Photo Credits: ALLYSON KO / AGGIE
Move would take out “Chicanx” and “Atzlán” from name, terms that some see as potentially exclusionary
The Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.) recently announced that the organization will be considering a possible change to the its established name of 50 years, specifically to remove the terms Chicanx and Aztlán to promote inclusion.
In a statement signed by National M.E.Ch.A. Co-Chairs Katherine Chiu and Emilio Balderas and National M.E.Ch.A. GIS Chair Gabriela Guillen, M.E.Ch.A. “means nothing without a commitment to the liberation of our Central American, South American, Caribbean and/or Black and indigenous hermanxs” and stands as the reasoning behind eliminating what they see as historically Mexican-American-focused and exclusionary terms of Chicanx and Aztlán.
Professor of Spanish Robert Irwin stated that for M.E.Ch.A. “to critically debate the meanings and cultural baggage contained in the name of their organization” is a good sign, as it means the organization’s members are trying to reflect on “their five decades of achievements, and to think about how to best meet the needs of their diverse membership in the years to come.”
Irwin agreed with the organization’s questioning of the appropriateness of the term Aztlán because although it “compellingly represents the roots of Chicanx culture in Alta California,” it also displays a “highly problematic aspect of Mexican nationalism that glorified one indigenous ethnicity.”
M.E.Ch.A. de UC Davis, the UC Davis chapter of M.E.Ch.A., voted yes on considering a name change for the organization. Efren Diaz, the former internal coordinator of M.E.Ch.A., stated that this type of change was something the UC Davis chapter was already “having conversations about last year.” When Diaz became internal coordinator in Spring Quarter of 2018, he knew he wanted to make a change. This change was not necessarily changing the name of the organization, but a change that required “checking in with the community, specifically the Latinx and indigenous community to see how people felt about M.E.Ch.A. as an organization, including the name.”
“The name is not just a name — it has roots,” Diaz said. “We just want the name change to reflect the practice of what we do.”
Written by: Deana Medina — firstname.lastname@example.org