The Chicano Movement didn’t fail. I have found Aztlan. It’s a real place.
First off, I consider myself Chicano. For me, this means that I am a bilingual, biliterate person of Mexican-American descent who is interested in the reclamation of Aztlan.
Aztlan is the mythical homeland of people who called themselves Chicano and is generally accepted to have been comprised of the area that is now the Southwestern United States. The Chicano Movement sought to re-establish this area as a sovereign nation-state. I believe that the sum total of Chicano philosophical expression can be found in two documents: a poem called Yo Soy Joaquin; and a manifesto drafted at the Chicano Congress held in 1969 called, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan (the spiritual plan of Aztlan). I was into my second semester of college by the time I read both Yo soy Joaquin and El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan. By then, the Movimiento as an open call to revolution had run its course. Yet, the words of both of those foundation documents resonated within me and awakened my desire to connect with my own sense of being Chicano. I was set on my own personal mission: to find Aztlan.
Eventually, I found Aztlan, but it wasn’t anywhere outside of me. As it turns out, Aztlan is in me and it is in all of us. People may call it something different, but it’s the same place. Aztlan is the fountainhead of all that is good and strong and beautiful inside of me. Everyone on the planet holds that same place inside himself or herself; I liken it to the Imago Dei: The Image of God. It exists in every person, regardless of his or her ethnicity or race.
Some might argue that the Chicano Movement failed, but for me, it was the greatest civil rights campaign in our nation’s history. We live in a mixed-pot of races, ethnicities, and cultures; The Chicano Movement gave me Aztlan and I am sharing Aztlan with every living thing on this planet, regardless of their cultural and ethnic origins. If you reflect on your life, you will see that, for better or for worse, we are in this thing called life together and we should all learn to tap into our respective Aztan such that we extend goodness, beauty, and strength. It’s in all of our interests that we do.