Fwd: [NACCS-SCal] Identity

Posted on December 10, 2008

Plz add Dorinda to our mailing list. Gracias. She lives in Santa Maria near LA.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: dorinda moreno <fuerzamundial@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 10:44 AM
Subject: Re: [NACCS-SCal] Identity
To: Nina Serrano <ninaserrano34@gmail.com>

thanks nina, please put me on yur list to receive, also, perhaps i should have said continued interest, as i am always keeping it front burner, especially at this time in honoring the 40 year annivesarys, am including the 50 years also, ie, salt of the earth and ash grove, etc..

On 12/10/08, Nina Serrano <ninaserrano34@gmail.com> wrote:

“Renewed interest” refers to your recent email mentioning it -I think in context of a time capsule project -or long term anniversary project -which may be the Dec 27th event your refer to.

By the way – should I put you on the list to receive the link to hear our weekly radio broadcast of La Raza Chronicles on your computer at any time? it arrives weekly in your email by Wed morning. The show goes on at 7pm here in the Bay Area.

On Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 5:58 PM, dorinda moreno <fuerzamundial@gmail.com> wrote:

hi nina, thanks, rudy acuna is a long time friend and i get his forwards, but also his menton of morenzi, arizona, remind me of ‘santa teresa de cobora’, do you know about her? you may wish to google, teresa urea, is referenced as the grandmother of writer luis urea…
great icon, little known. and, whats the ‘renewed’ interest on ‘salt of the earth’, am i missing something? i try and keep close contact with all things ‘salt’ but don’t know of anything ‘new’.
otra ves, gracias.
also, i hope you are avaible to join with us at corazon del pueblo on dec 27th
i should get out announcement in next few days.

On 12/8/08, Nina Serrano <ninaserrano34@gmail.com> wrote:

Dorinda , I think you and others in the network will find this very interesting – especially with the renewed interest in Salt of the Earth, Love, Nina.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Rudy Saves <acu518@earthlink.net>
Date: December 7, 2008 2:01:38 PM PST

Rough Draft
The Loneliness of
Writing History
Rodolfo F. Acuña

I am often asked the question whether I enjoy teaching or writing more. It has never been an issue with me – teaching is my first love. I like writing but it does not give mw the same sense of intellectual or personal fulfillment. I am addicted to the caritas (faces) of students.

Writing is much more frustrating. It is probably because I am needy, and as a child I always looked to my parents and teachers for the approval. This is something that got me into trouble because I would act up to get attention.

The most frustrating part of publishing a book is when the reviews start rolling in; there is no real mechanism to clarify points raised by reviewers, and similar questions that you are certain that readers might have. A give and take never really happens.

I recently received a review by a Brown University graduate student, Mark W. Robbins, published in the Southern California Quarterly, of my book Corridors of Migration: The Odyssey of Mexican Laborers, 1600-1933 (U Arizona Press). The review was fair and comprehensive – unlike so many that I get the impression that the reviewer hurries the reading of the book and throws together a report.

Putting the Corridors book into perspective, it was forty years in the making, and I had to cut it down from 1,500 manuscript pages. Publishers today rarely publish books longer than 350 pages. Thus, I had to cut a lot of background material and tuck it into the footnote comments. I have stored a lot of the material that I cut in my archives at the California State University Northridge library.

But to get back to the questions Robbins’ raises; he writes “Acuña occasionally operates under the assumption that ethnicity should prevail over class affiliation.” He cites my saying that the indifference of the Tucson Mexican elites to Mexican laborers during the late 19th nineteenth made it easier for whites to exploit the workers. Gibbons concludes that I seem to expect the middle class to identify more with the workers than with the white middle and upper classes.

In a perfect world, I would expect this. However, all too often Chicano and friendly white scholars have not distinguished between the the upper and working classes. I once told Leonard Pitt who wrote one of the best books on Mexicans in California, The Decline of the Californios (California U), that while I condemned the lynching and other injustices committed toward the Californios, I could hardly feel sympathy for them. Few advocated for the Indian or the poor, and indeed discriminated against them.

I am not surprised that the Tucsonenses acted out of concern for their own self interest. But for a long time this was hard for me to deal with since many of the Tucsonenses are my ancestors.

The question of Mexican identity on the border as I attempted to explain in Corridors is very complex. Nogales, Sonora is much closer to Tucson than Tijuana is to Los Angeles. You had family on both sides of the border. This is complicated because the population of Sonora for most of the nineteenth century out numbered that of Arizona. During this period, most Mexicans identified as Sonorans rather than Mexicans.

While the white and Mexican elites often had business and personal relations, it was American feelings of superiority (reinforced by a heavy migration of Texans) that maintained the Mexican identity and retarded assimilation. The Sonoran and Mexicans formed their own newspapers banks, and other separate organizations. I show this in Corridors through the formation of mutualistas and finally la Alianza Hispano Americana in the 1890s which were in response to American nativism.

In this context, Mexicans could not have become Americans even if they wanted to.

Robbins is correct that the elites cooperated with whites in small ways. Some of these ways were very negative such as their participation in the Camp Grant Massacre in 1871. They served as foremen, interpreters, merchants and brokers for the white establishment. Most made their fortune from the Mexican market on both sides of the border.

Some of Robbins’ questions from my vantage point are obvious. He cites me as saying that Mexicans 22 percent of the registered voters in Clifton-Morenci in 1904, and asks what were the implications? Given that the camps were 80 percent Mexican, I would ask, just 22 percent? On the other hand, this suggests that many Mexican workers by this point were citizens and stable members of the community rather than transients as portrayed by the mine owners and others.

As for the support for Republican candidates, I expressed my ambivalence to Republicans throughout the book. But let’s face it, the labor movement until recent times was white, and the Western Federation of Miners that had a reputation as a radical union was racist and xenophobic to the core. The WFM and other unions supported the Eighty Percent Law that required 80 percent of the miners to be American citizens. (Also see my treatment of the formation of the American Federation of Labor’s Pan America Federation of Labor).

Here is where the sense of the Mexican elites’ identity was offended. They rightly perceived the law as anti-Mexican. They had no problem condemning Pancho Villa and the radical trade unionist, but when the discrimination was directed at all Mexicans, they drew the line. It is not that the elites were devoid of any sense of community. They also formed alliances with Republicans because of business and political interests, but they also bartered votes for programs such as adult and bilingual education.

I thank Robbins for raising his concerns. As I mentioned before, the border is a complex place. My grandfather lived on the border for 90 years working in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Nogales and Tucson. He refused to learn English, and though his children were born on this side, always considered himself a Sonoran.

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If you like peace, work for justice

Dorinda Moreno

Dorinda Moreno

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