Ethnic Studies Smear: Wingnuts Slime Corky Gonzales, Civil Rights Hero

A nativist nutcase sticks Corky Gonzales quotes into the cheap blender of her brain and makes mush of it all

It's always amazing to me the way ignorance spreads like a vicious rash through the Internet. One idiot spouts some bull that the confirms the prejudices of the far right, it makes it onto YouTube, and the wingnut echo chamber goes to town, completely oblivious to the error. The vaunted Fourth Estate often just repeats what it hears.

Case in point is this video of a Tucson teabagger-type reading passages from a book used by the Mexican American Studies program at a recent board meeting of the Tucson Unified School District.

The woman doesn't identify her source in the video, she just plucks quotes from the text, and if you're not paying close attention to what she says, you might think that it all came from one passage. This is how many of the right wing blogs, which seem befuddled by the difficulties of Google, have regurgitated it.

The tome she's quoting from is Message to Aztlan: Selected Writings, by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, one of the most important leaders of the Chicano movement of the 1960s and '70s. Some have characterized him as the Chicano Malcom X to Cesar Chavez's Martin Luther King, Jr.

Granted the word "Aztlan" in the title will inflame nativists from jump, but the idea of Aztlan as a homeland for indigenous and Chicano peoples was a powerful one at the time. Indeed, it still is. And if you're going to teach students about the struggle for Chicano rights, you cannot ignore the word "Aztlan" or a figure such as Gonzales, any more than you could ignore the Black Panthers or the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in an African-American studies course.

Many of the quotes this nativist nudnik uses come from a famous poem of Gonzales' entitled "I Am Joaquin," which, read in its entirety, is a beautiful, moving evocation of hundreds of years of Mexican and Mexican-American history.

The narrator's voice in the poem identifies with many facets of this history, the bloody, the nefarious, the righteous and the brave. Essentially, it is saying that Chicanos embody all of these things, that Chicanos are a mix of different races, different nations, different religions, and so forth. It preaches an ethnic unity that appealed to many in 1967, when it was first published. And that appeal endures.

The poem's message is overwhelmingly positive, but this teabaguette chops it up, makes it sound suspicious and furthermore claims that it is read to third-graders. 

I talked to MAS director Sean Arce. He told me MAS teachers use the text, but not in the third grade. (Not that I'd find anything "wrong" in doing so.) After all, if you read it, you can tell that a third grader wouldn't understand it. Arce said junior-high and high-school kids read selected passages from Gonzales' work. 

Gonzales has an icon-like status in the Chicano community. A former boxer, he was certainly a radical. But so was Malcolm X. And if you ask me, The Autobiography of Malcolm X should be required reading in ALL American high-schools.

To give you a sense of how this hater twists things, check this segment from "I Am Joaquin." The woman only reads the first line of this passage:

I shed tears of sorrow. I sow seeds of hate.
I withdraw to the safety within the circle of life --
MY OWN PEOPLE
I am Cuauhtémoc, proud and noble, 
leader of men, king of an empire civilized 
beyond the dreams of the gachupín Cortés, 
who also is the blood, the image of myself. 
I am the Maya prince. 
I am Nezahualcóyotl, great leader of the Chichimecas. 
I am the sword and flame of Cortes the despot 
And I am the eagle and serpent of the Aztec civilization. 
I owned the land as far as the eye 
could see under the Crown of Spain, 
and I toiled on my Earth and gave my Indian sweat and blood 
for the Spanish master who ruled with tyranny over man and 
beast and all that he could trample 
But...THE GROUND WAS MINE.
I was both tyrant and slave.

Either this chick flunked reading comprehension in school, or she's intentionally deceiving people. She is someone who should be ignored and/or reviled.

Here's another passage, one she only reads the first six lines from:

In a country that has wiped out
All my history,
Stifled all my pride,
In a country that has placed a
Different weight of indignity upon my age-old burdened back.
Inferiority is the new load . . . .
The Indian has endured and still
Emerged the winner,
The Mestizo must yet overcome,
And the gachupín will just ignore.
I look at myself
And see part of me
Who rejects my father and my mother
And dissolves into the melting pot
To disappear in shame.
I sometimes
Sell my brother out
And reclaim him
For my own when society gives me
Token leadership
In society's own name.
I am Joaquín,
Who bleeds in many ways.
The altars of Moctezuma
I stained a bloody red.
My back of Indian slavery
Was stripped crimson
From the whips of masters
Who would lose their blood so pure
When revolution made them pay,
Standing against the walls of retribution.
Blood has flowed from me on every battlefield between
campesino, hacendado,
slave and master and revolution.

The poem is layered, and no one is spared. Gonzales' work describes Chicano culture, warts and all.

It would not surprise me one bit if ethnic-studies haters, such as the Arizona Republic's Doug MacEachern, use such misinformation to further demonize the MAS program. This is blatant McCarthyism, cheap race and red-baiting. And completely disgusting.

The woman also repeats lines from speeches Gonzales made, making it sound as if it was part of the same passage, when it was not.

"Poverty and city living under the colonial system of the Anglo has castrated our people's culture," she reads, offering no context.

This line is taken from El Plan del Barrio, a list of demands Gonzales issued during the Poor People's Campaign, organized by MLK, though King was assassinated before the campaign, which set up camp in Washington, D.C. for two weeks, could take place.

The Barrio Plan called for communal housing, Spanish-language first education, community-owned businesses, land reform, job development, the redistribution of wealth, and legal reforms.

Radical stuff? By today's standards, yes. But not by the standards of the late 1960s.

The line stating that the Declaration of Independence insists on a "right to revolution"? Well, it does. The idea is straight out of John Locke, people.

The expletives she repeats? As my colleague Dennis Gilman has already noted, Huckleberry Finn is more shocking in its language than anything offered in the video.

Finally, the speaker makes a big deal of this statement, "any country based on capitalism is based on greed." Um, duh. Hasn't this twit ever heard of Gordon Gekko?

Why are nitwits, bigots and wackadoodles like this given a penny's worth of our attention? Because they are driving an agenda advocated by MacEachern and Attorney General and former state School's Superintendent Tom Horne, who dreamed up the ethnic studies' ban to begin with.

I should note that according to David Abie Morales' Three Sonorans blog, TUSD governing board president Mark Stegeman basically broke the rules to allow this nutbar to speak. Morales has been unrelenting in his coverage of this issue. I encourage you to read his blog, here.


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92 comments
Istillhaveadream
Istillhaveadream

Corky Gonzales was a very important part of American History regardless of all comments. His writing,poems etc. should be read in their entirety like any other important part of our history. Point being - The content is historically and politically correct for it's time because of the challenges Mexican Americans were experiencing. We as a People who are still divided because of ethnic origin should respect History period. So many other historical and ancient comments in this thread are proof that we as a people read and learn and understand and have a right to be educated about both sides of the fence. In a perfect world most would agree that the end goal is we as a people should be undivided and live in peace and harmony with equality. I Believe Sitting Bull once quoted :

 "Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children "

Then and only then,we can reach a center within all our hearts to except each other as a brother and sister and our past and it's Historical momments be a reminder to us all how we achieved unity amongst men and women.

Corky's brother is my uncle and I remember those times and remember the importance of a movement to lead the people to the place they are in now. Sadly with the ever growing desire for Mexican people to migrate to the United Sates -  It has opened these old wounds and again we the people forget we all are immigrants with the same wants and needs for our children. If I were born in Mexico or you,the poverty and survival alone trying to succeed to greatness in that Country would have me searching for a future for my children's, children's child. After all, our ancestors from anyone of us at some point came to the United States for the same wants and dreams. We are the children of many, yet still cannot learn from activist from the past, the thing they all were fighting for- Equality amongst men and women.

- J

Bobby
Bobby

The headline "Ethnic Studies Smear",etc. should be referring to how "Ethnic Studies" classes, run by clowns that are well paid by American taxpayers, who have been smearing and denigrating Americans for years.  They finally got theirs. Most Americans are proud of ARIZONA, and the left knows it. That's the only reason they throw such a sh-t fit.

David Saint
David Saint

In fairness, if we are allowed to have text books that slant the American-Indian wars so that it looks like good vs evil, instead of us just taking the land by force, whats the big deal about this program exactly?? So much for "Land of the Free".  

chicagonut
chicagonut

Those vying for these ethnic studies are Mexican mestizos.   Their tribal ancestors were not indigenous to this country.   Their so-called genocide occured south of our border and by the Spaniards.    It hasn't anything to do with this country. 

Former Republican
Former Republican

"Finally, the speaker makes a big deal of this statement, "any country based on capitalism is based on greed." Um, duh. Hasn't this twit ever heard of Gordon Gekko?"The speaker needs to read this. She's targeting the wrong people and needs to focus on this group:  The People vs. Goldman Sachs | Rolling Stone Politicshttp://www.rollingston...

chicagonut
chicagonut

The Mayans were not indigenous to this country.  They were indigenous to Mexico.    So if any of their history or culture was wiped out it had nothing to do with the USA but the Spaniards who occupied Mexico.

Mistalee
Mistalee

WOW, that's ignorant!

Considering that the conquistadors have been out of the picture for a couple of centuries, but that indigenous and hispanic americans continued to have their culture destroyed, their children forbidden to speak their native tongue.

The destruction of the ejido and acequia systems in the southwest, the implementation of the "indian schools," thatś anglo, babe, anglo all the way. Own it.

chicagonut
chicagonut

Where did I say I was freaking out?   I have no problem with Latinos that are here legally who put this country first.

chicagonut
chicagonut

No one TODAY is beating anyone for speaking their native langauge in this country.  In my neck of the woods there is more Spanish being spoken than English with a Mexican restaurant on every corner popping up.    You were saying? 

Mistalee
Mistalee

Which is surely why you are freaking out.

Bobby
Bobby

That anti-white racsim just burns through your posts. I will give you credit for one thing--you sure as hell do your best to make it obvious.

legtingle
legtingle

 Oh, dear.  Looks like we've got an uber smart and oh-so social-justice-y, "studies" person here. 

If this "culture" you speak of is so fab....why on earth are people trying to escape IT to come to a different one?

Bobby
Bobby

Because she's an anti-white racist.

Mistalee
Mistalee

" Looks like we've got an uber smart and oh-so social-justice-y, "studies" person here."

It looks like in your topsy-turvy world intelligence is a fault and ignorance a virtue.  

chicagonut
chicagonut

No, you're the ignorant one .    What has that to do with the U.S.?   Corky was of Mayan ancestry.    The Mayans occupied what is modern day Mexico. 

HIspanic-Americans?   Are you moving the goal post now?   You do realize that the word Hispanic comes from Spain, don't you?   What has that to do with any native indian cultures?   Who is destroying any one's culture and language in this country?  Last I looked we are a free coountry and can practice any culture we want or speak any language we want.

Still hating on the white man and living in the past , Evelyn?   How many new sock puppets are you going to come up with?

Mistalee
Mistalee

 Still no clue, eh, Nut?

Yes, both indigenous and hispanic, latino culture has been under attack. You pretty obviously haven't talked with older indio-hispanos in this country who got punished, even beaten, for speaking their native tongue in school.

Mistalee
Mistalee

You do realize that the vast majority of Spanish-speaking people in the US are mestizo, right?

Evelyn? Keep hittin' that bong, "Chicagonut." Or should we just shorten your name to "Nut?"

Ms1chats
Ms1chats

 You say this is a typical rightwig playon a revered Mexican writer by the racist right.

You got one thing right TYPICAL!! Theleft is so bias, towards the right that it dismisses

facts, that those of us living in theboarder states, deal with daily.

If Gonzales writings have beenmisrepresented or misinterpreted it is by the Mexicans that use theirinterpretation of Gonzales work to teach fellow Mexicans that theyare all victims of a great injustices perpetrated on them by WhiteEuropeans and the US. That the great white

devils owe them. They are entitled tocome here illegally, entitled to receive

money and benefits from the USgovernment, entitled to get free medical, entitled to have theAmerican people help support their children for 18 years. What dothey owe a country that

would does so much more for them, thanthere own? Nothing, because their ancestors lived

on this land, that means the continentis rightfully theirs. They should be reading world history andDarwin, instead of Gonzales. So that they might understand thatMexico is not the mess it

is today because their ancestors wereconquered and land was lost generations ago. The truth is the only reason there is a Mexico today,controlled by Mexicans, is because of the US. The Mexican army is notthe reason that one of many other county's has not simply invadedMexico. Today Mexico is still unable to defend it's self form adetermined invading army, but for the last century or so Mexico hasfallen under the protection of the US. Where's the poem about that?

                   

Mistalee
Mistalee

"You got one thing right TYPICAL!! Theleft is so bias, towards the right that it dismisses

facts, that those of us living in theboarder states, deal with daily"

You've got to love those who insist on "English only" and yet who are borderline illiterate and incoherent in the language on which they insist.

Bobby
Bobby

Only you didn't understand the poster. His/Her points are clearly made..

Bobby
Bobby

So YOU AND ONLY YOU keep implying. 

chicagonut
chicagonut

It isn't the history of Spain that these ethnic classes are teaching.    So why bring Hispanic and the Spanish language into it?  Yes, most Mexicans are mestizo but no one is trying to obliterate the Spanish language or Spanish culture in this country.   These classes are about revenge and hate of all white Europeans in this country past and present based on a past with the native indians.      The tribal ancestors of the mestizos weren't even indigenous to this country nor were the Spanairds.    So why don't they teach these classes down in Mexico where  that past occured?  The USA had nothing to do with the history of mestizos between their tribal ancestors and the Spaniards.   It didn't occur on our soil.

Mad Shoeshiner
Mad Shoeshiner

Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California are most definitely on our soil. 

legtingle
legtingle

I don't think that poster is borderline illiterate and certainly not incoherent.  I followed what points they were making.  Valid on all counts.  But, deflect.  Cry racism.  Cry "phobic".  Cry and squeal and demand something for nothing.  Have you noticed your outrage has gotten the attention of mainstream U.S. citizens?  Oh, yes.  Good luck to your side...they hear you loud and clear.

chicagonut
chicagonut

Wrong, liar!   There is no English only legislation.    Only English as our official langauge.  I guess every country in the world is allowed an official langauge but not ours?   When are Mexicans going to compalin about Spanish since it is also a white European language? 

guest
guest

the author of the post is racist himself. look at the hate towards white people.

bobgelder
bobgelder

that's hate for haters of all colors the way I read it.

JesusChrist
JesusChrist

Stephen Lemons is white, dumbass. So he's racist against himself? 

legtingle
legtingle

He's a Leftist.  And an extremely biased "journalist".  I shouldn't even call him that.  His pieces are just opinion articles, really.  I guess he saw a shot at making a name for himself in this town.  Sad.  He was actually good when doing the restaurant reports.  I looked forward to reading his take on things and he had a great way with words.

Now?  Just kind of pathetic stories, written to whip up the Leftists and young and dumb in Phx.

chicagonut
chicagonut

There is nothing unusual for some whites to be self-hating.   Lemons fits the bill. 

JesusChrist
JesusChrist

Slavery. Segregation. Lynching. The genocide of Native Americans. Systematic racism of all people of color. All historical facts. Seems more like Mr. Lemons loathes those facts. Not the man in the mirror.

science teacher
science teacher

To all who speak of "racism":  There is no such thing in the taxonomy of humans as a Mexican Race.  Mexicans are either Caucasians or some kind of mix.

chicagonut
chicagonut

Mexican is not a race but 60% of Mexicans are of mixed race.   Usually native indian and white European (Spaniard).    They are called Mestizos. 

Mistalee
Mistalee

Race is a fiction useful only to justify racism. It has no meaningful biological correlate. The Human Genome Project has proven this conclusively.

Ethnicity is another matter. 

Mistalee
Mistalee

Guess again, Bobby -

"DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies(races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physicaltraits such as skin and hair color can be identified betweenindividuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genomeexist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no geneticbasis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other.

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techre...

That's as of December 14, 2009. Got something more current?

Bobby
Bobby

No race DOES HAVE A BIOLOGICAL CORRELATE. There are countless examples, of dieseases, and differentl "BIOLOGICAL" conditions, that are specific to different races of people. In fact, this is well established now. You haven't been keeping up with the research.

chicagonut
chicagonut

Race is a fiction?   Why do you keep harping about white people then?   Whites are all different ethnically also.  The Germans certainly aren't like the Italians.   The British certainly aren't like the Spanish, etc. Yet you lump them altogether as one big genocidal group.

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