Chanting Down Athens
MEChA. Latino-Greeks on opposing sides of the resistance
"Joining with other community-based Chicano nationalist organizations, M.E.Ch.A. is committed to ending the cultural tyranny suffered at the hands of institutional and systematic discrimination that holds our Gente captive. We seek an end to oppression and exploitation of the Chicana/Chicano community"
Published on LatinoLA: November 19, 2002
-- Philosophy of MEChA
As an alumnus of MEChA de UCLA class of 2000, I have seen many changes among Raza college students. Having been active in external MEChA in northern and southern California gave me an opportunity to meet Chicanas and Chicanos from all over Aztlan. As the right-wing has stepped up its attack on our communidad with racist laws (i.e. Props. 187, 184, 209, 227, 21 in California) and the roll back on civil liberties- many people would expect that Raza college students, the largest working class segment of any college population, would be the first to recognize and protest injustice.
However, this is not the case. On many campuses the only progressive student voice is MEChA, or on a few other campus there are groups and coalitions that respond on a local level. But with the declining enrollments of communities of color and other working class folk in states like California, this situation pulls thin the amount of work a particular student group or a MEChA chapter can take on.
One may ask, "There are a lot of brown faces on my campus, what do they do all day? There must be certainly more Raza on this campus than the 60's. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Raza who do not want to become "political" some may have had bad experiences. Others do not recognize the sacrifice made by the veterana/os of 60's & 70's to grant them access to the University - this is a whole other subject.
For some, we must have compassion, as many of our Raza, especially those from Guatemala and El Salvador, are refugees of the U.S. backed state-terrorism in Central America of the late 70's and 80's. They have seen first-hand what the Yanqui imperialist will does when you become a significant threat to the status quo. Unfortunately, these lessons come at the expense of the loss of loved ones and forced immigration.
Others however are apolitical for another reason. They have taken an oath to be apolitical and to be loyal to something "greater" then themselves --their Greek letters.
While, the White-Greek letter system is even recognized by "Greeks" of color for theirperpetuation of racism, sexism, and homophobia, thus, Greeks of color, Latino Greeks in particular, try to separate themselves from this crowd. But is there a difference? While they certainly have a different history, they are no less susceptible to the reactionary tendencies of the Greek system-- no matter what community they come from.
As Mechistas, we must look at the Latino Greeks for what they represent. They represent a system and a group of people who quite possibly can derail the movimiento estudiantil. Thus, we must look at this situation at its most fundamental levels. Its hidden presuppositions, therefore, we must analyze not if they, as individuals, are bad (I for one believe that they are not bad people. I believe that their abuelitas and abulitos look just like mine, as I am sure they have has similar experience in the education system as I have.) but, we must interrogate the existence and function of Raza Greek-letter originations on a systemic level.
Let's begin with the names, they go by many `RZA', `NAK,' lo que sea. As Raza we are told we are Hispanics, then we are Latinos, it isn't until college many of us become Chicana and Chicanos-- then these elitist organizations want our Raza to become Greek? As the ones who leave our community for "education" it is important that we do not return to exploit and confuse our people more.
I do not see how us becoming "Greek" helps.
The great revolutionary of Cuba, Jos? Mart?, once said, "The European University must bow to the American university. The history of America, from the Incas to the present, must be taught in clear detail and to the letter, even if the archons of Greece are overlooked. Our Greece must take priority over the Greece which is not ours."
My Latino Greek-letter brothersand sisters (chihuahua, can't you just see it in their name - IDENTITY CRISIS) The Greek system is not ours, we have a victorious and proud student movement that goes by many names on many different campuses i,e, MEChA, La Familia, El Congresso, etc.)- but it is not Greek.
The most basic question all people I have spoken to about Frats and Sororities ask is "Why would you want to buy your friends?" From a materialist perspective I will respond: "To create a network to monopolize access to resources that then could be distributed amongst people who are GREEK"- not Raza, not Chicana/o, not "Hispanic", not Latino, not "Brown"--- GREEK. Can you say Illuminati? All Greek- letter organizations run on the same concept. Not for the community, but on top of the community.
Thus, the MEChA Philosophy papers tells us that "We, as Mechistas, must dismantle the co-optation of Raza students from becoming "Corporate Hispanics", claiming to be leaders of our community with no understanding of El Pueblo Chicano." This is because MEChA seeks to train future community leaders to be
consciously committed to serve the people of Aztlan -- not Greeklandia.
Greeks will not and cannot stand with progressive students in challenging the system, they have to look out for other Greeks primero! Greek letter organizations are apolitical, it says so in all of the "Latino" Greeks charters-- RZA, NAK, lo que sea, no political orientation what so ever. They are kept in line by a pecking order. That is why they Rush, to prove that they are loyal to their brothers and their letters above all else.
This is why on many campuses Latino-Greeks are proliferating in terms of campus involvement with Chicano Studies Programs. These students serve as "yes-men and women" because they do not confront the faculty at many Universities. They avoid confrontation and do not have vision. Thus, they are easier to work with than MEChAs or any other progressive group that has integrity and a philosophy for social justice. They are a co-opted student voice that will worry more about letters or recommendations than about the needs of the community -- behold the future gatekeeper of Aztlan!
Next, lets look at the loss of dignity inherent in all frat boys. Frats boys rush and haze (if you believe they don't haze anymore, then George Bush won the election of 2000) and in this process they lose their dignity. Why? For letters, a house, and a false sense of pride. How can you be a leader for our community when you volunteer to give your dignity up to the Greek alphabet?
Others may say, well we only work with them on certain occasions, and those who are in Frats/ Sororities, well they don't talk much about it. Well, if this is so I refer you to "Historical Examples Of Infiltration Into MEChA" in the Philosophy Papers for how to deal with Greeks after they take over your chapter-- or you can look to the University of Texas El Paso to see what happens when a MEChA goes Greek.
Thus, "For this reason, we cannot believe in unity for unity's sake since there are many opportunistic organizations, groups, and/or individuals who care only for themselves and not for our people. Just as we would expel FBI or CIA agent provocateurs from our organization, such opportunistic organizations, groups, and/or individuals! must be exposed and expelled to strengthen our Movement"
-- MEChA Philosophy Papers)
I am sorry but if someone is brown, they are not down--Linda Chavez, Ward Connerly, Condoleezza Rice, and Warren Thomas from the GOP proves this. We must move our movement forward with a race, gender, and class analysis. One that challenges imperialism.
In addition, while you may think I am taking a divisive stance and that we should unite on campus no matter what, well at the very nature of a Fraternity is division.
Our people believed in Ome Teotl prior to the Spanish invasion -- the great force of balance. Thus, how can we have balance with a Frat? These are groups made up entirely of hombres. And as an hombre I can tell you that most frats I know
of do not have any understanding of mujeres for anything other than play toys at the Frat house. In MEChA, the mujeres are equal and in most cases and on most campuses through out Aztlan they are running the show --do the Greeks respect this? No, Greeks arepatriarchical-- this is why Sorority function as nothing more than dates for Frat guys.
Most Frats by nature break Objective Two of the MEChA Philosophy papers that state "In the spirit of our past and for the spirit of our future, M.E.Ch.A. will not condone, tolerate, or perpetuate sexism. Indigenismo teaches us that duality is the base for respect and dignity among our people. As Mechistas, we have instilled this very fundamental principle as our foundation." How can an all-male Frat help us to fulfill this objective?
To put it simple, Frats do not fit into the goals and objective of MEChA philosophically, thus they are not part of our movement because they are part of the colonial system of clandestine Greek letter networks -- with no other reason to exist but to hoard wealth for themselves and their brothers.
Thus, directly violating the section on "National Pride" in our Philosophy Papers which stats "Recognizing that the majority of our Raza are members of the working class, we avow an anti-imperialist analysis that includes Chicana/Chicano self-determination. Chicano self-determination must begin with the recognition of what is being implied in using the term M.E.Ch.A."
Raza Greeks have appropriated a system which is used by the bourgeoisie to not only oppress us, but also their own, in order to construct economic monopolies, by redirecting the skills they've learned in college and the contacts they've made, to others who posses Greek letters. Raza Greeks have completely bought into
the imperialist paradigm of economic distribution. One that funnels it to the few, the brothers, the Greeks.
I hope this helps you to see the bigger picture. If you look at the situation as "My poor friend has a problem, he won't join MEChA `cause they look at him funny." Well, at an individual level you will not see eye to eye with my analysis. If you look at this as a problem that plagues our campus community and soon our families off campus, you may see the holistic picture.
We must understand much of this is a result of our Raza beginning to think more and more like the colonizer with every generation that enters college. When they begin to hoard the resource of our people than we will see how detrimental the Latino Greeks are. Talk to them, ask them why they need secretive networks? Ask them "Why can't they network and have brotherhood AND sisterhood with all Raza on campus?"
Thanks for reading this and I hope this helps you to develop your own opinion on why MEChA and other progressive, anti-imperialist organizations are fundamentally different than Latino-Greeks and are on opposing sides of the resistance to the oppression of our Raza as the Latino-Greeks.
Ollinkoatl is not an official spokesperson for MEChA. Originally published at firstname.lastname@example.org