Activism Countering Hegemony Term Paper

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reactive activism as compared to proactive activism with reference to Chicano labor movements. It has sources.

Modern day society can no longer deny the fact that as groups, people today strongly oppose/support beliefs that are nearest to their ideology; every individual contribute to the social goals therefore they feel they are entitled to civil rights more than ever before. In the United States the social picture is a mosaic of cultural integration. This scenario has evolved over the past centuries as each community realized their ideologies through activism and transformed their beliefs to substantive meaning. The Chicano community has been among these groups of idealists that has followed their beliefs and realized their ideologies through extensive efforts, prominent of which had been the decade of 1960s. The attempt had been to transform the cultural anarchy to acceptance.

Purpose Statement

Activism can be reactive as well as proactive. Whereas sociologists usually take the stance for proactive actions, but it has been observed as in the case of the Chicano movement that both reactive and proactive go hand in hand. In the following discussion the author plans to outline the historical context of the Chicano movement for their social rights and argue that reactive activism is as effective as proactive activism.


The Chicano movement during the 1960s is perhaps the least studied among other social movements during the same decade but there is no doubt that it is also one of the social movements that have successfully achieved its goals. Although sociologists may view proactive activism is usually preferred where a movement of such an extensive nature and with diversified goals are concerned nevertheless the Chicano Movement proved this wrong. It is perhaps this very reactionary nature of Chicano activism which made it a success.

The initiation of the movement began when Chicanos coming to America in the hope to achieve their dreams began to work on farms at below minimal wage rates as much as $.90/hour. Despite the fact that the government has forbidden the hiring of illegal immigrants, and limited the number of foreigners working on the farms to 20% as opposed to the 80% of the whites, Chicanos nevertheless took the advantage of the demands for farm hands by the white farmers and agreed to exploitation. However, the level of the inhumane treatment of Chicanos at the hands of these farmers generated protests albeit on deaf ears. Unions formed to fight for the rights of the workers and later on organizations such as Sociedad Protecci6n Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (SPMDTU); Union Liberal Humanidad; Western Federation of Miners and later on Mexican Mutual Aid Society formed to keep a check on white exploitations. But perhaps the most successful among these had been the one formalized by Chavez the National Farm Workers Association that at the time had around 10,000 supporters. These organizations have been the reason for the transformation of the people from social illiteracy to literacy (Meier and Rivera, 184).

Initially when the Chicano communities have been subjected to social discrimination, the first reaction had been to synchronize their efforts through the concept of "anarcho-syndicalism." During the 1930s Mexican-Americans continued the 1910 revolution through literacy endeavors. Renowned figures like Ricardo Flores Mogon as well as Bert Corona, Emma Tenayuca, Josefina Fierro and Luisa Moreno contributed to the beginning of a radical yet literary movement that would become the base for the success of the Chicano Movement's success during the 1960s [Mariscal, 2002].

Inspired by these figures, later activists took reactive measures of similar nature to counteract oppressions by the white Americans who controlled the businesses as well as the social institutions like justice department, welfare, worker's rights etc. The participation in fundraising organized by San Francisco by Camilo Cienfuegos as well as the Cuban Revolution in 1959 had been a turning point in the efforts for Chicano radicalism. Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez as well as Ernesto Che Guevara helped transform their beliefs into ideologies that promoted the rights of the Chicanos during the 1960s. The first on the agenda had been to revolutionize the education standards of the workers who were being oppressed. Creation of awareness through educational policies and literary campaigns help the Chicanos to win over the battle of the rich and powerful and those poor workers…[continue]

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