We will utilize the city of San Diego as our classroom. San Diego, California has a long and rich
history of Chicanx art. You will take advantage of our location in order to observe the way some
Chicanx artists have used the city as their canvas, (especially in the area of Barrio Logan and in
Chicano Park) and the medium of mural painting as a way to articulate aspects of
Chicanx/Religious identity. You will focus on religious imagery in particular in order to discern the
diversity in depictions of religious devotion. Chicano Park is a space that is devoted to the display
of Chicanx culture, art, and history. It is also a space that has a history of its own with
cultural/political contestations and negotiations. Students will prepare for the tour by learning
the history, debates, and discourses of Chicano Park and then after the tour students will turn in
a reflection paper detailing their interpretations and understandings of the murals.
Your reflection paper should be 1,750 words (minimum). In your reflections, I want you to use
the murals as a way to reflect on what you have learned throughout the entire semester. What
about the murals connects Chicanx history, life, empowerment with “religion?” What is religious
about the imagery and why? How do you understand the relevance of these depictions of
Chicanx religious life? How do you connect the murals, as a text, with the other texts you’ve read
for class? Feel free to use and cite any of the texts you have used for this class. Lastly, and
importantly, reflect on what you have learned about Chicanx life, justice, religiosity/spirituality,
and history with your social location essays that you wrote at the beginning of this course.
Describe how you might think about your own identity differently in light of these connections?
How would your social location essay be different today than the one you wrote in the early
weeks of the semester? If changes took place, why do you think that this the case? If nothing has
changed, why do you think that is the case? I want you to spend a considerable amount of time
reflecting on your social location and what it means to you and how our course and your
understanding of Chicanx Religious Identities affects the way you view your own social location.
Please visit Chicano Park via a Google Maps “Walking Tour” as I demonstrated in class. If you
need help doing this, please let me know.
Papers are due on Friday, November 20th by 11:59 pm. You may turn in your paper earlier if you
wish. Please make sure that your paper is in a doc. format (Word or Pages no Google docs or
PDFs!). Failure to submit your paper in the proper format will result in your final grade for this
assignment being lowered by one level (so and A is an A- an A- is a B+, etc).
This paper will be worth 250 points (25%) of your final grade. Late papers will not be accepted.
No requests for paper extensions will be granted except under emergency circumstances
(hospitalization, death in the family, etc.), and appropriate documentation must accompany
Chicanx Religious Identities
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Chicanx Religious Identities
San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge, located in San Diego, is one of the largest collectors of outdoor murals in the United States of America. In Barrio Logan city, the neighborhood is located the famous Chicano Park. The park is approximately 7.35 acres of community space established in the 1970s, after which in the year 2016 was designated a National Historic Landmark. The construction of the famous interstate 5 and the San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge union somehow led to the displacement of many of the initial occupants of Barrio Logan. Inside the Chicano Park are the murals painted on the bridge pylons towering over the entire park created to honor the struggle in making the park. They are so deeply rooted in the Chicano culture, the Influences of Mesoamerican, historical events, and mythology. Amongst the paintings are those of animal imageries and struggle for revolution scenes, while other murals depict immigration and feminism. Others display the most important figures of history and leaders of the Civil Rights Movements, such as Pancho Villa, Cesar Chavez, Che Guevara, and Fridah Kahlo. Most of the murals were created by the state, regional, locals, and international artists, as stated by one of the major protestors in 1970, Josephine Talamantez. She was the head of the Chicano Park steering committee.
The Chicano Park murals were birthed to indicate the outstanding contributions of Mexican, Mexican – American people living in Chicano, and Spanish men’s history. This history embraced marking the most renowned men of Chicano who served as role models to the community. Their portraits were thus painted all around Chicano Park to honor and celebrate their struggles and achievements (Isasi-Díaz, 2004). One mural painted in 1997 by Robbles was done to indicate the Chicano Park residents’ present-day guardians. This picture was painted suspended in the sky as a symbol of some holmic beings watching over the people on the land.
The painting by Tony de Varges, Felipe Adame, and Vidal Aguirre has done on a kiosk ceiling to depict the foundation of Mexico City. It has three hunters on a lakeshore captured by an eagle whose one talon offers support to its body on the cactus as the other talon holds a snake firmly. This was traditionally painted to depict the search for lakeshore where the locals would come across an eagle perched ontop of a cactus tearing a serpent apart. They believed that this was to be their God-given home called the place of the cactus. The Chicano locals believed in a god-given land by the lakeshore where the serpent’s evilness will be no more after the eagle devoured it. This also showed that the Chicano murals were religious for depicting beliefs in a supreme eliminator of wars that was proclaimed to them in the form of a song by the mural painting of an eagle holding the Aztec glyph. The murals thus were done to illustrate the belief in some supernatural beings.
The Coatlicue, painted by Micheal Schnorr and Susan Yamagata, who is also the designer, depicts an Aztec Goddess of the earth. According to their history, this goddess is the mother of a tribal god called Huitzilopochtli, who underwent evolution to become a war god. The painters depicted Coatlicue extending her arms and supporting both the sun and the earth, and giving birth to Tlaloc, the water god. These two beings are the earth’s initial orators and are regarded by the people as the earth deity. Bearing the sun, earth, and the sea all under the sovereignty of two supreme beings makes this mural religious in every aspect since the Chicano locals believed in the existence of earth goddess of the sun and the god of the sea. After cultural terrorists attacked the mural, a few parts of Coatlicue were redesigned. Her left shoulder and right wrists were redrawn into dragon heads that appeared so intimidating. This was a symbol that she was angry at the perpetrators and threatened to devour them. This was religious since it depicted belief in punishment of cultural sins by the goddess.
The Chicano Park Murals depicted empowerment concerning religion and movements. The Rage of La Raza, painted by Mario Torero in 1974, expresses the people’s anger and traditional women’s power (Rodriguez, 2010). It also depicts a child considered to be the future of the people. Children were regarded as little gods; hence, Victor Ochoa painted the children’s mural as a symbol of Chicano power and children’s sacred heart. This mural is religious in a way since it was used to symbolize young children’s purity and the greater symbol of future hope they were to the locals. It also depicts a native prince they regard as their ruler.
The Chicano religious life was relevant in several senses. For example, like most religious believers who believe in supreme beings’ existence, the Chicano religion also believed in supreme beings (Burke, 2005). One of the beings was the Coatlicue goddess of the earth and the Tlaloc god of the sea. They are also religiously relevant because they believe in natural occurrences in the universe triggered by these gods. They were also relevant religiously for believing in the underworld’s existence as painted by Felipe Adame in 1992. His painting depicted a skeleton that referred to Quetzalcoatl’s myth, who traveled to the underworld to bring back the bones of past human races to create a new race.
Chicano mural texts share similarities with class texts. They are both used to communicate vital messages that inspire religion, justice and depict the cultural life identity of certain groups of Mexican American people. They were also used to represent Chicano political and cultural movements, which are similarly defined by other class texts.
There were numerous Chicano movements in the years 1939s and 1940s that called for justice to the Mexican American immigrants working under poor conditions. I learned that activists such as Jesus Cruz spearheaded the call for justice. Chicano movements in the 1960s and 70s also played a more significant role at the end of the Vietnam War. This movement brought justice to the Chicanos after it exposed poor educational equality, civil rights abuse, police brutality, and poverty among the Mexican American immigrants.
About 25 million Latinos belong to the catholic religion, while 9 million are Pentecostal (Elizondo, 2000). Spirituality is essential in Chicano life (Slater, Hall and Edwards, 2003). The basic cultural survival tactic depicted from the colonization of Christian and the American evangelization n the 16th century became the syncretism of original worldwide religious views and practices into the so-called popular religion (Broyles – Gonzalez, 2002). The Chicano life believed that divines and humans’ actions influenced natural events in this world. I learned that this principle’s understanding was a crucial emblem in fostering humility in Chicano life. I also learned that religiosity entailed close relationship baked in love with God and numerous beings such as Guadalupe and saints (Elizondo, Deck and Matovina, 2006).
Chicano fights for life and justice identity occurred due to the Mexican American’s social status living in poverty. In 1968, Joe Rodriguez, a 15-year-old sophomore at Garfield High School, joined the other pupil in rallying against unequal conditions in the school. He later declared that he was Chicano no matter the views of others. He stood for his identity, even in the era of Donald Trump when their identity was being discriminated against. The Chicano also had a life that identified with the sexual orientation of most men and Chicano women. This sexual identity sought to reconcile Chicano men who agreed with homosexuality with their initial Latino socialization culture that did not embrace homosexuality. Adolescence in Chicano life identity was when a person’s identity transformed to adjust the body’s appearance and societal expectation. The cultural identity took into the account life experience, socialization agents, and socio-cultural conditions of the environment to define identity formation. According to my own identity, the adolescence period entailed purely biological processes that modify the body. Also, I would have embraced my own sexual identity and never sought to reconcile it with a different culture.
Today, my social location essay would differ from the one I wrote earlier due to the influence of my current Barri Logan location. I am exposed to numerous cultural beliefs, historical events, and religious beliefs that differ from my own. I will re-write it to encompass the beauty of the Mexican American people’s diverse beliefs in this location and agree with the fact about social justice, empowerment, and life identity that I disagreed with previously.
My social location distinguishes me in three basic categories of social class, education, and race. My social class has placed me in the middle class because of my parents’ position in their workplaces. Since I am still a student, my social class defines my social location since I would be able to support myselffinancially; I would have been categorized using education and race. This social class has redefined my life in that I have always sought means of becoming financially stable. The Chicano identity has made me accept my position in the social class of my social location. It has enabled me to also regard other social classes in my social location as deserving of justice and privileges they do not have in their social classes. This course has also simplified facts on social location diversity; hence I have been equipped with knowledge of the various factors of categorizing society.
On the racial background factor, I have been accorded a bigger picture in the society being a member of the most dominant race in my current location. Were I from a less dormant race, I would not have been able to access privileges present for the dominant race. For instance, I would not have attended a good school or access proper health care facilities in my social location. The Chicano religious and cultural justice required that no Mexican-American be discriminated due to his racial background. It rallied for justice, fairness, and equality among all the races in Barris Logan. This has encouraged me to avoid discriminating against people in my social location due to their racial backgrounds.
On the factor of education as a social category, I have been motivated to pursue higher learning since my current social location; people receive job privileges in society due to education levels. I have always put hard work into my studies to secure an excellent job in society. The Chicano religious identity sought to provide equal levels of education to all the inhabitants of San Diego. It aimed at effacing the inequality present in learning institutions for Mexican Americanimmigrants. My course has equipped me with this knowledge, and also the social location of Chicano elaborated the need for abandoning education imbalance as a source of educational discrimination in job markets and societal positions.
Broyles-González, Y. (2002). Indianizing Catholicism. Chicana traditions: Continuity and change, 117.
Burke, K. F. (2005). Thinking about the church: The gift of cultural diversity to theology. Many faces, one church: Cultural diversity and the American Catholic experience. Lanham, MD: Sheed & Ward.
Elizondo, V. P. (2000). Galilean Journey: The Mexican-American Promise. Orbis Books.
Elizondo, V. P., Deck, A. F., & Matovina, T. (Eds.). (2006). The treasure of Guadalupe. Rowman & Littlefield.
Isasi-Díaz, A. M. (2004). La lucha continues: Mujerista theology. Orbis Books.
Rodriguez, J. (2010). Our lady of Guadalupe: Faith and empowerment among Mexican-American women. University of Texas Press.
Slater, W., Hall, T. W., & Edwards, K. J. (2001). Measuring religion and spirituality: Where are we and where are we going?. Journal of psychology and theology, 29(1), 4-21.