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Chicano Consciousness



To the Editors of The Crimson:

Pathos is not usually associated with the Mexican-American, i.e. Chicano in the era of Radical and Ethnic Chic. Tragedy, oppression and broken promises, yes. But this week, in the Letters to the Editor column of Tuesday, (Dec. 14) a disappointing sense of the pathetic seemed uniquely our own.

The letter was a complaint from an organization of Harvard-Radcliffe Chicanos about a publicity poster to a Harvard mixer. Somehow from a "Brother Chico" poster stemmed allegations of sophisticated institutional racism and a hemophilic knee-jerk bleeding taking us all the way to the concerns of the Third World!

Sophisticated institutional racism! The naivete of easy rhetoric and the machismo of clenched fists are alive and well at Hahvahd!

Get serious, Chico. The complaint of the H-R Chicanos fails to address itself to the problems facing the Chicano out in The Real World: underemployment and subemployment, language and educational inequities, poor housing and medical care, insufficient social services.

And obviously, not all Chicanos face these problems.

There is a game mentality among the H-R Chicanos, as there has been among The Angry Chicanos in the southwest. Their activism is difficult to take seriously, as is their commitment to social justice and the ethics of intellectual honesty. They want not so much to have that change as to pray publicly, a la the pharisees for it. They are the honest-to-goodness New Great American Song and Dance Men, er, Persons!

It is as if being oppressed, sad-assed and sorry have become a way of life--the idea that the Chicano will be the victim, even if he has to turn the screws himself. It is a very profitable way of life. Come on, Chico, fess up. How much scholarship and aid money are you getting. Talk about profiting off our brothers' misery!

An amusing paradox is the concern among Chicano students, a la the newly rich, with their news media and public image and their own stereotyping of themselves into roles of the oppressed. Yes, yes: Oppression! Repression! Fascism! Racism! I thought I'd left that behind in the Sixties and early Seventies.

And yet these, by their very presence on a college campus--and not just any college campus but Harvard, symbol of status and privilege--are the best and brightest of the Chicanos--or so one is to think.

Today's rhetoric is "representative Chicano population" and "Chicano studies" and "systematic neglect." Systematic neglect! I mean, why not just carry it all the way: demands for "representative Chicano population" among Nobel winners, among the Boston Brahmins, in Little Italy!

Ah, now, that's not to say there aren't problems, bad ones. I've reported on the Chicano movement in the southwest on and off the last seven years, and the gains are slow and frustrating. Institutions, by their very nature, move slowly at best.

But individuals, particulary those with desperate concerns, should be able to move quickly, especially within themselves, which is where most of the "image" problem lies. What the "Brother Chico" incident and the reaction by the H-R Chicanos suggests strongly is that some of us may be at Hahvahd and in physical touch with Status & Privilege, but that within we remain insecure and with an inferiority complex causing some to lash out in the way of a Brown Bilbo.

As I said, it's a disappointing sense of the pathetic. Tony Castro, Nieman Fellow

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