Wednesday, October 05, 2005


When the article on multiculturalism came out in Christianity Today, someone responded on Rudy's blog that it was a joke that I was included in the discussion because my LLF website was all about Latino leadership, ministry, ect. How could someone so down for 'Brown' lend an authentic voice to mestizaje and multiculturalism?

I respond without apology that while I am theologically convinced that a mestizo kingdom is what God is building, that it is still possible, and at times necessary to be an advocate for a specific ethnic / cultural group in terms of the justice or developmental issues that effect that group.

While being all about Latinos, I am convinced that I must also advocate for Chicanismo. While a bit young to have felt the full force of the Chicano Movement in the 60's, I was impacted greatly by the notion that being a Mexican-American was about much more than is also about culture, politics, power, domination, resisting aculturation, and forging a self identity apart from the defentions of the dominant culture.

To be Chicano was to be militant. To be proud of our culture (as Mexicans living or born in the USA). To be active in our barrio. To be about the concerns of our gente.

Today, as I travel around the country and hang with many prominant (don't let them know that is how I see them) Latino leaders that are working to do some damage for the Kingdom of God and for the RAZA / Barrio, I am both thrilled, and greatly concerned.

I am afraid that I see too few Mexican-American / Chicano leaders engaged fully in the work of transforming our barrios and mobilizing our churches. With around 65% of the Latino population being of the Chicano variety, a majority of the leaders I encounter are of other Latino backgrounds.

Take for example my Puerto Rican brothers and sisters, that in Chicago represent around 15-20% of the total Latino popultation in our area. It seems that there are so many more pastors and empowered leaders that are running in circles that I would say are progressive and involved in the issues that effect our larger community.

Peter Aviles, Rose Sanches, Isaiah Mercado, Juanity Irizarry, Wilfredo DeJesus, Ray Maldonado, Willie Vasquez, John Zayas and many other Puerto Rican Christian leaders are making a difference in our city. On a national level, Danny and Luis Cortes, Jim Ortiz, Ray Rivera, Jeremy Del Rio and many others are doing the same on the national stage-- and I am so glad for this because these are fantastic leaders!

My issue is that while there are the Issac Canales, Michael Matas, Larry Acostas, Jessie Mirandas, Danny DeLeons, Rudy Carrascos, and a handful of others who have established great credebility in the larger Latino community, with respect to the enormous numbers of Chicano and Mexican residents in our nation, we need to see many more--We need to see a new force of young Chicano leaders that continue to rise to provide leadership in our Chicano barrios.

With the millions of young Chinano men and women that live in our nation and that reside in our ministries, we need a revolution of leadership development within our community, becuse who knows our people and the needs of our barrios better than our own young people?

Yes, it is time for a new Chicanismo that does not aspire to an isolated and exclusive vision of our Latino reality, but one that understands the challenges of reaching and identifying with the 20 plus million Mexicans / Chicanos, and rises up to meet that challenge.

How do we do this? For one, we need to be sure to intentinally include and affirm Chicano leaders every chance we get. We need to ask, what are the unique needs of this Latino population that we must address in all leadership development efforts. We must clarify that this clarion call is not about causing division, but about strengthening the whole by undergirding our efforts at a point of need.

My prayer is that we see empowered, engaged Latino leaders from every national and cultural group recorgnized for their giftedness and contributions to God's Kingdom enterprise. My dream is also to see a renewed sense of Chicanismo that contributes fully to what God is doing in this new Mestizo generation.