Growing up, I remember my dad?s ?Chicano Power!? sticker next to the Venice sticker on the back window of his beat up 65? VW Bug and on various other items of his.
You know the sticker with the brown fist in the air?
I remember the term Chicano strongly present when I was young. My dad passed in 1984 when I was seven years old. I remember not really hearing the proud term Chicano being used very often.
Around the time I was in late elementary (1987?ish) I remember calling myself Hispanic, even playfully arguing with my older sister that we are Hispanic because ?we came from Hispaniola.? Filling in the ?Hispanic? bubble on my Scan Tron tests and agreeing with that term whenever someone referred to me or my people was something I didn?t really question.
Come early 90?s the term ? Latino? really starting surging. Listening to Lighter Shade of Brown, Kid Frost, and Proper Dos with their constant mingling of the terms Hispanic, Latino, and Mexican (only time I heard Chicano was a few times by Kid Frost) as though those three terms meant the same thing. Runnin? around reciting their lyrics I was filled with ?Latino Pride?, never guessing that someday I would rally against that term when it was used to define my fellow Brown people.
Turn the page to about May 1998 and I still refer to myself as Latino. My younger brother returns from La Placita Olvera for the Cinco de Mayo Festival and remarked about some group there that said we are not even Latino. I said to him, ?Damn these dudes are crazy , what the hell are they thinking? Great. first we are not Hispanic, now not Latino? These guys need to quit!?
Even after this incident I continued to be ?Latin.?
Summer 2001 comes and I was at an extreme low in my life. I lost a good job and felt all the negativities that come with that package. I am at MontebelloTown Center and enter this beautiful store called Premiere Aztlan to check out all the various cultural items on display, when I came across this book called ?The Mexica Handbook? put out by The Mexica Movement.
In no single moment have I felt such truth and power bequeathed to me. I have always been Brown and proud and now I really knew why. I admit there was a little conflict within myself being that the term and concepts that are ?Latino? were still instilled in me but that would not last very long.
I thought to myself ?How could I not see this all these years? It makes obvious sense.. Latino means Latin in Spanish, Latins are from Europe, Hispanic means things of Spain I don?t belong to Spain! I am brown, an Azteca from here, indigenous! Yes we are mixed blood, but we have a cultural solidarity. That?s right, we didn?t have borders before Europeans arrived. Great architects, astronomers, philosophers, inventors, poets!?
I was angry that I never heard this in true light . My power was given back to me, suddenly everything became a lot clearer. I felt the Quetzal Plumes on my head again!
It is now 2003 and I am a most formidable arch-nemesis to ignorance. I fully realize the negative implications of using the term ?Latino? on my Brown People. The truth that I emit will not be accepted easily due to the fact that we have over 520 years of lies and false concepts that we need to shake off.
I despise that term on my people yet I still embrace my people when they call themselves Latino, example being I submitted this piece to LatinoLA Yes, I have Spanish blood in me, my skin is brown, I do not deny that but the way my people have been treated for the last 500 years shows that we get treated like Mexica no matter how light or dark our skin is. It does not mean I despise all that is Latin but there is an extremely profound civilization that was decimated by Latins and it needs rebuilding. To call ourselves Latino, I believe we are denying a deep unknown part of us, and how can we be true contributors to this world if we deny the most beautiful and profound part of ourselves?
This is a brief summary Westside L.A. Chicano?s perspective. I am Mexica. Even though I cannot realistically trace my roots to that particular tribe, it is a mentality and frame of mind that all people of Anahuac can embrace. Whether you are Mexicano, Guatalmaltec, or El Salvadore, we are all brothers and sisters in the same family.
I am not anti-European or nothing of that sort, but when Quetzal birds are being prevented from radiating their true iridescent colors, please believe I will aim my verbal atlatl and defend. I do this for the love of my people, not for the hate of the enemy. My people recognize and let's reclaim these pyramids.
Miguel Bravo is 28, resides in Inglewood, CA and have been living in Los Angeles since birth. He has been illumined by the truth and wants to share that light with all people.