Roberto Rodriguez


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The X in La Raza


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Codex Tamuanchan 

Introduction to Electronic Books
by Roberto Rodriguez

I started writing in 1972, primarily because I had a lot of anger within me. I grew up on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles during a very tribulent era. When I began writing, it was a little after journalistic / columnist Ruben Salazar was killed in 1970 at The Silver Dollar cafe in East L.A.

A lot of us from that era never quite believed the explanation that his death was accidental. Two others, Lynn Ward and Angel Diaz were also felled that day. That's where a lot of the anger stemmed from. The truth is, I actually had a lot of anger already. Having been born in Mexico, I grew up being called a wetback. When the Chicano movement exploded in the late 1960's, it was long overdue. I was ready for it.

That's the enviroment that triggered my involvement in the Chicano movement. Initially, as a writer for La Gente de Aztlan newspaper in Los Angeles, I, like many other writers, documented many of the struggles of La Raza nationwide. Actually, we did not confine our writing to the borders of the United States, primarily because we saw ourselves connected to the entire continent.

Not unlike a lot of other activists, I almost lost my life several years later, in 1979, at the hands of several L.A. Sheriff's deputies. Of course, that changed my life. The irony is that I was almost killed several blocks from where Salazar was killed in East L.A. on Whittier Boulevard.

Despite this and other traumas, what has remained constant in my life is that I continue to write. Today, along with my wife Patrisia Gonzales, I write a nationally syndicated column, through Universal Press Syndicate. Whether at La Gente or at Universal, I continue to live and write about the same ideal I have always written about -- primarily about human rights, indigenous rights and universal rights.

Actually these writings before you have been presented in a different format before, though they are revised here. Almost 20 years ago, I wrot an article entitled, "Who Declared War on the Word Chicano?" Several years ago, I decided to update it, which resulted in the work " The X in La Raza." In effect, it's a response to myself. Apparently, it triggered a discussion -- or became part of a dicussion that has not ended. That's partly the reason for making it available electronically. I wrote it because I got tired of people ripping each other apart simply because they disagreed with what they called each other and because they disagreed with how they saw their own indentities. My basic thesis is that our identity is our spirit and that our spirit has no name.

Subsequent to that work, I wrote "Codex Tamuanchan: On Becoming Human." This work in effect goes beyond issues of identity to attempting to understand what it means to be human. It is about sovereignty, the creation of a spiritual nation and about not simply reclaiming our identities, but of reclaiming our humanity.

In effect, the two electronic books are my own result of trying to rehumanize myself after having almost been killed. And they are actualy views gathered primarily from elders from across the United States and Mexico. More than anything, they are attempts to strike up a dialogue about the world we are trying to create.

I actually have two other books that were published at about the same time that I wrote "The X in La Raza" and "Codex Tamuanchan." In a sense, all the books are related. "Justice: A Question of Race" (Bilingual Review Press) is about the subject of police brutality -- on law enforcement abuse. Written in 1984 & 1986, it was actually not published until 1997. It is a harrowing story of my near death and my two trails that lasted seven and a half years. But more than that, it is about the underworld of police brutality and all the institutions and forces that allow it to flourish. The other book "Gonzales/ Rodriguez: Uncut & Uncensored" (Ethnic Studies Library, Publications Unit, UC Berkeley) is a collection of the first two years of our syndicated column. Perhaps one day they will also be available electronically as well as our joint columns from subsequent years.

I am indebted to Mario Araujo and AztecaNet for investing in this endeavor -- that is -- for making these books available electronically. Perhaps other books from other authors will follow.

The publishing world is tough. I've long believed that it has functioned primarily, not as a gateway for ideas, but rather, as a gate keeper. As a writer, I know this firsthand. As someone also involved with the Aztlanahuac Project -- a project about origins and migrations -- it is clear that many of our ideas have long been suppressed by an industry that does not want us to know certain things -- primarily that Raza are indigenous to not only the continent but to what is today the United States -- and that there are no aliens anywhere on this planet. This project will be producing not only a forthcoming documentary (independently produced by award winning director, Jesus Trevino and Carmona Productions) but also several collaborative books. Our plan is to also make much of this work available electronically.

Finally, all of these works are an invitation to discuss ideas. I am in no way claiming that my ideas are correct or the best out there. Rather, the only thing I can assure the reader is that all that I write is for the purpose of attempting to rehumanize the dehumanized world that we live in..

If you do buy the books, please feel free to write back. The plan is to post comments on AztecaNet to continue the dialogue.

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Roberto Rodriguez
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