Lorenzo Garcia— International Liberation Reference Person for Chicanos and Chicanas

Chicanos and Chicanas

A small group of Chicanos and Chicanas has been able to remain active in RC over the last period. Those who stick around [stay] have a clear commitment to the work we are doing. I’m delighted. Considering the challenges of living in a society that has itself in a very big set of tangles, we are doing quite nicely! Maintaining and nurturing this hopeful perspective requires a new kind of discipline, both internally and in terms of what we model daily.

We have built a core of RC practitioners in at least nine Regions in the United States. We are active. Some of us are leaders in other constituencies—like women; LGBTQ people; Native/Indigenous people; Black people; wide world changers; Catholics; men; working-class, raised-poor, and owning-class people; and trade union activists—both inside and outside of RC.

From time to time [occasionally] one or two brave new souls decide to check out RC. Sometimes they stick around long enough for me to have a chance to know them a bit. But we still tend to lose more of them than we gain.

While our progress is encouraging, a fundamental challenge continues to be our working together as Chicanos/as, and working with other members of the International Communities, to move our lives forward and take on [confront and do something about] the interesting challenges in these times. We could do better, faster, if there was a core group committed to helping us organize, raise money, write articles, and cheer one another on.

WHO WE ARE

Chicanos/as are often referred to as a “minority population,” but this is not the case at all. We are part of the largest global-majority group in the United States. Most of us live in urban settings. Some of us live in more rural areas. We do not all use the terms Chicano or Chicana, which is fine. Any names we choose for our identities are temporary. They are simply a springboard from which we build our work to liberate all humans from all forms of oppression.

Generally we are people who live paycheck to paycheck. We struggle to make ends meet [to have enough to survive] and hope that our children and grandchildren will have a chance at a better life. Most of us are the working poor (dishwashers, custodians, cooks, waitresses, health workers, members of the military). Others of us are working class (some with specific skills, others not). Some of us are middle class (teachers, nurses, social workers, “mental health” workers, correction officers, police, immigration officers, doctors, lawyers).

Some of us have familial or emotional ties to Mexico and Mexican culture. Others of us have familial roots pre-dating the expansion of U.S. territory. Some people tell me, “Our ancestors were here before the United States came to us.” We must work to build close friendships with people from Mexico, as they share many elements of our history.

Often the dominant U.S. culture lumps us into the convenient term Latino or Latina. This generalization is sometimes intentional, mostly due to ignorance, and at times comes from patterned malice. The oppressive society also labels us as Mexicans, “undocumented,” or “criminals,” when it wants to manipulate others into being against us. The constant message is that we are the cause of other people’s economic and other woes, that we (who are men) are the examples of what it means to be sexist, and that we must leave our own culture behind to become “American citizens.”

In fact, we are part of a huge continent of people who have parallel histories, experiences, and challenges. We have mixed with many ethnicities and nationalities, including white people. We have many different Indigenous roots, the histories of which have been excluded from textbooks and occluded in our collective and individual memories. Like other Latino/a Americanos, we have experienced colonization and endured the policies of settler genocide. Some of our ancestors, as the only way to survive, participated in the oppression of their Indigenous brothers and sisters.

Forced assimilation began even before the Spanish came to the Americas, with dominant tribes forcing the assimilation of those they subjugated. The early outposts established by the Spanish and the tribal people who came with them were oppressive to most of the Indigenous populations. At some point “Jesus came, and the Corn Mothers went away.” The United States expanded into, occupied, and annexed the territories that were once part of Mexico—with violence, racist practices, and propaganda.

We have learned to live marginally in the dominant culture while bridging and navigating at least two worldviews and experiences.

I have spent hours trying to learn about our history, so I can better understand how our patterns came to be. I think this is important and would urge everyone to do it. We have a history of both resisting oppression and being defeated by our colonizers.

HOW WE ARE TARGETED

Currently we are being targeted on many fronts. One recent pretext, in the press and in U.S. governmental policies, is the “need” to deport undocumented immigrants, to build a wall and deport our neighbors. The propaganda and rhetoric make us all suspect. This is nothing more than a scare tactic. We must work with our communities to remind everyone that no human is illegal. It was our government’s policies—aimed at disrupting efforts to create models of democracy and retain economic control—that forced people from Central and South America to become economic and political refugees.

Many of us have family members who are targeted for destruction. Our children may be in juvenile facilities, adult jail, foster care, or prison, or being exploited in the sex industries. Many of them are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other substances.

Young Chicanos and Chicanas, and Latinos and Latinas, have been targeted for years as “criminals.” (Those who do have patterns that cause harm often grew up poor and had horrible lives that led to addictions and lifestyles of hopelessness and bitterness.) The labeling and criminalization occurs every day, in newspaper headlines and in “breaking news” stories about people who look like us. It is a systematic strategy that makes us all suspect and creates suspicion amongst us, undermining any attempt at unity. We can’t allow ourselves to be fooled by this. It’s a distraction and a simplification of the challenges our communities are up against.

Some of us internalize the messages and assimilate to the point where we take on [assume] collaborator roles in exchange for the illusion of economic security. Others of us have defiant patterns that stubbornly resist oppression. We can remain marginal and distrusting, avoid any real relationship, and “never let you in on [never reveal to you] what our lives are about.” Some of us are saddled with the patterns that mark us for destruction. Most of us have learned to bow our heads, work, and try to stay quiet and not get caught up in the stuff that could bring hardship to our families.

We must create opportunities for all of us to “come home” and recover from the harshness of our lives.

USING RC, AND WORKING IN THE WIDE WORLD

Learning to Co-Counsel, applying RC theory to our lives, is essential for us to be successful in the ways we each would like to be. It’s essential for building the kind of society we all want. Being a member of the International RC Communities is a wonderful opportunity for all of us. It is the most important work we can be doing. There is nothing else like it, anywhere.

At the same time, it can be “hard to do.” We must decide to counsel regularly on our liberation as Chicanos and Chicanas. This has been an elusive goal. We must hold out the things that go well in this work and the things that don’t, so we can raise the collective bar for all of us. We have to become better organized about our intentions and build an infrastructure that will be a springboard into learning and spreading RC more intentionally and quickly.

We can be engaged in many different liberation issues. This is a good thing. But it can also be a distraction for us—rooted in our individual and collective histories and how we have yet to face the effects on us of the systematic hurts.

We often remain separate from or marginal in the RC Communities. Our families learned to cope under the most difficult conditions. We saw them, day after day, not being allowed to discharge. No one explained this to us. Our limitations and the habits we’ve developed are a reflection of the multiple overlapping oppressions we’ve experienced and the challenge of our day-to-day lives.

Re-emerging from our distress is our most pressing priority. It is essential to our survival and for us to thrive. We must be disciplined and active in the International Communities and make freeing ourselves from every distress point zero in moving our lives forward.

We get to decide, over and over again, to discharge completely any pattern that keeps us from being pleased with ourselves and genuinely happy about who we are. To be alive in the world at this time in history is better than any lottery prize we could ever win. We can notice that we have good lives, that we are intelligent, that we care deeply about the planet and one another—no matter what battles we are in, or the odds we face, or even if we lose. It’s a contradiction [to distress] for us to hold on to this attitude. We can reclaim it as part of our cultural life perspective. We know the best way to hold a direction: “decide, act, and discharge” and go happily into the battles of our day-to-day lives.

Many of us have been trained to suffer through our lives or “endure the details,” or are chronically angry. Some of us wear the patterns of superficiality and never address the chronic discouragement, sadness, or distrust of white people and others that have come from when we were little, vulnerable, and did not have sufficient information or access to the discharge process. Each of us can be the master of our own body posture, facial expression, tone of voice, and attitude.

We must make a distinction between who we are and the wide-world movements that are advocating for our liberation, whose policies or programs are not of our making. We always get to do our own thinking. I suspect we will have to build our own movement, possibly with others. We must follow our own best hunches, based on our discharge and re-evaluations. Nothing else will suffice.

We must also work to build wide-world friendships across all cultural, religious, class, and national affiliations. We can learn about the issues, identify mutual interests, and work together to end all oppressions.

ALLIES

Allies have been helpful to us and to me in particular. Often when no one else has seemed to be available, they have been nearby. Some of us have taken full advantage of their willingness. I often think I am the luckiest Chicano to have ever lived, as I’ve had the good fortune to meet and know so many decent, good, committed, and generous people from around the world. And still there is work to do to train our allies and help them discharge on where they consistently miss the boat [don’t do the right thing]. It can be tricky.

We have been trained to become subservient in our relationships and to believe that “we cannot think”; that “only white people can think, write, and speak”; that “they are intelligent, and we are not as smart.” This is a result of the oppression we have endured. The opposite is true of our well-meaning white allies. They have been trained to assume, “Only we can think,” “Only we are capable of being intelligent,” “We will always be smarter, more capable.”

I believe it is time to be more intentional in working with our allies. I plan to visit Communities where there are strong allies who would be willing to work with me to sort through the distortions in our relationships. I will lead small workshops with them to establish a core of committed individuals who can work together to support our mutual liberation.

THE OPPORTUNITY OF RC

Co-Counseling offers us the opportunity to begin to think for ourselves, sort through the things that make our lives difficult, and make sense out of what we’ve experienced. It gives us a tool that can allow us to not just survive but also be successful, happy, and pleased—even as the things we face are more and more difficult. We have some lovely opportunities to fully apply our fresh and flexible thinking.

Lorenzo Garcia

International Liberation Reference Person for Chicanos and Chicanas

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

(Present Time 188, July 2017)


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00