An Open (Short) Letter to the Los Angeles Times Editor(s) on ‘Chicano’ and Identity by Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones (dated June 9, 2019)

“¡Viva Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones!,” watercolor on paper, Salomón Huerta, 2021.

The reporter Dorany Pineda and the “‘Chicano’ and the fight for identity” column (06/03/19) signal its concern for a Chicano identity debate and its historical context while promoting its argument by pseudo historicizing; that is, a biased and slanted presentation of selected aspects and quotations. Pineda claims “facts” should be forthright about these sources inspirational to her/him. On the lighter side, there is Pineda’s recourse to California State Los Angeles’ Chicano disappointments for decades; a sharp contrast to these would be to the widely respected Black studies and Black activism sites at the same campus.

Moreover, that I know the widely respected Professor Rodolfo “Rudy” Acuña who nurtured probably the most consistently strong Chicano Studies program and student base naturally at Cal State University Northridge never would refer to himself as “father” other than to his children. I offer the following cliché which is, of course, a truism: all matters should be critically reconsidered harmoniously.

Perhaps, as yet, neither Los Angeles Times editor(s) nor readers are familiar with the anti-Chicana/o diatribe of a fellow named Nicolás Cruzwho claims to be descended from multiple ethnicities, or the accusations, or rather fears of Steven Miller lately — as President Donald Trump’s chief advisor — on immigration and the border. In nearly every factual assertion, Cruz is incomplete or mistaken. Certainly, the Cruzslanders should be judged as a humorless joke.In any case, on the question of MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlán), people are free to and can organize their own groups if they are displeased with those they judge misguided.

In response to the aforementioned, the Los Angeles Times editor(s) should invite Professor Acuña to write on the subject of program organizing and identity, given that his academic activism is successful, fifty years ago and today; or invite Professor Alvaro Huerta of Urban & Regional Planning and Ethnic & Women’s Studies at Cal Poly Pomona, also considered a successful scholar-activist who writes and organizes on similar issues.

About: Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones (1940–2020) was a Research Professor of History at UCLA, who specialized in the fields of political, labor, intellectual and cultural history. As a prolific scholar, key figure in the Chicana/o movement and mentor to countless students and academics, he had a long trajectory in higher education, civic/political engagement, the arts, poetry and related activities. Born in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, he was raised in Boyle Heights (East Los Angeles). He earned his Ph.D. in History from UCLA.

Note: Minor edits by Dr. Álvaro Huerta.

Dr. Álvaro Huerta is a Religion and Public Life Organizing Fellow at Harvard University and an Assoc. Professor at Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona.