Despite the President’s obfuscated opinion on the matter, it is clear to sober minds Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Russia sought to sow division in America among ethnic lines. Chicanos, like in other aspects of society, were ignored by Russia’s social media campaign of misinformation. Perhaps it is for the best gasoline was not poured on the largest minority group currently smoldering from the Trump administration’s racist policies towards immigrants from Latin America. While the intention of this essay is not to lay out a blueprint for how Russia can marshal more discord in America, a feeling of rejection prompts an outline for how Russia galvanizing Chicanos would be far more explosive than a white-black powder keg.
News reports inform us Russia, through social media, orchestrated a campaign to sow division among Americans. Facebook ads tied to Russian accounts heightened our political differences. These ads seemed to run the gamut of American political ideology. Second amendment and border security ads targeted white Americans, exciting them to act and vote for Trump, lest a Hilary Clinton victory result in the confiscation of guns from patriots and open borders for non-white foreigners to resettle America. The same Russian accounts posted ads calling for “Hilary for Prison”, and for African Americans to protest police violence and the death of so many black lives such violence begets. I agree we should be made aware of police brutality and the rampant, avoidable killing of one particular group. But the edification of black people is not why Russian operatives posted Black Lives Matter ads. The purpose of these ads, as were the purpose of border security and second amendment ads, were to galvanize a respective group of Americans. Yet, Chicanos were ignored.
I doubt the Kremlin, or any high-ranking Russian official, is familiar with the term Chicano. With the Chicano Movement of the 1960s long reduced to an assignment here and there in Latina American classes in select universities, and today’s Chicanos, Chicanas, Chicanx, or Chican@s being the most disorganized, fragmented, apolitical group in America, why would we be on Russia’s radar? Or on the radar of any foreign government or NGO looking to have any influence in America? We do not deserve to be. But what would a campaign to galvanize Chicanos look like? This I will answer. First, let us realize the extent of what African-Americans can demand from America as to differentiate the potential accelerants between African-Americans and Chicanos.
The most African-Americans can demand from America is equality—in every sense of the word. Equality in employment, housing, education, political representation, are all for African-Americans to demand and to have. Everything explicit in our constitution: the composition of Congress, the number of terms their President can serve, who cannot be a Senator; and everything that emanates from the penumbra of the constitution: liberty, freedom, privacy, are for African-Americans to enjoy in equal measure as everyone else. Chicanos, like African-Americans, can ask for the aforementioned with as much fervor and just entitlement. But we can demand much more.
Talks about black regional autonomy in the South predate the explosive interviews given by Malcolm X in the 1960s, where he, too, advocated black nationalism and self-determination. Seeing that America was and still is a deeply racist country I could not have faulted, and currently could not fault, African-Americans for wanting to separate themselves from the “white devil”. However, I ask, and not to discredit their effort, why should African-Americans have control of territory in America today? Because in certain regions of the South they are heavily concentrated? Okay, I’m listening. Or, again, because the U.S. is still deeply racists? That is a good point. Or, because the viciousness of slavery was such that African-Americans deserve a region of land to come together and heal as a people? Sure, African-Americans may lay claim to any region of land in America as long as that region is not the ancestral homeland of Chicanos—the Southwest. As moving as these arguments may be, they fall short of the argument Chicanos can make for territory.
Consider me a lazy writer for invoking the cliché we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us. Platitude as it may be, the phrase is permeated with truth. This truth is the fuse Russia could have lit to ignite the largest minority group in America. It is simple, really. Just shame Chicanos for living as second-class citizens in a beautiful, resource-rich region of the world that once belonged to their ancestors. Remind Chicanos that the current administration is putting toddlers into cages simply because these toddlers look like the children, nephews, nieces, brothers and sisters of Chicanos. Ask Chicanos if they have not any shame for wanting to continue to live among a group of people that despises them. Plant in the head of Chicanos that they are a Nation; and that a Nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, psychological make up—which manifests in a culture. And with civilization being the natural aim of a culture, territory, land in the American Southwest must be had by Chicanos so that their civilization may flourish. Unlike other minority groups, land is what we can demand. This is how you galvanize Chicanos.