According to Wikipedia, Chicano or Chicana (also spelled Xicano, Xicana) is a chosen identity of some Mexican Americans in the United States. The term Chicano is sometimes used interchangeably with Mexican-American. Both names are chosen identities within the Mexican-American community in the United States. However, these terms have a wide range of meanings in various parts of the Southwest. The term became widely used during the Chicano Movement by Mexican Americans to express pride in a shared cultural, ethnic and community identity.
The term Chicano had negative connotations before the Chicano Movement, and still is viewed negatively by more conservative members of this community, but it over time gained more acceptance as an identity of pride within the Mexican-American community in the United States. Still, many American-born Mexicans view the term to be distracting, as it often represents a refusal to identify with either Mexican or American identities, while Mexicans from Mexico usually are not familiar with or do not identify with the term.
The pro-indigenous/Mestizo nature of Chicano nationalism is cemented in the nature of Mexican national identity, in which the culture is heavily syncretic between indigenous and Spanish cultures, and where 60% of the population is Mestizo, and another 30% are indigenous, with the remaining 10% being of European heritage and other racial/ethnic groups. Ultimately it was the experience of Mexican Americans in the United States which culminated in the creation of a Chicano identity.
I have also asked people in San Diego what the term means and what it really means to them and the responses received vary from "It's who I am," "It's my heritage," "It's whatever you think defines you." At the end, even though I don't always identify as a Chicana, I enjoy watching how other's embrace their Mexican heritage.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Chicano Park Day, a celebration of the take over of this now National Monument in San Diego, CA. The park sits under the Freeway 5 and it is full of beautiful touching murals that one can admire from afar and get up close and read the captions.
I learned that in this part of town, Mexican-Americans had settled since 1890 and it took a lot of work from the citizens to fight for the land to become what it is now. To this day, members of the community continue to engage in movements to preserve the park and its history.
Also, everyone involved paid tribute to Chunky Sanchez, a musician, activist and one of the founders of Chicano Park. Chunky left this earth towards the end of 2016 and everyone was still touched for the loss of this incredible soul that means so much to the park and history of Barrio Logan and Chicanos in San Diego.
It certainly was a beautiful day full of celebration and pride.
My mom was my wing-woman that day as she wanted to also partake in the celebrations.
As we got closer, we could see more lowriders, people dressed up in old school outfits, there were some danzantes, lucha libre masks and lots of food vendors with delicious food.
As we made our way to the stage, touching speeches were presented as well as performances.