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MEChA

One common feature of logos used by MEChA chapters, an Eagle holding a lit stick of dynamite and a macuahuitl.

M.E.Ch.A. (fuse or wick. The motto of MEChA is 'La Union Hace La Fuerza' (Unity creates strength).

Contents

  • Origins in the 1960s 1
  • Organizational structure 2
    • Affiliated chapters 2.1
    • National MEChA Constitution 2.2
  • Criticism 3
  • Controversies 4
  • Name Change 5
  • Annual National MEChA Conferences 6
  • California Statewide Conferences 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9
    • Critics 9.1

Origins in the 1960s

MEChA began during the 1960s, empowered through the political movements of the time, especially the civil rights and US military and police during the Zoot Suit Riots).

The San Antonio, Texas in 1967. It employed the tactics of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later spurred the creation of the La Raza Unida Party.

The Blowouts, a series of protests against unfair conditions in Los Angeles schools.

Following the Blowouts, a group of students, school administrators, and teachers formed the Chicano Coordinating Committee on Higher Education (CCCHE), a network to pressure the adoption and expansion of equal opportunity programs in California's colleges.

Rene Nuñez, an activist from San Diego, conceived a conference to unify the student groups under the auspices of the CCCHE.

In April 1969, Chicano college students held a nationwide conference at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Many of the attendees were present at the First National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference hosted by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales' Crusade for Justice a month prior, and the Santa Barbara conference represented the extension of the Chicano Youth Movement into the realm of higher education.

The name "Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán" was already in use by a few groups, and the name was adopted by the conference attendees because of the importance of each of the words and as a means of transcending the regional nature of the multiple campus-based groups. Conference attendees also set the national agenda and drafted the Plan de Santa Bárbara, a pedagogic manifesto.

MEChA chapters first took root on California college campuses and then expanded to high schools and schools in other states. It soon became one of the primary Mexican-American organizations, hosting functions, developing community leaders, and politically pressuring educational institutions. MEChA was fundamental in the adoption of Chicano Studies programs and departments in academia.

Organizational structure

Affiliated chapters

MEChA exists as over 400 loosely affiliated chapters within a national organization. Typical activities of a MEChA chapters include educational & social activities, such as academic tutoring, mentorship, folklore and poetry recitals, exploring the way of life through an indigenous perspective bringing Chicano speakers to their campus, high school outreach, attending Statewide, Regional, & National Conferences. Many chapters are also involved in political actions, such as lobbying high school and university administrators for expanded Bilingual Education programs and Chicano-related curricula, the celebration of Mexican cultural traditions, as well as other Latin American holidays (such as Mexican Independence Day), Columbus Day protests, sit-ins, hunger strikes, boycotts, rallies, marches and other political activism relating to civil rights, affirmative action, and immigration.

National MEChA Constitution

The National MEChA constitution was ratified on April 9, 1995 during the second annual National MEChA conference at the University of California, Berkeley (Cal). The document outlines four objectives:[1]

  • Educational, cultural, economical, political, and social empowerment of Chicanos.
  • Retention of Chicano identity and furthering of cultural awareness.
  • Uplifting and mobilizing Chicanos and Chicanas through higher education.
  • Implementing plans of action concerning Chicanos and Chicanas.

Since its adoption, the document has been amended five times:

During the 1999 National Conference at Phoenix College, MEChA adopted a document entitled The Philosophy of MEChA which affirmed the more moderate view that "all people are potential Chicanas and Chicanos", and that "Chicano identity is not a nationality but a philosophy".[2] In addition, The Philosophy of MEChA addressed the problem of outside organizations co-opting the legitimacy of MEChA to advance their own agendas, doing so by establishing guidelines to make local MEChA chapters more accountable to the national organization.

Criticism

A passage from MEChA's national website reads: ‘As Chicanas and Chicanos of Aztlán, we are a nationalist movement of Indigenous Gente that lay claim to the land that is ours by birthright. As a nationalist movement we seek to free our people from the exploitation of an oppressive society that occupies our land. Thus, the principle of nationalism serves to preserve the cultural traditions of La Familia de La Raza and promotes our identity as a Chicana/Chicano Gente.’[3] [4] Such statements have led MEChA to be criticized by a variety of sources, including the [7] in describing the associations of California gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante.

Critics also point out the group's use of the word Aztlán: To many, this word calls to mind a mythical region comprising much of the Southwestern United States and as a result, some critics feel use of the phrase implies support for the controversial theory of reconquista. While MEChA supporters point out that the Aztlan mythology itself does not refer to reclaiming conquered lands, it simply describes the mythical home of the Aztec people. MEChA supporters do not acknowledge that the lands of the Southwest United States were actually the homelands of a multitude of Native tribes, none of which were Aztec, and that the Aztec never inhabited these lands. MEChA also does not acknowledge that the map they use to illustrate their myth of "Aztlan" has nothing at all to do with the Aztec tribe, since it is a map of Nueva Espania, lands conquered and subsequently claimed by the Spanish after they arrived in North America.

Also controversial is the phrase "Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada", which is often translated as "For the Race, everything, outside the Race, nothing", though this is disputed. Many critics of MEChA see this statement as ethnocentric and racist. This phrase appears in El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán as the official "slogan" of MEChA. MEChA members themselves differ in their interpretations of "La Raza". While some use the term to strictly refer to only mestizos and Chicanos, others use it to mean all Hispanics and minorities. A possible origin of the phrase is the Cuban Revolution, which used the similar slogan "Por la revolución todo, fuera de la revolución nada!"

A 1998 MEChA youth conference at

  • "An Investigation of Racism within MEChA" The Stanford Review, October 15, 2003
  • "The California Future as Northern Aztlan" by Raoul Lowery Contreras, Calnews.com, August 20, 2003
  • High School Student:Ban MEChA by Josh Denhalter for the Daily Bulletin Newspaper

Critics

  • National MEChA Website
  • National MEChA Constitution
  • El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán
  • El Plan de Santa Barbara
  • Crooked Timber blog: interviews of MEChA members
  • www.myspace.com/mecha_de_csula
  • MECHA at the University of Tejaztlan at Austin (more information about MECha)
  • Xican@ de Aztlan de CU Boulder "What is a Xican@ (Chicana/o)"

External links

  1. ^ Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán National Constitution.
  2. ^ Philosophy of MEChA.
  3. ^ National MEChA: The Philosophy of MEChA.
  4. ^ National MEChA: The Philosophy of MEChA.
  5. ^ BUSTAWHERE?.
  6. ^ Bustamante, MEChA and the media (archived).
  7. ^ Ayres, Chris (September 8, 2003). "Rival in separatist row". The Times (London). Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. 
  8. ^ http://www.adl.org/98audit/campus.asp
  9. ^ "The Truth About NCLR: NCLR Answers Critics" (Press release). National Council of La Raza. 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-24. 
  10. ^ http://www.nclr.org/about_us/faqs/the_truth_about_nclr/support_of_separatist_organizations/
  11. ^ "Rep. Hunter demands apology; student editorial said border agents should die," Jeff Ristine, San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 1995.
  12. ^ Student Humor Magazine Prosecuted for Parody at UCSD: University Decision Expected This Week, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), June 18, 2002.
  13. ^ Double Standards at UCSD by Samantha Harris, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), February 25, 2010.
  14. ^ Bustamante Won't Renounce Ties to Chicano Student Group.
  15. ^ What Tony Villar Wrought.
  16. ^ http://www.uclahistoryproject.ucla.edu/Fun/ThisMonth_JunTent.asp
  17. ^ Stolen at UC-BerkeleyCalifornia Patriot.
  18. ^ Copies of California Patriot Stolen; Publication Staff Allegedly Harassed, The Daily Californian, 2002-02-27.
  19. ^ Hillman, R. Tyler (January 30, 2003). "A Vigorous Voice from The Right — at Berkeley!". Time. 
  20. ^ http://www.eastbayexpress.com/eastbay/white-powder-bronze-culture/Content?oid=1067160
  21. ^ Vandals Shred Campus Newspapers.
  22. ^ http://www.splc.org/news/newsflash.asp?id=1341

References

California MEChA statewide conferences are held twice a year, during the fall and spring semesters. The hosting chapter must rotate between the three California regions (Alta Califas Norte, Centro Califaztlán, and Alta Califas Sur).

California Statewide Conferences

In 1993 MEChA de Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) hosted the National Chicana/Chicano Leadership Conference. The next year was the first annual National MEChA Conference at Arizona State University (ASU). The conference has taken place at the following campuses:

Annual National MEChA Conferences

At the 2010 National Conference in Seattle, the name of the organization was changed to Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán.

Name Change

  • On May 18, 2006, MEChA members claimed (in writing) to have destroyed the entire press run of the May 18, 2006 issue of the [22]
  • In February 2002, MEChA members were implicated in the theft of an entire press run of a particular issue of the [17][18][19][20]
  • The national MEChA organization claims to not advocate violence, citing the example set by the late labor activist [16]
  • In May 1995, Voz Fronteriza, a publication of the MEChA chapter at the Duncan L. Hunter threatened to pursue legislation that would eliminate federal funding for UCSD. UCSD defended the paper's right to publish the editorial, arguing that it was protected by Freedom of Speech.[11][12][13]

Controversies

The Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, contain inappropriate rhetoric, and NCLR also acknowledges that rhetoric from some MEChA members has been extremist and inflammatory... NCLR has publicly and repeatedly disavowed this rhetoric".[9] However, the NCLR emphasized that MEChA's mission statement is to support Latino students at institutions of higher education. In reference to the rhetoric included in the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, the NCLR quoted journalist Gustavo Arellano who commented in a Los Angeles Times op-ed article,“few members take these dated relics of the 1960s seriously, if they even bothered to read them.” Within the article, Arrallano also noted that all of the MEChA members of his class graduated from college and have gone on to successful careers, a rarity at a time when only 12% of Latinos have a college degree.[10]

. Israel, and Zionism, Jews that regularly publishes articles attacking webzine (The Voice of Aztlan), a Chicano La Voz de Aztlán MEChA has also been linked to [8]

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