.

Delano Maonongs tells the oft-overlooked story of how Filipino leader Larry Itliong and the thousands of Filipino farmworkers rallied with their Chicano comrades to form the United Farm Workers. Their inspiring fight brought national attention to the plight of the working class and formed a legacy still celebrated today.

For more information, visit:


César Chávez Calls Migrant Workers From Mexico ‘Wetbacks’ and ‘Illegals’

About a year ago, we posted a link to the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive (SFBATA) where this clip was originally hosted. In it, César Chávez is heard referring to Mexican migrant workers brought in to break UFW strikes as ‘wetbacks” and “illegals.”

The next day it was uploaded to YouTube by a user named krove. We have no connection to this person. Based on the account’s videos, it appears they’re Filipino. We cannot verify their identity or motive, but it’s there and now has more than 4,600 views.

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s time to have an honest and open discussion on Cèsar Chávez and the UFW. This clip which clearly demonstrates the demonization of Mexican migrant workers is a part of it. As well, this is not the only bit of historical evidence out there. There’s a lot more, which points to the fact that this was not a one time slip of the tongue, it was a deep part of UFW’s culture. In fact, this clip is tame compared to several articles in El Malcriado, the UFW’s newspaper, and actual campaigns to arrest migrants at the border, which were led by Chávez and other UFW leaders. Look for that information in the coming days.

SFBATA: KQED News report from September 25th 1972 featuring an interview with Cesar Chavez, in which he explains that legitimate strikes by agricultural workers can always be broken by employers bringing in illegal labor from Mexico. He goes on to state that the best way for agricultural workers to secure collective bargaining rights is by organizing a boycott of farm products.

To provide context to Cesar Chavez and the UFW’s perspectives on undocumented labor in the mid-20th Century, see Frank Bardacke’s book (discussed in the re-blogged post below, courtesy again of thinkmexican).  Also see David G. Gutierrez’s older book Walls and Mirrors: Mexican-Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity, which was one of the first pieces of Chicano Studies scholarship to expose the problematic, yet at the time (1990s), forgotten dimensions of UFW politics.  It will be interesting to see whether or how the biopic addresses this, especially since the film itself was made in Mexico with Mexican labor and a Mexican-born director.


Frank Bardacke Speaks About His Book, ‘Trampling out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers’

In this video, which author Bardacke gave at the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, he discusses the two major themes of his book, 'Trampling out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers': farmworker power and the UFW’s structure as an organization. The more interesting part on the UFW’s structure starts at 33:45.

The author gives a clear and often ignored account of how Chavez and the United Farm Workers went from organizing farmworkers to organizing boycotts, with an examination of why the UFW may have made this decision at the cost of those they were charged to serve.

Bardacke is for the most part generous with Chavez, calling him a visionary and a political genius. However, he also paints the picture of a stubborn man who couldn’t handle political dissent amongst the rank and file of the UFW. But as we learn in this discussion, that points back to the fact that very early on Chavez and the founders of the United Farm Workers chose to appoint the union’s leaders.

Internal conflicts that came with the UFW’s non-democrat structure came to a head during in the 1979 lettuce strike of Salinas where a strike committee defied Chavez and decided to go on strike against his will. Chavez never forgave the strike leaders, eventually driving them out of the union.

Chavez who was the grandchild of U.S. citizens may have also never fully related to newly arrived Mexicans who formed the majority of workers in the Salinas Valley where the strike took place. By 1985, the divisions within the UFW cost them their most talented organizers, but most importantly, almost all of their contracts. Today, the UFW is no longer a powerful union, it “transformed itself into a successful cross between a farm worker advertising group and a family mail business,” writes Bardacke in his book. That’s evident with the fact that the UFW is busy promoting the “Cesar Chavez” movie and not organizing workers.

At one point, Bardacke comments, “I’m not even going to begin to talk about the UFW’s attitude toward the undocumented.” Although he writes extensively about it in his book, he shies away from this topic, as do many others. But we won’t. Look for a video and other stories that expose the UFW’s very dark history with criminalizing Mexican migrant workers.

Frank Bardacke was active in the student and anti-war movements in Berkeley in the 1960’s, He moved to California’s Central Coast in 1970, worked for six seasons in the Salinas Valley fields, and taught at Watsonville Adult School for twenty-five years.

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La Gran Marcha: 8 years Later

8 years ago, more than half a million protesters marched in downtown Los Angeles in opposition of H.R. 4437: The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, also known as the “Sensenbrenner Bill.”

March 25, 2006 was a special day. The largest march in U.S. history! But much has changed since then, and we can learn a lot from the many marches our community saw between 2005-2007. Lesson number one: Keep it grassroots.

Although many of these megamarchas were used as publicity stunts by Spanish-language radio DJs like El Pistolero in Chicago and El Piolín in Los Angeles, for the most part they were organized from the bottom up. The most recent marches have lacked that same spirit of genuine indignation toward the government, with many being outright corporate bought and sold.

Another matter is that under Obama, the activist community has been much more complacent than with Bush Jr. With Obama’s deportation record, we should be packing the streets again, but instead it seems many of us are busy taking selfies on Instagram.

For there to be a Comprehensive Immigration Reform that doesn’t sell out our community, we need to organize again at the community level, then take it to the streets as we did on March 25, 2006. However, this time let’s wear red and black! (Wearing white as a symbol of peace and non-violence was an apologetic gesture that was never understood by the general population.)

Image credit: Bob Chamberlin, AP

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Benito Juárez • March 21, 1806 – July 18, 1872

Benito Juárez was born on March 21, 1806, in the Zapotec village of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca. As president of Mexico, Juárez led the country through one of its most difficult periods. He’s remembered as the “Hero of the Americas.”

Juárez’s legacy is that of a nationalist and progressive reformer who resisted French occupation, overthrew the Second Mexican Empire, expropriated church lands, and subordinated the army to civilian control. His birthday, March 21, is a national holiday in Mexico.

Quote: “Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz,” meaning “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

Image: “Benito Juarez,” by Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, 1968

#benitojuarez #zapotec #oaxaca #21demarzo #mexico #benemeritodelasamericas #lareforma #mextagram #thinkmexican



Friday, March 28, 2014 - 6:00pm
Location: Kurland Lecture Hall in the Valley Performing Arts Center
Cost: Free

Former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador speaks on the privatization of Mexico’s natural resources and contemporary Mexican politics this Friday, March 28, at Cal State University, Northridge.

López Obrador recently published a book titled “Neoporfirismo: Hoy como ayer.” A Q&A session and discussion will follow.


8-Bit Lotería Art in Nahuatl
In Acaltontli means “little ship” in Nahuatl. In Spanish, we know it as “La Chalupa,” one of the 54 Mexican Lotería cards.
This very cool project by comoespinademaguey takes the 8-bit Loteriart of ph145 and translates it to Nahuatl, essentially taking the old and making it new again — then taking it back once again to, in this case, its origins in Nahuatl. That’s a lot of culture packed into one animated GIF!


8-Bit Lotería Art in Nahuatl

In Acaltontli means “little ship” in Nahuatl. In Spanish, we know it as “La Chalupa,” one of the 54 Mexican Lotería cards.

This very cool project by comoespinademaguey takes the 8-bit Loteriart of ph145 and translates it to Nahuatl, essentially taking the old and making it new again — then taking it back once again to, in this case, its origins in Nahuatl. That’s a lot of culture packed into one animated GIF!