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Let's Talk New Mexican identity

Mural in Barelas neighborhood in Albuquerque
Yasmin Khan
Mural in Barelas neighborhood in Albuquerque

Let’s Talk New Mexico 03/31 8am: New Mexican identity has long been associated with Mexican roots and Chicano activists fighting for workers and land rights. But New Mexican culture is deeply influenced by African descendants, as are all the countries in the Americas. On the next Let’s Talk New Mexico we’ll hear about the contributions of Black and Afro-Mexican people in New Mexico. And we want to hear from you. How do you honor your mixed identity? What needs to happen to recognize the diversity of New Mexicans? Email us at LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live, Thursday morning at 8 on KUNM at (505) 277-5866.

Dr. Irene Vasquez, Chair of Chicano and Chicana studies at the University of New Mexico

Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez, Executive Director of Native Bound-Unbound, Archive of the Indigenous Enslaved

Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman, Assistant Professor of Chicano and Chicana studies at the University of New Mexico

Anele Careaga Coleman, performer and student


Yasmin Khan: Good morning. This is Let's talk New Mexico. I'm your host Yasmin Khan, a reporter here at KUNM. New Mexican identity has long been associated with Spanish and Mexican ancestry, indigenous roots, and Chicano culture. But the recognition of African roots of New Mexican identity is often overlooked. New Mexican culture is influenced by African descendants, as are all the countries in the Americas. On today's let's talk New Mexico, we'll hear about the diverse roots of New Mexican culture including Black and African influences, and some New Mexicans are revising their identity to highlight the strengths of their mixed identity. And we want to hear from you; do you identify as New Mexican but with an ancestry beyond the Spanish, Mexican and indigenous spectrum? Do you identify as Afro-Chicano or Blaxican? How do you honor your mixed identity? What needs to happen to recognize the diversity of New Mexican. Email us at LetsTalk@kunm.org. Call in at 505-277-5866 or tweet to us with the #LetsTalkNM. I'd like to welcome Dr. Irene Vasquez to the show. She's joining me live here in the studio. She is chair of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at UNM. Welcome, Irene.

Irene Vasquez: Thank you. Good morning.

Yasmin Khan: Good morning. Irene, New Mexican identity is deep and diverse with Chicano and Chicana identity being one of the more widespread identities here. But we also know that Chicano and Chicana identity is diverse. Can you start by telling us the basic definition of Chicana and Chicano as an identity?

Irene Vasquez: Well, I might fall short of a basic definition, and I think primarily because Chicana, Chicano or Chicanx identities are complex and changing social constructions. We have to keep in mind that although we tend to think of the term Chicana and Chicano, as being more modern, there are scholars such as Dr. Roberto Rodriguez, who have identified the words, Chicano or Chicana on maps that predate you know, the modern period. And so, I think that that part of what Chicana and Chicano identity is constituted upon is the recognition that for people, colonization, is an open wound, drawing on Gabriela Garcia Marcus's concept of colonial exploitation and ongoing effects of colonization. Generally, people tend to think of Chicana and Chicano as relating to Mexican ancestry or descent, whether that is in what we know today as Mexico, or whether we think of being the descendants of Mexican people. But historically, if we look at the period of time when this term is, is embraced and used and promoted, in the 1960s, and 1970s, Chicana, and Chicano was an inclusive term. At that time, though, primarily people thought of Chicana and Chicano as being people who descended from Mexico's Spanish and indigenous peoples.

Yasmin Khan: And so how does Chicano and Chicana differ from Hispanic Latino or Mexican American identity?

Irene Vasquez: Well, let's think about identity in terms of the longer you know, historical period, we tend to think about, identities always been political. When colonization occurs, identities are imposed. And so, what we have in the colonial period is the construction of a castas system, which defined people according to their racial class, backgrounds, and so we have terms like mestizo that come out of this notion that people are Spanish and indigenous, but you also in that system had terms like mulatto that referred to Spanish and Mexican people. And I think that you know, when people begin to embrace that identity of Chicana, and Chicano it reefs it is a contestatory identity in that period. Right? A affirmation that Mexican people here or Latino people here are not immigrants. Right, they're not strangers. They're not unknowns, their roots predate colonization. So, I think that that is a major thread, right? That connected people who were involved in Chicana and Chicano Movement activities.

Yasmin Khan: And there is a political base to using these terms Chicano Chicana Chicanx now. And as the politics of this community has evolved over the decades, has also evolved how Chicano Chicana identity is seen.

Irene Vasquez: Absolutely, and I want to just go back to you know, the term you raised hispana or hispano, or I'm not sure if it was Hispanic, there was in that period, right, a, a very critical attitude toward, you know, toward European colonization and a kind of rejection of discriminatory notions and attitudes that were being promoted, right in society, whether it was through media, or through educational institutions. More recently, you know, even, I would say, you know, within the last five to 10 years, but really, this goes back to the 80s. There have been critiques of people who use these terms, because the terms are projected as being very exclusive, so and very race based and very and based in nationalism of Mexican people. And actually, if, if folks were really to have an understanding of even, you know, the development of the term as part of civil rights organizing, they would come to understand that Chicana and Chicano identity was not an you know, nationalistic and exclusive. If you look on the ground, and you look at what's happening among activists and organizers, they are working in solidarity with African American activists, Asian American activists, and Native American activist. But more recently, the term without a lot of historical understanding has been used as a negative identity label.

Yasmin Khan: And, and in terms of all of these different groups working together, when we talk about diversity in New Mexican identity, often, the African influences, black influences are left out. But and I'd like to understand more about the growing recognition of Black and African ancestry as an integral part of New Mexican identity. For example, there's a push to recognize the African roots of Chicano identity. There's this push for recognition of Black and African influences. In this new Mexican identity parallels the struggle for recognition of Afro descendants throughout the Americas from Mexico to Bolivia to Paraguay. And in 2019, Mexico became one of the last countries in the Americas to officially recognize Afro descendants, as an ethnicity. And to shed some light on why it took Mexico so long to recognize Afro Mexican identity. I'd like to welcome Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman to the show. Dr. Coleman is an assistant professor in the Chicano Chicana Studies program. She's Afro Mexican from Veracruz, Mexico. Doris, why did it take Mexico so long to recognize Afro Mexican identity?

Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman: Hi, good morning. So, my English is not so good, but I am going to try my best and when I lost the words, please help me I am going to speak Spanglish sometimes.

Yasmin Khan: Of course.

Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman: So, I am not sure why. But I think it is because we live in Mexico and other countries in America Latina and the mantra that we’re my thesis. And my thesis here is the result of the encounter between Indigenous and Europeans, right. So, the ethnicity of the African Americans was invisible. But we I am speaking like we like community, I enter from Mexican, so we work a lot in the last 20 years probably to make these right movements in Mexico. So, because we push in that way, the government finally decided to recognize as like part of the mosaico of ethnicity mosaico in Mexico. So now we are like constitutionally part of Mexico, of course, our work and our sites that is that before long time before, right, we have the communities have different places. So, in the Costa Chica of Guerrero, probably there are much more political conscious about the afro Mexican, but I mean, after the 2020 census, we are looking how to this identity is raising and the other Mexican hammock conscience, identity conscience about our roots, our present, and what, what, what we do in the in our country, since we arrived in in in the in the same time that Cortes would differentiate in the in the place that we know now like the Vera Cruz.

Yasmin Khan: And you're referring to the 2020 census in Mexico, right?

Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman: Exactly. This is the first time that we have the ethnic question about the Afro descendants in Mexico. I believe in the modern history of Mexico.

Yasmin Khan: So yeah, that kind of goes along with the importance that we saw with the 20, with the last census here, counting people. And I'd like to point out that Mexico, like the US has a diverse population. And I think even here in the US, we have a very rigid idea of what it means to be Mexican. And Mexico has a wide range of indigenous people and a significant population of Mexicans who are white, and class race, gender plays an enormous role and access to resources and power in Mexico, just like everywhere else, just like the United States. And with those intersections in mind, Doris, what does it mean for Mexico to finally recognize Afro descendants as an official ethnicity? What does it mean, for, for, for people from your community in Mexico?

Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman: So, there are different approaches. But I think some important is that we just write what I said, in the same time of the espanias and always in Mexico, we have, I don't know. Like, when in the history, it is the Spanish came to Mexico, right. But we never said about African. So, we got we have contributions to what today means Mexico, and everything. And economic history in culinary, music and dance and everything, right? So, we reserve the right to, to mention that the history needs to say what we do, what we did, and what we are doing right now, in our communities. So, it is important. And the other piece is, you know, in terms of political help, we need to know that we are African American, because the people that African descendants, we have some tendencies to, to have some conditions. So, we need to have medication, especially medications that we don't have right now. So, our communities are suffering because that so there are different pieces. But I think we are we start; we will see what was happening.

Yasmin Khan: So, there's economic there are health impacts. There are, you know, recognitions, politically, in political representation that are all important parts to having this final. This finally the official recognition of African descendants in Mexico. If you want to join the conversation about identity in New Mexico, give us a call at 505-277-5866. You can also tweet to us with the #LetsTalkNM. This is Let's Talk New Mexico. We'll be back in a minute.


Yasmin Khan: Welcome back to Let's Talk New Mexico. I'm your host Yasmin Khan. This morning, we're talking about identity in New Mexico. Do you identify as a mixed race New Mexican, why or why not? And how do you honor your mixed identity? Give us a call at 505-277-5866 or email at Letstalk@kunm.org. And we were just talking with Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman about the… finally Mexico recognizing African descendants in Mexico and what that means for people there from her village as an afro Mexican. And I wanted to ask Irene we have Dr. Irene Vasquez Chair of the Chicano and Chicana Studies Department at UNM here. Irene, do you have any thoughts on how the recognition of the African diaspora has evolved in Mexico and what that means for New Mexican identity?

Dr. Irene Vasquez: I do want to reiterate one point, you made Yasmine earlier, because it's incredibly important. And that is, of course, that Mexican people are racially and ethnically diverse. And you mentioned indigenous African descent. And of course, Asian descent and Middle Eastern peoples have lived in Mexico now for over centuries. But I think it's also pivotal that that to recognize that Mexico as a nation state as a government has participated in the invisiblization of African descent people in Mexico, and that it is actually, you know, the African, Afro Mexican, or Afro Mexican communities that have continually raised this, this this important point. And in fact, there are Mexican scholars and Dr. Doris Khadija Coleman is one of them, who has been involved in asserting the historical importance and activism of Afro Mexican peoples. Chicana and Chicano studies, over decades, you know, has worked to be more inclusive of this of these historical facts and the importance of recognizing African descent peoples and, you know, going back to the 1990s, the Chicano historian Juan Gomez Quinones organized with actually communities of people from South Central to organize a conference on the African legacy in Mexico, that brought Mexican scholars to understand this, this important history and the next generation of Mexican scholars, of which, you know, Dr. Careaga Coleman is a part of have really illuminated the incredible resiliency and activism of Afro Mexican people's

Yasmin Khan: Doris. Did you want to respond to that?

Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman: Yes, well, it is important to, for me, for example, to have the opportunity in the Chicano Chicana Studies Department to teach the class about Afro Mexican literature and culture and the Plascencia Afro American, it is really important; I think we are raising up a new generation who have the opportunity to know about this diversity in the history right. So, I think the class is making the difference and as the unique class if I am not mistaken, probably one of the unique classes in the United States that those that that knowledge right now. Yeah, I hope so. really soon. We can see different classes like these in different other departments and Chicana Chicano for Mexican. Is that is I hope so.

Yasmin Khan: Yeah, well, it's such an honor to have to have this class here at UNM where we have such a range of identities and we do need to start recognizing the deeper identities throughout not only New Mexican culture but throughout the Americas. And again, if you want to join the conversation about identity in New Mexico, give us a call 505-277-5866. You can also email us at letstalk@kunm.org. And how do you honor your mixed identity in New Mexico? What needs to happen to recognize the diversity of New Mexico join the conversation. I'd like to welcome Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez to the show. Estevan is the former state historian of New Mexico and executive director of the project native bound unbound archive of the indigenous enslaved. Welcome to the show Estevan.

Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez: Yasmin, I'm so pleased to be here. Can you hear me okay?

Yasmin Khan: Yes, we can hear you. Thank you. So, Estevan, we just heard a more contemporary history of Black and African influences in New Mexico and Mexico. But can you tell us about some of the further back the first African influences our new Mexican identity?

Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez: I want to acknowledge what Dr. Vasquez said in terms of the invisiblisation I think that was a term, it's absolutely true for centuries. This part of our identity has been rendered invisible obscured, obscured, it's too nice a word. But it certainly has been rendered invisible. I think about one of the 20th century constructs, the tri cultural myths, that that essentially rendered invisible, any other identities outside of Anglo, Spanish and indigenous, and that that harmful traits. ethnic identity, did all kinds of things, it collapsed indigenous identities, as if to be from Okay, a (unintelligible) was the same as to be DNA. It erased the mixtures and the complexity, but it also completely rendered invisible these other identities. But it wasn't the first time that that had happened, I think back to 1812, almost 200 years ago, an influential citizen by the name of Pedro Pino went to represent New Mexico in the Spanish courses of Cadiz. And he said, my province, he declared is probably the only one in Spanish America that enjoys this distinction that Spaniards and pure blooded Indian make up the population of the 40,000 inhabitants. His assertion was ridiculous at the time, and I'm sure others were looking at him in that way. But according…. but from the very beginning, that presents I love that Dr. Careaga Coleman, use the word presensia, because that presence is here with us now, but it's been with us from the very beginning. And I just want to acknowledge that. So, I think back to 1527 when Estelle Arnico was one of the survivors of the Pánfilo de Narváez Expedition. As historian Robert Goodman writes, he was the first African Americans whose experience was marked by the beginning of enslavement. Let me use that date again. 1527. Right. So, it's not just 1619, 1527 in in this place that we now call the United States of America. And he was among the first, but it continued, right? When we think of the Oñate expedition, that in those records, even though there was an attempt to render those individuals, invisible, even at that point, there were four identified black slave men. And there were an uncounted number of black women who are listed among those that belong to a man by the name of Francisco Desouza Pena Llosa but there was one in soul a woman named Isabel Odera who is identified as a (unintelligible) free women, free women, but in service to (unintelligible).1697 Following the Pueblo Revolt, I promise I'm only giving a highlight here Uh, after that among the settlers in 1692, with a man by the name of the (unintelligible) Rigas Brito. According to those records, he was born in 1642 to a community in South Central Africa. And I want to say more of him about him later, because I'm, I'm getting close to finding more information about this. This ancestor for many of us, who is a founder who was a founding settler in Santa Fe, but then we'd go on his children to found this. So Pedro Pino was wrong, and so is the tri cultural myth. The presence has been there from the very beginning to the present moment.

Yasmin Khan: Excellent. And to talk about this. Like the modern mixed identity, we have a caller from California, Gilbert. Gilbert, hi, you're on the air.

Caller Gilbert: Good morning, everybody. My name is Gilbert Chavez. I am Chicano. I first thing I want to say is i appreciate and I'm blessed and I'm I feel that a person's identity is a very personal thing. And I and I reserve the right and I acknowledge the right of everyone to identify themselves any damn way they want. I grew up in Los Angeles, but my parents are from New Mexico. Of course, my father's like most of us is on Spanish, white European Spanish Catholic dominating, you know, you know what, everybody knows their story. And of course, the other side was my mother was native. Excuse me, I don't have my teeth and yet that that's the mixture of most of us who identify as Chicano and, but you know, I was already 20 years old before I got out from under the dump of the Kool Aid of the Catholic Church. I have that resentment and I'm trying I'm working on it. You know, and anyone who grew up Catholic God bless them with Christianity help them live a better life. And it didn't mean to but after I left home, the world started slapping me around and it doesn't work for me anymore. I'm not a member of any organized religion. But I am blessed to have finally found out who the f I am. But before that I was, I grew up my father is hispanic. He's from New Mexico. You know, he didn't want to live in East LA, he wanted to live in Whittier, or Whitey or whatever. But they wouldn't come and that's where I grew up with white people and and have the scars to show it along with the scars of the Catholic Church. So, when I my brother knew that I was Hispanic most likely to succeed. I had everything but I was really unhappy to come up here. (Unintelligible)

Yasmin Khan: That's excellent. Gilbert. I'm, I'm gonna. That's excellent. I understand. Like, there's such depth to every part of Chicano identity from language to religion to geographics, and I thank you so much for your call. And I want to take one more caller really quickly. Patrick is calling from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Patrick. Hi, you're on the air.

Caller Patrick: Hi. So, the thing that we take for granted in New Mexico is we don't just have the Spanish African Americans but the people that actually came here because of project Manhattan, the Los Alamos development, and a lot of my family actually moved here. And because of that we take for granted a lot of the cultural diversity we have in the state of New Mexico and the best thing we can do is be sensitive to other cultures and be willing to embrace those cultures. It isn't rocket science.

Yasmin Khan: Yes, great. No, yes, of course. Thank you, Patrick. Yeah, there has to be a better way to recognize the diversity of everybody in the state. And I want to go back to to ask to ask Estevan. Going back to this idea of the deep roots of Black and African people in, in New Mexico and in this part of the of the before the state borders. And I want to I want to ask, why is it important to clearly articulate influences of, you know, immigrants and African influences. Now what is in this moment now, in 2022 that makes it especially important and I'm also going to ask Doris and Irene, but I want to start with Estevan.

Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez: Well, to, to paraphrase Eduardo Garriano, we are not museum pieces. Sitting stock still under a piece of glass, we are instead that complexity of again, to go to what Doris said, the mosaic of who we are, that's part of it. But it also, I don't want to sound cliche or drawn that but Black Lives Matter, right? And, and each of those lives, have a story. And they are our ancestors, they are our cousins, they’re brothers and sisters, all of that's why it's important, Yasmin to actually reflect about each of those lines.

Yasmin Khan: And I do appreciate a Sivan that you, you really you named every single person, it's not just that there is a, you know, African people, we're here, black people here, but you have like, when we look deep into the history, everyone's named, like, we look up every individual person and I, I Doris, I want to ask what's coming up for you what why is it important now to clearly what is it in this moment, this time to clearly articulate the African influences on Mexican and New Mexican identity?

Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman: Well, I mean, I mean, we need to illuminate the history and this territory here Rafiki is speaking is speaking was part of Mexico. So, if we are talking that Mexico have in the past Africans right in and now Mexico is having the recognition so we need to talk about it. That is serviceable I think what I think but in the other hand, we know in this contemporary moment the people is making different Commission's so in my case my kids are Afro Mexican because I am from Mexico but also my husband is African American. So, they are probably African American Chicanos, Afro Mexican, all in between. So, we need to recognize that also. So, we are having different momentous movements. Also, in the negotiations right now, for example, I know there are a lot of mediation from different places from Veracruz to the United States. From Costa Chica to the United States. Some of them are Afro Mexican. So, what is going to happen with these people here in United States, so we need like, as a society, we need to pay attention about that. But like, also like me, like a professional in the Chicano Chicano studies, we need to pay attention also about that. Talk in our classes about that. So as why I in my opinion, so important. When I teach my class, I can tell you, I know one or two the most of my students have that question. Right. So later in the class, they show me they were looking the ancestries. They own ancestries, and they find out that they have, in some ways someone who was in mulato in the family. So, it's only because we don't have the question. We don't know. But the reality is there. Yeah. And we need to know that.

Yasmin Khan: Yes, thank you so much. And I want to take one more caller quickly. We have Larry from Espanola. Larry. Hi, you're on the air.

Caller Larry: Hello. Hi. Yeah, I can you hear me? Okay.

Yasmin Khan: Yes, we can hear you.

Caller Larry: Yeah. Yeah, my name is Larry. I want to reflect on an anecdotal experience I had in the 1970s I don't live in Espanola. Now I live in Albuquerque. But I lived in northern New Mexico, and it was quite fascinating. Northern New Mexico seemed to have been invaded by three different groups at the time. One was the hippies. And that was Dennis Hopper. And Peter Fonda's Easy Rider movie kind of brought Hopper into the area. And it was really a lot of conflict with him up there. There were Peace Corps training up there at the time. And a lot of people assumed that meant that northern New Mexico was perceived as third world because they were training volunteers to go to Latin America and ended where Chicano activists too many of them came in from the west coast, or a number of them came in from the west coast. And among the local people, they didn't identify with any of these groups. And there was a lot of conflict and a lot of northern New Mexico, northern New Mexicans, of course, identified as Spaniards, and didn't even recognize their indigenous roots. And of course, DNA today will share that perhaps 90% of Northern New Mexicans do have indigenous African and, of course, some Iberian ancestry. And I just thought it was kind of interesting at the time. Fast forward. Many years later, a book came out called the contested homeland: Chicano history of New Mexico. And that was published in 2000. But, and I'm not sure if there's been a new publication on that book, but it's a fascinating perspective of kind of pulling everything together and understanding the different groups and, and cultural identity and I just thought some of your guests might reflect on some of this familiar with the book and our experiences in northern New Mexico.

Yasmin Khan: Excellent. Thank you, Larry. What is the name of the book again? One more time?

Caller Larry: The contested homeland Okay. by Linda Gonzales Berry.

Yasmin Khan: Excellent. I have to cut in here for a break. But thank you for that. Larry. If you want to join the conversation about identity in New Mexico, give us a call 505-277-5866. We'll be back in a minute.


Yasmin Khan: Welcome back to Let's Talk New Mexico. I'm Yasmin Khan. We've heard this hour about the nuances of identity in New Mexico, and how New Mexicans honor their mixed ancestry. Do you identify as mixed race New Mexican, why or why not? How do you honor your mixed identity? Give us a call 505-277-5866. I'd like to introduce Anele Careaga Coleman, who's with us. Anele is a high school student in Albuquerque. They're also the child of Dr. Careaga Coleman. Hi, Anele.

Anele Careaga Coleman: Hi, how are you doing?

Yasmin Khan: I'm alright, Anele, you have a mixed background of Afro Mexican and African American. How do you choose to identify?

Anele Careaga Coleman: Well, I use a lot of different labels to identify myself primarily one being Afro Latinai. I also identify Of course, as African Americans. I do identify also as Afro Chicano or Chicanx, as of recently. So yeah, those are the labels that I've been using for myself as of right now.

Yasmin Khan: And why is it important for you to have a range of identities?

Anele Careaga Coleman: Well, one, I think that my identity has so many different points in it that are important and deserve recognition, right? Being mixed specifically from two really wonderful backgrounds, such as being Afro Latina, and being black means that I want to give recognition to both of those identities and both of those experiences because being Latina, and Afro Latina, is its own experience that doesn't necessarily always revolve around being in the United States. Whereas being African American does and I feel like it's important to use both of those labels because those are both things that I experienced in identity depending on where I am at that moment.

Yasmin Khan: And so, do you hear other people in your age group using the terms Afro Chicanx, Afro Latinai? Like who are who are using these identities? And then are there other people in your age group that just choose to simply not identify and what comes with that privilege to just not identify?

Anele Careaga Coleman: Well, for what it's worth, I have not come into another person in my age range that identifies as Afro Chicanx. I have a hard time finding other people in my age range who are African American, let alone Afro Chicanx. As far as I know, I've been the only Afro Latinai person in my school since I've been able to go to school, the only African American girl who could speak Spanish, the only African Afro Mexican girl in my grade, and my class and any kind of space that I have entered. The people that I'm surrounded by, are familiar with these terms, of course, because I use them. But I don't know anyone else, as of right now who identifies as African Chicanx besides myself, which is kind of tragic.

Yasmin Khan: And I'd like to talk just for a second about the term street race for a minute and how it plays a part in identity. So Anele, if you are walking down the street, what race what strangers assume you are based on your appearance?

Anele Careaga Coleman: Well, most of the time I get black, because my those are the most predominant features that I have with my curly hair, my nose, my lips, my eyebrows, other sorts of things, right. So, most of the time, I don't get recognized blocking I just because my African American street race is more prominent, I would say. And that does impact me because like, there's a part of my identity that feels like it's almost missing because 90% of the time, it's not being acknowledged as a part of who I am. And while I am absolutely proud to be a black, feminine person, I also recognize that part of my identity is being Afro Latinai, and it's just as important as being African American or being identified as African American.

Yasmin Khan: Thank you, Anna Louis. We have a caller Cathy, from Rio Rancho. Cathy. Hi, you're on the air. Hi, I your volume is a little low.

Caller Cathy: Okay. Hi, how are you?

Yasmin Khan: Hi, I can hear you better. No, I'm good. Thank you for calling Cathy.

Caller Cathy: Yes, I am uh, my parents are from South America. And I came from California where a lot of people are, you know, Mexicans, are called Chicanos. And when I came here, I had a surprise because they don't use that much. Chicano here. I don't know about the teenagers but I am a substitute in schools and I didn't I never heard of that. But when I worked with people that have a lot of people here have Hispanic last name. They declare themselves Hispanic. And I didn't understand what it means until I met the people from the South Albuquerque, which is a lot of Mexican people, first generation or second generation. And, and I had to they, they talk about the people from Mexico in a derogatory way. They call them like, a, you know, they're Mexicans, and we’re Hispanics. And most of the Hispanics that I have met are mostly Republicans. They, they tend to be more towards the right than the left. And when they argue with me, and they said, well, you and I said no, I'm considering myself, a South American. I I'm not calling, they call themselves some of them call themselves Latino? Latino is, I don't know, but not in New Mexico have seen as either Hispanic or Mexican. And, and the way that they describe themselves to, as to how they treat them is that they're like, you know, like, they pick foods while pickers and I see that as offensive and I explained to them, you shouldn't be humiliating people that are from it, because, you know, they're from Mexico, that, you know, they come directly from Mexico. This country was Mexican, and this New Mexican, and the derivative of people who came in the 1500s are still Mexican from Mexico. But they this was and, and I said, don’t argue with me. Okay. I am a South American. My parents are from South America. And they go well, you think you're a bet.. No, I didn't say that I was better than anything. You argue with people that speak Spanish, the same language, and you have a last name, let's say, my last name is Lopez, and your Lopez, and you're saying you're Hispanic, and they're, you're better than the people that are from Mexico. That is not true. Everybody was saying, and when I did my DNA, I found out that I'm both African, native South American, and Hispanic. So, it makes me multicultural here. I hate it when they go, and I'm learning that my grandson is both Asian, a quarter Asian and Mexican.

Yasmin Khan: Great, yes. Know that there's a diversity of from all around the world here in New Mexico. Thank you so much, Kathy. And I like to to ask Irene what's coming up for you, as you hear some of these comments from callers and, and on Anele important comments about how younger people are identifying?

Dr. Irene Vasquez: Well, I'm so inspired, and impressed, of course, with our younger generations, because, in many ways, both because of their sensitivity, and their own effort to educate themselves about discrimination, racism, homophobia, sexism, their worldview, is incredibly open and expansive. In regard to you know, Chicana and Chicano studies, one of the one of the things that that we, we emphasize is that, as people who are who have been historically colonized and who are exploited in this country, we have to, when we insist upon a historical recognition of race, class, gender, sexuality, exploitation, we have to extend that to other people. And we are bound up in the history of African peoples in this continent, not only because, of course, they are a part of the foundational populations of this continent. There you know, the answer, African peoples have shaped our ancestry in history, therefore, our future, but we have these shared histories and shared conditions of exploitation. Now, that doesn't mean that I can claim African identity, or call myself Afro Chicana. Even though, you know, we know that most let you know, Latina Latino people have African descent in them, like they do indigenous descent. But we need to stand in solidarity with black peoples on the continent. We need to acknowledge that they do have a particular vulnerability and precarity in this country. We need to recognize it and we need to act upon it.

Yasmin Khan: Yes, thank you. I want to take another caller, Rebecca from Socorro, Rebecca, hi, you're on the air.

Caller Rebecca: Hi, can you hear me okay?

Yasmin Khan: Yes, we can hear you.

Caller Rebecca: Perfect. So, I just wanted to call and weigh in on the conversation. I'm mixed. I'm Latina, Puerto Rican, so not Mexican. So that's a little different. I'm also white, French, specifically, indigenous, Cherokee, and black. And I kinda wanted to add that, often using terms like Afro Latina feels, kind of like I'm sacrificing part of my identity. Miss visa is usually the term that I use. But even that feels like a sacrifice, just like saying I mixed, you know. So usually, I just identify as all of my identities. And I think the most frustrating part is I'm light skinned. So, people often assign a race to me when they meet me. And it's usually a race that they find or a culture that they find, I hate to say this, but least offensive in their own world. And then whenever I present contradictory information, especially when people find out that I'm black, they will like try to argue with me, way that is super frustrating, because I know who I am. And you've just met me. So, I wondered if anybody had anything to weigh in with on that?

Yasmin Khan: Yeah, I want to I'm gonna throw that question to Anele. Anele, what do you think about the comment that Rebecca is making about having to sacrifice part of your… feeling like you're having to sacrifice part of her identity because people just label you?

Anele Careaga Coleman: That's definitely something that I've experienced. And I think that when I was a lot younger, I tolerated a lot more of that kind of behavior. But now, as a more mature person, I think that I no longer feel the need to sacrifice that. Because I know in my heart of hearts who I really am, and I feel confident in that identity. And of course, like, if need be, if the context calls for it, then I will correct people and say, oh, actually, I am black. But I also am Latinai. That's just as important to me, by the way, which is something that when I was something that I never imagined of doing when I was 14, because I think I was such a pushover when I was 14 or 15. That I felt like, I had to choose what part of myself to represent every day. Whereas now I know that every single like, when I step outside of the house, I'm representing all of myself, and every single identity that I walk with. And that feels like the most empowering feeling to me.

Yasmin Khan: Yeah, yes, amazing. And I want to come in as a mixed race person myself, like Rebecca saying, I often am mistaken for being different ethnicities, but I'm often mistaken for being whatever that person is who I'm talking to. When I'm in Greece, they think I'm Greek. If I'm in Mexico, people think I'm Mexican. In in, in Asia, people think I am, what they what they are so but I'm South Asian, I'm Indian, and Mongolian and Belgian and French and Italian. And it allows me to fit in superficially, everywhere, but also nowhere. Because there's nobody like us when you're mixed. We're absolutely unique, everybody's unique. But when you're mixed, and you claim your mixed identity, it makes you absolutely unique. So, and Anele, I want to build on what you're saying. So, for me as a young woman of color, mixed in a primarily white school, I didn't fit into any school or university clubs, even here at UNM. It based on my ethnic background. And so, it could get pretty lonely being a mixed race Brown student without a group. But I'm talking about the 90s and the 2000s. Anele, do you think that the inclusion has changed for young mixed race people today? Or are there still some feelings of isolation in terms of like, in school and in social groups?

Anele Careaga Coleman: I think it's a mixture of both because I do think that now you recognize the social construct that is raised, at least where I go to school, or at least from what I've understood. I go to you know, like I have affinity groups that I attend, I go to the Latinai affinity group and to the African American affinity group and I feel comfortable in both I and maybe that's just because I no longer feel isolation in my identity. I probably can't make the most honest commentary of that. But I do think that there's still some like I put this like less emphasis conversations about race.

Yasmin Khan: Yes. Yeah, exactly. I think this like are my guests are telling me now this should be a two hour conversation and we need part one, two and three on this and there's so much more to say. I but that is all the time we have for today. I want to give thanks to our guest Dr. Irene Vasquez. Dr. Doris Careaga Coleman, Dr. Estevan Rael Galvez and Anele Careaga Coleman, thank you to everyone who called or sent comments. I know we have some people who wanted to give comments. We didn't get to everybody and I was so happy people called in and send emails. If you miss part of today's show or want to share it with friends, find the Show page on kunm.org or subscribe to our podcast. Just search let's talk New Mexico on your podcast app. Thank you as always to our engineer Marino Spencer, Bryce Dix live tweeted the show, Daniel Montano took your calls and Megan Kamerick is our executive producer. I'm Yasmin Khan. This is let's talk New Mexico on KUNM.

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Yasmin Khan covers worker's rights in New Mexico, with a focus on Spanish-speaking residents. She is finishing her Ph.D. in human geography and women & gender studies at the University of Toronto where she studies refugee and humanitarian aid dynamics in Bangladesh. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from UNM. Yasmin was director of The Americas Program, an online U.S. foreign policy magazine based in Mexico City, and was a freelance journalist in Bolivia. She covered culture, immigration, and higher education for the Santa Fe New Mexican and city news for the Albuquerque Journal.
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