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Monday, February 20, 2017

Aztecas del Norte: We can not be illegal on our own continent

“In the academy, [American Indian scholar] Jack Forbes created a path to bring Chicanas/os and others “home.” By this, I mean that Forbes provided historical knowledge about understanding that our legacies have always been deeply rooted in this hemisphere.” — Melissa Moreno, professor, Woodland Community College
Scholars in Chicano studies and related disciplines, since the 1960s, have long debated the idea of when Mexican Americans as a people(s) came to be. This is something that the discipline has grappled with since its creation in the late 1960s. Yet, it is a debate that has been rekindled both by the extreme anti-Mexican climate in this country, and also by the work of a pre-eminent American Indian scholar from a generation ago, who posited a seemingly controversial proposition: that these peoples, rather than foreigners, in fact are native or indigenous to these lands. For the rest of the column, go to:

Light skin preference

Lately I have been asking myself how anyone can do work during this extraordinary and dizzying time we are living in? And I am thinking in the philosophical realm as opposed to logistically.
And yes, I actually can work. I’m just thinking that it is a very distracting time for most anybody attending or working at a university. I say this because I’m in the midst of some incredible research — on color and color consciousness — and yet, it is difficult to ignore the unprecedented doings of this nation’s new president and his administration.
And yet I stop to think that whether the new president is impeached or not, the need to research what I am researching — light-skin preference — will remain. What I examine is light-skin preference in the Mexican, Central American and Andean communities of this nation, particularly in relationship to indigeneity and denial of indigeneity. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this is a taboo topic in these communities. The reason for that is because I primarily examine the internal dimension to this phenomenon; i.e. how it plays out within family/relatives/friends. The external, of course, manifests as racial profiling. Part of what I choose to examine is the earliest memories when children become conscious of their color and that there is meaning attached to their color, and yes, most of these memories are negative. For rest of column, go to:

The Indigenous and Black Roots of Mexico

by Roberto Rodriguez

A generation ago, while living in Mexico, I came upon the works of Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran regarding the African presence in Mexico, managing to interview him, shortly before he passed away. While Mexico is a nation with deep Indigenous roots, his work from the 1940s revealed a part of Mexico that had been previously unfamiliar to its school children and to the national narrative; its rich multi-racial history.
This is especially true when we examine the relationship in this country between Black and Brown peoples, who are often, not taught their shared histories, or even their own histories. One part of that history also includes Mexico, which had abolished slavery in 1829, providing refuge to Blacks during the time of U.S. slavery. It also includes the history of palenques or maroons — free territories of runaway slaves, such as the one established by Gaspar Yanga in 1529, in the mountains of Veracruz, considered Mexico’s first free (Black) city. In the United States, it also includes both peoples fighting against lynchings during the 19th and 20th centuries and Blacks being at the forefront of the desegregation and anti-discrimination struggles, with all people of color benefiting, including Mexicans, who waged their own struggles. For rest of column, go to:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


When I teach the history of Mexican people at the University of Arizona, going back to the era of Spanish colonialism in the Americas, I teach two concepts that seem to be applicable to the United States of America today. One of them is called “primary process” and the other “principio...” For the rest of the column, go to:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Como hacer un Dios... Or the Making of a God.

By Roberto Rodriguez

Como hacer un Dios... Or the Making of a God.

That is where we find ourselves today, on a divine path to the White House. While this may sound hyperbolic; it is not. Somewhat metaphorical perhaps, but an exaggeration it is not. This is much more ominous than simply giving a con artist, with a juvenile delinquent mentality, the keys to the White House.

The nation is on the verge of installing its next president, not simply a mentally unstable and narcissistic charlatan – who is not simply a failed and vindictive businessman, with lots of unresolved conflicts of interests – but who in his own mind, is a God-in-waiting. Perhaps the only real question is what kind of God?

An ethically-challenged God of money, greed, fraud, debt and Other Peoples’ Property and Other Peoples’ Money?

A God of obfuscation, smoke and mirrors, mis-education and mis-Information?

A racial supremacist, xenophobic, misogynist, materialistic, megalomaniac and vainglorious God?

A tyrannical, all-knowing, all-seeing and omnipotent God?

An arrogant God that humiliates and demands and rewards 100% loyalty and delights in never-ending exaltation?

A pompous, deceiving, pathologically lying, jealous, judgmental, vengeful, punishing and wrathful God?

A petty, discriminating, angry, hateful, bullying and violent God?

A fear-mongering, God of war, conquest, ethnic cleansing, profit, exploitation, subjugation and domination?

Oddly, these qualities seem very familiar, and yet, he himself has no actual God-like qualities that would make even his own admirers think of him as such, unless we indeed are talking about a god of evil.

To be remembered is that his DNA requires that he be constantly praised in public. Without doubt, he is a mentally deranged man who craves adulation and who would not be satisfied with simply being a strongman president. Even dictator, King, Pharaoh or Emperor would not suffice for his delusional designs.

While some people think he is a Godless dyed-in-the-wool materialist, the truth is, he actually believes in God… when it serves his purpose and wallet. Professing his mediocre book as second only to the Bible, as the greatest book ever, that was blasphemy, though really but show, but also very telling of his delusional self-aggrandizement. Remember, he knows not even one Bible verse, except maybe the one about 2 Corinthians. Yet, he believes in destiny, his own, and that of the unfinished business of Manifest Destiny… of taking all the land from the savages, Providence really. Heaven on Earth. He is surrounded by religious doomsday fanatics that have encouraged him to believe that he alone will bring it about, and thus, he gets to enrich himself, while they get their doomsday. Oh… and his cosmovision, he sees savages everywhere, from Standing Rock to the U.S./Mexico border… that’s why he has lent his support for the pipeline and why he has called for the building of the Wall… and for the uncivilized nation to the south to pay for his wall.

There is something about walls and towers that give us a clue about his God-complex. He doesn’t believe that he is doing God’s bidding, but that he himself is an infallible God. A Supreme God. Simply being the ruler of one nation is not enough. Even his designs for his own Mexican wall would have to eventually come down in favor of towers across the globe. Tall ones, huge ones, located everywhere; all bearing his name and perhaps even his likeness too. Towers and walls equal power and strength, and yet, even using the presidency to create the largest corporation in the world would not suffice.

That he received some 3 million votes less than his opponent, which reportedly gets under his skin, means he will never have what is minimally required to run a country: the ability to say that the American people chose him, and legitimation. Though that is not what he seeks. Arguably, what he seeks is legitimation as Lord.

To simply see him as another money-grubbing, war-mongering Dick Cheney is to not understand that he seeks more than money, power and domination. He wants adulation from his subjects, and more than anything, he wants his “enemies that he defeated” to bow down and effusively praise him, always.

We may never get to see his wall – as he envisions it – go up, despite the fact that he sees it as his consummate Tower. But actual towers, yes. He needs to see more of them across the globe with his name in bright lights and will probably continue to make such deals, unless Congress checks him. Also, unless Congress checks him, perhaps we will soon be seeing oversized portraits of him everywhere, perhaps even huge statutes of him. And temples? Those indeed are his towers. What is missing is a name for this new God.

For him, God is money and money is God, and thus, perhaps from that equation his name will arise (MOOLAH?). Getting Congress to put him on Mt. Rushmore or his face on a $100 bill; probably a good bet, though not sufficient for this man with an oversized and overinflated ego.

Anyone wanting to oppose him simply as a potential ruthless and self-enriching dictator will miss the entire point, and thus will be ineffective. More than control, power and money, he wants to be worshipped. Our recent election shows us that he indeed has many worshippers, though not quite enough to his liking.

Someone please give him a name: The Swamp God works for me.

Rodriguez is an associate professor at the University of Arizona and can be reached at:


Wednesday, January 18, 2017


With the legitimacy of the president-elect in question, not a few people believe that the nation is on the verge of a constitutional crisis. Yet whatever people have feared about the future of the country, in Arizona we have already been living this crisis for 10 years now, especially in the realm of education. And it is about to get worse, as lawmakers have introduced legislation that would have the effect of banning social justice classes, activities and events, from K-12, to colleges and universities statewide. For rest of column, go to:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


On Dec. 12, 2016, as 73-year-old Francisco Serna stepped outside of his house and walked across the street toward seven armed Bakersfield, Calif., police officers, he was felled by 7 bullets, fired by one of them. While police thought that Serna had a gun in his pocket, they never saw a gun, nor did he have one. For rest of column, go to: ...