Why Negating Aztlan Strengthens Imperialism

Phillip Standin... - Posted on 15 December 2015

Jose H. Villarreal, Plantation Prison Correspondent

Editor's Note: Original Artwork, "Los Muertos" by Jose H. Villarreal, 2013. Pen & pastel on paper.

Many Chican@s understand the concept of Aztlan in a variety of ways, some for its indigenous historical root and others for its contemporary symbolic meaning of unity and our national territory. Either way Aztlan draws the line of demarcation between Chican@s and our oppressor and provides an anti-imperialist thrust. To abandon Aztlan ultimately declaws Chican@s and attempts to assimilate the nation into Amerikkka which results in weakening Chican@s and strengthening our oppressor.

When it comes to the Left in U.S. borders, many within the non-Raza strain work hard at attempting to lump together all Brown people, just like Amerikkka did in the days of the old “Greaser Laws”, only today it is in the name of “progress”. The idea is to better control Brown people and get Raza to attempt to assimilate under a mostly white Left-wing leadership. These “Progressives” work hard to co-opt Raza struggles and are quick to downplay the Chican@ nation and its distinct leadership. Some of them even capture the minds of Raza who unwittingly push their agenda, but real anti-imperialism understands that nationalism of the oppressed is a positive thing.

The truth is Raza have lots in common and will always have that strong bond and close collaboration. Our common hystories on this continent ensure this. However the fact remains that we come from distinct nations and for Chican@s our national territory (commonly referred to as Aztlan) defines the Chican@ nation. Many different Raza have come to identify as Chican@ and thus Aztlan has continued the tradition of being inclusive of many diverse peoples. Raza have arrived from various nations and moved into Chican@ barrios and made them their home. Acknowledging the concept of Aztlan does not turn anyone away. But what denying Aztlan’s existence DOES do is it denies the existence of the Chican@ nation because without a land base, a national territory, there is no nation. This is what these “Progressives” do not explain.

Undermining an oppressed nation is done in many ways. One more obvious way is of course implanting the idea that their nation does not exist or that they should attempt to assimilate with Amerikkka. But another more subtle way of doing this is how those pushing the Prisons imprisoning prisoners simply for profit. They say that the only reason that people are imprisoned is for corporate profits from prison labor that is mostly free to them. On the surface this may sound cool. Even many well intentioned revolutionaries may promote this. The problem is that if prison booms are profit driven it alludes to there being no national oppression within the use of prisons and thus no need for national liberation struggles.

The prison boom is about social control and it is a form of NATIONAL OPPRESSION first and foremost. Profit is a secondary result. Mass imprisonment proves that national liberation struggles within U.S. borders are still very much relevant.

As Chican@s our LAND IS OCCUPIED as you read this, so why would we ever seek to negate our existence as an oppressed nation? Can one be any more oppressed than having one’s land stolen? And should we react by refusing to call our national territory by its hystorical name? I say NO.

We are anti-imperialists because we are against land grabs and the exportation of oppression. We are not stuck on just our nation, we know that we are inter-connected to the world’s people and we fight oppression everywhere. At the same time we know that we can’t free the world’s people until we free our own people both physically and psychologically.

Imperialism is strengthened when large swaths of oppressed people are hoodwinked into not taking the right path to free themselves. By attempting to bury the concept of Aztlan, it not only sets back the Chican@ Movement, but it also sets back the anti-imperialist movement. Rather than attempting to smother what may be the most essential social forces in the U.S. borders, real progressives need to find ways to support and help unleash them. Such actions would be real anti-imperialism.


Sign-up for POOR email!