Beltrán 2010

From Projecting Power

Chapter 1: El Pueblo Unido, Visions in the Chicano and Puerto Rican Movements[edit]


  • Late 1960/70s Mexican American and PR activists critiqued American politics
  • Used a mix of cultural nationalism, liberal reformism, radical critique, romantic idealism
  • They emphasized resistance, recognition, cultural pride, authenticity and fraternity (hermanidad)and created a profound legacy.
  • Represent an unexplored part of 1960s new Left radicalism compared to African Americans
  • Short duration of the movements
  • Disproportionate number of political leaders and academics
  • Today's Chicano political elites were members of a "political generation"
  • Produced institutions that continue to shape Latino political and cultural discourse
  • Movement's institutional legacy seen in higher education (civic education promoting Latino identity)
  • Recent rise of Latinos to high-profile political positions increased attention to organizations and radical pasts
  • Right-wing politicians characterizing prominent Latinos as "secret" radicals and racist nationalists
  • Movement collapsed but its legacy seen in coalitions and empowerment

Chicano and Puerto Rican Movements[edit]

Chicano Movement[edit]

  • Described as "the most traumatic and profound social movement to occur among Mexicans"
  • The Chicano movement shifted Mexican American politics and its relationship to American society
  • Intense political activity, militant cultural nationalism, mass mobilization, thousands of participants
  • Went from ethnic separatism to socialist internationalism
  • Norms of Mexican American politics: assimilation, integration, and participation in electoral politics --> an "egalitarian ideal"
  • Veered away from American way of politics, "adhered to no doctrine"
  • Political advancement not through mass movements, but by getting close with the Democratic Party
  • Organizations: LULAC, American GI forum, Pan American Progressive Association
  • LULAC: League of United Latin American Citizens
    • Distinguished middle-class membership from Mexican newcomers
    • Restricted membership to American citizens
    • Won victories in courts over de jure segregation
    • High school dropout rates were high (50%)
  • The rise of the Chicano movement was a reaction to "ongoing inequality and earlier strategies of Mexican American elites"
  • Chicano students were the community's most politicized and active members
    • Fighting for citizenship rights through blowouts, demonstrations, rallies, sit-ins
    • Protested Vietnam, Anti-war, fought for Chicano studies program
    • Youthful radicalism, shift in group consciousness shaped by labor activism through arts
  • California: Caesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta founded the National Farm Workers Association (later became United Farm Workers of America (UFW))
    • Strikes, nationally publicized, hunger strikes, boycotts
  • Brown Berets
    • LA paramilitary group that encouraged student protests
    • Fought to restore ownership of common-use land
  • Artistic Renaissance: art, music, literature in 1960s/70s
  • Heterogeneity as the most striking elements of Chicano movement
    • Movement embodied historical, regional, and social diversity (most apparent within student movement)
  • Chicanismo
    • Emerging ideology of cultural nationalism
    • Militant version of self-help and racial solidarity, based on a shared history
    • Aztlán concept: symbol that mobilized Chicanos into political action
    • Political manifesto: El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán
    • New ideology: self-determination and communal empowerment, focused on social inequality, community empowerment, fear of cultural disintegration

Puerto Rican movement[edit]

  • Chicano activists mobilized at the same time as the Puerto Ricans
  • Puerto Rican politics in the 1950s was dominated by moderates and middle class
  • Rich history of political radicalism
  • Cigar makers' influence
  • Working class radicalism after WWII
  • Massive immigration to the mainland shifted the political climate
  • Calls for a radical transformation of US society while promoting independence of Puerto Rico
  • Inspired by growing militancy in the world
  • Organizations: Young Lords Party, Puerto Rican Socialist Party, El Comité-MINP, Puerto Rican Student Union, and more
  • Young Lords left the most lasting legacy, captured public attention,
    • Small but heterogeneous portion of the community
    • Former prison inmates, recovering addicts, college students, hospital workers, parents, Vietnam veterans
    • They were a socialist organization
      • People programs, with an active base in NY and the Northeast
    • Bilingual paper Pa'lante
    • Successful demonstrations (largest anti-colonial street demonstration)
    • Cultural and political solidarity between African Americans and PR: Afro Carribeans, Afro-Boricuas
      • Denise Oliver: leader of Young Lords resigned to join the BPP, showing the interconnected political and racial relationship between African Americans and PR

Chicanismo y el Nuevo Despertar: The Shared Vision of the Chicano and Puerto Rican Movements[edit]

  • Focus on Chicano and Puerto Rican movements
  • Chicanismo seen as a melting pot of different philosophies and historical contexts
    • Similarly, the Puerto Rican movement had multiply ideologies that evolved over time
  • Shared political impulses as driving factors behind Chicano and Puerto Rican movements

Racism, Social Inequality, and Cultural Pride[edit]

  • Analyzing both politics while highlighting their “critique of racism and inequality” and “emphasis on community control”
  • Different art styles employed to protest racial and economic inequality
    • “Puerto Rican Obituary” by Pedro Pietri
    • Focused more on emotional aspects of racism
  • Some search for their identity in Mexico and back completely altered
    • Fails to present Latinidiad as a complex identity and concept
  • El Plan de Santa Barbara
    • Disagreed with Chicanos and Puerto Ricans feelings of needing approval by dominant White groups
    • Instead had Anglo society prove itself to them
    • Mexicans were faced with the question of, “Is the sacrifice of your barrio or colonia worth achieving the American Dream?
  • Berkeley Professor, Carlo Muńoz explains the Chicano Movement’s strive for some unified identity
  • Members of both movements were not expected to choose between their racial pride and social equality
    • Drew high levels of awareness for social injustice of both groups
    • Eventually led to members and outliers to agree that these injustices were genuinely an issue
  • Unfortunately, both groups were more motivated by opposition that they were to execute success political strategy

Community Control, Group Advancement, Cross-Class Solidarity, and the Critique of Individualism[edit]

  • Movements continue to push the importance of community, especially in institutional contexts
    • “Oppression and inequality would never end until Chicanos and Puerto Ricans controlled the institutions that directly affected community life”
  • El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán
    • Chicano movement manifesto
    • Institutions exist largely due to communities, therefore institutions like the economy should belong to the people and serve the people of that community
  • Community Control
    • Institutions (like schools and workplaces) controlled by non-Latinos fail to treat Latinos in fair manners that don’t include exploitation and social inequality
  • Members of the Young Lords Party, whether from the barrio or not, supported the Latino working class
  • University students took advantage of their privileges to help the movement
    • El Plan de Santa Barbara was even written by Chicano graduate students and professors
    • Highlighted the importance of MEChA in education
  • Members of the Young Lords Party, whether from the barrio or not, supported the Latino working class
  • University students took advantage of their privileges to help the movement
    • El Plan de Santa Barbara was even written by Chicano graduate students and professors
    • Highlighted the importance of MEChA in education
  • Self-preservation vs. preservation of the group
    • Raised to see every man for themselves
    • Supporting the success of your group ensures the existence of all
    • Those with success are seen as the “exception rather than the rule”
  • Background of Young Lords and Chicanos
    • Young Lords were once a Puerto Rican street gang
    • Chicano is a term that signifies rebirth of pride and confidence in their identity
  • La Raza Unida Party
    • Good example of community control
    • Mobilized Chicanos to the polls
    • Boosted representation by supporting Chicano candidates
    • Those running for the school board that did not fit the stereotypical expectations of that role

Nationalism and the Politics of Unity[edit]

Nationalism and the Politics of Unity explores the ideologies of nationalism within the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. It delves into the distinctions between cultural and revolutionary nationalism, highlighting how shared culture or Marxist perspectives shaped their respective movements. Despite these differences, both movements emphasized group unity as a central ethos, with nationalism serving as a unifying force. The Chicano movement, exemplified by El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, emphasized cultural nationalism as a means of mobilization and organization, while the Puerto Rican Young Lords embraced revolutionary nationalism with an internationalist vision. The section underscores how nationalism played a crucial role in shaping the unity and political perspectives of these movements, reflecting a shared commitment to liberation and community control within the United States.

Key takeaways and arguments:

  • Diverse Nationalist Philosophies: The Chicano and Puerto Rican movements exhibited diverse nationalist philosophies, with the Chicano movement emphasizing cultural nationalism and the Puerto Rican movement leaning towards revolutionary nationalism with Marxist and anti-capitalist perspectives.
  • Unitary Impulse: Despite the differences in nationalist ideologies, both movements shared a unitary impulse that emphasized group unity as a dominant ethos shaping their activism. This unity was seen as essential for the advancement of Chicanos and Puerto Ricans in the United States.
  • Nationalism and Unity: Nationalism played a significant role in promoting unity within the movements. While the Chicano movement used cultural nationalism to foster a shared political perspective based on shared culture, the Puerto Rican Young Lords embraced revolutionary nationalism with an internationalist vision, aiming to aid the struggle of all oppressed peoples worldwide.
  • Different Interpretations of Nationalism: The Chicano movement's emphasis on Aztlán as a homeland was more symbolic, connecting Chicanos to their indigenous past, while the Puerto Rican movement called for political independence for Puerto Rico but did not necessitate Puerto Ricans in the U.S. to return to the island.
  • Legacy of Nationalism: The section highlights how nationalism, whether cultural or revolutionary, influenced the unity and political perspectives of the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements, reflecting a shared commitment to liberation, community control, and self-determination within the United States.

These arguments underscore the complex interplay between nationalism, unity, and political activism within the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements of the late 1960s and 1970s, showcasing how these ideologies shaped the movements' goals and strategies for social change.

Puerto Rican Revolutionary Nationalism: Unity through Ideology[edit]

Puerto Rican Revolutionary Nationalism discusses the ideology of revolutionary nationalism within the Puerto Rican Young Lords movement. It highlights how the Young Lords identified as a revolutionary nationalist party with an internationalist vision, drawing inspiration from texts like Franz Fanon's "The Wretched of the Earth" and Che Guevara's works. The section emphasizes how the Young Lords promoted unity through strict adherence to their ideological framework, which sometimes led to internal conflicts and accusations of deviation from the party line. Despite their commitment to revolutionary nationalism, the movement faced challenges as ideological struggles and internal divisions affected their grassroots activism and public support.

Cultural Nationalism in the Chicano Movement: Unity as Ideology[edit]

Cultural Nationalism in the Chicano Movement: Unity as Ideology explores how cultural nationalism shaped the Chicano movement. It discusses how the emphasis on cultural identification and issues within the movement fostered a sense of unity among Chicanos. The section highlights the importance of nationalism as a unifying factor that transcended religious, political, class, and economic boundaries within the Chicano community. It also mentions El Plan Espiritual de Aztlàn, which emphasized nationalism as a key to organization and unity among La Raza. Overall, the section underscores how cultural nationalism played a significant role in promoting unity and solidarity within the Chicano movement during this period.

Unity and the Challenge of Latina Feminism[edit]

Unity and the Challenge of Latina Feminism explores the intersection of unity and feminism within the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements. It discusses how Latina feminists faced challenges within these movements, often being criticized for raising gender issues that were perceived as divisive. Despite facing backlash, Latina feminists believed that feminism could enhance group unity rather than undermine it. The section highlights the struggle of Latina feminists to address gender dynamics within the movements, challenging traditional oppressive structures and advocating for gender-based issues and priorities. It emphasizes how the demand for unity sometimes silenced feminist critique, showcasing the complexities of navigating unity and feminist perspectives within the broader context of political activism.

Latina feminists operated from the belief that group unity was still the discourse with the most political legitimacy(p.47)

Key takeaways and arguments:

  • Gender Disparities in Unity: The section highlights the gender disparities within the unity rhetoric of the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements, where women were often excluded or marginalized in discussions of unity and activism.
  • Feminist Critique: Latina feminists challenged traditional gender dynamics within the movements, advocating for gender equality and empowerment. They faced resistance and accusations of dividing the movement by raising gender issues.
  • Cultural Authenticity vs. Feminism: There was a tension between cultural authenticity and feminist ideologies, with some leaders like Corky Gonzáles expressing concerns about feminism being perceived as a threat to cultural identity and unity.
  • Unity as a Political Principle: Despite facing challenges and criticisms, Latina activists in both movements upheld the belief in the fundamental unity of their communities, prioritizing ethnicity over gender and viewing disagreements as external and unnatural.
  • Empowerment through Feminism: Latina feminism emerged as a means to challenge oppressive gender dynamics and advocate for women's liberation within the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements, leading to new forms of democratic accountability and gender-based priorities.

Overall, the section underscores the complexities and conflicts that arose when feminism intersected with the unity rhetoric of the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements, highlighting the struggles faced by Latina feminists in navigating traditional cultural norms, unity ideologies, and gender empowerment within their respective communities.

Chicana Feminists: Vendidas versus Loyalists[edit]

Chicana Feminists: Vendidas versus Loyalists discusses the internal debates and conflicts regarding feminism within the Chicano movement. It explores the tensions between Chicana feminists, who advocated for gender equality and challenged traditional gender roles, and the loyalists, who viewed feminism as divisive and a distraction from the movement's goals. Chicana feminists were accused of being influenced by external movements and prioritizing individualism over community unity. Despite facing criticism, Chicana feminists sought to redefine their roles within the movement and address gender dynamics, leading to discussions and actions aimed at empowering women within the Chicano community.

Puerto Rican Feminists: Uncertain Alliances[edit]

Puerto Rican Feminists: Uncertain Alliances examines the struggles faced by Puerto Rican feminists in forming alliances within their movement. It highlights the initial criticisms faced by Puerto Rican women for addressing issues of sexism and women's oppression within the broader movement. The section also discusses the challenges of reconciling traditional cultural practices, such as machismo, with feminist ideologies. Despite these obstacles, Puerto Rican feminists worked towards challenging the notion of machismo as a progressive force and advocated for gender equality within the movement.

Chapter 2: The Incomplete and Agnostic “We”[edit]


  • Centers on the political assumptions surrounding the Latino movement
  • Movements spoken in Chapter 1 showcase the desire for Democracy to be a form of political participation in which [the people] are included
  • Author claims that the there is an Ethos surrounding America’s democracy mentioning how the country has failed to serve all its people equally
  • The Latino movement has a disturbing unwillingness to accept distinction among its members given the groups emphasis on promoting unity among the most populoried traits ( often white, straight, cis, etc).
  “Those who challenged norms and traditions became culturally and politically suspect” (Pg. 02)
  • Chicana feminists: feminists were vilified and lesbians silence in the name of 'familia'
  • Marginalized communities Not as carriers of difference
  • 3 sections in the chapter
    • Criticisms of community, unity, and homogeneity
    • Democratic resources of third world feminism
    • Democratic and political openness and closure

The Ideal of Community and the Politics of Difference[edit]

  • Main Idea: The idealistic concept of community represses the ability to differentiate socially given its desire to group subjects together. When in action, this serves to exclude those within the group that do not fully identify with the other members.
    • Unity is a desire for "security, symmetry, and social wholeness."
  • Author claims that in order to decenter Democratic participation from the exclusion of those different from the group, political discourse like rhetoric, political art, and protests should be conducted.
  • Face to face participatory practices disempower segments of political community via a failure to meditate though the "speech and actions of others" (Pg. 59)
    • Local participation, however, may be faulty due to plausible misunderstandings that arise out of imbalances in power, privilege, ability, and knowledge.
  • Author Young defines 'Justice' as the "elimination of domination and oppression" (Pg. 59)
    • Young calls for representation for disadvantaged groups and believes that social groups are a typeof constituency that needs formal representation although may not hold the same ideologies.
 "Belonging without dissolving into commonness" (Pg.60)

Homogenizing Multiplicity: Social Groups, intersectionality, and the Limits of Difference[edit]

  • Main idea: Feminism and the danger of homogeneity conceptual communities.
  • "Feminists of color use language and communication to construct a new experience of belonging" (Pg. 62)
  • Holding onto the distinct parts of one's identity creates a realization that they will never be like others in their community (Pg. 62).
  • Chela Sandoval introduces the idea of oppositional consciousness.
    • Sandoval states that there is, however, a lack of unity among feminists of color given the difference among them.
      • The wish for a "unifies Third World Feminist Movement" reflects a lining for immediacy and harmony...consensus and mutual understanding"
  • Concept of home
    • According to Bernice, 'home' is a refuge and space of sameness, unlike coalitions which are a space of survival and struggle.
    • Author partially disagrees with Berniece claiming that enforced homogeneity, otherwise referred to as "the barred room," can be destructive because they maintain myths where "communities that equate samness with sustenance and solace" (Pg. 65)
    • Author does, however agree with the idea that agnostic feminism challenges the idea that women share a common experience due to the fact that they are women.
  • Coalition versus home
    • Feminist activist Bernice Johnson Reagon make the distinction
      • Home serves as a place of refuge and sameness
      • Coalitions work as unsafe spaces that are understood as spaces of survival
    • Third World feminist movement functions as a coalition, in which groups come together out of necessity.
      • It is uncomfortable and burdensome for heterogeneous groups of women to come together, especially when feminists of color have to represent themselves in white environments.
  • Democratic Dilemma
    • Latines in the United States are diverse by region and subgroup, but majorities exist within the group that hold global capital and state power
    • Moves to combine Sheldon Wolin’s idea of “fugitive democracy” and Alan Keenan’s writings on democratic openness to categorize “Latino” as a political category

The Impulse to Closure: Democratic Uncertainties and Fugitive Moments

  • Definition of democracy argued by Sheldon Wolin:
    • “Project concerned with political potentialities of ordinary citizens…”
    • “Collective power is used to promote or protect the wellbeing of the collectivity”
    • “Fugitive” - a “moment” rather than a form of government
    • Individuals can contest forms of unequal power and create “new cultural patterns of commonality”
  • Kennan;s understanding of democracy
    • Sustainable notion of democratic politics capable of contending with tensions
    • Holds a promise of radical openness but involves exclusions to institutionalize a certain vision of the people
      • Critique
        • Author writes that Keenan’s emphasis on the ongoingness of democracy ignores how there is a strong, persistent tension occurring within democracy’s incompleteness
  • Latinidad
    • Chicano and Puerto Rican movements creating new forms of commonality

Mexican Americans became Chicanos

    • Young Lords calling for the liberation of Puerto Ricans, which produced new frames of collectivity
    • Both movements recognize das moments of democratic expansion

Conclusion: Fugitive Latinidad

  • Keenan: democracy is pulled between “politics and the politics, between the deliberative and the nondeliberative, between openness and closure”
    • Example: the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements
  • Latino politics can be understood as a history of democratic moments and their result
  • The concept of Latinidad is itself fugitive as excluded subjects began to understand themselves as political actors.
  • Latinidad as “evanescent homogeneity”, in which commonality is possible but not guaranteed
    • Latinidad is an ongoing argument, rather than a fixed object, and subject to permanent political contestation

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