Your Time Has Come, Brother!
Luis Rodriguez, a Chicano writer and poet, gets his due respect
September has become known as Hispanic Heritage Month. Our Gente and our many great accomplishments are becoming increasingly known publicly, in a positive light. Although I personally despise the word "Hispanic", the new-found appreciation and respect for our people makes this month one for all of us to reflect upon who we are and why.
Published on LatinoLA: September 27, 2003
As a young Chicano who's walked this Earth for almost 50 years, I am pleased to take note that there are now more Latino sports stars, movie and entertainment stars, politicians, academic leaders, lawyers, doctors, business leaders, high ranking police, military and judicial personnel than in any other time in modern history. I am pleased to take note that my Gente aren't on the bottom of the Society food chain, as many unfortunate people of color are in other nations of the globe.
I am also pleased at the emerging new generation of artists who are also new role models for our children of today/adults of tomorrow. The writers, painters, orators, poets, singers, dancers, musicians, and entertainers, those who bring color and flavor to life. Those who create controversy and dialogue, promote free thought and non-conformity, and lastly, those who can honestly inform and educate while encouraging different perspectives of words, colors and life experiences.
One of these artists has been honored more than twice this month by respected institutions, and I was privvy to have attended two of the occasions.
The very talented writer/poet Luis Rodriguez was honored at the KCET Annual Hispanic Appreciation Awards Banquet in Hollywood and at the Annual Latino Behavioral Health Institute Conference held at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Luis is best known for his award winning best seller, "Always Running" and his nationally acclaimed writings in various major publications over the past 20 years. He has traveled all over the world addressing race,class, gender and personal rage among disaffected populations.
What makes Luis so unique is not only his talent and zest for life, but the fact that he has survived so many negative and life threatening experiences, and personal losses, yet is able to express his talent and zest via his writings and speeches documenting the Chicano experience. I find him to be a humble, proud and easily approachable guy. One would go as far as call him a "firme vato" if you know what I mean.
Like myself, Luis grew up in the tough, San Gabriel Valley neighborhoods east of Los Angeles during the Civil Rights, Chicano Moratorium and Viet Nam War era of the late 1960s-early 1970s. Surviving the streets, jail, drug abuse, police harrassment and racial discrimination of the time, Luis educated himself and immersed himself in the art of writing and poetry. He has opened the hard, closed hearts of many young incarcerated and disenfranchised Chicanos, encouraging expression through the arts and living of life in a style other than violence, substance abuse, crime and the revolving door of incarceration. He is a talented public speaker as well. ?Orale, brother!
Hearing Luis speak, I felt he was speaking for all us homies of times past, whose stories of struggle, pain and inner conflicts that hitherto were considered irrelevant to the human experience are now being looked at, understood and appreciated, if not respected, by successful adult survivors and peers of the same generation.
The Chicano experience is unique, and one that is misunderstood, sadly by a large number of "Hispanics." Luis's writings bring historical color and sound to a people and lifestyle that opened many doors now being taken for granted by young Latinos today.
?Gracias, Luis! From one homie to another...si se puede, carnal!
Note: Luis Rodriguez is co-founder of Tia Chucha's Cafe, a unique Latino coffee house, bookstore, computer center and Cultural gathering spot located in the west San Fernando Valley. website: http://www.tiachucha.com