Mi Abuelito, Frank Cortez: The Glue that Held La Familia Together!


Dia de los Muertos also known as the Day of the Dead is a traditional “festive and colorful celebration of the Mexican and Latin American holiday” (Diaz, 77), which typically occurs from October 31st through November 2nd. “Almost unheard of in the United States 35 years ago, Day of the Dead, or ‘‘El Dia de los Muertos,’’ has become an annual autumn ritual in…families, schools, community centers, and museums around the country” (Marchi, 932). As a matter of fact, “El Dia de los Muertos, “Initiated in California in 1972 by Chicano artists who were inspired by Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos rituals, US expressions of the celebration, which center around public altar exhibits, emerged as part of the multi-faceted Chicano Movement” (Marchi, 932). With regard to the cultural significance of Dia de los Muertos in the Latino/a-Chicano/a communities, Marchi further notes “Many universities observe the celebration as part of Latino Studies, Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, Religion, and Spanish classes. Hundreds of art galleries across the United States, including prestigious museums such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institute, hold Day of the Dead exhibits, while growing numbers of municipal governments and civic organizations sponsor Day of the Dead festivals…” (Marchi, 932). One of the main rituals that people practice when celebrating Dia de los Muertos is the construction of altars. Altars play a significant role in remembering and honoring departed souls (family members, friends, and other significant people). Some of the offerings people place on Dia de los Muertos altars include but not limited to are sugar skulled shaped candies (calavaras), pictures, candles, statutes of the La Virgen de Guadalupe, among other saints, homemade food, Pan de Muertos, alcoholic beverages, water, and flowers, among other items, which have symbolic meaning. In celebrating Dia de los Muertos for the first time, I have chosen to construct an altar to honor my grandpa, Frank Cortez. In this essay, first I detail my grandfather’s biographical information and family structure. Second, I discuss the reasons why I have chosen to honor my grandpa for this altar project. Last, I discuss the significance of each item that I placed on his altar.

To start, I want to detail biographical information about my grandpa, Frank Cortez. My grandpa was born on April 2nd, 1931 in Los Angeles, California to his parents Guadalupe and Cristina Cortez. Both of his parents were born in Mexico, however migrated to the United States in 1919 and settled in Venice, California. I do not know too much about my grandpa’s childhood, however, my mom says that he identified with both his Chicano and indigenous heritage. My grandpa and grandma married on March 21st, 1955. Together they had ten children, seven boys and three girls. In terms of his occupation, he was a truck driver for Long Shore Pumping Company for many years, a very hardworking man-the sole provider of the home. On several occasions my mother has remarked how hard he worked to maintain a “roof over the family’s head and food on the table.” Similar to Carlos and Juan in the article on “Masculinity Reconfigured: Shaking up Gender in Chicano/Latino Literature” my grandfather “provided the basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter for my grandmother and children” (Martinez, 108). The structure of my grandparent’s family is similar to the patriarchal structure of the Chicano family. My grandfather, the patriarch, was the breadwinner and provider “raised in traditional ways of life, …in which it is habitual for males to perform the role of leaders in their families” (Martinez, 106). My grandmother, on the other hand, who is a traditional Mexicana born in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico, was “…relegated to the tasks of homecare and child rearing” (Trujillo, 190). In short, my grandmother’s sole purpose in the home was to cook, clean, and take care of “la familia.” She was “the true backbone of the familia” (Trujillo, 189). Given that my grandparents adopted traditional Chicano/a male and female gender roles in their household, my mom, tios, and tias perpetuated the same gendered roles. The boys took on the male gender roles, which included taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, and picking the weeds and maintaining my grandmother’s beautiful garden; while the females helped my grandma make breakfast and dinner, do laundry, iron clothes, and clean the house (mop, sweep, clean dishes, etc.). To be honest, my grandpa did not want my grandmother to work; he wanted her to take care of their children and home, while he provided the means necessary to survive.

Although my grandparent’s family structure is similar to the traditional Chicano family in terms of gender roles, my grandfather, according to my mom, did not take on the “…the stereotypical machista that drank heavily, gambled, got into fights, and had affairs with other women…” (Martinez, 108). In other words, my grandfather was not hyper-masculine or a machismo. Unlike Sofia’s husband Domingo in the book So Far From God, my grandfather never abandoned his family or gambled the deed away to their home (Castillo, 1993). In fact, my grandpa is the one who bought my grandmother a piece of land; the home where she currently resides, something many Chicanos struggled to do in the late 1950’s. To tell the truth, my grandfather was always there for his family, he made the best of their working class lifestyle. More importantly, my grandpa treated my grandmother and the rest of the family with respect and dignity. In all honesty, my mom says that my grandpa catered to my grandma like a queen. As a matter of fact, he handed his weekly earnings to my grandma every Friday, something “machistas” rarely do in the Chicano family structure. Above all, on several occasions my mom has echoed how respectful, loving, caring, humble, and giving my grandfather was-my grandmother, his children, and grandchildren, were his world. At any rate, my grandfather was an excellent husband, father, grandfather, and provider, whose life ended on April 22nd, 1982 due to acute heart failure and diabetes. He was only 51 years old when he died. In sum, “he was the glue that held “la familia” together!”

Because my grandfather was the glue that held “la familia” together, I chose to make an altar to remember and honor his life. I chose my grandpa because he has played a significant role in shaping my mom’s perceptions about life. Although my grandfather instilled important values in all of his children, my mother, especially, takes on many of his impactful characteristics. All my life, I have heard my mom admire my grandpa’s work ethic and loyalty to his familia. Despite the fact that my memory is blurred when it comes to my grandpa’s legacy, I see many of his characteristics in my mother. Some of the characteristics my mother learned from my grandpa include, having a good work ethic, honesty, loyalty, respect, dedication, dignity, perseverance, compassion, humility, and to be loving. Without these characteristics, I do not believe my mom would have survived many of the challenges she has encountered in her lifetime (domestic abuse, single mother of three, and sole caretaker of my grandmother and disabled uncle). Similar to my grandfather, my mom sacrificed everything for our happiness-we never went without. “…Her strength and self sacrifice continues to keep our family going” (Trujillo, 189). My mother is one of the hardest working women I know who has dedicated her whole life to making sure “la familia” is taken care of physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. For this reason, I am grateful for my grandpa’s existence as an excellent father and male role model in our family. He has raised one of the strongest and independent women I know, my mother. In fact, my mother has passed down many of my grandpa’s characteristics to my daughter and me. If it weren’t for my mother, I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today-a loyal and dedicated hardworking person. As a result, I have chosen to make an altar in my home to welcome my grandpa’s spirit. In welcoming my grandpa’s spirit, I want him to know how grateful I am for teaching my mother the core values that make her the strong person she is today.

Making altars is a part of the Dia de los Muertos tradition widely celebrated in many Latino/a-Chicano/a families. However, my family does not participate in this tradition. Instead, my family visits my grandpa’s gravesite at the cemetery. Typically, the visits take place on holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter) and his birthday. Usually, my family place flowers on his grave after wiping it down with a rag and Windex. Once this is done and everyone is settled, my family sits around his gravesite and tells stories acknowledging some of my grandpa’s precious moments. Some family members laugh, while others weep. In addition to reminiscing on past times, my family also brings a radio cd player to play my grandpa’s favorite music. However, over time, my family stopped making this tradition a priority. Little by little, family members stopped participating in the family gatherings. Despite this reality, my mom, my siblings and me still make it a part of our life- we still visit my grandpa’s gravesite annually.

Although my family and I have never recognized Dia de los Muertos as one of our family celebrations or traditions, it is obvious that our customs are very similar to this idea of “honoring and remembering the deceased.” The only difference is that we never built an altar in our homes to honor my grandfather. Instead, we visit his gravesite. However, now familiar with Dia de los Muertos and why people in the Latino/a-Chicano/a communities construct altars, I have chosen to make my own Dia de los Muertos altar to honor my grandpa. To celebrate and honor my grandpa’s life, I have added different items on his altar, which represent some aspect of his legacy. Some of the objects that I placed on his altar include, one of his favorite record albums, mariachi toy, candy bar (Snickers), tequila shot glass, a toy truck, low rider car, bean and cheese burrito con chile, pictures, Virgen de Guadalupe statues, rosaries, candles, skulls, bones, and skeletons. The record album on the altar symbolizes one of his favorite records by Little Joe’s Latinaires. He dedicated a song called Por Un Amor to my grandmother before he passed away. In addition to loving the song Por Un Amor, my grandpa also loved Volver, Volver by Vicente Fernandez, which is the music playing in the video presentation of my altar on YouTube. Aside from music, I also placed a mini mariachi figure on the altar. Since my mom has told me stories about how my grandpa paid mariachis to serenade my grandmother with love songs when they went out for dates on Friday nights, I thought he would appreciate this. I also placed a snickers candy bar on the altar, as they were his favorite type of candy bar. Furthermore, I placed a tequila shot glass on the altar to represent the fact that he loved to have drinks on Fridays after work. Every Friday, my grandfather and grandmother went out for drinks and to dance the night away. My mom says that my grandpa and grandma loved dancing, especially salsa and cumbias. In addition to the tequila shot glass, I also placed a toy truck on the altar to represent his occupation and work ethic. Because he was such a hardworking man, I felt compelled to honor his work ethic. Moreover, I included a low rider car, as he loved classic cars. My mom says that he went to low rider car shows a couple times a year. In fact, he owned a low rider car. Because he loved bean and cheese burritos with chile, it was only fitting to add this dish to his altar. My grandmother says that, “He loved his burritos.” She used to make homemade tortillas, chile, and beans every morning for his breakfast and lunch. Besides food, I added some of my grandpa’s photos. The black and white photo of my grandpa and grandma featured on the center of the altar is one of my grandpa’s favorite photos. On this night, they were out having drinks and ready to dance the night away. I also placed La Virgen de Guadalupe statutes and rosaries on the altar to symbolize the Catholic faith my grandpa followed. Last, as a form of décor, I placed candles, skulls, skeletons, and bones on the altar. By creating an altar with all of these offerings for my grandpa, I welcome his spirit with open arms. I want him know to that he is not forgotten, that his influential spirit lives on in many forms (stories, individual memories, scent of certain foods, specific activities and holidays, and certain songs).

Works Cited

Castillo, A. (1993). So Far From God. New York: W.W. Norton &Company, Inc.

Diaz, Shelley. “Dia De Los Muertos.” School Library Journal 61.8 (2015): 77. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Nov.2016.

Marchi, Regina M. “RACE and the NEWS: Coverage of Martin Luther King Day and Dia De Los Muertos in Two California Dailies.” Journalism Studies, 9.6 (2008): 925-944.

Martinez, Pablo. E. “Masculinity Reconfigured: Shaking up Gender in Chicano/Latino Literature.” Divergencias. Revista de estudios linguisticos y literarios. 10.1 (2012): 106-15. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Trujillo, Carla. “Chicana Lesbians Fear and Loathing In The Chicano Community”, in Chicana Lesbians, Carla Trujillo ed. (Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 1991), 187.

I am not Black or Mexican- I AM BLAXICAN!


This week we continue to discuss racial/ethnic identities of multiracial people. I chose an article called “Between Black and Brown: Blaxican (Black and Mexican) Multi-racial identity in California,” written by Rebecca Romo, as it resonates perfectly with this weeks topic. Through “in depth interviews with 12 Blaxicans in California, the author shows how individuals have to negotiate distinct cultural systems to accomplish multiracial identities” (Romo, 2011). Romo (2011) argues that Blaxicans have to “choose, accomplish, and assert a Blaxican identity, which challenges the dominant monoracial discourse in the United States, in particular among African Americans and Chicano/a communities” (403). Reason being, is that race has been constructed to embrace the black/white binary, which creates problems for people of multiracial identities. For example, my daughter, who is Black and Mexican, a multiracial child, is often referred to as a black young lady. Her physical traits take on more of the African American identity so she “marked.” This is problematic because it denies multiracial people’s heritage, or makes them choose between one or the other. Similar to the 12 Blaxicans interviewed in the article, my daughter also actively “asserts” and identifies as a multiracial Blaxican. Because she experiences the same issues that the people in the study face, she has to make it a point to say she is Blaxican. She doesn’t want to choose-her daddy is Black and I am Chicana, so she wants to embrace all aspects of her identity. It has been hard for because people have remarked, “Your Mexican? But, you do not even speak Spanish.” Or, people have remarked, “You have pretty hair for a black girl.” My baby is never Mexican enough or Black enough, so she says she is Blaxican. She identifies with both-her dads side, and my side, even though she is mainly around my mom’s family, who is Mexicano/as/Chicano/as. She may throw in her my dad’s European Greek side, once in a while. But, she mostly says she is Blaxican.

Romo, Rebecca. “Between Black and Brown: Blaxican (Black-Mexican) Multiracial Identity in California.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 42, no. 3, 2011, pp. 402–426. www.jstor.org/stable/41151349.

Embracing all aspects of your identity ……..Love Thy Self!


When I think of race relative to the United States, I think of White/Black binary constructs and umbrella terms like “Latino/as” which ignore certain members of our society. White/Black binary constructs and umbrella terms, unfortunately, ignore the fact people come from different racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. One in particular is Blaxicans, who often have to choose whether they are Black or Mexican when filling out the dreadful forms that collect demographic information. In the “Being Blaxicans in L.A.” clip we see the problems that persist from the “either or” dichotomy. The “either your this or that” dichotomy forces people to deny aspects of their identity. However, in the clip, we see how Walter Thompson-Hernández, has overcome the White/Black binary, embracing the fact that he is both Black and Mexican. He challenges binary constructs and embraces all aspects of his identity. He is not Black or Mexican; he is both Black and Mexican-a Blaxican. In doing so, he creates an Instagram page, a space, where people of color who are mixed share their powerful stories about identity in America and what that looks like for people of color who do not fit the White/Black binary. Similar to Thompson-Hernandez, and all the other people of color in the articles discussing identity in America, my daughter struggled with being a mixed child. Because she carries more of the biological features of a Black person, her identity has been ascribed to her. She is automatically marked as being “Black.” She has remarked on several occasions that people just assume that she is “Black.” Or, she gets the dreadful question of “What are you mixed with?” My daughter is Black and Mexican, who, similar to Thompson-Hernandez, is being raised in a single parent Chicano/a household. Similar to Thompson-Hernandez, my daughter does not deny her Black roots. She is proud to be a “Blaxican.” As a parent who is conscious of these binary constructs and how they have oppressed certain people’s identities in America, I make sure that she embraces all aspects of her identity when it comes to race, even gender and class.

My question would be: How do you identify and why? Do you embrace all aspects of your identity? If not, Why?

Sexuality: Masculinity: Homophobia: Multiculturalism

This week we started to read another short fiction novel, The Rain God by Arturo Islas, which similar to So Far From God, is centered on relationships in “La Familia.” Some of the themes include masculinity and sexuality, something Rodriguez focused on in his work. In some ways, as Dr. Perez noted, the novel could be perceived as a medium used to, critique masculinity, the problem that many LBGTQ activist had with Chicano nationalism. Upon reading Padilla’s article, I chose an article called “Multicultriasm Inclusion of Lesbian and Gay literature in Elementary classrooms, which I believe Islas, would have appreciated if he was still alive. The purpose of the article is to raise awareness about establishing new methods to integrate LBGTQ literature in elementary classrooms. In doing so, authors Logan, et. el believe that schools will provide spaces for the queer community offering a multicultural and diverse learning experience which embraces all people no matter what gender and sexuality they are. In short, the authors similar to Islas want to provide spaces for Queer literature in schools. In the Padilla article, we see how she pays homage to Arturo Islas by revealing the painful discrimination he faced due to the themes he wrote about. Padilla, in her article, talks about how long it took for Islas work to get published. Since some of his work was centered on Queerness, sadly people wanted no part in publishing his literary work. This demonstrates how pervasive homophobia is in our society. It shows how Islas work, because it disrupted the hegemonic ideals associated with gender and sexuality, was not worthy enough of being recognized. With this being said, I like the article that I chose, as it talks about leveling the playing field when it comes to Queer literature-removing the stigma and homophobia, taking on multicultural policies in schools that contribute to leveling the playing field.

Logan, S. R., Watson, D. C., Hood, Y., & Lasswell, T. A. (2016). Multicultural Inclusion of Lesbian and Gay Literature Themes in Elementary Classrooms. Equity & Excellence in Education, 49(3), 380-393.doi:10.1080/10665684.2016.1194239

Sofia shifts the Passive and Weak Gender Narrative of women in Chicano/a family structures to a woman who is a Strong matriarch and community leader

In the book So Far From God (1993), written by author Ana Castillo, we capture a story about a Chicano/a family that takes place in Tome, New Mexico. “Sofia, …a wife and mother of four girls, single handedly ran the Carne Buena Carneceria she inherited from her parents, managed all the finances, and ran the house on her own to boot” (28). Although Domingo, her children’s father, left her due to gambling issues, Sofia manages to weather the storm by taking on the role of a father and mother. As the matriarch of la familia, she constantly puts the needs of her daughter’s before her own. Although Sofia teaches her daughters to be strong independent Chicanas, each of them, except for La Loca, pursue male dominating relationships that fail due to partners who cheat and/or have commitment issues.
As a result of Esperanza, Caridad, and Fe’s failed relationships, each of them struggle to make sense of life without a male at the center of their world. In an attempt to make sense of their failed relationships, each of the girls embarks on different paths in life to fill the void of not having a man in their life. In the midst of Sofia trying to deal with her daughter’s failed relationships, Domingo, her long lost husband, pops back into their life. While he is good for nothing, Sofia allows him to come back home, as “her heart did not allow her to just put him out on the streets” (218).
In the end, Sofia’s “Domingo” tries to stiff her out of her property inheritance, but she fights to keep it, even at the expense of having to rent it back from one of the towns powerful attorneys.  Also, her four daughters all die in tragic deaths. Esperanza, the contemporary educated Chicana, who is a newscaster/journalist, dies while away at war covering a story. Caridad jumps off a cliff with her lover Esmeralda to escape the heterosexism due to her sexuality. Fe develops cancer from toxic waste chemicals that she was exposed to while working in Corporate America, and eventually dies. And, La Loca, the youngest daughter, who died when she was three and resurrected from death, eventually dies of Aids. Despite these painful circumstances, Sofia never loses sight of her commitment as Leader/Mayor of Tome. Sofia, the non-traditional Chicana, a strong woman, uses her painful experiences as motivation to address the social, economic, and political inequalities, which persist in Tome, New Mexico. She continues to be extremely committed to improving the socioeconomic conditions of the people in her community. Eventually she becomes the Founder and President of M.O.M.A.S.-(Mother’s of Martyrs and Saints). Through this safe space, she builds a bridge to connect mothers in the community who form a sense of belonging to remember their children who have died at the hands of underlying factors associated with our heteropatriarchal/capitalistic society.

What are some of the themes that Castillo exposes the reader to in her book?

How does Castillo present the male characters in the book?

Does Castillo reveal intersecting exploitive relationships in her book???? What are some of the micro/macro level of exploitive relationships she reveals? (class, gender, race, sexuality etc.)

At the core, would you say that Castillo wants to expose the reader to the heavy persistence of patriarchy and capitalism in our society and how people turn to their families and communities as a means of survival?

Moving Away from Chicano Family Dynamics: Single Parent Family Structure and the Making of a Political Feminista


My family photo collage depicts photos of my grandma (first upper left picture), mom (second picture under my grandmother- she is to the far right with gray hair), dad (he is in the photo directly to the right of my grandmother with my sister on the left, my dad in the middle, and me to the right-he is hugging us), older brother (he is in the bottom left hand picture under my grandma’s picture in the center wearing white standing in between myself and mother) little sister (in picture to the left of my dad and in the second picture under my grandmother-she is first in pic from left to right wearing black with blonde hair), daughter (last picture at the bottom far right leaning her head on me), little brother (he is the first face in the photo above my daughter and me), step-mom and step dad (they are both in the same photo as my little brother- step mom in the center wearing black in between me and my her husband, the one to with the beard and glasses).

From birth to the age of nine, I grew up with two parents in the home. My family consisted of a heteropatriarchal structure with my father at the center. My father is Greek, while my mother is Mexican, so the Spanish language was not spoken in the home. With that being said, we didn’t identify as a Chicano family, however, many of the patriarchal traditions (heterosexuality, masculinity, machismo, domesticity-rigid sociocultural traditions and expectations) persisted in our day-to-day life. Although “Historically, in dual headed households, Chicanas (as well as other women) were relegated to the tasks of homecare and child rearing, while the men took the task of earning the families income” (Trujillo, 190), my family structure differed. My mom had added responsibilities, “the true backbone of the familia” (Trujillo, 189). Both parents were breadwinners; we were a middle class family. My dad was a plumber, and my mother held a white-collar position as supervision at a cake-designing factory in Marina Del Rey, California. We even had a dog, Molly-some thought we were living the American Dream-money, home with a white picket fence, nuclear family with two parents and one boy and two girls, with a male at the center, my dad. In terms of gender roles and expectations, my mother held all the female traditional roles associated with domesticity such as cooking, cleaning, and making sure that my siblings and I, were taken care of. My dad was the patriarch and disciplinarian, who used force when necessary- yes, he used the “belt” on us a few times when we were kids.

A typical day of my life during that time went like this; we wake up, my mom made breakfast, and we all sat at the breakfast table and ate. Of course, my dad the patriarch was the first person, who my mom served at the breakfast table. And, we had to wait until everyone was sitting before we could start eating our meal. We were expected to eat everything on our plate. After breakfast my dad would grab his home-cooked lunch that my mom made the night before, hop in his work truck and hit the road. After asking if we could be excused from the breakfast table, my sis and I would help my mom clear the dining room table and clean the kitchen. While we cleaned up, my older brother would put our backpacks in the car and warm up my mom’s car. After a long day at school, my mom picked my brother, sister, and me up from my grandma’s house-she watched us afterschool. My grandmother (she is in the center of my collage cutting onions), who came to the United States in the late 1940’s, is very traditional-she has adopted the gender norms that reinforce patriarchy in Chicano families. Her life revolved around my grandpa, 10 kids (7 boys and 3 girls), and maintenance of the home. Once she met my grandpa, who passed away when I was two, she took on the stereotypical roles of Mexicanas-the “good wife and mother,” relegated to the domestic sphere, “the backbone of the familia” (Trujillo, 189). Once we got home, my mom started cooking dinner, while my siblings and I did our homework. My sis and I always set the table, so that when my dad came home all my mom had to do was serve our plates. Of course, my dad would not sit at the dinner table until after my brother, myself, or sister would take off his work boots. He literally sat in a recliner chair, while one of us took off his work boots and put them on the front porch. Once my dad sat at the dinner table, my mom would serve him first and we would all eat together. We could not get up from the dinner table without asking to be excused. Life, in our home, at least from what everyone thought, was great. However, my dad’s drinking and drug abuse got so bad that he would come home after work drunk off his ass, excuse my French, and beat my mother. His “machismo, and hyper masculinity, rooted in patriarchy,” (Rodriguez) was out of control. The domestic violence, which consisted of emotional, physical, and verbal abuse, began to get worst. But, because we are “taught to undervalue our needs and voices…and that our opinions, viewpoints, and expertise are considered secondary to those of males” (Trujillo, 192), my mom stayed for the sake of keeping the family together-this perfect little family, in the eyes of others. However, after years of abuse, and finally challenging the patriarchy, she packed up with 3 kids, and never looked back.

By this time I was 9; I had witnessed some pretty heavy stuff for a young child. But, I quickly adjusted to my new family structure, a single parent home. There wasn’t that much adjusting to do except for the fact that my dad’s income was no longer financing our middle class life. We downsized, in terms of our lifestyle, and my mom took on most of the financial responsibilities. But, my sister, brother, and I didn’t mind downsizing. As long as my mom wasn’t getting beat every other weekend, we were all happy. As a single mother my mom sacrificed everything for our happiness-we never went without- “her strength and self sacrifice kept the family going” (Trujillo, 189). She made sure that we had the newest toys, clothes, and most of all, love and support. She attended our baseball and softball games, and never missed our open houses, or parent conferences. However, as my mom took on more and more responsibilities at work, she put my older brother at the center of our household, the patriarch. He was in charge of my sister and I until my mother got home from work. By this time, my sister and I had to make sure our homework was done, along with dinner. My brother’s only responsibility was to take out the trash. We cleaned and did the laundry, his included. Of course, due to his gender, my mom never made him do any housework-neither would my grandmother. Our family adopted the Chicano family structure with the male at the center, a very patriarchal system relegating women to domesticity, giving males the power and control, dominating the family landscape-something that Rodriguez addresses in his book.

As time went on, my mom and dad remarried, so I experienced the step-dad and step-mom family dynamics too. The family structure of the home was still patriarchal, with males at the center-catered to, while the women, my mom and step-mom, held fulltime jobs, in addition to maintaining the responsibilities of the home and children. Not much changed in terms of family dynamics, we couldn’t “Shoot the Patriarchy,” something Rodriguez discusses in his book. Today, my mom and dad are single, and have not remarried. I still have a wonderful bond with my step-mom, my dad’s ex wife, and her new husband. Although most part of my life, I have been conditioned to take on gendered sociocultural traditions that are oppressive, I have been exposed to a more egalitarian family structure. My step-mom and her new husband have stepped away from the patriarchal nature of the Chicano family structure. In their household, they both maintain full time employment; however, when it comes to the domestic sphere, they maintain an egalitarian household. Both of them take turns cooking and cleaning, so they have moved way from the traditional gender roles and expectations. Because he cooks or does laundry, it does not take away from his manhood or masculinity. They do not let the rigid gender roles define the structure of their marriage, family, and home. My little brother has to be one of the best house cleaners in Carson, California. My step mom definitely taught him that he is responsible to help around the house, too (he vacuums, does dishes, laundry, etc.). What they have done is “Shot the patriarchy.” They have moved away from patriarchy, which informs our societal and familial structures, something Rodriguez points out in our book.

In terms of my family structure, it is a heterosexual single parent household-just my daughter and I. Her father is there financially, however, he is not consistent physically or emotionally. Considering this, I feel like I have to be extra influential when it comes to raising my daughter’s feminist conscious. I refuse for her to be a “passive victim of the cultural onslaught of social control…that socializes women to be the good wife or that she is incomplete if she doesn’t become a mother” (Trujillo, 189). Thankfully, I am an educated Chicana feminist and work daily to decolonize my mind. As a result, I am able to give my daughter the tools to help her challenge the patriarchal structure of our society, which perpetuates interlocking systems of oppression (sexism, classism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia). I am raising my daughter in a way that she will be strong and independent-not a woman who will conform to, and reinforce societal and familial sociocultural traditions and expectations that oppress women. She has already challenged sexist hegemonic ideals, rooted in patriarchy. For example, she and her friends have organized around the issues of the female body directly associated with the dress code at school. Although the dress code still persists, and they can’t wear certain types of blouses, she proved to me that she has already developed a feminist conscious exercising her right to freedom of expression when it comes to the female body and clothing. Already, she demonstrates that she is an agent of the self, and challenges the status quo- my little political feminista.

Needless to say, across time and space, family dynamics change-they are not static, or universal, as Rodriguez points out in his book. Also, gender is not static. Women and men should not be relegated to binary constructs that perpetuate the male/female dichotomy, with rigid gendered characteristics and roles they must ascribe to (male=patriarch and masculine/women=domestic care take who is feminine). We do not have to live by socially ascribed societal and familial traditions and beliefs. We must create a society, which allows people to construct their own reality when it comes to the family unit. We must do away with heteropatriarchy if we want to live by democratic principles, which consist of equality for all.

Challenging the Social construction of Gender and Sexuality in Chicano families!!!


This week’s material challenges the social construction of gender and sexuality in Chicano families. Recently I read an article in another class, which connected to this week’s discourse on sexuality and Chicano families. In her article “Speaking from the Margin: Uninvited Discourse on Sexuality and Power,” Emma Perez raises some very important points when it comes to interlocking systems of oppression (racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia) that women of color experience in the greater Anglo society and the Chicano community. Perez makes it clear that we cannot have “a class and race based revolution…as it cheats the revolution” (57). In other words, we can’t leave sexuality out of the discourse when thinking about a revolution that seeks to overthrow patriarchy/heteropatriarchy. At the core of her argument, she critiques “Freud, Lucan, and Foucault’s, the male theoreticians, to name a few, concluding that they are “theoretical imbecibles” when it comes to women” (59). Because each theorist places women on the margins, she calls out their gendered theories, which reinforce notions of male superiority and dominance and power, rooted in the heteropatriarchal structure of our society. She suggests that we “reject this addictive pattern of patriarchy… which requires us to shed to the internalized sexist, homophobic, elitist, and racist behaviors” (66). Similar to Perez, Trujillo also talks about sexuality and challenging the heteropatriarchal nature of our society in her article “Chicana Lesbians: Fear and Loathing in the Chicano community.” She not only talks about the gender roles that are imposed on Chicana women, but she also talks about how the culture teaches women to not embrace their sexuality. As she notes, “As Chicanas, we are commonly led to believe that talking about our participation and satisfaction of sex is taboo” (186). At the core of Trujillo’s argument, like Perez, they challenge the patriarchal structure of our society that perpetuates interlocking systems of oppression. Some of us get used to thinking about issues only associated with class and race, however, we can’t forget about the marginalization of the LBGTQ community. We must be conscious of how heteropatriarchy only acknowledges the male/female dichotomy-we must be conscious of the social construction of gender-we must reject the reality of the status quo that has been imposed on us, and reconstruct the reality that strives for social, economic, and political equality-one that accepts all people not matter their race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.

Perez, Emma. “Speaking from the Margin: Uninvited Discourse on Sexuality and Power.” In Building with Our Hands: New Directions in Chicana Studies. Eds. Pesquera, Beatriz M., Torre, Adela de La. Berkeley: U of California, 1993. 57-71. EBSCO Host. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

Deconstructing Chicano/Latino Rap

In this weeks reading, Ch 3, author Richard Rodriguez focuses on Chicano/Latino Rap culture “…seeking to address the politics of masculinity and working class identity in relation to the family and Chicano nationalism as mobilizing forces within a contemporary popular culture frame” (96). Rodriguez discusses how Chicano rap and hip hop culture  perpetuate this idea of heteropatriarchy (sexism and homophobia) in the community. He critiques various Chicano rappers, notably Kid Frost’s music, showing how the lyrics are ethnically and male centered, marginalizing other communities of color, gay community, and women. One example that Rodriguez uses to prove his claim that Chicano/Latino Rap is rooted in heteropatriarchy is by comparing Kid Frost’s lyrical content with Corky Gonzales’ poem, “I Am Joaquin,” noting the similarities of how both works are directly associated with Chicano Nationalism and how both steadily use “La Raza” as a mechanism to bring male unity, which gives us a sense that this unity is among males, straight males that is, not gays or lesbians, or women-but, hyper masculine men. In short, he shows how Chicano rap culture can be male centered/hyper masculine placing straight males at the center, dangeroulsy not acknowledging women, gay community, or other people of color, placing them in a inferior position.

While he challenges Chicano rap culture and how it perpetuates heteropatriarchy (homophobia and sexism), Rodriguez also acknowledges the importance of rap and hip hop artists who create spaces for discourse addressing the sociopolitical injustices happening in the community. However, as Rodriguez notes, Chicano rap culture doesn’t have to overcompensate when it comes to manhood; they do not need to be hard, or tough gangstas to be a man. Or, when it comes to La Raza, it shouldn’t mean that only the “homies or homeboys or bros” can claim it. La Raza is about men and women uniting together, not just “males, preferably with gansta leanings” (121).

Questions: What are some other examples that Rodriguez uses to address heteropatriarchy in Chicano Rap?

Do you agree that Chicano rap which overcompensates the Chicano identity loses perspective audiences?

Do you agree with Rodriguez position on Chicano Rap???

Do you think Rappers/Hip hop Artists are even conscious of their homophobia and sexism in their music? Or is it simply about the dollars, and they could give a rats a$$ about how it influences our youth or perpetuates these systems of oppression?