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Chicana/o Politics | Not Republican, Not Democrat

Cartoon by Rafael Barajas. Source: clasarchive

Moderator’s Note: This blog seldom delves into matters related to electoral politics largely because of the moderator’s ever-deepening disdain for the two-party system that marginalizes democratic and progressive impulses and dampens the possibilities for the use of elections as a tool for social change. The two parties should make their [neoliberal] ideological convergence official and call themselves the Republicrats or Demoblicans. The two parties are increasingly indistinguishable, especially in the Executive Branch, despite the apparent divergence in the politics of Supreme Court appointments.
That said, I was taken by this statement of declaration of independence from the Democratic Party prepared by Professor Armando Vazquez-Ramos of the California-Mexico Studies Center. I agree with most of this statement except that perhaps it does not go far enough to make the case for an independence that moves toward a viable third party – one that could coalesce around progressive workers, immigrants, youth, women, LGBTQ, environmentalists, and civil rights activists.
Registering independent and still voting Democratic will not solve the issues we face but this does open an interesting conversation that needs to develop and spread across all marginalized political communities.

A Latino Voter’s Declaration of Independence from the Democratic Party in the U.S.
Armando Vazquez-Ramos | Long Beach, CA | September 15, 2014
Coinciding with Father Miguel Hidalgo’s El Grito de Dolores on September 15, 1810, to foment an end to slavery after almost 300 years of Spanish rule, I humbly declare today my independence from the Democratic Party and call upon all Latino voters in the U.S. to do the same, throughout the farcical ‘Hispanic Heritage Month’ celebration that begins today.
With President Obama’s latest broken promise to protect by executive action the 11 million immigrants in political limbo, today I declare that I have decided to quit the Democratic Party and call upon all Latino voters to rebel, by changing their registration to ‘independent’ because there is no political party that deserves our vote, or truly represents the interests of our families and children.
We should celebrate ‘Hispanic Heritage Month’ by voting on November 4th as independent voters for “No executive action, no vote ! ” across the U.S., to deliver the message that Obama must exercise by Thanksgiving his executive authority through deferred action, and grant administrative relief to all 11 million immigrants without a criminal record.
His deportation regime represents a form of genocide of more than 2 million Latino immigrant families, because 96% of those deported were Latinos, which is inherently a form of racialized and discriminatory law enforcement that should be prosecuted as a criminal case in an international court, and litigated as a massive violation of U.S. citizens children’s rights in the United Nations and U.S. courts.
To wit, as a result of Obama’ Deporter-in-Chief legacy, there are over 500,000 U.S. born children of Mexican parents deported, now exiled in Mexico, and whose constitutional, human and children’s rights have been violated. They should be given safe return to their country of birth, along with their parents and nuclear family.
Ironically, Obama’s legacy will be judged in history by this familicide, in contradiction with his unjustified and undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.

In my opinion, when president Obama finally announced his decision to deny again his promise to protect the 11 million unauthorized immigrants that contribute to our economy with their hard work, he lost his last chance to energize Latino voters and the Democratic Party’s base, not only for the November elections, he also jeopardized the 2016 presidential election.
Surely, Latino voters will be cuddled by the Dems to vote the GOP out of Congress and to elect Hillary in 2016, as our duty and allegiance to the party. But for what benefit and how can we trust them, when Obama’s persuasive appeal is exhausted, unconvincing and bankrupt.
Conclusively, President Obama and the Democratic Party’s leadership cannot be trusted on immigration before, or after the elections this year. They will continue to punt with the justification that we must wait until after the 2016 election, due to congressional gridlock and the GOP’s threat of impeachment and lawsuits against the president.
Notwithstanding that Obama’s deportations will continue at record-pace, as he becomes the longest serving lame duck president in the history of the U.S., for his last 2 years in office after the November 4 election.

The president and the Democratic Party’s leadership led us down the path of deception and without consultation dictated to Latinos to accept the nefarious S.744 legislation produced by the senate’s ‘Gang of 8’, despite the fact that it would deport half or more of the 11 million undocumented, while militarizing the border with a $56 billion boondoggle.
As Geronimo would say, Obama and the Democratic Party leadership ‘speak forked tongue’.
Now there is no doubt that they are a part of the problem, that Obama is a president that does not respect even his own democrat members of congress, much less Latino voters.
Blatantly disrespectful, he never replied to the appeal letters for immigrants’ legislative relief sent by Congress members Raul Grijalva and Yvette Clarke on December 5, 2013 and January 24, 2014, and signed by 40+ democrat members of the U.S. Congress.
Regardless of the November election results, Obama must deliver on his word before the end of the year, to change his legacy to the Emancipator-in-Chief, and do what is right for the economy and future generations of new American immigrants that will be 30% of the U.S. population by 2050.
Prof. Armando Vazquez-Ramos teaches Chicano and Latino Studies in the California State University system, and is an Area Coordinator for the Protect Our Families and Save the Children Campaign in Los Angeles, CA.
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The State of Chicana/o Studies | University of Texas establishes major program

Moderator’s Note: It is not often enough that we have good news to report about the progress in the development and diffusion of Chicana/o Studies programs across the country. The vicious and racist attacks by the State of Arizona on Ethnic Studies under HB 2281 seemed to be the new normal. It is therefore with a great deal of hope and satisfaction that I post news of the establishment of a new academic major in Mexican American and Latino Studies at the University of Texas-Austin.   
This was a long slog of a battle as the establishment of the renowned Center for Mexican American Studies dates to the early 1970s. This is an important development since the University of Texas is likely now the largest Tier I research university with such a program in what we might consider “The South”.
I am reposting the report from Raul A. Reyes, which first appeared on NBC News online.
UT-Austin Creates Major in Mexican American and Latino Studies

By Raul A. Reyes
Almost four out of ten Texas residents is Latino, and Hispanics are an integral part of the region’s demographic, cultural and political heritage. Yet Mexican American and Latino studies has not been an academic major offered at one the state’s flagship universities – until now.
The University of Texas at Austin is unveiling changes to its Mexican American Studies program. The existing Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) will split into an academic department and a center for programming and outreach activities. The new Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies will offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs this fall followed by doctoral degrees in the near future.
Previously, a student could take Mexican American studies courses at CMAS as part of another major, such as history. Gabriel Solis, 28, who graduated from UT-Austin several years ago, said he was one of those students who would have wanted to major in this field of study.
“My experience as an undergrad and as a grad student was frustrating at times,” he said. “There seemed to be such battles for funding for the Center for Mexican American Studies, and that was disillusioning… I almost felt pushed out of studying my culture and history, because the outside climate was so hostile,” said Solis.
University officials said CMAS has been at the forefront of Mexican American studies, and the changes should make the programs even stronger.
“Establishing an academic Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies will ensure that UT is the best place for Latino studies in the United States,” said Bill Powers, president of the UT-Austin, in a statement.
Founded in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin has about 24,000 faculty and staff, serving over 50,000 students. In Fall 2012 its student body was 18.4 percent Hispanic.
Mexican-Americans have a rich heritage at the University of Texas. Despite suffering discrimination, under state law Mexican-Americans were historically considered white and were thereby eligible to attend the university since it was founded. (By contrast, in 1946 an African-American student had to sue to force the university to desegregate).
Mexican-American graduates of the University of Texas law school were the lawyers behind a 1954 Supreme Court case, Hernandez v. Texas, which paved the way for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education. And several of these lawyers were among the founders of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in 1968.
More recently, the University of Texas at Austin has been a focal point for issues of race and ethnicity at both the local and national levels. In 2013 the University was the defendant in a closely-watched affirmative action case at the Supreme Court. The high court sent it back down to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which then ruled that the University could continue to use affirmative action in its admissions policies.
Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, chair of the new department, said that a strong Mexican American Latina/o studies program can produce future leaders in areas as varied as energy, transportation, politics, and education.
“It is important to teach students that there is indeed Latino diversity, not just in terms of ethnicity and national origin, but also in terms of race and class,” said Guidotti-Hernandez.
Guidotti-Hernandez added the aim was not to “train people to be Latino,” but rather to teach critical thinking and methodology, all of which matters more than ever now that for the first time, a majority of students in Texas public schools are Latino.
As for the Center for Mexican Studies, its director Domino R. Perez thinks it can be a place for important dialogue.
“Obviously there is a longstanding racial and cultural history in Texas,” said Perez. “It is not going to go away overnight. The fact that I am the first women director of the Center for Mexican American Studies in 44 years, and that our inaugural department chair is a woman, sends a message as well.”
Ingrid Vasquez, 21, a member of the Class of 2015, said that her experiences with the Center for Mexican American Studies have been rewarding. “When I was first taking these (MAS) classes, my parents were against it. ‘Why do you need to know that?’ they said.”
Yet for Vasquez, connecting with fellow Latino students lessened her initial feelings of homesickness and isolation at the university. “It was a way of adjusting to the culture shock of being away from home. It ended up helping me connect better with my parents too, who speak only Spanish, because I was studying Spanish literature in Spanish. And by the way, the (MAS) classes were mixed, it is not just Latinos in those courses.”
As for the new academic department, its chair Guidotti-Hernández believes it is significant – and also makes sense – to have both Mexican American and Latina/o Studies together.
“This is a really important moment for us in the curriculum,” she said. “This is a recognition of the Mexican-American population in Texas, as well as the immigrant community from Central and Latin America. Having the two disciplines together, for the first time in the nation, is a move to create a more inclusive, rigorous intellectual community.”

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors. He has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Texas Monthly and Huffington Post. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School. Follow him on Twitter at @RaulAReyes.

Indigenous Resistance to the Mount Polley Mining Disaster Webinar


Indigenous Resistance to the Mount Polley Mining Disaster Webinar

Wed. 17, 2014, 8 pm Eastern Standard Time

"Industry is an attack on our very existence as Indigenous people. We need to uphold our responsibilities to our lands and territories" — Kanahus Manuel

The Youtube streaming link to this webinar will be posted here 10 minutes before the webinar begins: