The word on the web captured my attention on the rumored name change for the iconic student-run club Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) and I was not the only one captivated.
On March 31, feelings of shock and confusion were also being projected on social media by members who seemed to be wondering the same as me — why change the name?
MEChA, the 50-year-old organization that was founded by Chicano/a students, was established in 1969 when El Plan de Santa Barbara was released and issued as a proposed plan of action to establish a student-run organization that would assist and guide students in their community and educational endeavors.
The goal was to unite college students with their communities and to spread a positive approach that would encourage activism and an educational knowledge of Mexican American history while embracing the cultural pride.
In El Plan de Santa Barbara, it is stated, “Above all the feeling of hermandad must prevail so that the organization is more to the members than just a club or clique.
“MEChA must be a learning and fulfilling experience that develops dedication and commitment.”
The club has always aimed to make members feel welcomed where the clubrooms could be viewed as a home away from home and a safe haven to many.
I was a MEChA club member in high school and I found it to be an exciting and welcoming organization that taught my peers and me about our cultural background that we wouldn’t have learned about in our history classes.
It has been said by many, “Once a MEChista — is always a MEChista.”
I pride myself for being a MEChA club member and for all the good that the club has established in history. The bonds created within the club are compared to those of hermandad/brotherhood, which is why I couldn’t believe the reactions shared on social media.
The club name had been selected with vigilant consciousness by its founding members and the recent nearly unanimous vote to remove “Chicana/o” and “Aztlán” from the traditional name has been done to achieve a more inclusive name for all Latin heritage and peer representations.
Although voting took place over a month ago, many MEChA community members have not stopped voicing their opinion on the matter daily.
The new board of national MEChA members reached their limit of harassment over the matter and Emilio Balderas, national MEChA co-chair, chose to address the community on its official Facebook social media page by sharing some of his most vulnerable thoughts.
“Our movement has always been about the love in our community,” Balderas said. “We must constantly remind ourselves that our everyday actions should reflect that love.”
I admit that the name change caused confusion and frustration for myself and I could not fathom the way in which the organization would come up with an all-inclusive alternative, because in the end, someone will always disagree with the choices made.
But by revisiting El Plan de Santa Barbara, I came across a sentence that caused me to re-evaluate my reaction.
It should not be whether I agree or disagree on the matter, or who is right or wrong.
These conflicts should bring the community together to voice and share their opinions and above all listen to each other’s perspective — porque juntos somos más eficientes y valientes (because together we are more efficient and brave).
Because the only way to move forward is to stop taking steps back.
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