Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cesar Chavez, Mexican American, Chicano

Racially and ethnically, Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American; more specifically, a Chicano.

His struggles and accomplishments stemmed from his experience in the world of mostly Mexican migrant farm workers.

It was not a Hispanic experience or a Latino experience; it was very specifically a Mexican-American experience, subject to discrimination and injustice at every stage of life in these United States.

One cannot begin to honor the memory of Cesar Chavez without understanding those fundamental facts.

As well-meaning as many Portlanders are regarding Cesar Chavez, the public discussion is stifled by the prevalence of so many wrong assumptions….

Renaming a street is not a Latino community issue or a Hispanic community issue; it is an idea brought forth by the only two people who have publicly identified themselves as being members of the Committee; an idea that was seized upon by other well-meaning but badly misinformed Portlanders.

Their campaign has been as badly handled as anything Emily Boyles ever put together, but probably ranking higher on the embarrassment scale.

The Chavez Committee has failed to educate the public with any discussion of this Mexican-American hero’s life and accomplishments, has offered nothing but negative attitude to the process, has frozen out any other ideas but that of its own two members.

Like Cesar Chavez, I am the son and grandson of Mexican farmworkers, and a Chicano. I would like to see this great man honored in the City of Portland in a permanent, physical and public way as much as any other person in the present commotion.

But it doesn’t have to be a street renaming to suit me, I am in no way stuck on that. I emphatically disagree with the notion that renaming a street is the only "acceptable" way to honor Chavez.

A library, a school, a park or a bridge; all make more sense if we are talking about the Cesar Chavez familiar to most Mexican Americans, most Chicanos.

With all due respect, if you knew anything more than a paragraph deep about Cesar Chavez, you would understand that.

More thinking on this subject is here:

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