Thursday, October 24, 2019

Chicanonautica: Latinx and Beyond

by Ernest Hogan

A writer does a lot of waiting. In the old days it was for old-fashioned physical mail; now it's email and other innovations, but it's still the same thing: waiting for editors and publishers to get back to you. It can take longer than people not involved in this bizarre human activity can imagine.

I'm talking years.

Sometimes projects, books, magazines, even publishers simply cease to exist and never get back to you. Being able to deal with this is a prerequisite for being a writer.

I am happy to report that I got some good news. My story, "Flying Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails" --the origin story of my character, Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars--will be available again. It originally appeared in an anthology called Latin@ Rising, edited by Mathew David Goodwin, the new edition, scheduled for June 2020, will be called Latinx Rising (pre-order now). When it was being put together, it was called Latino/a Rising.

We are living in volatile times. Passions run high, and that’s a good thing. Things are changing fast, especially in arenas like the ethnic literature/studies/activism crowd, and it causes confusion with the outside world. 

Some people told me they were impressed with the LatinA anthology I was in. How do you pronounce @? It’s “at,” as in email addresses. So it should be “Latinat.” Also, some writing software wants to change anything with an @ into an email address . . .

People tend to pronounce Latinx, Latin-X, which unfortunately sounds like a laxitive. And that’s the English pronunciation, in Spanish x in can be x, but it can also be j (y in English), g, a silent h, or even x. In Nahuatl and other pre-Columbian languages it's sh . . .

The funny thing is, none of this has anything to do with backlash against Latinx we’ve been seeing lately.

I’m a Chicano. It lets folks in on where and when I come from, and even my gender, which is all okay by me. I don’t mind being called a Latino (or whatever suffix you want to nail onto it), because not everybody knows what a Chicano is.

Once down in Mexico, a guide to some Zapotec ruins, confused by my SoCal accent, asked where I was from. I told him I was a Chicano. He had never heard the word. More confusion. He ended up thinking I was from Chicago.

I have no problem with appearing in “Latino” publications. There are more of them than strict “Chicano” ventures. A lot of Latinos, especially on the East Coast, have infiltrated publishing and academia, and I don’t mind being published by them. I’m a writer. I like getting published. It’s kind of what my life is all about.

I also don’t have any problem with being the only one of my kind in the room (or whatever). In the first few decades of my life, in pursuing my interest, I was often the only Chicano in the room. Often I was the only person of color in the room.

I really am a Chicanonaut, an explorer, venturing out where no Chicano has gone before, creating new ways of life and new civilizations along the way . . . I’m expanding my territory. I’m not one of those vatos (vatxes?) who is afraid of crossing the borders of their native barrios, which are usually just a few blocks wide. My barrio is global, with ambitions of going interplanetary, galactic, intergalactic . . .

Besides, when a Latina author’s books are burned, I take it personally. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Either we all hang together, or we will all hang separately.”

And I’m proud to announce that there will be a sequel to Latinx Rising, and it will include another, brand new story from me. The anthology will be called The Latinx Archive, and my story is titled, “Those Rumors of Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.”

It’s a futuristic tale about new kinds of Latinoids (to use the term I keep suggesting).

Chicanonautica forever!

And everywhere!

Ernest Hogan is the author of High Aztech, Cortez on Jupiter, and the Chicano cyberpunk Día de los Muertos novel, Smoking Mirror Blues.

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