Chicano movement columnist
Enriqueta Vasquez (Born 1930) is a writer who has been a part of the Chicana Movement. She wrote for El Grito del Norte from 1968 to 1973 and has published two books.
The Women of La Raza: An Epic History of Chicana / Mexican-american Peoples (2016) edit
- When the article, "The Woman of La Raza" came out as a result of the 1969 Chicano Conference, I experienced repercussions because I wrote about The Woman. Instead of being intimidated, I felt it necessary to write a whole book on La Mujer.
- Protesting this war, Chicano/as rose to condemn the killing fields with the slogan "Raza Si, Guerra No,” we wanted our young men here fighting for justice instead of in a faraway war.
- Both, men and women faced the white, male-dominated world and its blatant racism; women in the workplace and servicemen in the war where they returned to tell stories of Raza and Blacks far outnumbering Anglos in the front lines.
- While Aztlán is debatable to some, the time of enlightenment is taking place in the 21st century, and it is essential that we learn of our ancestry. Nationhood and sovereignty are not a separatist plan, but a tool for decolonizing. We need to DECOLONIZE, DECOLONIZE, DECOLONIZE. Already Emma Perez, Chela Sandoval and other writers have devoted a considerable amount of thought and time on the need to decolonize and resist further colonization in the world.
- I spent much thought getting things to sound right and inoffensive. I am of the belief that a universal stream of consciousness envelopes the planet and people in many places can get the same ideas at relatively the same time. Who knows, there may be women in China, India, Iraq, or Africa doing a project just like this. I hope so.
- Today's world needs woman's thinking and a humanitarian approach to solving world hunger, violence, rage, war, environmental, and economic issues. Remember that when women are silent, only one-half of the population is being heard.
- Revolution means literally a complete reversal of the old power relationships, with its embedded institutions. So yes, we need a total revolution. It is time for the sacred to come forward, for we are indeed sacred beings. That much is clear from history. For too long we have been told: "That's the way things have always been done." Not true. Our earth and humanity has been around a long time, and there is a peaceful instinct inherent in human beings. There have been harmonious times in the past, and there is no reason for not working to achieve a greater humanity today. I strive to be part of that humanity. In The Women of La Raza, we learn of how much "today's values" have been forced upon us as "traditions" by colonizers who want us to behave within a certain mindset, conforming to the status quo. They consider profits first, despite the global conflicts and suffering it has caused throughout the centuries. It is past time for us to ask the kind of questions that gives us, not only answers, but places us in a quest for solutions to the spiritual and social problems facing the world today.
- Although Sor Juana abandoned her writing, the calibre of the body of work she left Mexico remains unparalleled. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz soared as the most enlightened daughter of the new world. She challenged the foundation of the European Christian institution in her natural law perspective and understanding of the universe. Fearless, Sor Juana left the continent a mandate regarding the rights of women to think.
- Like other pioneer women in American history, Sor Juana Inès paved the road to education and intellectuality for women. To America, she left a vision of the woman of the future, a legacy that continues in the mind and spirit of future generations. Today, women learn and nurture the child of the true Humanity that exists within all of us. To Mexico, Sor Juana's legacy stands as the patria with a clearer vision of itself and its people; an identity that set the stage for independence. In her universal thinking, Sor Juana challenged the control and exploitation of Mexico by Spain's most archconservative institution, the Church.
Enriqueta Vasquez and the Chicano Movement: Writings from El Grito del Norte (2006) edit
- Looking at our history...The role of the Chicana has been a very strong one, although a silent one. When the woman has seen the suffering of her people, she has always responded bravely and as a totally committed and equal human. My mother told me of how, during the time of Pancho Villa and the revolution in Mexico, she saw the men march through the village continually for three days and then she saw the battalion of women marching for a whole day. The women carried food and supplies; also, they were fully armed and wearing loaded carrilleras. In battle, they fought alongside the men. Out of the Mexican revolution came the revolutionary personage Adelita, who wore her rebozo crossed at the bosom as a symbol of a revolutionary woman in Mexico.
- Of all of my writings probably the article that created the biggest whoooraah turned out to be The Woman of La Raza. This lost me friends and made me a target for the renowned Malinche label. But, like so many of my writings, the rewards were many and this article opened centuries-old flood gates that poured forth in women's words and thoughts. I knew This is very important, and from this article came a whole women's history book, The Women of La Raza, hopefully to be published soon. This women's book begins to define the side of that mestizo face medallion we wore so proudly, La India.
- The Chicana/o Movement is a vital chapter of Southwestern history, a history needed to inspire new dreamers as activists become the elder generation. As we recall this chapter in Chicano history, we reseed the harvest of the Civil Rights Movement and cultivate the harvest of "La Revolución Chicana" remembering that our ancestors planted the first resisting seeds of non-defeat. This Revolución is the foundation of today's evolving issues, the metamorphosis of activism that makes all movements more important than ever. It will take more than thirty years to change 500 years of colonial racist exploitative attitudes, changes which only you can make possible as we live the sun of justice, The Sixth Sun.
- The family must come up together. The Raza movement is based on Brotherhood. ¿Qué no? We must look at each other as one large family. We must look at all of the children as belonging to all of us. We must strive for the fulfillment of all as equals with the full capability and right to develop as humans. When the man can look upon "his" woman as HUMAN and with the love of BROTHERHOOD and EQUALITY, then and only then, can he feel the true meaning of liberation and equality himself. When we talk of equality within the Mexican-American movement we better be talking about TOTAL equality beginning right where it all starts. AT HOME...
- When she tries to speak of Machismo, she is immediately put down and told "We know all about it, there are many many books written on the subject." She receives nothing but censorship again. She tries so hard to say, "Yes, there is much on Machismo, but can't you Machos look at the women and children who are the VICTIMS of your Machismo?" She tries so much to speak up and instead finds herself speaking to deaf ears and a completely closed mind.
- It seems that before the Europeans came to the Americas, our highly cultured Indian woman usually held an honored position in the "primitive" society in which she lived. She was mistress of the home and took full part in tribal elections. The position of the woman was not only free, but honorable. She was a strong laborer, a good mechanic, a good craftsman, a trapper, a doctor, a preacher and, if need be, a leader. It seems that among the so-called SAVAGE people of this continent, women held a degree of political influence never equaled in any CIVILIZED nation.
- I believe that one of the big problems we will find is the racism in education. We know that in school they are not given a culture that they can identify with. They are not taught who they are. Our way of thinking and our human values: as a matter of fact, discouraged. Our own children are wandering away from Raza culture and this is mostly because they have been educated to feel inferior. Our own history books in the schools tend to wipe us out as a people. Our children don't know themselves. It is our obligation and responsibility to show them who and what they really are. We must realize that when educators speak of equality, it is in law and in writing but not in practice. And worse yet, what is being taught to our children is that the Americano as well as their history is superior and infallible. This is totally inhuman, and if you really want to see what this attitude does to people, just go to a foreign country and see the behavior of the American wherever he goes. And listen to what people from other countries feel about the Gringo. (1969)
- And what about César Chávez in California? What's the history of the campesino and what is he fighting for? These are our people too. And in Texas our brothers and sisters have a struggle. Just what is this all about? What is happening to our people? We feel what is happening, let's learn about it and let's start speaking up. Let's talk to each other and let's not be afraid to be heard. (1969)
- In exchange for hard work the people have freedom. Not only freedom from want but freedom to develop themselves as individuals. They have shelter, no mortgages, sufficient food for survival and sufficient clothing. There are few cars, as this is really a luxury item, and what cars there are, are for the use of the people. There are many buses. These buses are all made in France or England. In Havana, transportation is only 5 cents. If you have it, you pay it consciously, if not you can ride anyway. I used to watch the people get on and everyone seemed to pay. Public telephones are free. Medical care is completely free to everyone. Even sports events are free. (1969, about Cuba)
- I had heard that the revolution lives everyday and that it must continue to change and live everyday if it is to be truly of and for the people. (1969, about Cuba)
- The new man is a person of the future. The idea of the new man (and new woman) is the realization that human beings have no limit for development. They have great capacity. They can be unselfish, and without envidia. They can all work together for the common good. They can be freed from the pressure of getting money, and become real humans instead of work-machines. (1969, about Cuba)
- We want an abundant society with a different kind of man, the Cubans said. In other words, people will not work for money-they will not have to sell their hard work to somebody else. They will work for the good of the land, for the good of all the people. (1969, about Cuba)
- There are not a few people with too much and others with too little; instead, everyone has enough. (1969, about Cuba)
- To find a job, a single mother will be faced with working very hard during the day and coming home and again having to work at home.
- And now, today, as we hear the call of the Raza, and as the dormant, "docile" Mexican American comes to life, we see the stirring of the people. With that call, the Chicana also stirs and I am sure that she will leave her mark upon the Mexican-American movement in the Southwest
- A woman who has no way of expressing herself and realizing herself as a full human has nothing else to turn to but the owning of material things.
- Then you will find the Chicana with a husband who was not able to fare so very well in the Society and perhaps has had to face defeat. She is the woman that really suffers. Quite often the man will not fight the real source of his problems, be it discrimination or whatever, but will instead come home and take it out on his family. As this continues, his Chicana becomes the victim of his machismo and woeful are the trials and tribulations of that household.
- Child care is one of the most difficult problems for a woman to have to face alone. Not only is she tormented with having to leave the raising of her children to someone else, but she wants the best of care for them. For the amount of money that she may be able to pay from her meager wages, it is likely that she will be lucky to find anyone at all to take care of the children.
- That we have scholars and Chicana PHDers of this caliber teaching in our educational institutions fulfills a vision of what we hoped would come out of the Chicano Movement. Even more extraordinary is the fact that most scholars do not forget “la causa Chicana,” thus watering the raices of the ancient past and living Chicano epic.
- El Grito Del Norte, a Chicano newspaper based in Espanola, New Mexico, was born from the revolutionary flames that engulfed the Southwest in the late 1960s and the early 1970s.
- I learned to listen, not only to words, but to the hearts of people; thus capturing the passion, anger, outrage, and indignation when discussing racism, greed, repression and exploitation. These sentiments became an eruption of hundreds of years of repressed thought now set free.
- I am but one of many who walked this path of change: it took a movement to change what this place called Noth Amerika had become.
- I didn’t want my kids to go through what I went through.
- When we speak of Gringo, we do not particularly hate all white people, but we refer to their social system as ‘Gringo.’ That is what we don’t like.
- I certainly embrace socialism. I can’t see any other solutions. This country (the United States) could feed the world if it wanted to.
- How can one guarantee complete non-violence when one lives in a completely VIOLENT country?
- As I look back I remember, To think that at one time even my mother accused me of being a communist and threatened to report me to the government as such. I always respected her and had never answered her, but this time I answered: Go ahead, I will call the FBI for you and you can turn me in. Who do you think I learned to be a revolutionary from? Remember when you would say: 'Si yo supiera hablar inglés, ¿ya me hubieran echado a la prisión?' Pues yo sí sé inglés, y ahora, justed me acusa de ser comunista? Ándele, entrégueme.Her little eyes blinked and after a long silence we both laughed, hugged and cried as she said, Hija de tu nana, me ganaste. I thought, Of course, I won, what do you expect from the daughter of the Mexican Revolution? Later, in 1968, I brought her to visit me in New Mexico and took her to hear Reies Tijerina when he spoke at Española High School. I will never forget the incredible look that came over her face as she drank up every word. After he finished, my mother walked right over to Reies, talked to him and hugged him, tearfully saying, Nunca crei que oyera en este país las palabras y verdades que ha dicho usted. After we left, I smilingly hugged her and reminded her that now, she too was a communist. ¡VIVA LA REVOLUCIÓN, SIEMPRE!
- Let's start thinking in terms of feeding ourselves instead of feeding the grocery stores. Cooperatives are certainly a big answer for the people. Let's go back to being more self-sufficient. Why do we have to support Mr. Safeway, whoever or wherever he may be?
- Today, Los Alamos and newspapers like The New Mexican are celebrating August 6. They call it The 25th Anniversary of the Atomic City, or the birth of The Atomic Age, but those are just fine words for a Day of Murder-for the single most horrible slaughter in human history. We cannot celebrate Murder with them. We will celebrate instead the awakening of ourselves and all the Sleeping Giants, rising up everywhere in the world to cry BASTA YA. Let the Manufacturers of Death celebrate the birth of their Atomic Age. We will celebrate the dawn of the People's Age. Power, at last, to the People! (1970)
Quotes about Enriqueta Vasquez edit
- Enriqueta Vasquez's column "Despierten! Hermanos" became known for its eloquent efforts to combat sexism within the movimiento while also working for an anti-colonial liberation to benefit all Raza.
- Elizabeth Martinez, 500 Years of Chicana Women's History/500 Años de la Mujer Chicana (2008)