Despite real political challenges, it is and has been such an exciting time to be chicano.
It’s as if an earthquake merged our Mexican culture (itself already diverse) into the American behemoth to create an amorphous mass of innovative, renewal: It’s in Las Cafeteras who play traditional Son Jarocho (itself a mix of African drum rhythms and Spanish influenced jaranas) blended with modern Hip-Hop, alternative sounds, and the political consciousness demanded by 2019.
It’s in the Indigenous arts, seen across murals, across these lands that were once Mexico and forever mythologized as the Aztec homeland, via artists such as Calixto Shibaja, who today lives in LA but visits Chiapas to help Mayan children relearn their painting traditions and style. It’s in artists like Jorge Garza who blend multiple chicano themes by making Selena reborn into an azteca queen and Rick Ortega’s awakening works. It’s in my favorite band ever, the Mars Volta, who blended the latin jazz of Celia Cruz and the metal of Led Zeppelin. I think L’ Via l’Viaquez was the first aggressive rock song I ever heard in Spanish being played on KROQ’s FM mainstream radio.
It’s also in my mother’s molcajete when she makes bomb spices for us to eat. The chicano renaissance is in my kitchen, in my skin, dance, and headphones, all at once.