Chicano or Chicana is a chosen identity of some Mexican Americans in the United States.[1] The term Chicano is sometimes used interchangeably with Mexican-American. Both names are chosen identities within the Mexican-American community in the United States; however, these terms have a wide range of meanings in various parts of the Southwest. The term became widely used during the Chicano Movement by Mexican Americans to express pride in a shared cultural, ethnic and community identity.

The term Chicano had negative connotations before the Chicano Movement, and still is viewed negatively and archaic by more conservative members of this community. Over time, it has gained some acceptance as an identity of pride within the Mexican-American community in the United States.

The pro-indigenous/Mestizo nature of Chicano nationalism is cemented in the idea of mestizaje.[2] Ultimately, it was the experience of Mexican Americans in the United States which culminated in the creation of a Chicano identity.[3]

Recorded usage

The Chicano poet and writer Tino Villanueva traced the first documented use of the term as an ethnonym to 1911, as referenced in a then-unpublished essay by University of Texas anthropologist José Limón.[4] Linguists Edward R. Simmen and Richard F. Bauerle report the use of the term in an essay by Mexican-American writer, Mario Suárez, published in the Arizona Quarterly in 1947.[5]

In 1857, a gunboat, the Chicana, was sold to Jose Maria Carvajal to ship arms on the Rio Grande. The King and Kenedy firm submitted a voucher to the Joint Claims Commission of the United States in 1870 to cover the costs of this gunboat's conversion from a passenger steamer.[6] No particular explanation of the boat's name is known.


The origin of the word "chicano" is disputed. Some claim it is a shortened form of Mexicano (from the Nahuatl name for a member of the Mexica, the indigenous Aztec people of Anahuac, the Valley of Mexico). The name Mexica as spoken in its original Nahuatl, and Mexico by the Spaniards at the time of the Conquistadors, was pronounced originally with a [ʃ] and was transcribed with an x during this time period. According to this etymological hypothesis, the difference between the pronunciation and spelling of chicano and mexicano stems from the fact that the modern-day Spanish language experienced a change in pronunciation regarding a majority of words containing the x (for example: México, Ximenez, Xavier, Xarabe). In most cases the [ʃ] has been replaced with [x] and a change of spelling (x to j, though this has not been done to Mexico and various other proper names). The word Chicano would have also been affected by this change. Many Chicanos replace the ch with the letter x, forming Xicano, due to the original spelling of the Mexica Empire. In the United States, some Mexican-Americans choose the Xicano spelling to emphasize their indigenous ancestry.[7]

In Mexico's indigenous regions, mestizos[8] and Westernized natives are referred to as mexicanos, referring to the modern nation, rather than the pueblo (village or tribal) identification of the speaker, be it Mayan, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huasteco, or any of hundreds of other indigenous groups. Thus, a newly emigrated Nahuatl speaker in an urban center might referred to his cultural relatives in this country, different from himself, as mexicanos, shortened to chicanos.

The Handbook of Texas combines the two ideas:

According to one explanation, the pre-Columbian tribes in Mexico called themselves Meshicas, and the Spaniards, employing the letter x (which at that time represented a [ʃ] and []), spelled it Mexicas. The Indians later referred to themselves as Meshicanos and even as Shicanos, thus giving birth to the term Chicano.

Some believe that the early 20th-century Hispanic Texan epithet chicamo shifted into chicano to reflect the grammatical conventions of Spanish-language ethno- and demonyms, such as americano, castellano, and peruano. However, Chicanos generally do not agree that chicamo was ever a word used within the culture, as its assertion is thus far entirely unsubstantiated. Therefore, most self-identifying Chicanos do not agree that Chicano was ever derived from the word chicamo.

Another hypothesis is that chicano derives from the indigenous population of Guanajuato, the Chichimecas, combined with the word Mexicano. An alternative idea is that it is an altered form of Chilango, meaning someone from Mexico City or Central Mexico (i.e. the highland states of México, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Puebla and Michoacán). A similar notion is that the word derives from Chichen Itza, the Mayan temple ruin and its associated culture in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Chicano would thus be a Hispanized word for Chichen and Mayans, rather than the Aztec or Nahua people.

Distinction from Hispanic and Latino

Chicanos, like many Mexicans, are Mestizos who have heritage of both indigenous American cultures and European, mainly Spanish, through colonization and immigration. The term Latino refers to a native or inhabitant of Latin America or a person of Latin American origin living in the U.S.

Hispanic refers literally to Spain, but, in effect, to those of Spanish-speaking descent; therefore, the two terms are misnomers inasmuch as they apply only by extension to Chicanos, who may identify primarily as Amerindian or simply Mexican, and who may speak Amerindian languages (and English) as well as Spanish. The term was first brought up in the 1970s but it was not until the 1990s that the term was used on the U.S. Census. Since then it has widely been used by politicians and the media. The correct amalgamation is Latin American or Latin Americans, as coined by the Portuguese in the 17th century.


The term's meanings are highly debatable, but self-described Chicanos view the term as a positive, self-identifying social construction. Outside of Mexican-American communities, and even within them, Chicano has sometimes been considered pejorative by those who do not prefer the term. Regardless, its implications are subjective, but usually consist of one or more of the following elements.

Ethnic identity

From a popular perspective, the term Chicano became widely visible outside of Chicano communities during the American civil rights movement. It was commonly used during the mid-1960s by Mexican-American activists,[9] who, in attempts to assert their civil rights, tried to rid the word of its polarizing negative connotation by reasserting a unique ethnic identity and political consciousness, proudly identifying themselves as Chicanos.

Although the U.S. Federal Census Bureau provided no way for Mexican Americans or other Latinos to officially identify as a racial/ethnic category prior to 1980, when the broader-than-Mexican term "Hispanic" was first available as a self-identification in census forms, there is ample literary evidence to substantiate that Chicano is a long-standing endonym, as a large body of Chicano literature pre-dates the 1950s.[4]

Political identity

According to the Handbook of Texas:

Inspired by the courage of the farmworkers, by the California strikes led by César Chávez, and by the Anglo-American youth revolt of the period, many Mexican-American university students came to participate in a crusade for social betterment that was known as the Chicano movement. They used Chicano to denote their rediscovered heritage, their youthful assertiveness, and their militant agenda. Though these students and their supporters used Chicano to refer to the entire Mexican-American population, they understood it to have a more direct application to the politically active parts of the Tejano community.[10]

At certain points in the 1970s, Chicano was the preferred term for reference to Mexican Americans, particularly in the scholarly literature. However, even though the term is politicized, its use fell out of favor as a means of referring to the entire population due to ignorance and due to the majority's attempt to impose Latino and Hispanic as misnomers. Because of this, Chicano has tended to refer to participants in Mexican-American activism. Sabine Ulibarrí, an author from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, once labeled Chicano as a politically "loaded" term, though later recanted that assessment.

Ambiguous identity

The identity may be seen as uncertain. For example, in the 1991 Culture Clash play A Bowl of Beings, in response to Che Guevara's demand for a definition of "Chicano", an "armchair activist" cries out, "I still don't know!". Juan Bruce-Novoa, a professor of Spanish and Portuguese at University of California, Irvine, wrote in 1990: "A Chicano lives in the space between the hyphen in Mexican-American".[11]

For Chicanos, the term usually implies being "neither from here, nor from there" in reference to the US and Mexico.[11] As a mixture of cultures from both countries, being Chicano represents the struggle of being institutionally acculturated into the Anglo-dominated society of the United States, while maintaining the cultural sense developed as a Latin-American cultured, US-born Mexican child.[12]

Indigenous identity

The identity may be seen as native to the land, and distinct from a European identity, despite partial European descent. As exemplified through its extensive use within el Plan de Santa Bárbara, one of the primary documents responsible for the genesis of M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán), Chicano is used by many as a reference to their indigenous ancestry and roots. The last word in M.E.Ch.A., Aztlán, is a Mexica reference to an ancestral homeland which historians have speculated is somewhere in northern Mexico or the southwest of the US. M.E.Ch.A. is one example of how people have self-identified as Chicano as a means to identify with indigenous roots.

As Rubén Salazar put it in "Who is a Chicano? And what is it the Chicanos want?", a 1970 Los Angeles Times piece: "A Chicano is a Mexican-American with a non-Anglo image of himself."[13] According to Leo Limón: "...a Chicano is ... an indigenous Mexican American".

Chicano also has variations such as Chicanx, Xicano/a, Xicanx. The term Chicano because widely used during the Chicano Movement to express pride in cultural, ethnic and community identity. By replacing the 'ch' with the letter 'x', i.e. Xicano, is representing the original spelling of the Mexica Empire. Xicano is a First Generation way of spelling Chicano.[14]

The Nahuatl language used hieroglyphics, the sound 'ch' written in Greco-Roman alphabet was put in place by the Spanish. Therefore, changing how the 'x' was used.[14]

Political device

Reies Tijerina (who died on January 19, 2015) was a vocal claimant to the rights of Latin-Americans and Mexican Americans, and he remains a major figure of the early Chicano Movement. Of the term, he wrote: "The Anglo press degradized the word 'Chicano'. They use it to divide us. We use it to unify ourselves with our people and with Latin America."[15]

Term of derision

Long a disparaging term in Mexico, the term "Chicano" gradually transformed from a class-based label of derision to one of ethnic pride and general usage within Mexican-American communities, beginning with the rise of the Chicano Movement in the 1960s. In their Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, Vicki Ruíz and Virginia Sánchez report that demographic differences in the adoption of the term existed; because of the prior vulgar connotations, it was more likely to be used by males than females, and as well, less likely to be used among those in a higher socioeconomic status. Usage was also generational, with the more assimilated third-generation members (again, more likely male) likely to adopt the usage. This group was also younger, of more radical persuasion, and less-connected to a Mexican cultural heritage.[16][17]

In his essay "Chicanismo" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures (2002), José Cuéllar, a professor of Chicano studies at San Francisco State University, dates the transition from derisive to positive to the late 1950s, with a usage by young Mexican-American high school students.

Outside of Mexican-American communities, the term might assume a negative meaning if it is used in a manner that embodies the prejudices and bigotries long directed at Mexican and Mexican-American people in the United States. For example, in one case, a prominent Chicana feminist writer and poet has indicated the following subjective meaning through her creative work.

  • Ana Castillo: "[a] marginalized, brown woman who is treated as a foreigner and is expected to do menial labor and ask nothing of the society in which she lives."[18]

Ana Castillo has referred to herself as a Chicana, and her literary work reflects that she primarily considers the term to be a positive one of self-determination and political solidarity.[19][20][21][22]

The Mexican archeologist and anthropologist Manuel Gamio reported in 1930 that the term chicamo (with an m) was used as a derogatory term used by Hispanic Texans for recently arrived Mexican immigrants displaced during the Mexican Revolution in the beginning of the early 20th century.[23] At this time, the term "Chicano" began to reference those who resisted total assimilation, while the term "Pochos" referred (often pejoratively) to those who strongly advocated assimilation.[24]

In Mexico, which by American standards would be considered class discrimination or racist, the term is associated with a Mexican-American person of low importance class and poor morals (similarly to the Spanish terms Cholo, Chulo and Majo).[25][26][27] The term "Chicano" is widely known and used in Mexico.[27]

While some Mexican Americans may embrace the term Chicano, others prefer to identify themselves as:

  • Mexican American; American of Mexican descent.
  • Hispanic; Hispanic American; Hispano/hispana.
  • Latino/a, also mistranslated/pseudo-etymologically anglicized as "Latin".
  • American Latino/Latina.
  • Latin American (especially if immigrant).
  • Mexican; mexicano/mexicana
  • "Brown"
  • Mestizo; [insert racial identity X] mestizo (e.g. blanco mestizo); pardo.
  • californiano (or californio) / californiana; nuevomexicano/nuevomexicana; tejano/tejana.
  • Part/member of la Raza. (Various definitions exist of what would be such a "universal race".)
  • Americans, solely.

When it comes to the use of loanwords, Romance-language orthographies, unlike French for example, do not use uppercase for non-name nouns, such as those used for nationalities or ethnic groups, of whatever sort – even Chicano/Chicana are best written with lowercase as chicano/chicana in Spanish and related languages suchs Portuguese, Galician, and Catalan.

Some of them might be used more commonly in English and others in Spanish: e.g. one might identify as a "Mexican" in a mixed American context, in which English would generally be expected, but to identify as part of the white/Euro-American demographic segment of the ethnic Mexican populations, in a strictly Mexican or Mexican-American context, in which one might be speaking Spanish.

Anyone from the United States is referred to in Spanish as norteamericano or estadounidense. Romance languages conserved the original standard (formerly shared with English) of counting the entire New World as a single America, as was the consensus in the Age of Discovery; to Spanish- and Portuguese-speakers in the Americas, they are just as americano as someone from Belgium would be European. Geological validation of the current English norm is bound by controversies and potential inconsistency, so the best explanation for both cases is mere tradition.[28]

Norteño refers to the Mexicans of Northern Mexico as opposed to sureño. Mexican Americans do not refer to their shared identity as norteños. The only people who identify themselves as such are Mexicans from Northern Mexico which represents the whiter and relatively wealthier half of Mexico, compared to sureños or southern Mexicans, more related in descent to the original Indigenous peoples of the continent and thus being the ones to actually have greater likelihood for an identity a bit closer to the militant Chicano one. Mainstream Spanish-language discourse does not treat the American Southwest as a contemporary part of Mexico (cultural, identitarian or otherwise), and the indigenist Chicano nationalism is hardly related at all to non-American Mexican desire for reconquering, an irredentist narrative of what might be perceived as a colonial state and collective mentality.

Social aspects

Militant Chicanos, regardless of their generational status, tend to connect their culture to the indigenous peoples of North America and to a nation of Aztlán,[29] ignoring their European heritage. According to the Aztec legend, Aztlán is a region; Chicano nationalists have equated it with the Southwestern United States. Some historians may place Aztlán in Nayarit or the Caribbean while other historians entirely disagree, and make a distinction between legend and the contemporary socio-political ideology.

Political aspects

Many currents came together to produce the revived Chicano political movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Early struggles were against school segregation, but the Mexican-American cause, or la Causa as it was called, soon came under the banner of the United Farm Workers and César Chávez. However, Corky Gonzales and Reies Tijerina stirred up old tensions about New Mexican land claims with roots going back to before the Mexican–American War. Simultaneous movements like the Young Lords, to empower youth, question patriarchy, democratize the Church, end police brutality, and end the Vietnam War, all intersected with other ethnic nationalist, peace, countercultural, and feminist movements.

Since Chicanismo covers a wide array of political, religious and ethnic beliefs, and not everybody agrees with what exactly a Chicano is, most new Latino immigrants see it as a lost cause, as a lost culture, because Chicanos do not identify with Mexico or wherever their parents migrated from as new immigrants do. Chicanoism is an appreciation of a historical movement, but also is used by many to bring a new revived politicized feeling to voters young and old in the defense of Mexican and Mexican-American rights. People descended from Aztlan (both in the contemporary U.S. and in Mexico) use the Chicano ideology to create a platform for fighting for immigration reform and equality for all people.

Rejection of borders

For some, Chicano ideals involve a rejection of borders. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo transformed the Rio Grande region from a rich cultural center to a rigid border poorly enforced by the United States government. At the end of the Mexican–American War, 80,000 Spanish-Mexican-Indian people were forced into sudden U.S. habitation.[30] As a result, Chicano identification is aligned with the idea of Aztlán, which extends to the Aztec period of Mexico, celebrating a time preceding land division.[31]

Paired with the dissipation of militant political efforts of the Chicano movement in the 1960s was the emergence of the Chicano generation. Like their political predecessors, the Chicano generation rejects the "immigrant/foreigner" categorization status.[31] Chicano identity has expanded from its political origins to incorporate a broader community vision of social integration and nonpartisan political participation.[32]

The shared Spanish language, Catholic faith, close contact with their political homeland (Mexico) to the south, a history of labor segregation, ethnic exclusion and racial discrimination encourage a united Chicano or Mexican folkloric tradition in the United States. Ethnic cohesiveness is a resistance strategy to assimilation and the accompanying cultural dissolution.

Mexican nationalists in Mexico, however, condemn the advocates of Chicanoism for attempting to create a new identity for the Mexican-American population, distinct from that of the Mexican nation. Chicanoism is embraced through personal identity especially within small rural communities that integrate the American culture connected to the Mexican heritage practiced in different parts of Mexico.[33]

Cultural aspects

The term Chicano is also used to describe the literary, artistic, and musical movements that emerged with the Chicano Movement.


Chicano literature tends to focus on themes of identity, discrimination, and culture, with an emphasis on validating Mexican-American and Chicano culture in the United States. Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales's "Yo Soy Joaquin" is one of the first examples of explicitly Chicano poetry, while José Antonio Villarreal's Pocho is widely recognized as the first major Chicano novel.

The novel Chicano, by Richard Vasquez, was the first novel about Mexican Americans to be released by a major publisher (Doubleday, 1970). It was widely read in high schools and universities during the 1970s, and is now recognized as a breakthrough novel. Vasquez's social themes have been compared with those found in the work of Upton Sinclair and John Steinbeck.

Other major names include Norma Elia Cantú, Rudolfo Anaya, Sandra Cisneros, Gary Soto, Sergio Troncoso, Rigoberto González, Raul Salinas, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Daniel Olivas, John Rechy, Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Luís Alberto Urrea, Dagoberto Gilb, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Luis J. Rodriguez, Pat Mora, and Gloria Anzaldúa.

Visual arts

In the visual arts, works by Chicanos address similar themes as works in literature. The preferred media for Chicano art are murals and graphic arts. San Diego's Chicano Park, home to the largest collection of murals in the world, was created as an outgrowth of the city's political movement by Chicanos. Rasquache art is a unique style subset of the Chicano Arts movement.

Chicano art emerged in the mid-60s as a necessary component to the urban and agrarian civil rights movement in the Southwest, known as la causa chicana, la Causa, or the Chicano Renaissance. The artistic spirit, based on historical and traditional cultural evolution, within the movement has continued into the present millennium. There are artists, for example, who have chosen to do work within ancestral/historical references or who have mastered traditional techniques. Some artists and crafters have transcended the motifs, forms, functions, and context of Chicano references in their work but still acknowledge their identity as Chicano. These emerging artists are incorporating new materials to present mixed-media, digital media, and transmedia works.

Chicano performance art blends humor and pathos for tragicomic effect as shown by Los Angeles' comedy troupe Culture Clash and Mexican-born performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Nao Bustamante is a Chicana artist known internationally for her conceptual art pieces and as a participant in Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, produced by Sarah Jessica Parker. Lalo Alcaraz often depicts the issues of Chicanos in his cartoon series called "La Cucaracha".

One of the most powerful and far-reaching cultural aspects of Chicano culture is the indigenous current that strongly roots Chicano culture to the American continent. It also unifies Chicanismo within the larger Pan-Indian Movement. Since its arrival in 1974, an art movement known as Danza Azteca in the U.S., (and known by several names in its homeland of the central States of Mexico: Danza Conchera, De la Conquista, Chichimeca, and so on.) has had a deep impact in Chicano muralism, graphic design, tattoo art (flash), poetry, music, and literature. Lowrider cars also figure prominently as functional art in the Chicano community.


Lalo Guerrero has been lauded as the "father of Chicano music".[34] Beginning in the 1930s, he wrote songs in the big band and swing genres that were popular at the time. He expanded his repertoire to include songs written in traditional genres of Mexican music, and during the farmworkers' rights campaign, wrote music in support of César Chávez and the United Farm Workers.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce of The Gun Club often spoke about being half Mexican and growing up with the Chicano culture.

Other Chicano/Mexican-American singers include Selena, who sang a mixture of Mexican, Tejano, and American popular music, but died in 1995 at the age of 23; Zack de la Rocha, lead vocalist of Rage Against the Machine and social activist; and Los Lonely Boys, a Texas-style country rock band who have not ignored their Mexican-American roots in their music. In recent years, a growing Tex-Mex polka band trend influenced by the conjunto and norteño music of Mexican immigrants, has in turn influenced much new Chicano folk music, especially on large-market Spanish language radio stations and on television music video programs in the U.S. Some of these artists, like the band Quetzal, are known for the political content of political songs.


In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, a wave of Chicano pop music surfaced through innovative musicians Carlos Santana, Johnny Rodriguez, Ritchie Valens and Linda Ronstadt. Joan Baez, who was also of Mexican-American descent, included Hispanic themes in some of her protest folk songs. Chicano rock is rock music performed by Chicano groups or music with themes derived from Chicano culture.

There are two undercurrents in Chicano rock. One is a devotion to the original rhythm and blues roots of Rock and roll including Ritchie Valens, Sunny and the Sunglows, and ? and the Mysterians. Groups inspired by this include Sir Douglas Quintet, Thee Midniters, Los Lobos, War, Tierra, and El Chicano, and, of course, the Chicano Blues Man himself, the late Randy Garribay.

The second theme is the openness to Latin American sounds and influences. Trini Lopez, Santana, Malo, Azteca, Toro, Ozomatli and other Chicano Latin rock groups follow this approach. Chicano rock crossed paths of other Latin rock genres (Rock en español) by Cubans, Puerto Ricans, such as Joe Bataan and Ralphi Pagan and South America (Nueva canción). Rock band The Mars Volta combines elements of progressive rock with traditional Mexican folk music and Latin rhythms along with Cedric Bixler-Zavala's Spanglish lyrics.[35]

Chicano punk is a branch of Chicano rock. There were many bands that emerged from the California punk scene, including The Zeros, Bags, Los Illegals, The Brat, The Plugz, Manic Hispanic, and the Cruzados; as well as others from outside of California including Mydolls from Houston, Texas and Los Crudos from Chicago, Illinois. Some music historians argue that Chicanos of Los Angeles in the late 1970s might have independently co-founded punk rock along with the already-acknowledged founders from British-European sources when introduced to the US in major cities. The rock band ? and the Mysterians, which was composed primarily of Mexican-American musicians, was the first band to be described as punk rock. The term was reportedly coined in 1971 by rock critic Dave Marsh in a review of their show for Creem magazine.[36]


Although Latin jazz is most popularly associated with artists from the Caribbean (particularly Cuba) and Brazil, young Mexican Americans have played a role in its development over the years, going back to the 1930s and early 1940s, the era of the zoot suit, when young Mexican-American musicians in Los Angeles and San Jose, such as Jenni Rivera, began to experiment with banda, a jazz-like fusion genre that has grown recently in popularity among Mexican Americans.


Chicano rap is a unique style of hip hop music which started with Kid Frost, who saw some mainstream exposure in the early 1990s. While Mellow Man Ace was the first mainstream rapper to use Spanglish, Frost's song "La Raza" paved the way for its use in American hip hop. Chicano rap tends to discuss themes of importance to young urban Chicanos. Some of today's Chicano artists include A.L.T., Lil Rob, Psycho Realm, Baby Bash, Serio, A Lighter Shade of Brown, and Funky Aztecs.

Pop and R&B

Paula DeAnda, Frankie J, and Victor Ivan Santos (early member of the Kumbia Kings and associated with Baby Bash).

See also


  1. ^ Villanueva, Tino (1985). "Chicanos (selección)". Philosophy & Social Criticism (in Spanish). Mexico: Lecturas Mexicanas, número 889 FCE/SEP. 31 (4): 7. doi:10.1177/0191453705052972.
  2. ^ "Mestizaje and Indigenous Identities". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  3. ^ Tim Libretti. "Forgetting Identity, Recovering Politics: Rethinking Chicana/o Nationalism, Identity Politics, and Resistance to Racism in Alejandro Morales's Death of an Anglo". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  4. ^ a b Félix Rodríguez González, ed. Spanish Loanwords in the English Language. A Tendency towards Hegemony Reversal. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996. Villanueva is referring to Limón's essay "The Folk Performance of Chicano and the Cultural Limits of Political Ideology," available via ERIC. Limón refers to use of the word in a 1911 report titled "Hot tamales" in the Spanish-language newspaper La Crónica in 1911.
  5. ^ Edward R. Simmen and Richard F. Bauerle. "Chicano: Origin and Meaning." American Speech 44.3 (Autumn 1969): 225-230.
  6. ^ Chance, Joseph (2006). Jose Maria de Jesus Carvajal: The Life and Times of a Mexican Revolutionary. San Antonio, Texas: Trinity University Press. p. 195.
  7. ^ Revilla, Anita Tijerina (January 1, 2004). "MUXERISTA PEDAGOGY: Raza Womyn Teaching Social Justice Through Student Activism". The High School Journal. 87 (4): 87–88. doi:10.1353/hsj.2004.0013. ISSN 1534-5157.
  8. ^ Not to be confused with the language Ladino of Spain and Portugal, a Spanish language spoken by Sephardic Jews of Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Israel and the USA.
  9. ^ Moore, J. W.; Cuéllar, A. B. (1970). Mexican Americans. Ethnic Groups in American Life series. Englewood, Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-13-579490-6.
  10. ^ De León, Arnoldo. "Chicano". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Bruce-Novoa, Juan (1990). Retro/Space: Collected Essays on Chicano Literature: Theory and History. Houston, Texas: Arte Público Press.
  12. ^ Butterfield, Jeremy. >. "Chicano - Oxford Reference". Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199666317.001.0001/acref-9780199666317-e-4513. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  13. ^ Salazar, Rubén (February 6, 1970). "Who is a Chicano? And what is it the Chicanos want?". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ a b "From Chicano to Xicanx: A brief history of a political and cultural identity". The Daily Dot. 2017-10-22. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  15. ^ Tijerina, Reies; Gutiérrez, José Ángel (2000). They Called Me King Tiger: My Struggle for the Land and Our Rights. Houston, Texas: Art Público Press. ISBN 978-1-55885-302-7.
  16. ^ Vicki L. Ruiz & Virginia Sanchez Korrol, editors. Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. Indiana University Press, 2006.
  17. ^ Maria Herrera-Sobek. Chicano folklore; a handbook. Greenwood Press 2006.
  18. ^ Ana Castillo (May 25, 2006). How I Became a Genre-jumper (TV broadcast of a lecture). Santa Barbara, California: UCTV Channel 17.
  19. ^ "VG: Artist Biography: Castillo, Ana". Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
  20. ^ "Anna Castillo". Archived from the original on October 31, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
  21. ^ "The Chicana Subject in Ana Castillo's Fiction and the Discursive Zone of Chicana/o Theory". Retrieved October 13, 2008.
  22. ^ Castillo, Ana. "Bio". Retrieved October 13, 2008.
  23. ^ Gamio, Manuel (1930). Mexican Immigration to the United States: A Study of Human Migration and Adjustment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  24. ^ See: Adalberto M. Guerrero, Macario Saldate IV, and Salomon R. Baldenegro. "Chicano: The term and its meanings." Archived October 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine A paper written for Hispanic Heritage Month, published in the 1999 conference newsletter of the Arizona Association of Chicanos for Higher Education.
  25. ^ "Chicano Art". Archived from the original on 2007-05-16. Thus, the 'Chicano' term carried an inferior, negative connotation because it was usually used to describe a worker who had to move from job to job to be able to survive. Chicanos were the low class Mexican Americans.
  26. ^ McConnell, Scott (1997-12-31). "Americans no more? - immigration and assimilation". National Review. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. In the late 1960s, a nascent Mexican-American movement adopted for itself the word "Chicano" (which had a connotation of low class) and broke forth with surprising suddenness.
  27. ^ a b Alcoff, Linda Martín (2005). "Latino vs. Hispanic: The politics of ethnic names". Philosophy & Social Criticism. SAGE Publications. 31 (4): 395–407. doi:10.1177/0191453705052972.
  28. ^ There are generally three divisions of what Romance-language speakers regard as a single American continent, the terminology in Spanish being norte (including Mexico), centro (including the West Indies) and sur, with the middle element not being regarded as particularly bounded to either. The plate-tectonic divide would be evidence for the south and middle ones to closer tied; both the former isthmus that gave rise to the West Indies and the current isthmus are volcanic arcs from plate interactions, separate from the north/south dynamic, so their early geological "belonging" to a side are of little relevance.
  29. ^ Chang, Richard (2001-05-31). "The Allure of Aztlan; Visual art: An old myth is emerging as a new reality for multicultural California". Orange County Register. Archived from the original on 2006-10-10. The myth of Aztlan was revived during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s as a reconnection to an indigenous homeland.
  30. ^ Castro, Rafaela G. (2001). Chicano Folklore. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514639-4.
  31. ^ a b Hurtado, Aida; Gurin, Patricia (2003). Chicana/o Identity in a Changing U.S. Society. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. pp. 10–91. ISBN 978-0-8165-2205-7. OCLC 54074051.
  32. ^ Montejano, David (1999). Chicano Politics and Society in the Late Twentieth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-75214-6.
  33. ^ "Cinco de Mayo: An open challenge to Chicano Nationalists". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
  34. ^ Cordelia Chávez Candelaria, Peter J. Garcâia, Arturo J. Aldama, eds., Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture, Vol. 1: A–L; Greenwood Publishing Group, (2004) p. 135.
  35. ^ "HARP Magazine". Retrieved October 13, 2008.
  36. ^ "The revolution that saved rock". November 13, 2003. Retrieved October 13, 2008.

Further reading

  • Rodolfo Acuna, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Longman, 2006.
  • John R. Chavez, "The Chicano Image and the Myth of Aztlan Rediscovered", in Patrick Gerster and Nicholas Cords (eds.), Myth America: A Historical Anthology, Volume II. St. James, New York: Brandywine Press, 1997
  • John R. Chavez, The Lost Land: A Chicano Image of the American Southwest, Las Cruces: New Mexico State University Publications, 1984.
  • Ignacio López-Calvo, Latino Los Angeles in Film and Fiction: The Cultural Production of Social Anxiety. University of Arizona Press, 2011.
  • Natalia Molina, Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879–1940. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006.
  • Michael A. Olivas, Colored Men and Hombres Aquí: Hernandez V. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican American Lawyering. Arte Público Press, 2006.
  • Randy J. Ontiveros, In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement. New York University Press, 2014.
  • Gregorio Riviera. and Tino Villanueva (eds.), MAGINE: Literary Arts Journal. Special Issue on Chicano Art. Vol. 3, Nos. 1 & 2. Boston: Imagine Publishers. 1986.
  • F. Arturo Rosales, Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Houston, Texas: Arte Publico Press, 1996.

External links


Aztlán (from Nahuatl languages: Aztlān, Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈast͡ɬaːn] (listen)) is the ancestral home of the Aztec peoples. Aztecah is the Nahuatl word for "people from Aztlan". Aztlan is mentioned in several ethnohistorical sources dating from the colonial period, and each of them give different lists of the different tribal groups who participated in the migration from Aztlan to central Mexico, but the Mexica who went on to found Mexico-Tenochtitlan are mentioned in all of the accounts. Historians have speculated about the possible location of Aztlan and tend to place it either in northwestern Mexico or the southwest US, although there are doubts about whether the place is purely mythical or represents a historical reality.

Caló (Chicano)

Caló (also known as Pachuco) is an argot or slang of Mexican Spanish that originated during the first half of the 20th century in the Southwestern United States. It is the product of zoot-suit pachuco culture that developed in the 1930s and '40s in cities along the US/Mexico border.

Chicana/o studies

Chicano studies originated in the Chicano Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Chicano studies concerns itself with the study of Chicanos, Latinos, and Mexican Americans, drawing upon a variety of fields, including, but not limited to, history, sociology, the arts, and Chicana/Chicano theory.

In many universities across the United States, Chicano Studies is linked with interdisciplinary ethnic studies and other Ethnic Studies fields such as Black Studies, Asian American Studies, and Native American Studies. Many students who have studied anthropology have also been involved in varying degrees in Chicano studies. Today most major universities in areas of high Chicano concentration have a formal Chicano studies department or interdisciplinary program. Providing classes in the ethnic studies area, like Chicano studies has been shown to help the "learning environment for students of color through limiting feelings of prejudice and experiences of discrimination in college."

Chicana feminism

Chicana feminism, also called Xicanisma, is a sociopolitical movement in the United States that analyzes the historical, cultural, spiritual, educational, and economic intersections of Mexican-American women that identify as Chicana. Chicana feminism challenges the stereotypes that Chicanas face across lines of gender, ethnicity, race, class, and sexuality. Most importantly, Chicana feminism serves as a movement, theory and praxis that helps women reclaim their existence between and among the Chicano Movement and American feminist movements.


Chicanismo is the ideology behind the Chicano movement. It is an ideology based on a number of important factors that helped shape a social uprising in order to fight for the liberties of Mexican-Americans. Chicanismo was shaped by a number of intellectuals and influential activists as well as by the artistic and political sphere, and the many contributors to the ideology collaborated to create a strong sense of self-identity within the Chicano community. Cultural affirmation became one of the main methods of developing Chicanismo. This cultural affirmation was achieved by bringing a new sense of nationalism for Mexican-Americans, drawing ties to the long forgotten history of Chicanos in lands that were very recently Mexican, and creating a symbolic connection to the ancestral ties of Meso-America.

Chicano English

Chicano English, or Mexican-American English, is a dialect of American English spoken primarily by Mexican Americans (sometimes known as Chicanos), particularly in the Southwestern United States, ranging from Texas to California but also apparent in Chicago. Chicano English is sometimes mistakenly conflated with Spanglish, which is a grammatically simplified mixing of Spanish and English; however, Chicano English is a fully formed and native dialect of English, not a "learner English" or interlanguage. It is even the native dialect of some speakers who know little to no Spanish.

Chicano Moratorium

The Chicano Moratorium, formally known as the National Chicano Moratorium Committee, was a movement of Chicano anti-war activists that built a broad-based coalition of Mexican-American groups to organize opposition to the Vietnam War. Led by activists from local colleges and members of the "Brown Berets", a group with roots in the high school student movement that staged walkouts in 1968, the coalition peaked with an August 29, 1970 march in East Los Angeles that drew 30,000 demonstrators.

Chicano Movement

The Chicano Movement of the 1960s, also called the Chicano civil rights movement or El Movimiento, was a civil rights movement extending the Mexican-American civil rights movement of the 1960s with the stated goal of achieving Mexican American empowerment. Similar to the Black Power movement, scholars have also written about the repression and police brutality experienced by members of this movement which some connect to larger government-organized activity such as COINTELPRO.

Chicano Park

Chicano Park is a 32,000 square meter (7.9 acre) park located beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan, a predominantly Mexican American and Mexican-immigrant community in central San Diego, California. The park is home to the country's largest collection of outdoor murals, as well as various sculptures, earthworks, and an architectural piece dedicated to the cultural heritage of the community. Because of the magnitude and historical significance of the murals, the park was designated an official historic site by the San Diego Historical Site Board in 1980, and its murals were officially recognized as public art by the San Diego Public Advisory Board in 1987. The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 owing to its association with the Chicano Movement, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016. Chicano Park, like Berkeley's People's Park, was the result of a militant (but nonviolent) people's land takeover. Every year on April 22 (or the nearest Saturday), the community celebrates the anniversary of the park's takeover with a celebration called Chicano Park Day.

Chicano films

Chicano films portray Mexican-Americans and/or Mexican-American themes and may or may not have been directed by a Chicano director.

Lowriders (film) (2016)

East Side Sushi (2016)

McFarland, USA (2015)

Spare Parts (2015 film) (2015)

Frontera (2014 film)

Cesar Chavez (film) (2014)

Bless Me, Ultima (film) (2013)

A Better Life (2011)

Boyle Heights (film) (2011)

Down for Life (film) (2011)

From Prada to Nada (2011)

La Mission (film) (2010)

Machete (2010 film)

One Story (film) (2009)

La Linea (film) (2008)

La Misma Luna (2008)

El Muerto (film) (2007)

Hollywood Familia (film) (2007)


Goal! (film) (2006)

Quinceañera (film) (2006)

Walkout (2006)

How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer (2005)

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

A Day Without a Mexican (Dia Sin Mexicanos) (2004)

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Real Women Have Curves (2002)

My Fathers Love (film) (2001)

Tortilla Soup (2001)

Price of Glory (2000)

Living the Life (2000)

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

The City (1998)

The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (film) (1998)

Melting Pot (film) (1998)

187 (1997)

Selena (1997)

From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

Fools Rush In

A Walk in the Clouds (1995)

Desperado (1995)

My Family (Mi Familia) (1995)

A Million to Juan (1994)

...and the earth did not swallow him (1994)

Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life) (1994)

Bound by Honor (Blood In, Blood Out) (1993)

El Mariachi (1992)

American Me (1992)

Angel Town (1990)

Sweet 15 (1990)

Colors (1988)

Stand and Deliver (1988)

Break of Dawn (1988)

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)

Born in East L.A. (1987)

La Bamba (1987)

El Norte (1985)


Things Are Tough All Over (1982)

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)

Zoot Suit (1981)

Nice Dreams (1981)

Duke of Earl (film) (1981)

Cheech & Chong's Next Movie (1980)

Boulevard Nights (1979)

Run. Tecato. Run (1979)

The Streets of L.A. (1979 TV)

Walk Proud (1979)

Up in Smoke (1978)

Raíces de Sangre (Roots of Blood) (1978)

Only Once in a Lifetime (1978)

Amor Chicano Es Para Siempre (1978)

Alambrista! (1977)

Trackdown (1976)

Please, Don't Bury Me Alive! (1976)

La Vida (1973)

"I am Joaquin" (Yo Soy Joaquin) (1969)

Salt of the Earth (1954)

The Ring (1952 film) - one of the first films depicting anti-Chicano discrimination

The Lawless (1950)

The Lash (1930)

Chicano literature

Chicano literature is the literature written by Mexican Americans, often referred to as Chicanos, in the United States. Although its origins can be traced back to the sixteenth century, the bulk of Chicano literature dates from after 1848, when the United States annexed large parts of Mexico in the wake of the Mexican–American War. Today, this genre includes a vibrant and diverse set of narratives, prompting critics to describe it as providing "a new awareness of the historical and cultural independence of both northern and southern American hemispheres."

Chicano nationalism

Chicano nationalism is the pro-indigenist ethnic nationalist ideology of Chicanos. While there were nationalistic aspects of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the Movement tended to emphasize civil rights and political and social inclusion rather than nationalism. For this reason, Chicano nationalism is better described as an ideology than as a political movement.

Chicano rap

Chicano rap is a subgenre of hip hop, Latin hip hop and gangsta rap that embodies aspects of Southwest and Midwest Mexican American (Chicano) culture and is typically performed by American or Australian rappers and musicians of Mexican descent.

Chicano rock

Chicano rock is rock music performed by Mexican American (Chicano) groups or music with themes derived from Chicano culture. Chicano Rock, to a great extent, does not refer to any single style or approach. Some of these groups do not sing in Spanish at all, or use many specific Latin instruments or sounds. The main unifying factor, whether or not any explicitly Latin American music is heard, is a strong R&B influence, and a rather independent and rebellious approach to making music that comes from outside the music industry.

Chicano rock is the distinctive style of rock and roll music performed by Mexican Americans from East L.A. and Southern California that contains themes of their cultural experiences. Although the genre is broad and diverse, encompassing a variety of styles and subjects, the overarching theme of Chicano rock is its R&B influence and incorporation of brass instruments like the saxophone and trumpet, Farfisa or Hammond B3 organ, funky basslines, and its blending of Mexican vocal styling sung in English.

East L.A. walkouts

The East Los Angeles Walkouts or Chicano Blowouts were a series of 1968 protests by Chicano students against unequal conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District high schools. The first protest took place on March 6, 1968. The students who organized and carried out the protests were primarily concerned with the quality of their education. This movement (which involved thousands of students in the Los Angeles area) was of the first mass mobilizations by Mexican-Americans in Southern California.


M.E.Ch.A. (Spanish: Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán; "Chicanx Student Movement of Aztlán", the x being a gender neutral inflection) is an organization that seeks to promote Chicano unity and empowerment through political action. The acronym of the organization's name is the Chicano word mecha, which is the Chicano pronunciation of the English word match and therefore symbolic of a fire or spark; mecha in Spanish means fuse or wick. The motto of MEChA is 'La Union Hace La Fuerza'.

Plan de Santa Bárbara

El Plan de Santa Bárbara: A Chicano Plan for Higher Education is a 155-page document, which was written in 1969 by the Chicano Coordinating Council on Higher Education. Drafted at the University of California Santa Barbara, (UCSB) documents serves as a blueprint for the inception of Chicana/o Studies programs in colleges and universities throughout the nation. The Chicano Coordinating Council expresses political mobilization to be dependent upon political consciousness, thus the institution of education is targeted as the platform to raise political conscious amongst Chicanos and spur higher learning to political action. The Plan proposes a curriculum in Chicano studies, the role of community control in Chicano education and the necessity of Chicano political independence. The document served as a framework for educational and curriculum goals for the Chicano movements within the institution of education, while being the foundation for the Chicano student group MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán).The plan itself begins with a manifesto which calls for a renaissance and a “quest for cultural expression and freedom” and continues by pushing back against racist power structures and assimilation and a push toward the importance of community and pride in Chicanismo. The manifesto asks the colleges and universities within state of California to act in the following areas: 1. Admission and recruitment of Chicano students, faculty, administrators, and staff; 2. A curriculum program and an academic major relevant to the Chicano cultural and historical experience; 3. Support and tutorial programs; 4. Research programs; 5. Publications programs; and 6. Community, cultural, and social action programs. Finally, it calls out for students, faculty, employees and the community to come together as “central and decisive designers and administrators of these programs”.Following the manifesto, the document lays out a plan for organizing Chicano programs; recruitment and admissions, support programs, curriculum, political action, the outline of the degrees offered including a Bachelor of Arts and an associate degree, and proposed courses including those for Chicano History, Contemporary Politics of the Southwest, and Mexican American Sociology. The document closes with an outline of a Barrio Center program which aims to reach out to students outside of the colleges and universities in regards to dissemination of college entrance information, community engagement, and the presence of on-going research proposed by Chicano scholars”. Throughout the plan are pictures of those in the Chicano movement as well as art drawn by members of MEChA. This manifesto was adopted in April 1969.

Ritchie Valens

Richard Steven Valenzuela (May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Ritchie Valens, was a Mexican American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens' recording career lasted eight months, as it abruptly ended when he died in a plane crash.During this time, he had several hits, most notably "La Bamba", which he had adapted from a Mexican folk song. Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat, and it became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement. He also had the American number 2 hit ''Donna''.

On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as "the Day the Music Died", Valens died in a plane crash in Iowa, an accident that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, as well as pilot Roger Peterson. Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Urban contemporary

Urban contemporary, also known as urban pop, or just simply urban, is a music radio format. The term was coined by New York radio DJ Frankie Crocker in the early to mid-1970s. Urban contemporary radio stations feature a playlist made up entirely of genres such as R&B, pop-rap, British R&B, quiet storm, adult contemporary, hip hop, Latin music such as Latin pops, Chicano R&B, Chicano rap, and Caribbean music such as reggae. Urban contemporary was developed through the characteristics of genres such as R&B and soul. Largely a US phenomenon, virtually all urban contemporary formatted radio stations in the United States are located in cities that have sizeable African-American populations, such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles, Flint, Baltimore, Boston, Birmingham, and Jackson. Urban contemporary music is also very popular in France and the United Kingdom.

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