Thursday, January 12, 2023

Chicanonautica: Crossfire at the Chicano/Latinx Intersection

by Ernest Hogan

Way the chingau back in 2021, I did one of these columns titled “Whachacallus?” in which I pondered the problems of what all of us in the Latinoid continuum should call ourselves. Now in 2023, I’m starting on a new project, and stumbling over how to tell people about it. Is it Chicano? Latino? Latinx? Each one carries issues that can snafu the simple task of letting people know who we are and what we are doing.

Goddammit, it shouldn’t be such a pendejada.

I call myself a Chicano. The word that conveys how old I am, and what part of the planet I’m from, and the politics that spawned me.

A lot of markets that are willing to publish me (need I mention that not being Anglo has been a stumbling block in my career?) have called themselves Latino, and recently Latinx. As a Chicano who has been publishing since 1982, I’ve learned that I can’t be picky about who publishes me. When I find willing publishers, I tend to stick with them, even though they don’t pay much (if anything) and aren’t usually considered high-class. 

Going through my résumé, most of the places I’ve published have “science fiction” as part of my name. Also “Latino,” “Chicano,” and “Latinx.”

All of those are considered offensive to somebody.

Everything is offensive to somebody.

Anyway, I tend to not care about what people call me or how they categorize me. I’m a confusing mestizoid/ rasquache mess. I never know what people are going to think I am. I enjoy the confusion that telling them I’m a Chicano causes. I’ve been taken for black—Harlan Ellison assumed I was a negro. I’ve been told, “You’re so smart—I thought you were Jewish.” Also: "You look more like an Arab than a Mexican." And in Taos I was once called a “dumb fucking white" person.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a card-carrying cyberpunk, but if you Google me there’s a lot about me being a Chicano cyberpunk.

Sometimes people doubt that I really exist. I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty damn unlikely.

Some of my fellow Chicanos not only don’t like the newfangled "Latinx" (I’m  reminded how the old gente bitched about Chicano back in the Seventies) but also hate "Latino", and "Hispanic." 

Latinx is popular on the campus and with academia. The Pew Research Center says that one in four “U. S. Hispanics” have heard of Latinx and only a third use the term.

 Academics teach and promote my work, and I fully acknowledge that they saved my career. They publish me in anthologies with Latinx in the title. 

They also pay me. I kinda gave up making a living as a writer years ago, but by the nature of the job, I am a dreamer . . .

Anglos keep telling me that nobody uses Chicano anymore. Meanwhile, across the border, in proper Latin America (isn’t Aztlán Latin America?) Latinx is considered a joke. And Spanish-speakers don’t like Anglophones telling them how to speak Spanish.

Ever try to speak Spanish replacing the Os and As with Xs? How do you pronounce it?

What do I do when the hipper New York publishers, trying to be woke, use Latinx, then get yelled at by angry Chicanos?

Looks like we are one long, hard, perpetual identity crisis.

Good thing I enjoy me some chaos.

Ernest Hogan keeps getting more Chicano sci-fi ideas and dreaming of global and intergalactic barrios.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chicana since the 70s
My dad was Mexican
My aunts Spanish
My mom injun
My son Chicano
Full circle aye?
Loved your post!