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I remember my mom telling me that when she was a child growing up in Walsenberg, Colorado, how her teachers would hit kids on their outstretched fingers if they were caught speaking Spanish, either in the classroom or anywhere else on school grounds. She told me how, because of the constant humiliation she experienced, she'd promised herself she wouldn't teach her kids Spanish. In her youth, she was affected by what I call, "internalization of inferior status." Her opinion of her own culture was strongly influenced by those entrusted to teach and educate her. When the term, "Chicano" became popular, my mom forbade us from claiming the title. When school walkouts happened in the 70's, to protest inequality in the Denver Public Schools system, my mom prohibited us from walking out. Perhaps that is why I so desire to help Latino/ Chicano/Hispanic people understand that we, as a culture have always been excluded largely from many opportunities afforded to the bulk of our Anglo counterparts. For most of us, our "generational wealth" was taken from us, generations ago, so we must strive to discover and embrace doors now opened because of changing times. Our Ancestors from the American southwest, were once citizens of Mexico, but one day, they went to bed Mexican and the woke up "sub- American." No longer accepted by our old countrymen, sub-American, because even to this day, many are largely rejected by the Americanos who now occupy our ancestral lands. I find it interesting in fact, that many still call us "Mexicans" when we aren't around! I wonder if perhaps, deep down, they realize that this land is actually the land of my grandfathers, and not their own! So, in honor of "Hispanic Heritage month, I say Viva! Viva la Raza! It really is a good day to be Chicano/ Latino/Hispanic! Happy "Hispanic" Heritage month!

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