EAST LOS ANGELES -- PARTICIPATION AMONG MEXICAN-AMERICANS
The slogans of Mexican-American self-consciousness -- "La Causa," the cause of justice and equality; "La Raza Unida," the concept of a people unified by cultural pride -- are ideas rooted in collective participation. Participation, according to Herman Gallegos, former Executive Director of the Southwest Council for La Raza, "may be the number-one issue of the decade of the seventies." Participation leads to dignity, jobs, equity, and power, he states. "The Mexican-American needs to see how the political system works before devising a strategy to deal with it. He needs a wide variety of organizations -- cultural, economic, political -- because he needs to learn all the techniques of the power structure by carrying out his own thing. It should not be confused with racism. The search for ethnic confidence among Mexican-Americans is to become a partner in a political process that up to now has been racist toward them in the very real sense of excluding them from control over their own destiny."
The five million Brown Americans in the West and Southwest include one in four families below the poverty line. Because median family size among Mexican-Americans is the highest of all minority groups, a higher proportion than Blacks live in dilapidated housing units. In California, per capita income for