Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos in Arizona

By Eric V. Meeks | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
THE CHICANO MOVEMENT
AND CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP

At the end of World War II, Mario Suárez returned from serving in the U.S. Navy to find that the barrios of Tucson where he had been born and raised had barely changed. In a short story he wrote in 1947, Suárez compared the El Hoyo barrio to capirotada, a traditional Mexican dish made with a base of “old, new, stale, and hard bread.” One could add any number of ingredients, including “raisins, olives, onions, tomatoes, peanuts, cheese, and general leftovers,” and then season it with “salt, sugar, pepper, and sometimes chili or tomato sauce.” The dish would be topped off with tequila or sherry and baked so that the ingredients melted together. Each family made the meal in its own way, varying the recipe from day to day. “While in general appearance it does not differ much from one home to another, it tastes different everywhere. Nevertheless it is still capirotada. And so it is with El Hoyo's Chicanos.” Explaining the metaphor, he said, “While many seem to the undiscerning eye to be alike, it is only because collectively they are referred to as Chicanos. But like capirotada, fixed in a thousand ways and served on a thousand tables, which can only be evaluated by individual taste, the Chicanos must be so distinguished.”1

Suárez, the son of immigrants from the Mexican border states of Sonora and Chihuahua, is recognized as the first writer to use Chicano in a published work to refer to ethnic Mexicans. Mexican Americans themselves had generally used the term in a derogatory manner to refer to the poorest class of ethnic Mexican workers. Suaréz used it in a new way to challenge stereotypes and celebrate the diversity of the ethnic Mexican community. He implicitly criticized the romantic image of so-called Spanish Americans promoted both by Arizona boosters and by certain Mexican Ameri

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Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos in Arizona
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Desert Empire 15
  • Chapter 2 - From Noble Savage to Second-Class Citizen 44
  • Chapter 3 - Crossing Borders 71
  • Chapter 4 - Defining the White Citizen-Worker 98
  • Chapter 5 - The Indian New Deal and the Politics of the Tribe 127
  • Chapter 6 - Shadows in the Sun Belt 155
  • Chapter 7 - The Chicano Movement and Cultural Citizenship 180
  • Chapter 8 - Villages, Tribes, and Nations 211
  • Conclusion - Borders Old and New 241
  • Notes 249
  • Selected Bibliography 301
  • Index 313
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