October 19th was a jam packed day for the Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) in Haines Hall. The research center was a site of excitement and eagerness; a crowd of students and community members gathered to hear and engage with Xicano scholar Dr. Roberto D. Hernández.
Straight from the barrios of San Ysidro, Profe Hernández is currently at San Diego State University in the department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. His plática here at the CSRC was titled “Decolonizing Marxism: Rethinking Indigenous Struggles and Spirituality”; as a first speaker of the Indigenous Speakers Series, organized by the Eagle and the Condor Liberation Front, Profe Hernández demonstrated a need for more of these pláticas. More so, he demonstrated the need for Chicana/o Studies to engage in discussions on decolonization and Indigenous struggles past, present, and future. It was an engagement with Marxism and situating Karl Marx in his own ontological context; as well as discussing materialism and spirituality, the Profe was able to unpack the episteme we navigate the world under.
Ever since I entered UCLA as a transfer student, my own path within Chicana/o Studies has been a constant conflict and sometimes controversial realm. And as I became a student-researcher I entered the field of Chicana/o Studies from a national perspective that had me understand the heterogeneity of the discipline as a whole working together.
What I found was a changing and transforming field of study ever since its early conception and incarnation. It’s here that I learned that our discourse is a variety of perspectives and points of departure, but still worked under a dominant episteme: like with every other discipline and field of study, Chicana/o Studies was no different. This very conversation ties back to a grander struggle within the academy and beyond: we need to situate and contextualize our world through power-relations and our relationship to them.
Coloniality, as told by Profe Hernández, is an aspect of our world we need to dig further into. Our civilization as it is structured today is one that we as a people must unpack and decolonize if we are to move toward a liberated society. This is a conversation that loses its strength when the decolonial itself is not defined clearly or efficiently. The imperative for Chicana/o Studies everywhere is to engage this discourse and to keep themselves accountable to the community and Indigenous peoples.
And what Profe Hernández was capable of doing was contextualizing the world-system globally and how we as a global people are situated by power-relations in all aspects of life. The dialogue between students and the community was a vital aspect to this conversation that allowed everyone to think and unpack the questions and context put forth by the Profe.
For Chicana/o Studies, we must take from this plática a need to re-center our Indigenous cosmologies, epistemologies, ontologies, and worldviews. Decolonization is not a clear-cut process we can embrace without doing the work, and it must continue to resurge and manifest in all struggles today. We must center life and the four elements that continuously receive the hard burdens of modernity and coloniality.
Link to the talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT-7AVScONI&t=10s
Kristian Emiliano Vasquez
Indígena Scribes is our writing side-project parallel to our overarching podcast of Xicana Tiahui. Here we post our writings of thoughts we have, essays we have written, poetry, social commentary, news reports, polemics, and our zine periodical available for purchase. We hold it valuable to our hearts the written word in the spirit of the huehuetlahtolli, and we aspire to be intellectually on point as well as accessible to our gente from the barrio to the academy.