The 2006 ALMA Awards

Just one L.A. Chicano's take...

By The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla
Published on LatinoLA: June 9, 2006

The 2006 ALMA Awards

Ahh...here I am, the morning after the nationally televised ALMA Awards, thinking "What happened?"...it was in L.A. , the Land of 1000 Dances, but I didn?t see any of the wonderful, talented, L.A. Chicanos perform.

I'm thinking "Gee..it was put on by the NCLR?the National Council de La Raza, an organization that was established during the Chicano Movimiento & Moratorium against the Viet Nam War by Chicanos?where was the Chicano representation outside of the commercials?"...don't get me wrong, the hostess proudly made her point more than once in support of Mexican Americans IN ENGLISH (loved her Canadian joke, big time!), but why do Chicanos & Mexican Americans always have to be portrayed in the struggling-to-make-it-in-Spanish-language mode, while other flavors of Latinos are ?established??

Am I the only one looking at it this way? Somebody please!

I'm thinking ?Wow?they imported a black, poorly groomed, middle aged rap duo that obviously annoyed Jennifer Lopez by trying drag her out on stage to dance to black rap song ?Mentirosa?. They took embarrassing to a national level. She didn't, thank God. It wasn't the time & place. Besides the obvious, don't we have plenty of Latino rappers in L.A.?"...and when have you ever seen a Latino group or artist perform at the Soul Train awards singing ?Hey, pimp daddy, straighten out your baseball cap & get yo old lady off the Boulevard??

I ponder ?Hmmm?for a reason that escapes me, they had a poorly groomed, dirty looking, white country & western singer perform a song that I felt was degrading to my Latina sisters. (i.e. ?I'm gonna pick her up in my El Camino, 'cause she's as hot as a jalapeno?, etc). I wonder, when the last time you ever saw a Latino group or artist come on the American Country Music awards and perform ?Gee, I like seeing my sister naked after my daddy gets off of her? ?...and aren't there plenty of Tejanos that sing country besides that fat guy in the cowboy hat who made a buffoon out of himself trying dance hip-hop on stage? Who lined up the talent?

Yeah, that's right! These are racial, stereotypical insults?how does it feel to be on the receiving end, bubba?

What...you can and I can't? Get a grip , Clyde! Times have changed! I don't like being minimized and laughed at!

For a city that boasts a Chicano Mayor, a Chicano Sheriff, a high percentage of Chicano/Chicana public servants, a rich Chicano culture and history that took struggle, strife, and sacrifice to bring to light before some ?Mexicans?, ?Hispanics?, and other ?Latinos? said "oh yeah! That's us!"...

?shouldn't there have been a little more respectful reference and representation the way Florida leans towards Cuban tastes and New York leans towards Puerto Rican tastes?

Not that they're bad people, but if they're gonna promote ?Latinos?, promote us all equally, and respect somebody's backyard!

The messages I got was (1)Yeah?Chicanos & Mexican~Americans are Latinos?just at the bottom of the food chain amongst other groups. Not important. (2) Yeah?this may be a Chicano city, but not tonight, you're not good enough to be a major player on the national level. (3)Yeah?you may have some great Chicano musicians and singers from L.A. and Texas, we just don't want to hear them or offer them national exposure that might cut into our action ..deal with it, It's not your turn yet!(4) Yeah?the sponsoring agency, NCLR, had to kiss somebody's ass and squeeze in Jessica Simpson on stage in order to get the program aired.(or is she somehow Latina?)

?no offense, I've just never seen her perform with Latinos at any of her shows, know what I mean?

If this sounds like sour grapes, it is?at least I have the huevos to admit & express it. I know there may somebody reading this who may secretly agree with me, but publicly call me everything but a child of God for stirring up uncomfortable realities and not ?knowing my place?, because that's the way we ?Latinos? are?we are tribal & territorial to a fault.

It seems we are all ?Latinos? till it comes down to the crunch?then we suddenly remember our ?roots?. Did you notice how the crowd's response was measured and hushed when the hostess made a joke about ?the border & Canadians?, yet when Mark Anthony declared ?My parents came to America from Puerto Rico? a generous applause ensued??

?there's a message there, make no mistake! (immigration=Mexicans) How come Mexicans ?cross a border?, and everybody else ?comes to America???

It just irks me to no end that I haven't discovered the honest way mediocre performers make it to the bigs, when good performers struggle to just get exposure?honest being the key word here, which may sound na?ve to some smirking top dog.

Chicanos have made more than a significant contribution to American Music, and I feel it's time we were given our due recognition.

Oh yeah, before I forget, somebody recently asked me ?What's a Chicano, and where did that word come from??

My take comes from a story told to me by an older relative many years ago:

Aztec-Yaqui-Mestizo descendants who lived in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, which borders Texas , were known as impressive, celebratory dancers, and fierce, loyal fighters who had proven themselves during the Mexican Revolution during the early 20th century.

Not particularly liked by the new, post-Revolution Mexican government because of their democratic beliefs and desire for a redress of wrongs, they were shunned cautiously.

The American government on the other hand, were hard pressed to man Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, which sits at the mouth of a pass between the mountains bordering Texas & Mexico (hence, ?El Paso?), because of WW I, and continuing problems with renegade Indian warriors who made regular border raids of local towns. The American government enlisted many of these Mexicans from Chihuahua into the U.S. Army, and gave them additional military training, an education, and taught them English.

These ?Chihuahua Mexicanos? proved themselves time and again as local peacekeepers, in WWI, and they received the most medals of honor in WW II combat. They successfully helped establish & enforce border security between Mexico & the United States, for which they became despised by the local Mexican people as ?sell outs?, which the Mexican government exploited to keep the factions fighting amongst each other, as insurance against another revolution.

During WWII, many Chihuahua~Mexicanos (later shortened to ?Chicanos?) and their families migrated west, but the mistrust from their south of the border brethren as ?fighters for a country other than their own? remains today, accompanied by the mistrust of white Americans who are leery of sophisticated, bi-lingual, educated Mexican descendants who don't speak with an accent.

The word ?CHICANO? is considered a detrimental term amongst the uninformed and the intimidated. Their reputation as dancers and fierce, loyal fighters has been diminished to less than complimentary terms by this envious, uninformed mass that have lacked the faith & courage to support this brave faction of Mexican descendents.

Today, Chicanos are made up of Latinos from different Countries besides Mexico, who have followed the "Chihuahua Mexicano" path out west, loathe the Old World aristocratic~machismo~caste mentality, see education as valuable, see our women as respectable equals, and aren't ashamed to speak English or fly the flag of a country they may have to put their life on the line defending, because it's where their families now live.

CHICANOS!! Wise up, America?.

At least that's my take?and I welcome everybody else's, here on LatinoLA.

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