Openly Gay Boxer Orlando Cruz is Still Fighting Homophobia, Five Years After Coming Out

On Saturday, while most of boxing’s audience focused on Andre Ward controversially defeating Sergey Kovalev in their rematch, Orlando Cruz lost to Jose Lopez with little fanfare. There were no HBOSports Illustrated, or even Univision camera crews. There were likely no writers from The New Yorker, The Guardian, or ESPN—all of whom once flocked to cover Cruz who, since coming out publicly five years ago, has attempted to become the first openly gay boxing world champion.

On Saturday, the lights of Vegas evaded him, Cruz fought Lopez in Caguas, Puerto Rico, inside the Coliseo Roger L. Mendoza. The Coliseo is a small venue that is, literally and figuratively, thousands of miles away from The Strip, where Cruz had his first world title shot in 2013, losing to his tocayo, Orlando Salido.

Cruz’s loss does not signal his career’s end but, with the WBO International 130-pound title at stake, the loss means any realistic title-shot is likely over. Cruz turns 36 next month, an advanced age for a professional boxer, an age when reflexes and quickness slow, and the already dangerous sport can become deadly.

There was evidence of this decay on Saturday, but this is how it ends for boxers. There are no final seasons acting as farewell tours in boxing. Only dwindling crowds, the odd type to watch a once-beautiful athlete punished by opponents who, in another life, were hardly good enough to offer competitive sparring sessions.

Orlando Cruz lost on Saturday but it does not take away from his importance. To appreciate Cruz, we must first understand the history of homophobia in boxing—told through two fights. The most famous, occurring 55 years ago, was also the most tragic. While the second, and most recent, highlights the Latino culture’s machismo that is an inherent part of boxing.

Emile Griffith never meant to kill Benny Paret. During the 12th round of their 1962 fight, Griffith pounced on Paret, who had stumbled into the corner, unable to protect himself. Griffith landed 27 uncontested punches before the slow-acting referee stopped the fight. “When I saw Paret hurt,” Griffith said afterwards, “I want[ed] him…on the ground before the fight was stopped.”

With the fight over, Paret’s body slid down the ropes into a seated position; legs crumbled beneath his body while leaving his right arm hanging from the ropes. His cornermen jumped into the ring but all they could do was unfold his legs and lay him on his back—a more dignified position for a former world champion—before carrying him out on a stretcher and taking him to the hospital. Doctors drilled holes into Paret’s skull to relieve pressure from the swelling caused by cerebral lacerations. When Griffith learned of Paret’s grave condition, he cried inconsolably. Ten days later, Paret passed away, changing Griffith irreparably.

The death haunted Griffith, who’d wake up to Paret standing at the foot of his bed. Hard to tell if the apparitions were any better than nightmares of greeting Paret on the street, going to shake his hand only to find it lifeless and cold. Or the other nightmare, that of attending a boxing event and realizing he was sitting next to Paret as they both watched boxers trying to kill one another.

Griffith never meant to kill him but also admitted “what [Paret] said touched something inside.” Leading up to their fight, Paret—from Cuba—had called Griffith a “maricón.” For the unaware, Griffith offered a translation: “Maricón in English means faggot.” But more than that, Paret publicly taunted him. During their pre-fight weigh-in, coming off the scales, Paret moved behind Griffith, grabbed his ass and, making a thrusting motion, said, “Hey maricón, I’m going to get you and your husband.” It is unclear how much the slur played in the tragic result but Paret used it, knowing it would cut at Griffith, whom rumors pegged as gay.

During his career, Griffith never substantiated the rumors—likely impossible, in the 1960s, for him to continue his career had he done so. This was boxing, the same sport that a generation earlier shunned then-flyweight boxing champion Panama Joe Brown because he “loved other men.”

Instead, Griffith remained quiet, only admitting to struggling with his sexuality decades after he retired. “I will dance with anybody,” Griffith offered as a metaphor in explaining his sexual preference. “I’ve chased men and women. I like men and women both. But I don’t like that word: homosexual, gay, or faggot. I don’t know what I am. I love men and women the same, but if you ask me which one is better…I like women.”

This admission came after Griffith almost died in 1992, thirteen years earlier, a victim of a hate crime. Griffith, who suffered brain damage from the beating, remained lucid enough to understand the great dichotomy of his situation: “I kill a man and most people forgive me. However, I love a man and many say this makes me an evil person.”

It wasn’t as if Paret calling Griffith a “maricón” was the last episode of homophobia in boxing; it was merely the most tragic. Its most manic came with Mike Tyson’s hate-filled rant in 2002. A more recent and–because of those involved–better known example came in 2006. Leading up to their fight, Ricardo Mayorga repeatedly questioned Oscar De La Hoya’s sexuality and manhood.

Mayorga was not the first to do it, just the most overt in doing so. When he questioned De La Hoya’s sexuality, it was closely tied into manhood and ethnic authenticity—an issue that presented itself throughout De La Hoya’s career. Whether fighting Latinos like Félix Trinidad, Mexican nationals like Julio César Chávez, or Mexican-Americans like Fernando Vargas, part of the debate revolved around De La Hoya’s manhood and authenticity.

During a press conference, the ever-volatile Mayorga screamed at De La Hoya. “I am the champion, you are no one…you’re nobody, maricón…Give me my respect, maricón.” Mayorga also talked about De La Hoya’s wife and questioned his Mexican authenticity. “I am the champion, you clown,” Mayorga yelled, “You don’t even know how to represent your race, maricón. That’s why all the Latinos are with me…even Mexicans…Not even your race likes you because you don’t know how to represent.” Mayorga claimed his dislike of De La Hoya stemmed from the latter’s defeat of Julio César Chávez—the symbol of Mexican boxing machismo.

Despite the vitriol, De La Hoya’s supreme skill overpowered Mayorga, dropping him with a right hook, just a minute into their fight. Mayorga lasted until the 6th round before the referee stopped the bout. The fight ended with Mayorga on his knees, trying to regain enough equilibrium to struggle onto his feet, while De La Hoya—carried atop his trainer’s shoulders—celebrated with an uncontrollable smile.

After the fight, reporters asked De La Hoya what he thought of Mayorga. He responded, “Well it’s not that I don’t like him, or I hate him. I don’t even know the guy. It’s just ever since he started disrespecting me, disrespecting my wife, disrespecting my family, he insulted my heritage—when opponents talk like that, you have to defend yourself.”

De La Hoya never brought up, Mayorga’s attacks on his sexuality.

These fights are a sliver of the history of homophobia within boxing that Cruz came out to. On Saturday, that was likely the furthest thing from his mind as, frequently, he appeared on the verge of being knocked down, even out. His experience allowed him to endure the beating, holding on to his younger and taller opponent, hoping to survive long enough to hear the score cards read. He did, and the most sympathetic of them had him winning only 3 of the 10 rounds.

Maybe this was Cruz’s last fight and he will walk away. But Cruz is a boxer, above all else, and even if he “retires,” the pull of the ring may tempt him into continuing, convincing himself that a world title is within reach.

Cruz was not a transcendental boxing talent—few are—but he was an important one. He was boxing’s great anomaly; openly gay in a sport that exudes masculinity and dominated by a Latino culture inseparable from its machismo. In a sport synonymous with bravery, Cruz fought for and against a variety of things, making him among the bravest of them all.


Originally published on Remezcla.com

I Owe My PhD to the Wu-Tang Clan

In 1994, as a high school freshman, my counselor forced me to attend summer school. He told me that without it, I risked not earning enough credits to be a sophomore. So, at my mother’s insistence, I sat in a classroom making my way through workbooks while a teacher read the local newspaper and various sports magazines. I didn’t learn a single thing that summer besides knowing from whose packet to copy.

Three years later, I didn’t attend summer school even though my counselor again suggested I do so. Instead of being locked away in some windowless school room, I spent those months lifting weights and listening to Wu-Tang Forever.

When the Wu-Tang Clan released their second album, I was 16 and living in El Paso, Texas. I dreamed of being either a professional football player or a boxer. But since it had been decades since colleges offered boxing scholarships, the former became my focus, playing defensive tackle for my high school football team. I thought that if a university awarded me an athletic scholarship, that meant I was smart enough to be in college. But otherwise higher education felt like a waste of time and money.

The summer between my junior and senior year, I desperately clung to my hopes of playing professional football, daydreaming of buying houses for family members. I dedicated myself to lifting weights inside a closed garage that magnified the already unbearable Chihuahuan Desert heat. Sweating profusely, I embraced the discomfort, believing it made me mentally stronger. And as months passed by, I listened constantly to Wu-Tang Forever, turning it down only when my mother—who, despite not being fluent in English, still picked up on their many curse words—stepped into the garage.

Between reps, I made mental notes of things I had never heard of or even familiar names whose history I didn’t fully know. In between sets, I wrote them down, making lists filled with things like Five Percenterstroposphere, thermosphere, stratosphereFrankie Avalon, and chess pieces. I even looked up Japan, Austria, and Sweden, since apparently people in those countries also listened to Wu-Tang. The following day, I would hear something different, add it to the list, and make more notes. This cycle continued until summer ended and school began.

That summer, Wu-Tang Forever awakened an intellectual curiosity I didn’t know I had. In their words, the Wu-Tang sparked my “braincells to the upmost,” specifically for history. And each day, after showering and cleansing myself from the hot box’s filth, I read over my list and one-by-one looked up each item in an old encyclopedia set, some volumes of which had never even been opened.

My physical strength increased, and after lifting an amount of weight I was particularly proud of, I would yell, “I shitted on your hood kid, I shitted on your hood!”

My father’s formal education ended in Mexico, around the fifth grade, while my mother completed the Mexican equivalent of high school. We had moved to the U.S. in the mid-80s, when my father joined the Army. My mother worked a variety of jobs, from cleaning hotel rooms to working on a factory assembly line. They both earned their GEDs, and though they stressed education, we knew very little when it came to college. When one comes from an uneducated family, education is an abstraction—a rhetorical talking point where everyone acknowledges its value but beyond that, no one knows exactly what it means.

Educated adults told me to take either the SAT or ACT, so I took the cheapest one during my senior year because it was all the same to us. We didn’t know about test prep tutors, and even if we did, we more than likely wouldn’t have been able to afford them. And even though my high school offered college counseling, we were ignorant of everything from applying for scholarships and financial aid, to knowing where to look (in the era before Google) for tuition rates.

I can’t remember which standardized test I took, but I remember that I didn’t do well. But my scores mattered little since I still had football—an obsession that led me to do things like cut out a Heisman Trophy picture and tape it to the garage’s ceiling. That way, whenever I stared at the ceiling while on the downside of a sit-up or during bench presses, I focused on my goal while listening to “A Better Tomorrow,” which further reinforced what I shouldn’t be doing—namely, partying, drinking, smoking, fucking, dreaming, and scheming my life away.

This June marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of Wu-Tang Forever. I never played professional football and, frankly, I didn’t even play much my senior year. Like most who end up athletically dissatisfied, I blamed coaches for having their favorites—I wasn’t one of them. After high school, I motivated myself for a few weeks each year, convinced that I could at least play at a lower collegiate level, but nothing ever came of it. I suspect it was because subconsciously I knew I wasn’t good enough. I had dedicated myself entirely to a goal and had failed.

A few times a year, cruel dreams of playing football again, awakened me and left me with a sense of desperation and dissatisfaction with my current lot in life. I worked construction, and though I had once embraced the oppressive heat, I dreaded working outdoors, especially during the Southwestern summers—a different heat from the one Wu-Tang rapped about.

In the last two decades, my appreciation of the album—and the history lessons it taught me—has stuck with me. After finally paying heed to “A Better Tomorrow,” specifically the lyrics about still searching for glory days that never were, I enrolled in El Paso Community College in 2009 and transferred to University of Texas at El Paso the year after. Five years later, Southern Methodist University awarded me a fellowship into their history PhD program, where I’m currently a candidate.

During the summer and a week before my wife and I moved to Dallas, my brother, sister, and I attended the El Paso Texas Showdown Tattoo Festival where Wu-Tang, or at least, three of their members, headlined the day’s event. The RZA, Ghostface Killah, and U-God were visibly older than their pictures within Wu-Tang Forever’s linear notes, which I must have looked at hundreds of times during the summer of 1997.

And because I was 33 by then, I wanted to beat the traffic. My sister, 10 years younger than I, stayed with her friends, while my brother and I walked to the parking lot, thinking the Wu-Tang were on their final song.

As we searched for our car in the breezy, cool desert night, Wu-Tang thanked El Paso and its crowd, which was a fraction of the size they would have performed to at the height of their popularity. Then the unmistakable sounds of “Triumph” began.

And since Wu-Tang is for the children, I selfishly took the song as a symbolic and fitting end to a chapter of my life.


Originally published on Fusion.net

Photo Illustration by Elena Scotti/Fusion/GMG

Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Was a Legend In the Boxing Ring, and an Activist Hero Outside It

June 3, 2017 marks the one-year anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s death. Rightfully, when sports fans talk about boxers fighting for civil rights, his name is the first that comes to mind, for a variety of reasons. Among them: Ali’s success, weight-class, charisma, and the Civil Rights Movement becoming almost synonymous with African American’s struggle for equality. But various minority groups, across multiple fronts, also fought in these struggles; in fact, Muhammad Ali was not even the only boxer involved. Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales –a former boxer by the time of the 1960s Civil Rights era–was an arguably more impactful figure to his own respective movement: the Chicano Movement.

Born on June 18, 1928 in an east-side barrio of Denver, Colorado (“in the slums,” as he put it), Gonzales was raised by a single father after his mother died when he was three years old. As an intelligent child with a penchant for “always popping off, like a cork,” Gonzales earned the nickname “Corky” early on. After graduating high school at sixteen—a remarkable feat considering the inferior, segregated education in the barrios of the American Southwest, barrios that prejudiced outsiders often called “spik-towns” and “Little Mexicos,”—Gonzales attended the University of Denver, lasting a semester before realizing he could not afford the tuition.

By that time, Gonzales had been boxing for two years, and with college no longer a choice, he competed in tournaments where he recognized his advantage in skill over the other local fighters. Further, life experiences—even at such an early age—fueled his desire to fight. In an interview with the Chicano newspaper La Cucaracha, Gonzales explained, “I had already recognized the humility of a beating on the streets; of being insulted by redneck farmers where my father had to accept low wages and we lived in shacks.” By comparison, boxing was just another form of everyday survival. “You never find out you’re a fighter. When you’re growing up, you just kinda survive. You learn how to handle yourself.”

Gonzales turned professional in 1947, after an outstanding amateur career that included a national championship. He would go on to credit boxing with taking him out of the barrios of his childhood. And still, despite not having a formal higher education, Gonzales made it a point to read and educate himself during his professional career. His son, Rudolph “Rudy” Gonzales—executive director of Servicios de La Raza—recalls his father even reading for inspiration before bouts. “In the dressing room, before the fights, he used to read from Garcia Lorca or he would read the ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ to get inspiration, go into battle,” Rudolph recounts.

At his peak, Gonzales ranked as high as the third-best featherweight in the world. In an era when there were only eight divisional titles—unlike the seventeen weight divisions that now exist, each with several sanctioning bodies awarding a belt—Gonzales was a world-class boxer who never fought for a world title. Gonzales’ son attributes his father not getting a title fight, in part, to the racism of Colorado’s boxing commissioner Eddie Bohn—who in 1977, per the Rocky Mountain News, was “under attack for not sanctioning enough fights involving Hispanics.” So, when promoters proposed a title fight for Gonzales in Denver, Rudolph Gonzales says Eddie Bohn told his father, “no n*ggers or spiks will ever fight for a title in my state.”

Despite not fighting for the top title, Gonzales had a large following in his local Denver community. “He was the Golden Boy of Denver in the Mexican-American community,” his son explains. “He owned the town…he was the number one athletic drawing card in Denver in ’49, ’50, ’51.” Gonzales fought 74 fights in his almost 9-year professional career—sometimes headlining events twice a month.

Understanding he would likely not receive a title fight, Gonzales retired in 1955—aged twenty-seven—with an impressive professional record of 62 wins against 11 losses and 1 draw. Pridefully, he claimed that, unlike other boxers, he never left his brains on the boxing canvas. His boxing prowess eventually made Gonzales the first Chicano inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

Despite his athletic achievements, Gonzales is best remembered for his impact outside of the ring, becoming not only an activist but a leading figure in the Chicano Movement. Rodolfo Acuña, in Occupied America, described Gonzales as someone who represented the “[v]ato and the barrio youth” in understanding “the loss of identity when an Anglo teacher changes one’s name from Rodolfo to Rudolph, when one is punished for speaking Spanish.” Gonzalez himself was representative of the Chicano: a “Mexican-American with a non-Anglo image of himself,” according to Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar—who, coincidentally, was killed by a law enforcement officer under suspicious circumstances in 1970, during an anti-war Chicano Moratorium.

Formerly used as a disparaging description of lower-class Mexican Americans, the term, under the Chicano Movement, became a political identifier. Created, according to Hunter S. Thompson, “as a necessary identity for the people of Aztlán—neither Mexicans or Americans, but a conquered Indian/Mestizo nation sold out like slaves by its leaders, and treated like indentured servants by its conquerors. Not even their language was definable, much less their identity.”

“No longer will we beg,” the Dallas Morning News quotes Gonzales in a November 4, 1967 edition. “We will demand as a right. Here we issue a declaration of rights for the Southwest, for people who shed blood and sweat to become a part of this poverty area of the Southwest. The leadership of the Mexican-Americans of the Southwest wants to stop talking about false promises and to start talking about new philosophies—things we can feel and touch. The revolution is here…”

The ideology behind this revolution was Chicanismo. In the first National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference—organized by Gonzales in 1969—the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán forged Chicanismo’s goals of cultural nationalism. “With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil,” the document read, “we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America, before all our brothers in the bronze continent, we are a nation, we are a union of free pueblos, we are Aztlán.”

Besides Chicanismo, Aztlán was the other major idea born out of the Chicano Movement. Chicanos considered Aztlán—the mythical homeland of Aztecs in the United States’ Southwest—to be occupied territory and their spiritual homeland. The Southwest, including the area that became Texas, Arizona, California, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado, Nevada and Utah, belonged to Mexico before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo concluded the U.S.-Mexican War. Thus, the core of the Chicano Movement occurred in the Southwest.

At its most militant, its goal was to reclaim this area. In the El Chicano newspaper, Gonzales explained that Aztlán would be a nation where Chicanos would have their own art, government, and security. Answering his critics, Gonzales added, “When someone calls this separatism, I say we are already separate.”

As part of his activism, Gonzales founded the Crusade for Justice, described in his book of selected writings, Message to Aztlán, as “a full-fledged, multi-purpose, Chicano-oriented, activist organization.” The organization provided community services in employment, education, legal defense, civil rights, and political action. He also marched with Cesar Chavez, met with Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., and other African American leaders, spending “hours educating them as to who we are as Chicanos.” Presumably, he also showed these leaders instances where similar discrimination affected both of their people.

Gonzales became a part of the King-organized Poor People’s March on Washington, DC, where he issued El Plan del Barrio, demanding reforms in housing, education, job development, law enforcement, economic opportunities, agriculture, land, and wealth redistribution. Each of these reforms were deemed necessary since Anglos robbed Chicanos of their land—Aztlán—and drove them to “migrant labor fields and the cities” where they lived in poverty, and in an Anglo colonial system that “castrated [the] people’s culture, consciousness of our heritage, and language.”

With the Vietnam War serving as the backdrop, Ali famously stated, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong.” Gonzales echoed the sentiment in his 1970 Arizona State University speech, stating that for Chicanos, “the war is not in Vietnam. It’s not in Korea. It’s not in Cambodia. It’s right here in these barrios. It’s right here in our community.” Such militant talk aroused the FBI’s attention, and the bureau began tracking Gonzales, like it did with many of the other Civil Rights leaders. In one of their files, the FBI quotes Gonzales as saying, “I’m an agitator and a troublemaker — that’s my reputation and that’s what I’m going to be.” True to his word, Gonzales agitated for Civil Rights while also producing a seminal work of the Chicano Movement, “Yo Soy Joaquin.”

The epic poem speaks of a Chicano’s painful search for self-identity. Joaquin, the narrator, poignantly details feeling “[l]ost in a world of confusion” as someone whose heritage made him “both tyrant and slave.” Joaquin is of the same blood as those who rebelled for independence against Spaniards and who rode with Pancho Villa in the revolution, but he also descends from despots.

Showing his confusion, Joaquin is culturally prideful and yet, part of him, “rejects [his] father and…mother and dissolves into the melting pot to disappear in shame.” Joaquin is a fighter, whether in war–where Mexican Americans, like many other minorities, died in disproportionate numbers–or in the boxing ring–where he fought his way “from stinking barrios to the glamour of the ring and lights of fame or mutilated sorrow.”

“Yo soy Joaquin,” just like the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, became a pivotal document of the Chicano Movement. Juan Felipe Herrera, Professor Emeritus at UC Riverside, says of the poem’s importance: “[H]ere, finally, was our collective song…and it arrived like thunder crashing down from the heavens…Every little barrio newspaper from Albuquerque to Berkeley published it. People slapped mimeographed copies up on walls and telephone poles.”

Gonzales’ work as an activist also led him to create the Escuela Tlatelolco in 1970. The Denver pre-K-through-12 school, still in operation, came from Gonzales’ adamant belief that education was the great social equalizer, especially for Chicanos and Latinos. Gonzales and his organization made it a point to award scholarships to barrio youth. Escuela Tlatelolco included 24 classrooms, art studios, print shops, a bookstore, a lunchroom, an auditorium, and—since boxing was always a part of Gonzales’ life, included alongside philosophy in dinner table discussions—a boxing gym that hostedclub fights. In fact, lessons he learned in boxing helped guide his activism. His son, Rudolph Gonzales, explains: “his fearlessness…his work ethic, his discipline…his critical thinking…those all…led him to…excel in whatever endeavor he found himself in.”

On April 15, 2005, surrounded by his large family, Gonzales passed away, aged 76. “He went to sleep and never woke up,” his son remembers, adding, “it was a great loss.”

Two days after his death, over 5,000 people from all over the country arrived in Denver, marching from Escuela Tlatelolco through downtown and to Mestizo-Curtis Park—a distance of over 4 miles. Throughout the event, many marchers sang and waved Mexican and Chicano Movement flags. The eight-hour service, which included art and theater performances, showed the deep appreciation and admiration many had for Gonzales.

Herman Baca, a Chicano Movement participant, said Gonzales would be remembered as “a leader, organizer, fighter, warrior, and poet, who fought a life-long militant struggle for self determination, respect, dignity, freedom, justice, and the human/civil rights of this nation’s 30 million Chicanos/Mexicanos/Latinos.”

Inherently, those who fight for Civil Rights are controversial figures in their attempts to disrupt the status quo. Gonzales was a Chicano nationalist who his critics labeled as part of the communist threat, and even some of the other Mexican-American activists were uncomfortable with the radical demands he made. And yet, in 2015, despite controversy from opponents claiming Gonzales was too controversial and volatile, the Denver Public Library named a new branch after him.

As Gonzales explained in the Arkansas Gazette, “The Mexican-American is no longer willing to stand in the church with his hat in his hand, awaiting for a priest to bless him and God to save him. They want us to believe power doesn’t grow out of a barrel of a gun. Well, we’re giving them a chance to change things—peacefully.”

“The Mexican-American is no longer willing to stand in the church with his hat in his hand, awaiting for a priest to bless him and God to save him”

Of course, the struggle for Civil Rights is rarely peaceful. Death threats and police harassment became a constant, along with a mysterious bombing of a Crusade for Justice member’s apartment. While Gonzales advocated for anti-violence, he also said he and his people “believe[d] in self-defense”—the type that felt logical after centuries of oppression.

Outside of a small percentage of the population—students of Chicano history, participants of the Chicano Movement, old-time boxing fans, etc.—Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales is largely forgotten, especially when compared to Muhammad Ali. But in the 1960s and 1970s, “Corky” Gonzales was the “other” boxer who fought for Civil Rights. More than that, Gonzales was a leader for the Chicano Movement that demanded cultural independence. “While my Father never attained the fistic stature of Ali,” his son explains, “I believe he significantly surpassed Muhammad in the political arena and the struggle for Justice, Equity and Peace.”

The current political climate highlights many of the issues the Chicano Movement fought for, while also showing the work that remains. Questions remain today about the status of the Chicano Movement, with some saying that, if it “is not already dead, it has certainly lost enough blood to be rendered unconscious.” Undoubtedly, as the more mainstream realm of Latinx politics has absorbed—even co-opted—aspects of the Chicano Movement, its radical elements have diminished.

Anyone who fights for Civil Rights must essentially be deeply optimistic, and Gonzales was no different. His son, Rudolph Gonzales states that when people asked his father if the Chicano Movement was dead, he always responded, “‘No. It is just sleeping…it will come back and people will come together when there are emergencies.’ And boy, if this is not an emergency, I don’t know what is. And I’ll tell you where my dad would be; he’d be right in the front, on that street, in the lead.”


Originally published on Remezcla.com