Spotlight on the Brown
Profile of author Mary Ann Gonzalez aka DHOC
One thing that denotes a society or culture is their subscription to the arts. No matter what part of the modern world, Musicians , thespians, comedians, singers, painters, poets, writers, orators of history, curators of collections, and film makers all contribute to the arts, that which enriches lives simply by exposure.
Published on LatinoLA: August 14, 2004
A surreal journey into the depths of another's soul without the pain and violation of invasion. A look at what another side of something looks like. A thought you never thought of, a song you've never heard, a story you've never been told, the colors of an emotion...
It has been the utmost of pleasurable experiences for me in my lifetime to meet some of the artists of my World. My life has been enriched by the talents of others, which in turn, has allowed my talent to flow. I hope that I have been able to enrich the life of another before I leave this planet. What goes around, comes around...tu sabes!
This being the second of a series spotlighting Brown artists, let me introduce you to this month's Brown person in the Spotlight:
I first met MaryAnn Gonzalez, aka DHOC (Die Hard Onda Chicana), in the cyber 'hood, introduced to me by Tejano Music Legend Tony "Ham" Guerrero. Tony & I had been chatting for awhile, as our love of music & our disappointment at where some of it was going seemed to spawn never-ending conversations...mine focusing on Southern California Chicano flavor, his on the Texas Chicano brand. Then one day he invited me to join him in sharing some of our Brown views of music and Chicanismo with others on a Texas website formerly known as "TejanoView", hosted by DHOC~ MaryAnn Gonzalez.
From the start, she and the many contributors made it known that they had been following the action on LatinoLA.com for some time, and appreciated my writing (Some may have been annoyed, but validated me and the 1st Amendment anyway), as well as the many other contributing writers.
What struck my interest in MaryAnn's web posts was the colorful & emotional way she descibed things, and herself. She has a strong emotional connection to the struggle of Chicanos, and being born in Chicago the daughter of Mexican migrant farm workers, she had found strength & pride in her family, her people, and the beautiful music that surrounded her as her family settled in the great state of Texas.
As we cyber chatted, we both saw the similarities of the different flavors in Chicanismo in California & Texas, and agreed to use our gifts of written gab to connect our Gente. We began talking on the phone, and I asked her if she ever put any emotion in writing other than happiness & pride in Tejano music. An obviously educated & articulate woman, she sent me this:
"After speaking to someone who argued the definition of the term Chicano, I went home and thought long & hard at the misconception. I pondered at the thought of African Americans valuing and cherishing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his efforts, and the Civil Rights movement, yet, we don't want to acknowledge what the Chicano Movement did for us, and stand tall and take pride in recognizing ourselves as Chicanos. (African Americans went from Slaves to Negroes to Colored to Blacks to African Americans). Hmmmmm....
Well, for those of you who think the term Chicano is merely a striking insult, I say the term actually embarks on a subject deemed destined for educational value and intelligent debate.
Allow me to provide some factual information:
Back before the 60's, strenuous efforts were made to eradicate ethnic differences. Despite the intensity of the Anglo Americanization program, it failed to produce much progress. The Mexican American remained in a subordinate position at the bottom of the economic ladder. Those who lacked skills and education worked in the fields picking crops for inadequate pay, which anglos imposed. (hence, the beginning of change)
On a competitive basis, education in the school would not balance education in the home since skills,education and the English language were poor in the home setting, and Mexican culture & the spanish language were extrememly dominant. All efforts of advancement were weakened.
To most anglos, it was inconceivable that the Mexican American would want to preserve their own cultural heritage. However, how wrongthese anglos were did not become clear until the advent of the Chicano Movement.
The origin of the word "Chicano" is still being debated, since it is not listed in spanish dictionaries nor english for that matter.Although the word "Chicano" is not uwsed in the standard spanish of Mexico, it long has been used as a slang label for a certain type of mexican once characterized by low social and economic status.
Originally used as an epithat, the term has of lately aquired a new meaning, as in a person of Mexican ancestry WHO WILL FIGHT TO DEFEND HIMSELF AND IMPROVE HIS LOT & POSITION.
In general, it has recently had a positive meaning to young people who are proud to be called Chicanos, for it is Chicanos who prompted change and spoke out, when their forefathers accepted derogatory labels, poor treatment, and hushed submissively to Anglo society. It is probably for this reason (submission) that elder Mexican Americans today frown at the unspeakable term, and instruct their children not to use it.
Since views of yesteryear were of submission to Anglo political correctness, elders back then could not comprehend such radicalism by their children, yet their children, (The Chicano Movement) battled long & hard for stricter health standards, fair wages, and equality in employment hiring practices. Believing Mexican culture unquestionably in their hands, the Americanization program was shocked into reality, shocked into change, and thus bred the beginning of "CHICANO PRIDE".
Unfortunately, Chicanos were termed as "Violent, mule headed tyrants", a term of course defined by non other than the anglos themselves, as an attempt to further practice control & superiority, which went against their idea of a movement by those who were prepared to fight at all costs, and change the "Ideality of an American" possessed by a dominately Anglo population.
Chicanos organized a movement which included planned demonstrations, and although some did not agree with their confrontational tactics (some unfortunately ending in violence), change was inevitable, and did prevail, for the betterment of our people.
If one reads back through the history of Martin Luther King Jr.,they too will find the same organizational tactics.... and change prevailed in his efforts as well, which has had a lasting effect improving the society in which we dwell.
...Now..do you still find the term Chicano insulting?"
Wow!... and all I asked her for was a simple paragraph! It was because of this small piece of literary passion I saw , that I encouraged her to make her writing available to the World at large...especially on a national Latino website like LatinoLA.com !
And she has responded with love for us all! Thanks, mi Hermana! We await your next piece. Keep it coming, like I've always told you: It's a BROWN thing, baby!
Si se puede!!
Note: MaryAnn Gonzalez of Mercedes, Texas, is a freelance writer of awesome talent! e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next month, an East L.A. Chicano & his Lady put Chicano music back on the front page!
Frankie Firme spins the finest Oldies in Aztlan on the World Wide Web every week, is a contributing writer in LatinoLA.com, and loves Brown people!