g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

Bored? Games!
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

Folklore and Mythology
Women's Fashion
Holiday/Seasonal Cooking
Hiking & Backpacking
New Age
Weight Loss

All times in EST

Full Schedule
g Hispanic Culture Site

BellaOnline's Hispanic Culture Editor


What is Chicano?

Guest Author - Sarah Salas

Nothing about the word Chicano is simple. Its origins have been disputed by scholars. Some people claim that the word is a centuries old term, while others claim the first usage of Chicano occurred in 1911. Even the definition of Chicano is not universal, but it is usually stated as someone of Mexican Descant living in the United States. The meaning of Chicano, however, is somewhat more illusive. In Retro/Space: Collected Essays on Chicano Literature: Theory and History, Juan Bruce-Novoa states that "A Chicano lives in the space between the hyphen in Mexican-American." It has both negative and positive connotations depending on the context.

Some Chicanos themselves have negative feelings towards the word, while at the same time identifying with it. They may see the word as an identifier of not belonging and the mixing of their cultures-no longer Mexican but not quite American either. It has also been used as a derogatory term throughout history both in the United States and Mexico, although the Chicano political movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s lessened much of the stigma and helped integrate the term into mainstream English.

Not everyone has taken a negative view of the word. Some see it as a link to the past and a way to identify with their heritage. To many Chicanos, being a Chicano is about bringing together the best of both worlds. It is about being at home in their United States home, while still respecting the Mexican culture, and recognizing their roots. Many Chicanos are proud of their label as a Chicano, feeling that it recognizes their unique heritage and history. To be a Chicano is to have a common language, cuisine, religion and culture.

Chicano has also been used as a symbol of the older Mexican identity, and as a rejection of Europeanization. Some Hispanics prefer the term Chicano to Hispanic (Not all Mexicans are of Spanish descent-many are indigenous or of other descents), or Latino (Few Mexicans come from areas associated with the Latin language. Even those whose ancestors may have spoken Latin probably identify more strongly with other parts of their lineage. Latin has not been an actively spoken language in quite some time outside of the Catholic Church.). The term Chicano has been a symbol as a celebration of the older pre-colonial culture of the Aztec, Mayans etc. that many Mexicans, Central and South Americans, and even Caribbean born people identify with strongly.

No matter how you view the word Chicano, it is important to realize the history that goes into the word. Those not of Mexican Descent should use the word with caution, as it is still a sensitive issue to many Mexican Americans.
Add What+is+Chicano%3F to Twitter Add What+is+Chicano%3F to Facebook Add What+is+Chicano%3F to MySpace Add What+is+Chicano%3F to Del.icio.us Digg What+is+Chicano%3F Add What+is+Chicano%3F to Yahoo My Web Add What+is+Chicano%3F to Google Bookmarks Add What+is+Chicano%3F to Stumbleupon Add What+is+Chicano%3F to Reddit

RSS | Related Articles | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Previous Features | Site Map

For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Hispanic Culture Newsletter

Past Issues

Printer Friendly
tell friend
Tell a Friend
Email Editor

Content copyright © 2015 by Sarah Salas. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sarah Salas. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Valerie Aguilar for details.


g features
The Blue Amaryllis, a Book Review

Loreta Janeta Velazquez

The Sanchez Sisters

Archives | Site Map


Past Issues

Less than Monthly

BellaOnline on Facebook

| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2015 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.

BellaOnline Editor