Loved Ones

Loved Ones

There are not enough words to describe the pain you feel when losing people you love. I dedicated this altar to two very special individuals in my life, the first is my grandfather, Alejandro Gonzalez and second is my godbrother Nicholas Gonzalez (also known as Nick). I decided to make my family’s altar to include the things that they both enjoyed. I decorated the table with papel picado and gold display boxes. I chose the red table cover because red is a very warm color and I wanted that feeling to be a part of the alter. The color of the paper has no significance other than it complements the red neatly. As I was designing my table my mom tried to give me a little table so that I can place it in a corner somewhere but I took it upon myself to take over her long table right at the entrance of our house. This area in the house is somewhere we are forced to walk by all day and every day. I wanted the table to be something we could all enjoy because it isn’t an object of mourning, it is a reminder of all the great times we had with our loved ones. We must be okay with the idea of death and know that it is a part of life. Too many people have detached to themselves from the reality of death but it is natural and a part of everyone’s experience here on earth. We have all lost people we love and it is important to know how to deal with our losses in a healthy manner. I just remind myself that I have one more person to watch over us and be our guardians. I only included two pictures on my table, one for each of them, because I wanted the items to speak more than the photos did. The photos are just an easier way to your message across. I wanted to keep the table simple and pretty because I think that is a good representation of our loved ones, I didn’t want anything to take away from the pictures I had of grandpa and Nick. . Aside from the photos of Nick and my grandpa, I have included items that represent both my grandfather and Nick. The items on the table are depictions of what they meant to, not only me, but to our entire family.
My grandfather was a born and raised in Chihuaha, Mexico and came to the United States in his mid twenties. He married my grandmother and they had one son, my dad. My grandfather was a very involved father but as I got older my father told me that he drank excessively and he pretty much did what he wanted. My grandfather never hit my grandma but both my grandma and father have told me that he would leave to drink at bars and the police would call my grandma to go pick him up. He was machismo in the sense that he never really allowed my grandma to venture outside of the role she was expected to play. She cleaned, cooked, and made sure to provide all the essentials for my father and grandfather. She worked for a small portion of her life but he was the primary breadwinner and he made most of the decisions for the household. My grandfather always loved hosting parties, music, and having a good time.
The relationship I had with my grandfather was special because he was practically a second father to me. I spent a lot of time with him my entire childhood and I remember being his sidekick.My grandpa was macho, prideful, and protective of his family. There wasn’t anyone he was afraid of and my grandpa only stood about 5 feet 5 inches. The personality my grandpa had was a lot bigger than he was. He never let anyone be disrespectful towards anyone and always stood up for what he believed was right. He treated my sister and me like princesses but he also showed us the importance of being good and being confident. He never wanted us to feel like we had no voice. In some ways he was a machismo but in other ways he wasn’t at all. He always new how to make us feel better and how to have fun. One day I remember specifically was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My grandfather had a blue pickup truck that he parked at the beginning of the driveway and he would open the back and sit there with his radio, cigarettes, and Budweiser. My sister and I would hop on the truck and play there for hours but on that specific day he took us to the local liquor store and told us we could get anything we wanted. So that’s what we did, I don’t think anyone had ever let me buy anything I had every wanted (and that’s still the case). He drove us back home with his essentials and we had bought what seemed like a year’s supply of candy and small toys. Around the age of 65 my grandfather suffered a stroke and we later found out he had lung cancer. He had a hard two year battle with his lung cancer and passed away in February 2001. The day he passes away will always live with me, not only because I loved him, but because it was the first time I felt real pain. This loss was hard on the family, because for once, we were missing a huge part of our lives. The items I chose to represent my grandfather were the candy, pan dulce, and the cross. I chose them because his nickname was Candy and there’s no better way to represent that other than with sweets themselves. I also chose these two items specifically for him because they take me back to our trip the store and they symbolize how happy I was in all the moments I shared with him. There was always pan dulce in my grandparents’ house and I always remember having that with my glass of milk on the nights I would stay over. Seeing him was always the highlight of my day. The symbol of the cross represents the faith that we had in our family and the faith that helped us cope with the loss of my grandfather.
Nicholas also enjoyed the things my grandfather did. Nick was born and raised in Placentia, California and got married in 2013. He and his wife, Jessica, had two kids, Jayden and Jacob. Unfortunately Nick passed away before he met his baby girl but the relationship he had with his son Jacob was special. Nick was a great father and always made sure that his son knew right from wrong, his manners, and how to work hard. He was at every baseball game that Jacob had and never failed to be a parent. I’m not too familiar with the relationship Nick had with his wife Jessica. They both worked full time, participated in family events, and symbolized a funny happy couple. As children my sister and I would always spend time with Nick and his two brothers. They were the brothers we never had. There were times we would go to the mountains, movies, and anywhere just to get out of the house and have fun. As we all grew up we still made an effort to get together, especially for some Dallas Cowboy football and just enjoy each others’ company. On July 12, 2014 I was getting ready to leave my house to meet up with Nick’s brother and as I walked to the family room to say bye to my parents, I saw them crying and trying to talk to people on their phones. That’s when they told me that my cousin didn’t wake up that morning. When I heard those words I felt nothing, it was as if my mind wasn’t in my body or I didn’t know what those words meant but soon after it hit me that he was gone.
Nick always made it a goal to host days for the family to get together. He would plan barbeques, football days, pool parties, and holiday parties in efforts to keep the family close knitted. He was truly the glue of the Gonzalez family. Everyone knew that if they should ever need anything, they could always call Nick for help or even just a kind word. A big part of Nick’s life was dedicated to his faith and that is why I chose a cross to represent him. I also choose the Dallas Cowboy football and Los Angeles Angels baseball to represent him. Nick lived and breathed sports, I think most of his wardrobe was made up of jerseys or sports t-shirts. Some of my most fond memories of him were when we would get together as a family and play softball. There must have been about 30 of us that would get together about twice a year to play and we would spend all day on the field. It was truly something special because everyone could enjoy it. It was like a huge barbeque/game day for our family and friends. This tradition eventually started to fade and I remember how much Nick would try to keep it going. Every time we were all together he would mention something about it.
The both of them were always looking forward to getting the family together, taking care of their family, and making sure everyone was happy. They were the backbone of their families and the larger extension of the family and friends. I chose the candles to represent both Nick and my grandpa because they were important figures in my life that lead me to have the morals and traditions that I practice today. They were significant father and brother figures that I value every day of my life. They taught me to enjoy life, appreciate family, and be a good person.
I bought the skulls this past March on a trip to Mexico City because they symbolize our ancestry and the culture we still carry with us in the Gonzalez family. The skulls not only represent Dia de los Muertos but our lifestyle throughout the year. We always celebrate the lives of our loved ones that can no longer be with us.
The bottle of tequila and the shot glasses are just a fun representation of the parties that both Nick and my grandfather liked to throw. There was never a bottle too far away from them during any kind of celebration. The parties always consisted of too many people, loud music, and so much food. The cops were always warning us to turn down the music. As much as they enjoyed drinking they never embodied the violent nature that has existed in the Gonzalez Family. A brother of my grandfather was a violent drunk that had no limits. This was a fear we had all had with the people that drink in my family but the respect was always maintained when my family members did drink.
The Vicente Fernandez tickets represent how much we valued Vicente’s, better known as Chente, music. I don’t think there has ever been a family party that didn’t involve Chente’s music or at least a mariachi that played his music. As a child I enjoyed the music but my attachment to his music grew when I lost my grandfather and my cousin. Both of them had a great deal of love and respect for him. My grandfather would always play his music on his small radio and when he wasn’t out and about he was sitting on his lazy boy in the living room watching novellas and movies with Vicente Fernandez. When my grandpa and grandma were younger they had the opportunity to go to the house of Chente and meet him. They told me that Chente was very welcoming and down to earth. This made me appreciate him as an artist and symbol for our family even more. Nick’s grandfather was my grandpa’s brother so the attachment Nick had to Chente’s music was identical to mine. Every time we were together we would sing our hearts out and reminisce about all the memories we had of our grandparents. Chente is a representation of our family and it brings us together wherever we are. Nick and I, along with our siblings, were extremely close. Just recently I was listening to his music and tears came to eye because I started to think about how much I miss them and how I have so many great memories of them.
The hardest time is during the holidays but I try to remember how they would want us to be spending our time.. I know they would not let me cry and mourn their deaths, they would want me and the family to enjoy the celebration, enjoy each the company, and appreciate the things we do have. I have learned a lot about myself through this assignment and through the pain I have managed when I lost my grandfather and cousin. Life is short, it’s a cliché but it is one of the realest ones. You have to learn how to make the most out of every opportunity you are given and truly take the time to appreciate your time with people while they are still here. If you’re mad at someone, place your ego aside, talk to them, and move forward. There is nothing healthy in holding grudges and letting them come in between you and the life you can have with your loved ones. I never noticed just how similar my grandfather and my cousin were until I organized this paper, I truly think they were too good for this world. They were angels before we could ever know. The values I carry with me are ones I will always hold close and practice because I see just how much I got from them as a child. It is because of them that I have such a strong relationship and sense of respect for my family. My family comes before anyone else. I hope to pass the same values and sense of culture and tradition to my family. I believe family is the first support system anyone ever knows and they should really get the most from the time that they have with their family. Our time here is short and there’s no sense in having pointless arguments, egos, or prideful attitudes towards those people that we love. Most importantly its important to cope with the loss of someone healthily. I have seen the loss of our loved ones destroy some of my family members. It is easy to be angry, sad, lonely, any negative feeling or state of mind is easy to feel but having a positive outlook, although it takes more effort, is the only option you should give yourself. There are support groups if you don’t have family to turn to and there are other ways to deal with a loss other than all the negative feelings people naturally feel after losing someone close.

Chicano Identity of Mexican-Americans

I have attached an article for this weeks reading titled Shifting Identity: Process and Change in Identity of Aging Mexican-American Males. This article highlights issues among men and women and the changing dynamics of masculinity. It explains how the importance of machismo is fading because of the american culture and the role a wife plays in this new culture.

Click the word below to acces the article.


The Rain God

(This is my post on Padilla’s work and Islas. Dropbox did not allow me to open the “Mosquita y Mari”.)

Arturo Islas’ novel The Rain God is not praised in Chicano literature due to its unsavory characters and the threat people believe they have on the Chicano community. Islas presents a story composed of a main character, Miguel Chico, which comes across as gay. His uncle is called a coyote, which is a middle man for the Chicano labor workers and the American looking to contract these cheap employees.  His father is a character which is presented as being either too macho or not macho enough.  His father’s character is insecure with his role.  Miguel’s relationships, particularly with other men, are ruined by his father’s hyper masculinity. He has trouble trusting other men. Miguel’s mom is unloving and racist. All of these characters are personalities that exist among the Chicano community but Chicano literature could not accept his book.  Islas was strong supporter of the Chicano Movement and he believed that there was not one ideal type of Chicano. He believed that people did not have to be a pachuco or migrant worker to be called or identified as a Chicano (Padilla 2009). There are themes of sexuality both for men and women and “Islas claimed to be interested in examining relationships between sexuality and masculinity rather than in championing a particular notion of sexual identity”(Padilla 2009).  Throughout his novel, Islas never confirms if any of his characters are indeed gay. There are only references to being gay but the reader is left without knowing. Islas does not represent openly gay Chicanos in his work and this is one his failures. He carries the closeted Chicano identity throughout his work and never addresses issues of openly gay Chicanos.

How do you feel about the closeted nature of Islas’ work? Does this bother you or do you understand his choice in writing The Rain God as he did?

-Bridgett Gonzalez

A Family that Loves, Learns, and Grows

A Family that Loves, Learns, and Grows


My family has always been the type to do everything together. It is rare for us to not plan a football Sunday, backyard bbq, or some kind of day for all of us to spend time together. We truly symbolize what it means to be a close family. There are five of us living in my house right now: my dad, mom, sister, cousin and myself. In my immediate family it is my dad, mom, two sisters and me. My older sister recently married and had a girl. So as you can see, my poor dad is surrounded with nothing but girls and my brother-in-law (when he isn’t at work). My house is dominated by the girls. I truly love the dynamics of my family. There have been several times when I invite people to come hangout at my house and I am repeatedly told that I am blessed with the family I have. My family is the a perfect(and not so perfect) representation of what it means to love, learn, and grow.

My mother created the life full of love that she wanted for herself and her family. My mother was born in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico and came to the United States at the age of three. From a young age she knew what it was like to have to care for yourself and work hard. She is the reason our family is so full of love. My mom is the reason I have such a close relationship with my sisters. Every since I can remember she would tell us, you will have a lot of best friends but no one will take the place of your sisters. She taught us just how special it was to be a good person to everyone. She was the first person I ever looked up to.

The relationship that my mother and my father had was very influential to me. My parents always showed each other respect, support, and love. There was never a time when I questioned the actions of either parent. Unlike the machismo attitudes that exist in most Chicano families, my family practiced respect and equality. This is something that will always be in my mind and it is something I expect from the person I am with. The traditional patriarchal family is something we have shied away from and we reproduce a more of a woman family. The role of the traditional Mexican woman is not something you’ll see in my family. We have always been taught to work hard, follow our dreams, and never rely on anyone to take care of you. My parents have really emphasized the importance of independence, self-respect, and love into our family and making sure that we practice those characteristics as well.

Education was always something my parents and extended family has encouraged and expected us to go after. My grandmother has a third grade education. My parents have a junior college education. Their motto was that if we didn’t want to go to college then we had to get a job and move out as soon as possible. My sister and I will be the first in our family to graduate with our bachelor’s degree and we owe that to our family support system. Throughout the five generations of family that I have seen grow, I have noticed a shift in the focus of school and education. The social and cultural factors of all the different generations have influenced that. If my mother was born into a rich family, she would have had the opportunity to concentrate on her education but instead she and my grandmother were busy working to support a household. My parents were fortunate to find each other and create a life they both wanted and I am lucky enough to be able to work and go to school thanks to the foundation my parents have built.

Everyone in my family has a strong sense self, growth, and adventure. I believe this is something that started with the oppression my grandmother felt when she was trying to raise 5 children and go through a divorce. In her later life and into my mom’s adult life, my grandmother began to find who she really was outside of defining herself with a man. She has inspired all of us to travel, learn new things, and find who we really are outside of the typical 9-5 routine that is promoted by American life.  Every time I see her she reminds me to continue to better myself and pursue all the things that make me happy.

I have found that I emphasize loving, learning, and growing, just as much as my family has done to me. I notice this with the way I interact with my five year old niece/god daughter. She is the smartest kid I know and I really give the family credit for it. We have always explained things to her from a young age. We always answer all the questions she has (no matter how insignificant they may seem). We always take her to new places and let her grow as a child. As her godmother, I want her to know that she can achieve great things and be happy. She is the future generation of our family and I want her to carry this sense of family with her wherever she goes.

Week 8 Seeker

Considering the topics over the past few weeks, I wanted to share an article that provides insight on a few topics. One of the topics this covers is women as leaders and organizers. This activist group from Orange County has stood up to act as a voice for the issues in Santa Ana. The issues that have been placed on women are still a problem but these women have found an identity in being activists and helping the Chicano community.

-Bridgett Gonzalez

The Chicano/a LBGT Community

This week’s readings offer us with an insight into the struggles of the Chicano/a LBGT community. In Cherrie Moraga’s Queer Aztlan, she discusses issues of Chincano nationalism, identity, and Chicana feminism. She says that some of the greatest flaws of Chicano nationalism is institutionalized heterosexuality, inbred machismo, lack of cohesive national political strategy. She shows how women are seen as adelitas and only good for the 3 F’s. Women do not receive the respect, equality, and credit for making the Chicano movement possible.The importance lies in giving up being man and the idea of superiority that goes with being a man. In Moraga’s lecture, she introduces us with more struggles of the LBGT community. She shows that a difference exists between the women and men. Men are experiences different struggles because of their lack to reproduce in a homosexual relationship. They also deal with issues of being seen as the feminine partner and being oppressed because of patriarchy and oppression of women and femininity. A multi issue approach is needed to address the LBGT community and it’s liberation from the system of patriarchy. Carla Trujillo also touches on similar issues that Moraga does. She stresses on the importance on finding your identity and self worth outside of defining yourself with a man. A woman should not feel worthless if she is single and/or has never experienced motherhood. The needs of women have been put aside because we are seen as commodity to serve our counterpart. The traditional machismo heterosexual families sees homosexuality as a threat to family and religion. Womanhood, manhood, and the family structure need to be redefined in order to liberate the all genders and the homosexual community. We cannot continue to think that homosexuals and people that identify as different genders do not deserve the same rights and freedoms that the traditional heterosexual families and communities get.

In which ways do you think individuals (homoesexuals, women, men) that do not live traditional lives can find a way to feel worthy despite the attitudes being held against them?


La Bamba – Chicano/a Topics

La Bamba – Chicano/a Topics

Luis Valdez’s film La Bamba(1987) is a perfect depiction of the issues Chicanos were facing during the 1950s. This movie follows the journey of a Chicano musician, Richie Valenzuela, who is struggling to find a way to make it in the competitive industry of music. There are obstacles that he encounters within his family, relationship with a girl, and the society around him. The topics that are presented in this movie cover the issues concerning kinship, gender roles, and racism/discrimination.

The first scene of the movie shows the agricultural working environments of Chicanos during this time. It shows how tightly knitted the family structure is. Each family lives in their tents and the sense of kinship and community are easy to see. This sense of kinship is not limited to the immediate family; it is seen throughout the entire field of workers. You can also see this when the family is planning to set up flyers for Richie’s upcoming show.

La Bamba depicts what a woman family might have looked at in the 1950s. The mother does not have a home to call hers, a child of hers is turning to drugs to cope with stress, and she is raising several children with no husband. She is playing both the role of mother and father. This movie shows how hard it is to find employment that can provide enough income to support a family.

The movie does a great job in showing the machismo attitude that Chicano men carry with them. The character of Bob is determined to get his family out of the fields and into a comfortable home. He later goes on to live with Rosie and treat her with no respect. She eventually gets tired of being uses physically and mentally. Bob is entitled to seeing his baby and woman at his convenience even if he is completely drunk and acting out violently. He treats Rosie as commodity rather than an equal to him. Rosie is torn because she has no wear to go or no way to support herself besides Bob’s family which is already struggling to make ends meet.

Rosie is also more accepting of this behavior and takes on a submissive role in the movie. She is quick to run away from home and move in with a man. She continues to accept the way he treats her (as she is expected to in a machismo society) but she eventually stands up for herself and sets boundaries for Bob.

Lastly, this film presents racism and discrimination that Chicanos/as were facing during the 1950s. The most visited issue is the one Donna’s father has with her dating a Chicano. He makes it a point to make sure his daughter stops going out with him. When the producer tries to decide a name for Richie he proposes one that does not sound too Mexican. He chooses a name that America wouldn’t have a problem hearing. You can see how Richie is bothered by this but does not question it. His identity is being denied in the larger society controlled by patriarchy and American ethnocentrism.


Family Issues in Chicano Culture

Week three readings and videos covered the culture of Aztlan and the Chicano family. The issues that were discussed included the topics of motherhood, family issues, community, reformation, and poverty.

I feel like “I am Joaquin” and El Plan de Aztlan go hand in hand. They are both fighting against American influence in their land and culture. Joaquin is the man made to lead the people of Aztlan.  El Plan de Aztlan was pushed in order to find justice and equality for the people of Aztlan. Their main goal was to get political, economical, cultural, and social power back to its people. They did not want Americans to take over something that was never theirs.

Chicana Activist mothers found it difficult to be both a good mother and a voice in the community. There was too much demand on them to fulfill all the roles assigned to them. Patriarchy and the machismo culture played a huge role in the struggles of Chicana women. Women had to fight for rights in order to get assistance because they were living in poverty. Women had to fight to be treated more than a second class citizen. Women had to fight to make the education system better for their children. Women had to fight against the system of patriarchy in order for their women families to have the same opportunities as the ideal Chicano family.  Another issue that a Chicana found hard to deal with was coming out to her mother. Being homosexual was not exactly welcomed in Mexican culture. She said that she wished her mother would have seen her more and notice just how much she was suffering. Mothers and families were in need of help especially since some mothers were left raising a family on their own.

Do you think the efforts to help women families are exhausted or do you believe there is still a breakthrough that needs to take place? If you believe women families are still in need, what can we do to better the lives of this community?

Bio – Bridgett


Hi everyone! My name is Bridgett and I am a sociology major. I just applied to graduate this coming May. I am also completing the Human Resource Management program here at CSUDH. I was born and raised in Norwalk, CA and I have 2 sisters. Lucky for me, I’ll be graduating with one of them in May! The gentleman in my picture is my boyfriend, which is always pushing me to be the best version of myself.  🙂