Thursday, May 01, 2014

Chicanonautica: California, Arizona, and the Chicano/Latino Future

Time warping here: As you read this, the trip to California for UC Riverside’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program’s A Day of Latino Science Fiction will be over, and I’ll be back home in Arizona. As I write this, all that’s in the future, so I can have something to post in advance, while I’m still over there. Ah, the miracles of modern technology!

I’ll do my usual travel thing of carrying around a little notebook/sketchbook and jotting and sketching what I discover, so the next Chicanonautica will be all about that.

Meanwhile, I’m assembling notes on what I should say about Latino Science Fiction, and thinking about the impending trip, and what it means to visit California in the springtime of 2014 A.D. 

This is because it finally happened, California now has a Latino Majority. Or is it Hispanic? Brown?

The labels are a big controversy that has to be explained over and over: I use the term Chicano to describe myself because it lets the world know where in geography and history I come from. Chicano is one of the many subsets of Hispanic, which is a subset of Latino. Latino is from the term Latin America, that was coined by the French when they envisioned their empire flourishing in this hemisphere with a Francophone elite. When we become Latino we must include the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians and the French-speaking Haitians and Québécois.

The appealing thing about Latino is that its a hemispheric majority.

(The other hemisphere being divided into Asian and African sectors.)

Yeah, I know there are some who prefer the Mexica label, wanting to reject the influence of the Spanish language and empire on our heritage, uniting all the peoples of the Americas as natives, but I’ve been to Mexico. I’ve heard descendants of the Zapotecs and the Maya say that they don’t like being lumped in with the Mexica/Aztecs. As one said, “The Aztecs were the Nazis of Mexico.”

And ask some Navajos or Hopis who invented the taco.

I’d rather take the high ground. As in La Raza Cosmica.

The media seems to be playing down the second coming of California Latina. We are reminded that Latinos have never been big players in politics, either as voters or politicians. While visiting my family in California during past elections, I was amazed that how most of the people I see on the streets are brown, while the candidates tend to predominately white. The Republicans are scared of us, and the Democrats tend to act like they won us in a crap game. And I admit, I see politicians as aliens, and deal with them using lessons I learned from science fiction.

But the tide, and the culture -- or should I say La Cultura -- is turning, changing.

I expect to see the future on this California trip. The future of the Latino hemisphere, and of Arizona.

Despite the general impression, and the outback Nazi towns, Arizona is not a redneck utopia with Sheriff Joe rounding up all the “Mexicans” and putting them into camps. In the west side of the Metro Phoenix Area where I live, Latinos, African Americans, and immigrants from Africa are starting to outnumber the Anglos. It’s starting to look and feel like Latin America around here.

This is what fuels the political firestorms over Arizona, but the trend shows no sign of petering out.

So, like a good Chicanonaut, I’m getting ready for this expedition, while on the streets around me more people are talking to themselves, and people come into the library asking for advice on how to start their own countries, apply for work with the CIA, or are just typing long, stream-of-consciousness reports on the Department of Homeland security’s website. And in my backyard, a dead lizard is sprawled just outside my back door, undergoing the slow process of natural mummification. 

Ernest Hogan is the author of Brainpan Fallout and somehow the Father of Chicano Science Fiction. 


G.M. said...

Interesting blog. Wikipedia says that Chicano or Chicana is the same as Mexican Americans. My novel is about a woman from the Maya people in Chiapas. Do the Maya people in Mexico consider themselves only as Maya, or also as Mexicans? Thanks.


The word Chicano has an interesting history. I was once an insult, later was adopted by Mexican Americans, and in recent years has become about attitude. Maya living in Chiapas would probably not use the word, though Maya living in the United States may have adopted it. I found that brown people who live in with Americano culture often become "Chicanoized."