Introduction: Explaining Nationalism
Nationalism provides for an underlying concept explaining the organization of humanity. Normally, nationalism bases its definition on the importance of a shared system of beliefs and heritage that characterize different forms of identities. As the world itself is diverse in geography and living conditions, it is inevitable for people across the globe to coalesce with one another based on the sameness and coherence of their consciousness and experiences. Along the way, they develop a closer sense of identity the more they find themselves affected by a certain event, particularly those whose landmark effects have enabled a deliberate formation of an outstanding identity. Thus, nationalism gains bearing from the premise that people identify themselves to particular groups whose sociopolitical and economic exposures have contributed to the encapsulation of a binding identity (Grosby, pp. 116-120).
Oppression triggers stronger nationalist sentiments. Groups of people find a better sense of identity when they encounter deliberate attacks against their common attributes. Ethnicity stands out as among the strongest factors leading to the potency of oppressive structures and actions against nationalist groups. The desire of nationalist groups to form another nation grows stronger with the presence of oppression. Tolerance may be a crucial factor for establishing peaceful coexistence, but oppression drives the birth of nations, for it serves as potent vehicle for motivating people to mobilize in struggles. Success in fighting oppression would entail groups to advocate for nationalistic aspirations, while failure would naturally inspire the creation of more successful movements in the future (Grosby, 2005, pp. 116-120).
Thus, this study would explore on the dynamics involving the nationalist sentiments of the Chicanos in the United States (US). Oppression stands out as a core concept for theory and actual practice that triggered the growth of support towards nationalism, alongside the incongruence of treatment they received compared to other marginalized groups at the time of their outburst.
Theoretical Ground: Oppression as the Trigger
The Chicanos, primarily referring to Mexican-Americans, have suffered grave instances of oppression during the period between the 1950s and 1960s. Efforts aimed at excluding the Chicanos from various aspects of everyday life in the US have tempered their attitudes towards the formation of their own national identity. Verily, there is discrimination against Chicanos in several aspects, such as in homeownership, commercial endeavors and organizational rights. The white-dominated society at the time imposed flagrantly oppressive measures against Chicanos, characterized by the use of politically improper language and the desire for full exclusion of whites (Chavez, 2002, pp. 9-41).
In return, the Chicanos did not let the oppressive actions get past them without releasing a counter-response. Due to the discriminatory treatment of Americans, the Chicanos began to work on the prospect of assimilation as a possible solution. Yet, alternative to that view is the premise that the Chicanos may become better off as separated from the Americans through its own nation. Such has found bolstering factors from the existence of movements inspiring nationalist sentiments based on a greater regard to ethnic consciousness. In that regard, the Chicanos gained greater knowledge of, and regard to, ethnic consciousness through education, which enabled them to gain exposure to historical analysis and critiques. As a result, many Chicanos used such exposure to come up with the premise that they are a colonized people in their own right, and that their right to gain self-determination stands viable. The overall failure of the US to insulate them from the threatening effects of discrimination has empowered them to aspire for self-deterministic gains (Chavez, 2002, pp. 9-41).
Political Event Related To Oppression: The Ideographical Analysis of Espiritual de Aztlan and Santa Barbara
The Chicanos based their nationalistic aspirations on two documents the Espiritual de Aztlan and Santa Barbara plans. Those two documents, both serving as the embodiment of the main principles of the Chicano nationalist movement, have stood as mighty instruments for conveying reforms. The documents deliberately advocated for a greater coverage for the Chicano voice in sociopolitical and economic issues. Away from the discrimination that prevailed during the 1950s-1960s period, the documents target the Chicanos as the main agents that would mobilize constructive discourses through a greater emphasis on greater cultural appropriateness. As the experience of the Chicanos under US discrimination has reflected, the denial of cultural importance has stood as an important ground for the formation of their nationalist sentiments. The marginalization of the Chicanos has largely to do with the denial of the US to their culture, hence the target of Chicano nationalism to empower them further towards the direction of cultural importance (Delgado, 1995).
The incorporation of the theoretical-practical premise of oppression in the emergence of the Espiritual de Aztlan and Santa Barbara documents has provided greater scope in proving that Chicano nationalism rose to great relevance due to the oppressive nature of their treatment under US law. The idealistic nature of the documents has largely to do with the relatively young population of Chicanos, whose engagement in activism in the 1960s has provided for a new pattern in nationalistic protestation (Munoz, 1989, pp. 1-2). Notwithstanding the younger population who called for independence, the Chicanos were able to make their message clear on making them an entity independent from the US through nationalist aspirations driven by strong social discourses. Much of the advocacies stated in the documents proved highly ideological in nature, as those attempted to shape the identity of Chicanos as one constituting a firm unit that could stand against the role of the US. The manner in which those documents have found distribution across information channels spread within the Chicano community has stood as a charismatic factor that convinced Chicanos and non-Chicanos alike on the viability of pushing for nationalistic sentiments. By no means are the documents highly subjective in their makeup. Objective facts stood as strong recommendatory bases. The intensity of discrimination against Chicanos, for instance, became a framework for designing advocacies promising for greater Chicano involvement in issues. Marginalization proved to be the core reason that urged the Chicanos to pursue independence, being hopeless of the fact that assimilation would become a possibility or a feasible project to push. It is through marginalization in which the Chicanos found themselves united – that their lack of room to practice their cultural practices served as added motivation for them to stage a nationalist stand. The active participation promised to Chicanos in sociopolitical and economic issues may seem a basic target, but it surely attracted mobilization within the community of their kind (Delgado, 1995).
It may be true that experience and direction sound as promising factors for the Chicano nationalist movement to succeed, but it does not mean to say that those would enable the outright success of the attached objectives. In short, the Chicano experience and direction would not automatically translate to successful reforms. The failure of nationalist sentiments to grow into a full-fledged secessionist measure have failed because of the fact that the movement is relatively new and still requires more sources in the literature. The idea of assimilation is perhaps one thing that has to gain consideration first before nationalist sentiments, for therein could start a domestic situation that could emerge as a pattern in future studies. At the same time, nationalist sentiments would only work through discussions as long as the Chicanos themselves have fully embraced the values set forth by the leading advocates within their group. Chicanos should not take the nationalist sentiments associated to them for granted, for they may need to lay out their insights in the most appropriate manner should they gain the chance to speak (Munoz, 1989).
Overall, oppression has served as a viable act that has resulted to the growth of nationalist sentiments among the Chicano group. Wider socioeconomic and political participation as a promise for Chicanos serve as among the main incentives, although the possibility that such may not work properly due to the relatively young age of the movement still stands.
Nationalism continues to stand out as a subject matter with great relevance in the present period. It does not neglect the fact that several groups worldwide have become subjects of oppression, and that oppression may require the need for a better sense of counter-responding. Yet, the present case has suggested that oppression could stand as a trigger for keeping up with research on the subject matter – particularly nationalism, in this case. In line with that, it is thus safe to conclude that oppression led the Chicanos to consider independence from the US.
Undoubtedly, oppression gives more incentives towards nationalist goals for independence and gives more costs to attempting to mend discriminatory differences with Americans through assimilation. Providing a significant divide against the ruling government pointed as the source of discrimination provides somewhat like an easy way out than trying to work out differences, which could take more time to reach the optimal output. Denying Chicanos the right to practice their culture practically and have a greater voice in policy issues would constitute pent-up feelings on their part. Hence, the thought of becoming independent from the US has prominently figured within the Chicano community. However, such did not work well due to the relative inexperience of the Chicanos in upstaging revolutionary changes.
A possible gap in the study that this research endeavor could advocate is the use of the theoretical-practical framework of oppression in leading to successful or near-successful cases of independence. As many differences continue to divide millions of people around the world, it may be possible that oppression caused the liberty of particular groups of people upholding nationalism with their respected values. It may, or may not, be important to estimate the degree of oppression needed before a particular group of people finally decides to stage a nationalistic revolution for independence. At the same time, a perusal of previous literature on the matter could also prove viable in identifying whether or not there is path dependence involved. History may have more to say on oppression being a nationalistic tool, as many independence revolutions have anchored on oppression as the main reason for their emergence. Thus, finding better understandings on the concept of oppression is one endeavor this study encourages,
Chavez, E., 2002. Mi raza primero! (My people first!): Nationalism, identity, and insurgency in the Chicano movement in Los Angeles. Ewing, NJ: University of California Press.
Delgado, F., 1995. Chicano movement rhetoric: An ideographic interpretation, [online] Available at Proquest Database [Accessed 28 March 2013].
Grosby, S., 2005. Nationalism: A very short introduction. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Munoz, C., 1989. Youth, identity, power: The Chicano movement. United Kingdom: New Left Books.