These marches seemed to give me a means of expression

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ten. “These marches seemed to give [me] a means of expression, a means of pride. Because it is at this time, 1968 forward, that I became comfortable in my own skin, that I became proud to be identified as a Chicana” (CES- LAC CHM 1999, 7: Latina program administrator, 18).
l a t i n o s r e j e c t a m e r i c a’s d e f i n i t i o n 4 4 This catharsis was coupled with a pent-up resentment and anger at the many injustices suffered, both personally and collectively. The emotional release was described by respondents as being extremely intense. “And it felt like . . . this was the first time . . . that people were advocating for welfare rights, for health, for education, for real participation in a political arena. And I became, you know, very passionate, you know, very, very, VERY, VERY [increasing emphasis] passionate about these issues” (CESLAC CHM 1999, 7: Latina program administrator, 5). But the down side of such passionate involvement in a movement that combined the cultural with the political was the emergence, at times, of a streak of intolerance for those who were not sufficiently “Chicano,” whether culturally or politically. In the early 1970s, a medical student who had just had his Chicanoness questioned by another Chicano medical stu- dent confided that such remarks seemed to be a “game of soy más chicano que tú ” [I’m more Chicano than you]. The personal became political: what one wore, what one ate, the friends one associated with, the music one lis- tened to, all were symbols of being a good, or a bad, Chicano. Usually, an intense cultural nationalism was difficult to sustain beyond a few months or a couple of years. Even the most ardent nationalists during that time later relaxed their demanding standards to a more reasonable level. “I mean, I got fairly nationalist, you know, 1968, 1969, 1970 . . . you know, cultural na- tionalism, [as] in ‘Latinos as the center of the universe.’ . . . You go through a nationalist phase. Thankfully, I’m over it. I mean, I only lasted, in my view, a few years” (CESLAC CHM 1999, 9: Latino family physician, 43). Of course, the political was political, too. Marxism and Marxist-inspired literature were on many reading lists, and even science students found themselves reading and pondering the many variations of Marxism. “At that time I was reading a lot of . . . Marxist philosophy and was interested in social justice and ideas of distributive justice. I wasn’t really ever, you know, a hard-core Marxist. I was always a little nervous about some of the things that happened in some of the socialist countries and the communist countries. But as a philosophy, I was interested” (CESLAC CHM 1999, 10: Latino family physician, 20–21). College-campus-based leftist groups often splintered into factions, and each competing brand of Marxism declared the others invalid. Thus, a Trotskyite Chicano could be declared not suffi- ciently Chicano by a Maoist Chicano.

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