Chicano Chic

A person’s fashion sense is often rooted in the desire to be part of a certain culture. Generally, we boil these cultures down into select pieces that become iconic to that class of people – black leather jackets are associated with punks, riding boots are emblematic of cowboy culture, polo shirts under wool-knit sweaters are symbols of preppiness, and so on. But what happens when we identify with multiple cultures – with clashing groups? This is an eternal struggle for Chicanos. We’re constantly in the process of hybridizing Latin ideas to fit an American context. Fashion is no different.

Latino Americans have a history of using fashion as a way of identifying with their subculture. From the militaristic wardrobes of the 60’s to the cholo style of the 80s and 90s, Chicanos have had distinct landmarks in their fashion sensibilities within each decade.
When these styles first emerged, they clashed with the cultures around them and announced the wearers heritage to those who paid witness. Now it would seem that Latin Americans are trying a lighter approach. The modern Chicano look takes American style and quietly embeds pieces rooted in Latin culture within it.

Serape was first produced by the Chichimec people in the North-Eastern region of Mexico and has evolved to become a staple of Mexican iconography. Today, modern serape fabrics feature rich colors woven into a darker base.

Casually adding a splash of serape fabric to various pieces of clothing or even using serape fabric as a shawl is a popular theme in summer fashion.

In native Mexican culture, weaving was considered a sacred gift from the gods to women. Baby girls were given weaving tools at birth and when a woman passed, they would bury her with fabrics she’d made as well as the tools she’d been given at birth.

Quechquemitl, seen above, were an indigenous garment popularized by women of high-social ranking in Mexico’s precolonial period.

Charro culture is a fascinating subset of the Mexican cowboy. After the Spanish colonization, native Mexicans were not allowed to ride horseback save for a few members of nobility. After the Mexican War of Independence, horse riding was decriminalized and began to grow in popularity. Many indigenous Mexicans became mounted mercenaries, messengers and plantation workers. These horse riders came to be known as Chinacos and later Charros and often dawned distinctive clothing and horse harnesses to display their status in the community.

Taking hints of style from Charro style and embedding them into modern suits.

Chicanos have a rich history of fashion to rely on should they want to embed pieces of their heritage into their wardrobe. For those struggling to incorporate their Mexican heritage into the way they dress, I’ve added some Latin motifs to popular trends below. Please feel free to steal these ideas or even generate your own.

La Virgin De Guadalupe is a symbol of hope and prosperity for many Hispanic Catholics

Patches on a bomber jacket which include El As De Oros from the classic Spanish version of a deck of cards, a Dia De Los Muertos style skull, Mexican rock band El Tri, a Chicano Movement flag, and an Aztec stone sculpture.

Back patches on denim jackets made up of popular icons from the Mexican version of bingo – La Loteria

These are just a few of the symbols I remember from my childhood. Playing varaja with my tios and loteria with my tias. Serape banners and Aztec portraits that clung to the walls of local taquerias. My abuela lighting candles de la Virgin Maria while we’d quietly watch novelas on Univision. These things remind me and take me back to those moments before I realized how rich a culture I was a part of. Now that I’ve grown and can appreciate it, I’m choosing to embrace these things as a part of my identity and hope that other Chicanos follow suit.


Special thanks to instagram user @Jeriardo for contributing the first and last images!

If you’d like to buy some of the fabrics or materials listed above, follow these links:
Serape –
Patches –  |
Fabric Paint and Markers –

Resources that were used in the making of this article:

Trump’s Executive Order to End Family Separation May Be A Guise To Avoid Responsibility

Amid aggressive uproar from Democrats and Republicans alike, President Trump has signed an executive order to end the controversial practice of separating families who enter the US illegally. The “zero-tolerance” policy issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is still in place, though this provision aims to “maintain family unity by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

While the order may temporarily calm the objections of the new policy’s opponents, the US is still begging for a larger resolve, with calls from both parties to the Administration to end the zero-tolerance policy all-together.

The Administration, though, used the executive order to shift responsibility for the current immigration dilemma into the hands of Congress:

“It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

In response, aides in both the House and the Senate have confirmed that they had not reached a suitable judicial compromise. With the House vote on two immigration bills – which was scheduled for yesterday – pushed back to next week, the issue will quite possibly remain in legislative limbo.

As the issue and search for a solution continue, the new executive order could encounter legal challenges. Although the order states that Sessions request a US district court to amend the agreement, advocates could still argue that keeping children in detention centers is in direct violation of the 1997 decision known as the Flores Settlement.

As Flores v Sessions takes place, the 9th Circuit will most likely find a case to side against Trump in favor of a catch and release policy, similar to the one under the Obama Administration. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, Trump may have a battle ahead of him, with Minority Leader Charles Schumer leading the charge.

Though the outcome of the Administrations executive order is yet to be seen, one thing remains certain, asylum seekers have one less thing to worry about as they sleep tonight.



The Immigration Separation Dilemma

Immigration reform has been a long-standing issue for the United States. Recently, measures to counteract the climactic wave of immigrants from Central America have come under bipartisan fire for their flagrant mistreatment of those immigrating. A zero-tolerance policy which was issued by the current administration last April has led to the separation of over 2000 children from their parents, most of which are being kept in makeshift shelters under poor conditions.

Though the separation of illegally-crossing families has been a historical practice in the United States, the injustice lies in the substandard treatment of these individuals since the enactment of the latest policy.

In the past, if a family was caught illegally crossing the border and refused to voluntarily return, they would be in obstruction of the law and sent to separate detention centers – one for the minors and one for the adults. Typically, this was done for the safety of the children as most detention centers are general-purpose jails. Another reason, and one that prompts the current policy, is that separating families encourages people to voluntarily deport, which ends up saving the US government a lot of resources and expedites the immigration process for those they believe are actually in need of asylum.

This practice has not changed but due to referendums in immigration policy made by the Obama Administration, immigrants are approaching their entry differently. Whereas before, most Central American immigrants turned back after being denied entry, the Obama administration began to allow most anyone who made an asylum claim entry into the US as long as they had a friend or family to stay with. This resulted in a rise in asylum claims from immigrants caught at the border, though the validity of these claims remains to be verified.

To counteract the influx of asylum claims, the new policy by the Trump Administration has granted border patrol officers the discretion to verify or deny these claims right at the border. If the claims are verified, the immigrants can proceed under the same policies as enacted by the Obama Administration, if not, and if they crossed illegally, they are placed in a detention center while they await the verification of their asylum claim through the legal system.

Those denied a claim can abandon their journey to entry and not be put in detention centers. They are either housed in a cell until transportation back to their home country can be arranged or are allowed to turn and walk or drive back of their own accord.
Herein lies the problem. While border patrol agents are following protocol, they are doing so haphazardly. They are obstructing investigation into the living conditions of those housed in these makeshift facilities, keeping detainees indefinitely, and threatening and following through with violence, thereby dehumanizing and stripping these immigrants of their civil liberties.

Initially separating children from the adults they came with is valid – border patrol officers should determine if these children are being abused by their company, or worse yet, smuggled into the sex trade – but indefinite separation is cruel and unjust. Using this as a scare tactic to reduce illegal immigration is counterproductive and doesn’t tackle the real issue at hand – as one US senator aptly stated “this bad new policy is a reaction against a bad, old policy.” What needs to change is not how we reduce and try to control immigration (as most of the latest band of immigrants have shown they are willing to take appropriate measures to legally cross into the US), but how we tackle immigration policy.

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What is Chicano Beat?

Yo soy Joaquín,
Perdido en un mundo de confusión.
I am Joaquín,
Lost in a world of confusion.

In his poem, “I am Joaquín”, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez expressed the disillusionment of many Latin Americans at the time. In the face of social and economic injustices, Hispanic Americans united to combat the prejudice they were facing. They began to challenge their assimilation into the white-dominated society and in the process reclaimed a derogatory term for their people – Chicano – as a symbol of pride. Though the social climate of America is improving, Chicanos still face much of the intolerance and xenophobia their ancestors tried to leave behind.

A revitalized interest in partitioning the US from Mexico, the separation of children from their illegally immigrating parents, an unshakable association with the drug war for the whole of Hispanic people – these issues are real and constant. Many of the Latinos I know seem to meet these issues with indifference. Whether that’s due to fatigue (these issues are long standing, with no ready compromise in sight) or general disinterest, I feel more than ever that it has to stop. We need to become interested in these issues, in our culture and its preservation.

This blog will be dedicated to propagating and preserving Hispanic News, History, and Culture from a Chicano point of view. Yes we have to assimilate, but we must also learn how to keep ourselves intact.

Image of Farm Workers of America Rally:
“I am Joaquín” by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales excerpt:
Sources for text: