I have had the great privilege of editing and writing for La Voz de Aztlan this year. Throughout both semesters, our issues focused on stories relevant to Hispanic and student concerns, from the gubernatorial debate between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to the controversy surrounding undocumented Associated Students Inc. President Pedro Ramirez. As part of the ethnic supplement for the Chicano Latin American Studies department, it was our duty and responsibility to highlight current events critical to our constituency.
However, recent remarks have categorized the La Voz de Aztlan publication and its contributors as radical Chicano supremacists conspiring to reclaim this land back to the Mexicans. La Voz de Aztlan made no attempt at reviving a debate from 1848, and the likelihood of reclaiming this land back to the Mexicans is as likely as figuring out the spot where the first American was shot to start that war.
This attack from student activist Neil O’Brien (who appeared on the May 9, 2011, issue of La Voz for his questioning of ASI President Pedro Ramirez) is part of his ongoing crusade to hold this university accountable for harboring undocumented students as well as to demonize any opposition to his arguments. This means any Chicano group and the student publication La Voz de Aztlan.
His criticism of Hector Cerda’s article “ASI wasteful spending and accountability” is unfounded, his article was an opinion piece with key phrases like “it seems like,” “it looks like” placed under the editorial section of the paper. Cerda’s investigation led him to a series of questions, not to a definitive conclusion.
Likewise, O’Brien takes aim at Luis A. Sanchez’s poem “America,” labeling it hate speech. To this I ask, does life experience matter? Is history true? Can an individual with native Purepecha ancestry write a poem about genocide in America? Besides O’Brien’s literary criticism, his attempt at silencing artistic expression is despotic and ominous.
His most blatant attack, however, was directed toward reporter Ana Mendoza, which I take personal. Not only is Ana Mendoza a dedicated reporter, but also a fine mother and a proud woman. O’Brien caricatures Ana Mendoza as an irresponsible mother willing to sacrifice her child’s safety for political perception. This is a cowardly attack that should be frowned upon. It doesn’t speak volume to the level of conviction Mendoza has in her beliefs, enough to compel her to expose her family to the reality of democratic practices, which involves dissent as one of its elements.
The claim that Mendoza is driven by a bias in her reporting is false as well. Not only does she write for La Voz de Aztlan, but she has received journalistic awards for her articles for The Collegian.
This is not a condemnation on Neil O’Brien and his activist work, much of which is his own investigation into discrepancies in the university system, but rather his animosity toward those who hold differing points of view and his expression through jingoistic rhetoric and nativist sentiment.
I, as the editor of La Voz de Aztlan, do not belong to any Chicano organization or to the idea that American land should be reclaimed back to Aztlan. La Voz de Aztlan, as well as other ethnic supplements, emerged out of the movements of the ‘60s when students began to identify themselves with their own ethnic heritage, La Voz de Aztlan being the voice for the newly discovered Chicanos. Fifty years later, La Voz de Aztlan continues to express concerns for the Chicanos at Fresno State.
Moises Hernandez is the editor of the ethnic supplement to The Collegian La Voz de Aztlan.