What is Chicano Literature?

Literature is a broad category that could address a million different eras, subjects, cultures, genres, philosophies, etc. If you write anything important enough or well enough it can be literature. Most of what we consider literature now is old and British and as white as sour cream. I have a B.A. in literature right now and I’m working on that Master’s. I studied those classics in pre-requisites and also in Great Britain. At the end of the day though, my passion is Chicano Literature. 

Chicano Literature is a specific approach to amazing written works from the kick-ass perspectives of Chicanos/Chican@s/Xicanxs (Mexican Americans) and any other variation of the spelling. Xicano- pronounced the same though spelled differently- emphasizes indigenous connections of the people in what is now Mexico. I use Chicana because that is the first spelling I had the privilege of learning in college. I refer to myself and my work as Chicana, as well as my heritage and my community. My parents came from Mexico to the United States in 1972 and raised my siblings. They raised us with Mexican values and ideologies. Those values, languages, and of course my thick and dark features  good looks directly conflicted with our shiny new American zip-code and western ideals. I grew up Mexican at home and as American as possible in the streets. I straddled two worlds. 

Now imagine this: you can experience the U.S. through a million cultures and identities and even intersect those for more individual identities. The point is to have a piece of work in front of you and think, “Hey, there are other people with similar experiences to mine. I’m a part of community that you don’t see everywhere but we exist and we are kind of amazing.” 

I personally write Chicana literature. All of the characters that I write should be considered Chicano/a unless otherwise specified. Historically literary characters have been white unless described as barbaric or Moorish. It has been limited to the educated upper class but that’s not the case anymore. Here and now, write the way that you speak. Write about what you know. You don’t have to be the pinnacle of knowledge or glamour. Back then and even as late as the 1970s, my family and myself would have been excluded: illiterate and probably drinking from separate water-fountains. I reject this. No one is excluded anymore. Bienvenido. Welcome.