THIRTY CHICANA LEADERS
OF DENVER, COLORADO
Lael Frances Porter
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1982
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Department of Canmunication
This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by
Iael Frances Porter
has been approved for the
Porter, Lael Frances (MA in Communication)
Thirty Chicana Leaders of Denver, Colorado
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Samuel A. Betty
This is a descriptive study of thirty Chicana women leaders.
The object of the study is to discover how they achieved leadership
status while members of a culture which traditionally limits a
woman's sphere of influence and while experiencing general social
prejudice. Interviews in English were conducted with women nomi-
nated from three ethnic organizations. The unstructured interview
employed in gathering data influenced the elicited responses in the
following categories: childhood settings; education and credibili-
ty in the Anglo world; and leadership activities. Data also provi-
ded a modal portrait of the Chicana leader and a range of varia-
tions in responses. Respondent comments were used to illustrate
the chalenges experienced by the Chicana leaders and perceptions of
their own activities and behaviors. Focus was placed upon the com-
munication situations which promote and support Chicana leadership.
The Chicana leader's personal and professional networking
revealed both a support system and a means of visibility in two
cultures. Personal costs associated with the role of a leader were
both familial and social. This included a form of rejection known
as "envidad", and the restrictive elements of the familial/commun-
ity structure which impinge upon Chicana expectations. The poten-
tial extension of Chicana leadership lies in the extension of, or
an increased breadth of, communication with the majority society.
As members of my committee, Dr. Samuel A. Betty, and Dr.
Robley D. Rhine of the Department of Communication and Dr. Karl H.
Flamingo of the Department of Sociology, have guided this thesis
with valuable, constructive criticism. I am indebted to them for
their challenging comments. They have stimulated a greater under-
standing in approaching these data. I am particularly indebted to
Dr. Samual A. Betty. He has critically evaluated the several
drafts of this study and patiently encouraged their development.
I am also indebted to the thirty women who generously gave
their time and interest to the research. It has been a priviledge
to have had their willing cooperation. Gracias.
The loyal support of my husband has enabled this study to
become a reality. Thank you, Ralph, for your generosity.
Lael Frances Porter
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I. INTRODUCTION.............................................. 1
Study Problem........................................... 5
Importance of the Study............................... 7
Definition of Terms..................................... 8
Labels or Identity................................... 10
Denver's Chicano Ccmmunity........................... 21
Colorado: Once and Still Under
Hispanic Influence................................. 23
Regional Influences: Isolation and
Demographic Portrait................................. 29
I. INTRODUCTION (can't)
Outline of the Remainder of the Thesis................. 34
II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.............................. 41
La Chicana: Historical Prototype....................... 42
La Chicana: Overviews.................................. 44
The Mexican American Family: Contemporary
The Family........................................... 52
Language and Culture................................. 57
La Chicana: Contemporary Perspectives................ 58
Chicano Leadership: Overviews.......................... 62
Participation in Voluntary Organizations............... 66
Participation by Hispanic Urban Workers and
the Urban Poor..................................... 66
Comnunity Participation and Middle Class
Status: Mexican Americans............................ 67
Ethnic Participation................................. 68
Effects of Ccmmunity Participation................... 70
Wcmen as Leaders....................................... 72
Chicanas as Leaders.................................. 75
II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE (con't)
Polly Baca: An Interview............................. 77
Sumnary of Literature.................................. 80
III. METHODOLOGY............................................. 94
Overview: Methodology.................................. 95
Research Design........................................ 99
Pilot Study......................................... 101
Selection of Subjects............................... 107
Data Collection: Questionnaire...................... Ill
Interview Procedure................................ 113
Data Analysis....................................... 115
The Matrix: HWL-D................................... 116
Field Notes......................................... 119
Respondent Demographics.............................. 121
IV. FINDINGS................................................. 138
A Modal Leader: A Statistical Device.................. 140
The Denver Chicana Leader: Modal Portrait.... 141
IV. FINDINGS (con't)
Notable Variations: Range of the Chicana
Leader's Modal Portrait........................... 144
The Cultural Context.................................. 155
Denver Today and Yesterday: An Overview....... 155
Language Skills..................................... 160
Experiencing Discrimination......................... 163
Achievement and Credibility......................... 165
Opportunities and Tokenism.......................... 165
Networks and Support Systems........................ 170
Spurs to Excellence: Education and
Personal Growth..................................... 172
The Chicana and the Organization: Synthesis
and Growth......................................... 174
Leadership Development............................. 175
Group Participation and Leadership.................. 178
Evaluations of Hispanic Outreach.................... 181
Chicana Agendas for Leadership........................ 184
Notes, ............................................. 188
V. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR
FURTHER STUDY......................................... 192
Summary and Conclusions............................... 192
Suggestions for Further Research...................... 203
I. CHECKLIST............................................. 223
II. HISPANIC WOMEN LEADERS DENVER....................... 225
III. HISPANIC WOMEN LEADERS DENVER
ANNOTATED (HWL-D/A)............................ 232
IV. OCCUPATIONAL ATTAINMENT, UNITED STATES 1985,
EMPLOYED FEMALES 16 AND OVER................... 244
V. OCCUPATIONAL ATTAINMENT, METROPOLITAN DENVER
1980, PERCENT OF POPULATION, PERSONS OF
SPANISH ORIGIN 16 AND OVER.......................... 245
1-1. Metropolitan Denver Percentage of Spanish Origin
1-2. Metropolitan Denver Population by Race and
Spanish Origin......................................... 30
1-3. Metropolitan Denver - Median Age................ 31
1-4. Metropolitan Denver Educational Attainment of
Persons 25 and Over............................... 32
1- 5. Metropolitan Denver Spanish-Speaking (at hone)
as a Percent of the Total Population................... 33
2- 1. Mexican Americans and Ccmnunity Participation.... 71
3- 1. Public Roles........................................ 118
3-2. Place of Birth....................................... 122
3-3. Hone State/Country................................... 123
3-4. Family Arrival in U.S................................ 123
3-5. Family Origin........................................ 124
3-6. Generation in the U.S................................ 125
3-7. Preschool Language................................. 125
3-8. Mult Language........................................ 126
3-9. Level of Education................................... 127
3-10. Age.................................................. 127
3-11. Marital Status....................................... 128
3-12. Occupation........................................... 130
3-13. Current Group Membership............................. 131
3-14. Types of Groups...................................... 131
This thesis is a descriptive study of thirty Chicana women
of Denver, Colorado. The research question which has guided this
study is: How have thirty Chicana women achieved leadership status
despite the limits of their own cultural traditions and despite
prejudicial treatment by society at large?
The research was conducted in English in forty-five minute
to one-and-a half hour interviews. A questionnaire was used to
obtain some of the data as well as to stimulate conversation if _
needed. However, the majority of the interviews were conducted
The approach chosen for this report is first to define the
status of Denver Hispanic Leadership and to raise some questions on
the emergence of Chicanas as leaders. A definition of terms and
discussion of research limits follows to clarify the focus of the
study. A review of the literature precedes a description of the
research, including the recruitment of the subjects, the format of
the interviews and recording the data.
The interview data are presented in expository form and are
organized to illustrate significant highlights and trends. A sum-
mary and conclusion follows with suggestions for further research.
It is important to note that the Denver Chicano community
is not to be equated with other urban Chicano communities. Colo-
rado has been an isolated area, removed from earlier Hispanic/
Chicano activities. The Denver Chicana is not the Los Angeles
Chicana who has had greater visibility and opportunity.
In the early 1970's, Denver's Hispanic community and its
leadership was split. Rudolfo "Corky" Gonzales led separatists
movements while neighborhood desegregation of schools was being
enacted. Historian Dorsett writes that the lack of Hispanic unity
for over thirty years was one factor in the lack of Mexican-Ameri-
can progress in this city.^ Another block to progress has been
limited educational facilities. Past elitest leadership had
blocked expansion of higher education in Denver.^
In fear of assimilation, some Hispanic elements opposed the
seventies school busing solutions for reasons of neighborhood inte-
grity.^ Although a highly stable population, the Hispanic leader-
ship was never-the-less splintered into varying positions on issues.
In contrast to the politically under-represented Hispanic, Denver's
Blacks had gained political prominence. Dorsett concludes that, over-
all, compared to the Spanish-sumamed population, Blacks and women
had made "great strides".^
Disorganization and the lack of strong leadership is char-
acteristic of "la Raza", the people of the southwest. Ten years
before Dorsett, Sheldon suggests that the Spanish-speaking, in
their inability to develop a strong leadership, had no vehicle for
allowing their desires and their interests to be expressed, no
vehicle for full participation in the communities in which they
lived. A strong sense of individuality accompanies this lack of
Hispanic homogeneity. This sense of individuality precludes
One of Denver's senior Hispanic spokesmen, Bemie Valdez
wrote to scholar Julian Samora in 1965:
The highly individualistic nature of Hispanic people. .
vitiates against group action.
Valdez describes politics as allowing a means of group
expression in a game Anglos developed. A limiting factor for
Spanish surnamed participation he suggests, is the dominant
society's perception of the inferiority of Denver Hispanics in both
color and culture. This minority position is "resented and resis-
ted" by a people who dislike "minority categorization".
The mayoral campaign of Frederico Pena in 1983 was an
opportunity to participate which did energize the previously dis-
cordant community. His election to mayor was supported by a "grass
roots" campaign involving Chicanos and other neighborhood elements
in visible community political participation. An increase in His-
panic voter registration created the largest Hispanic voter turnout
in the city's history. Hispanic leadership, male and female, at
many levels of community participation were part of the extensive
campaign. A winning strategy aligned various "ethnic" groups.
National media attention viewed the election of Frederico Pena as
indicative of a new political era for Hispanics.
Yet within a more limited range of Hispanic interaction,
"Las Mujeres", the (Hispanic) Women, of Denver, have become leaders
both to citizens of the Metropolitan Denver area and to Hispanics
in other areas of the United States. "Mujeres", are creating new
organizations which provide opportunities for self-development aid
professional networking. Communication and social interaction
patterns have been affected for individuals and for a formerly
isolated Chicano community. "Mujeres", recently only auxiliary
members or in secondary positions within male dominated organiza-
tions, are now achieving leadership equality. These events seem to
flaunt a cultural tradition which through a proverb taught:
"Para lavar los panueles no necessitar educacidi". (To wash
diapers, one does not need an education!)
While several Denver Chicanas could say "ERA. .went right
by us", Hispanas have seemingly benefited from the Anglo middle-
class 1970's women's movement. Black promoted civil rights
statutes have opened economic opportunities for all Hispanics as
well. The legal description of minority status and the associated
legal benefits that may accrue is not lost to one Chicano entre-
preneur. He has suggested that "You (Anglos) had better listen".
As a visible, articulate leader the Hispana challenges the
stereotype of Mexican-American women which a number of sociologists
have portrayed. A few of the women in this study have been recog-
nized by being elected for the first time to national leadership
positions in Hispanic organizations. Others are participating in
leadership activities within the broad community and in their
professions. Recent research suggests the enlistment of Chicanas
for community activism, and the creation of new roles within the
family.^ Several of the women in this study have left the secure
structure of government organizations to establish themselves as
independent business women. Denver area Hispanic women created
"Melante, Mujer Hispana, a conference model.The program
builds women's self-awareness and encourages their economic develop
ment. This educational activity has been adopted and adapted by
Hispanas in eight states. "Las Mujeres" have propelled themselves
into articulate roles for both themselves and their community.
Samora observed of the Mexican American that the:
Establishment and effectiveness of Spanish-speaking groups
has never, been adequately researched. . there has been
little research on the question of leadership. How does it
come into being? How are leaders functioning effectively
given the conditions of a sub-group having to resolve its
problems within the structure of a dominant society?12
These are still valid questions. F. Garcia and de la Garza
gave new insights into Chicano leadership a decade later, but
little has changed since Samora. Today's Mexican-American woman
may or may not be Spanish speaking, but among these Denver Chicana
leaders ethnic identification does not seem to have been diminished
with increased participation in the American society. The question
of leadership is more problematic, for as Melville suggests the
Chicana is in a position of potential double subordination as a
minority and as a female. Yet, the women interviewed for this
study are recognized for leadership within their ethnic community
and, in most instances, in the broad society.
With three exceptions the women in this study are affil-
iated with national Hispanic organizations and have used the groups
as vehicles for their self-development and for community participa-
tion. How have these women achieved leadership status despite
the limits of their own cultural traditions and despite prejudicial
treatment by society at large? What do these women have in common?
The purpose of this study is to answer these questions.
The main question which guides this research can be divided
into a number of related subsidiary questions. Given the problem
of dual minority status what has instigated the emergence of these
Denver Chicanas or Hispanas as leaders. What are the consequences
for Hispanic women who become leaders? What effects on their
personal lives have their activities had? Are their professional
lives separate from the leadership roles in the community or
identified with it? Are they still embraced by extended families?
As members of one organization, are they members of others?
Have group activity always been a part of their lives? Do their
leadership activities include elected positions, locally or
nationally? To what extent are their skills more task or people-
Are Denver Chicanas usually natives of the metropolitan
area in general or are they from other areas of Colorado and the
southwest? What generation American are they? Were they educated
in ethnically segregated school systems, or were their schools
desegregated? How do they value their education? Has their lan-
guage use of Spanish and English changed over their lifetimes?
What are their goals? How do they feel about their leader-
ship? What seems to be the consequence of challenging both one s
culture and one's society?
Importance of the Study
Expanding opportunities for Hispanics and women makes the
Hispana a candidate for leadership. The portrait that develops
from reviewing the information on these thirty Chicanas will sug-
gest guidelines for other Hispanas who are developing as leaders in
Colorado is one of five bell-weather states which introduce
to the nation new attitudes and behaviors.^ This study, by exam-
ining the phenomena of Denver Chicana Leadership, anticipates the
emergence of Chicana leaders in other regions of the country. The
study may suggest areas in which communication opportunities have
fostered the development of Hispanas as leaders and how exchange
has been inhibited. In the Denver Hispanic community itself, this
study will document some of the changes which have occurred within
a comparatively short period of time. And, as Samora suggests, the
study may offer some information on a rarely researched subject,
Definition of Terms
As individuals seeking to create change, leaders and
followers mobilize each other reciprocally. Bums suggests a
leader listens to his followers and translates into action their
needs. He describes real change, social change as "transformation
to a marked degree in the attitude, institutions and behaviors that
structure our daily lives."!'* A leader of "real change" through
communication has created alterations in individual and hierarch-
ical values by continuing interaction. Bums describes this
idealistic, change oriented individual as a transformational
leader. This leader is not necessarily publically identifiable.
Such leaders may act informally even quietly. Collective goals and
individual goals are perhaps realized slowly by affecting "small
sectors" that create change.^
The transformational leader of high moral purpose has a
compliment in the leader Bums designates as transactional or
situation specific leader. The transactional leader responds to
immediate events rather than to "deep rooted...dynamic" more
changeable wants and needs which motivate the transformational
leader. The transactional leader creates a market place of
exchange and indeed, most leadership occurs in this manner. The
transformational leader, cognizant of current real desires, reaches
beyond the immediate and stimulates a chain of events which may
even develop leaders from followers as he utilizes the full poten-
tial of respondents.^
Both types of leaders, the transformational and the trans-
actional, express themselves through power relations between
leaders and followers and between motives and resources. Leader-
ship is an implicit bargain between the leader and follower. In
Bums' definition of leadership:
Leaders induc[e] followers to act for certain goals that
represent the values and the motivations, the wants and the
needs, the aspirations and the expectations of both leaders
Bums suggests the individual and the group empower the
leader based upon perceived need fulfillment. Leadership is not
dependent on a formal (elected) position.
Leaders may develop results incrementally in promoting
individual change, in sweeping societal change, through revolution
or in a middle range seeking collective goals expressed by the
polity. It is in the middle range that a leader taps our basic
moral values, uses conflict constructively and brings about social
change. Change may be brought about by altering existing social
structures or by using them productively.
Bass had earlier proposed interaction between a leader and
a group as key to changed expectations. The group exists because
of the rewards of membership or to "avoid punishment".^ Leaders
emerge because of their perceived abilities to obtain the expected
reward. For the followers communication is the means through which
leaders develop. The effectiveness of that leadership is dependent
upon interaction with followers. Proximity/ geographically and
socially offers an opportunity to interact within a context which
enhances the homogeneous characteristics of the participants.
Leaders cause others to coalesce around a common agenda, an
agreed-upon-mode of operation to achieve the desired reward. It
follows that in promoting change, leaders must pursue agreement at
many levels and must elicit follower's decisions to support new
attitudes and behavior shared throughout a group.
Leadership within the community may be multiple in origin
and in demonstration. Leaders sampled in this paper come from a
particular community. The women are seen as fulfilling needs,
satisfying expectations and obtaining rewards recognized at some
level of mutual participation, of reciprocity within the community.
In the community, leadership may be either transactional or
transformational. It may be expressed by directive or participa-
tory means. The leader may be highly task oriented or relational
in style. A leader's communication effectiveness in achieving the
desired goals may result in minor or major victories. Regardless
of form, style, orientation and effectiveness of leaders, the key
to leadership is in the perception of peers and followers.
Tabels or Identity
John Garcia describes self-labeling and group identifica-
tion as part of the assimilation process. The label selected is
part of an attitudinal and behavorial choice and reflects social
24 Differences in the specific label
and political transactions.
chosen by a group indicates a lack of consensus over the group s
proper label, and its identity.
Ethnic self-identity markers (are) significant for the
dimensions of ethnic distance or interaction, but lesser
for language familiarity or cultural awareness.^
The U.S. Census in 1980 asked people to self-define them-
selves as to their race; i.e., Black White, SpanishrOrigin, Ameri-
can Indian, including Aluet and Eskimo, Asian and other. Identifi-
cation on the questionnaire for persons of Spanish-origin includes:
"Mexican Puerto Rican, Cuban. .other Spanish/Hispanic origin."
Origin or descent indicates where one was1 bom or where one's
parents were prior to U.S. entry. "Persons of Spanish origin may
be of any race."26
Labeling is therefore an important act for both the indivi-
dual in reference to his relationship with others and in attempts
to categorize our heterogenous American society. Since Hispanic
may mean any number of things, a working definition is added for
The term Hispanic came into popular use during the seven-
ties. (Hispano is the masculine singular; Hispana is the feminine
singular). Hispanic allows the richness and fullness of the
Spanish Hispanic heritage to be expressed. It's inclusiveness
embraces the heterogenous people who claim an inheritance from the
culture and language of Spain. This quality of "Hispanidad", Tom
Pino, editor of LA LUZ, a nationally distributed magazine published
in Denver, viewed as reflecting the dynamism of "nostros en los
Estados Unidos". "This is a multi-racial, multi-national and
ethnic and cultural community".^ The "mestizo", indian, white,
mulatto and black are included as well in their cultural contribu-
tion to "Hispanidad". ^
Pino s preference for Hispanic stems from the necessity in
the United States for a generic label or identity, one useful in
expressing consensus of culture without eliminating the particulars
of individual identity. Rising expectations of the Hispanic com-
munity's influence in the United States in the eighties would be
ill served by a delimiting term.^
LA VOZ, Denver's Hispanic Community Newspaper, in a 1982
survey found 54% of its readership indicate they were "Clearly
Hispanic and American equal ly".30 Twentyfour percent primarily
considered themselves Hispanic. Interviews conducted in 1982 in a
survey on media access reported some Denverites of Mexican-American
origin felt the term Hispanic to be part of the tradition of the
conquest and thus objectionable. "He [the Spaniard] left his name,
his religion and his language."^ However, El Espejo, the news-
letter of the Denver Latin American Research and Service Agency
(LARASA) and other agency publications use Hispanic in referring to
Julian Samora in 1966 found Spanish-speaking as the most
descriptive term, inclusive and least offensive. In Northern New
Mexico and Southern Colorado, Hispano was still acceptable. Samora
ascribed this to the fact that the residents had "had a minimum of
Mexican-Cultural influence". However, people who came to the area
after the turn of the century found Hispano "unacceptable and
prefer Mexican-American". 1
Following the arguments of Pino, Hispanic will be used in
this study to refer to persons of Spanish-origin in general. When
used in reference to the Denver Hispanic community, it will encom-
pass the breadth of this diversity. In addition to native Colora-
doans, the Denver Hispanic community includes persons of Spanish
origin from other areas of the southwest, mexicanos from Mexico and
refugees from various Central and South American countries. His-
panic is recognized as a form of identity with other communities
derived from the European culture and language of Spain.
Ethnic. .of or pertaining to a social group within a
cultural and social system that claims or is accorded special
status on the basis of complex often variable traits including
religious, linguistic, ancestral or physical."33
Ethnicity is a socialization process as well as a cultural
sub-system consisting of "multidimensional concepts".3^ Resear-
chers in ethnicity tend to classify ethnicity according to specific
aspects such as race, or mutual origin and to concentrate on the
cognitive or behavioral aspects of ethnicity. Cultural identity
has a psychological aspect demonstrating the impulse to identify
with a particular group, as well as behavioral aspects. There is
an inter-relatedness between the components of ethnicity. Jeffres
and Hur state "a pattern of relationship [exists] between ethnic
identity, self-image and actual cultural attachment".
Chicana is the feminine of Chicano, a term for both mascu-
line members of the Chicano community and the larger group itself.
The word is considered a derivative term from Mexicano which iden-
tifies a population with historic bicultural roots.36 Chicanas
have chosen the term self-consciously. It was once a pjorative
term and is now a focus of ethnic pride.
During the 1970's Chicano become a political descriptor for
many in the southwest while others did not wish to use this label.
John Garcia suggests a political "posturing" in the term. He
surveyed label use in the five southwest states: Arizona, Califor-
nia, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. The Chicano label was prefer-
red by those with some college or who were college graduates.
Mexican-American and Chicano were almost equally preferred by res-
pondents with bilingual capacity and with English preference.
Colorado ranked second in use of Chicano, fourth in use of Mexican
and last in use of Mexicano. The state was second in "other
Spanish categories"^ suggesting a variety of satisfactory labels
within the State.
A consensus of label use by informants in Garcia's survey
associates Chicano as either:
1) Pertaining to specific identification with
political activist groups of their ideals;
2) Ethnically descriptive of Americans whose (a)
heritage derives from the indigenous settlers
of pre-1848 Spanish/ Mexican settlement of
the Mexican southwest and (b) to those who
gravitate to Colorado from these areas.
Second and third generations of more recent
Mexican immigrants may also be identified as
One of the women in this survey revealed that while His-
panic had been politically palatable the past five years, Chicano
was once again gaining prominent usage because it separated the
"local community" from the "Salvadorans and other emigrees".
Porter's research in 1982 suggests the term Chicano was specifi-
cally related to the Denver Metropolitan Mexican American. Among
those in the Colorado rural areas in the late 60 s:
'Just a Mexicano' was accepted as the excuse for the good
fortune of the community not coming their way. With improved
self-image comes the ability to communicate with others on a
different level of interaction. Chicano (is) a distinct
identification clung to and a source of pride. 9
Barrera uses the term demographically, not as a political
descriptive word. Chicano "refers to persons of Mexican Origin who
reside permanently in the United States and thus is synonymous with
Mexican American." Mexicano or Mexican as used in the southwest
refers to a person of Mexican origin who is here temporarily or on
an "irregular status". Further, Anglo as used by Chicanos in the
southwest refers to all Caucasian residents of the United States
who are "not members of a racial minority."^
Anglo in Barrera's Race and Class in the Southwest refers
to "all Caucasian residents of the U.S. This is the common meaning
of the term...illogical as that may seem to some."41 Barrera
suggests that Chicano describes a minority group whose definition
lies partly in racial and partly in cultural characteristics.
Because of the Chicano peoples lack of homogeneity, El
Espejo found Chicano a term to be used with caution. In the shift
of sociological perspective from assimilation to multicultural
paradigms, Chicano identity-formation is "relatively unexplored".
El Espejo suggests the following be recognized:
1) Chicanos are by definition a heterogenous
2) Chicanos do not adhere solely to the Latino
sociocultural value system. The assimilation
patterns of Europeans into the American
minority system is not theirs. A "unique
socio-cultural value system" avoids simple
3) The small percentage of this subgroup which
has become totally assimilated suggests this
as an exceptional not a normal behavior.
Chicano in this thesis will incorporate the demographic
reference of Barrera, the sense of ethnic pride which Chicanas have
ascribed to themselves (Mirande and Enriquez), the political saavy
of Denver Chicanas, Garcia s recognition of their pre-1848 associa-
tion with the United States and the recognition of El Espejo that
they have a "unique socio-cultural value system".
Chicano in this study will not represent a political party
nor a separatist movement. Chicano is recognized instead as a
unique cultural identity. Chicano does not describe only the
Spanish-speaking Mexican American, but rather those who recognize
the influence of Spanish in their culture as well as attitudes and
values which stem from that heritage. The use of Chicano does not
proscribe a racial group because the term is accepted in this state
and region by a heterogenous people with multiple racial roots. It
does include the identity of multi-generational Hispanic settlers
as well as more recent second and third generations from Mexico.
Chicano cannot exclude those who claim Chicanismo through marriage/
This study acknowledges and is indeed predicated upon the
use of the term, Chicano, as a self-descriptor, a term of awareness
of one's social and cultural origins. Chicanismo is expressed in
this research by differing degrees of affiliation with other
Chicanos. The descriptors Chicano/Chicana belong to those who by
their own choice promote retention of a specific cultural identifi-
cation while participating in a pluralistic society. This identi-
fication has been the political expression of the Denver metropoli-
tan area, and of Colorado through the eighties. Indeed, Chicano in
the New Mexico and Colorado corridor today suggests stability and
an affiliation with the land and its inhabitants.
Early thinking concerning community is based on definitions
suggesting classic American images: pastoral hamlet, small towns
or big city. Warren states these images reflect the concept of
"clusters of people living in close proximity",with their human
needs serviced effectively within the general locality. New ideas
of structure and process formulated in the past two decades have
redefined community. It is now seen as a concept based upon the
function of socially organized activities that have "local rele-
These functions are:
3. Social control
4. Social participation
5. Mutual support^
Reference is made in this thesis to three communities: the
Denver, the Hispanic and the Chicano. The greater Denver com-
munity, with its multi-racial, multi-ethnic population may be found
to be called the "Anglo" community or the "dominant society" by
respondents. Blacks are usually included in this generic grouping
unless specifically designated. This reported local use contra-
dicts Barrera's finding that the southwest use of Anglo excludes
American racial minorities.
The Hispanic community, encompasses all those defined by
the U.S. Census and other researchers as containing individuals
Ancestry, language and/or cultural orientation is or has
been in some way related to a Spanish-speaking country. 5
The Chicano community is made of self-identified people
consciously aware of their special status.^ All three communi-
ties (Anglo, Hispanic and Chicano) are culturally distinct. This
may ormay not include distinction by propinquity.
Chaney suggests communication defines our social experience
and hence our community. Communication is a function of the
interaction and interdependence of people. As such, "the sharing
of a common language (as a community of meaning) means that motives
as a form of understanding become possible."47 Hymes proposes a
(communication economy functioning within the community. He views
this economy as being formed by organized "productive relation-
ships which constitute meaning in interaction".4 Thus, the lan-
guage used by the individual becomes, within the normal community
experience, a molding force shaping the very possibilities of
communication. It follows that the dynamics of community rela-
tions are accelerated or diminished by the linguistic ability of
the community to express itself within the social structure.
Chaney concludes that the histories of communities are thus the
patterns of key words in their communicative work.4 9
Nwanko ascribes both maintenance and promotional activities
to the community. The community gives individuals opportunity for
interaction. Localization enhances interaction and promotes the
development of structure or organization for ccmmunicaticn activi-
ties. Without proximity, communication channels or facilities
which are both reliable and capable of overcoming distance con-
straints are necessary, or communication and hence community cannot
Primary relationships are important to both the indivi-
dual and to feelings of community. Political participation is
encouraged by interpersonal contact and knowledge.^ Keefe states
that primary relations are central to those of Mexican American
origin and these preferred relationships promote a geographic
stability and value system which differs from those of Anglos. The
Anglo incorporates greater geographic mobility in his or her life
while valuing the family. Community is thus identified among those
of Mexican-American origin not as a "place-ooitununity" but as a
"personal network based upon proximity and interpersonal inter-
action."^ Community is also identified among those of cognitive
congruence who seek to communicate. The individual and his peer
group is thus bound by perceived similarities of geography, cul-
tural identity and participation in organizations or cultural col-
lectivity. Nwariko suggests community gains its strength and
identity from the projection and introjection derived from group
dynamics. Community is the aggregate of the individual's exper-
iences. As the individual is the "microcosm" of the group (the
total introjective identity), the community is the "reitification"
of the individual (the total projective identification).^
Community as in the Denver Hispanic community or Denver
Chicano community will reflect the maintenance functions of local-
ized social interactions in social participation, control and
mutual support, by those communicating through both primary and
socially defined relationships. Interaction and participation in
the formally structured or culturally perceived group, is a result
of communicative exchange.
As language helps us to define community, human relation-
ships in their communication linkages form patterns which are known
as networks. Far ace, et al, describe communication networks as the
patterned result of message exchange which occurs through communi-
cation in the social system. ^ 5 Keefe describes personal communi-
H pg as characterizing urban life rather than communities defined
spatially. Social interactions endure and are seen as "networks
anchored on individuals". Anglo and Mexican-Americans both
retain these personal communities or networks through their social
interaction. However, the Hispanic network is greater in number of
contacts and is more kin-based than the more socially and less
family oriented Anglo network. Support activities form a major
function of both social networks. Ethnic enclosures persist for
Anglo and Hispanic even with increased interaction between indivi-
Jeffres and Hur reaffirm that communication networks tend
to bind ethnic groups. Communication networks act as social media-
tors when change in social status is reflected in changed behaviors.
Further, ethnic communication channel use may reflect lifestyle
differentiation. For instance, among Cleveland's ethnics in:
Looking at occupational status, we find blue-collar
ethnics placing relatively mare importance on ethnic-language
media, friends and neighbors, radio and ethnic church, while
white collar ethnics prefer the metropolitan mass media---
television, local Cleveland newspapers and mass media. A
Lithuanian clerk said metro mass media (television and
newspapers) weren't important sources of news because "they
don't care" and "are more interested in making a profit."'
Denver's Chicano Community
Mexican American and Chicano are not synonymous. As an
ethnic label or demographic descriptor Chicano expresses a distinct
element of Hispanidad. Chicano, as a generic term, encompasses the
Spanish-Colonial and Mexican-American groups of Colorado, Northern
New Mexico, and California. Chicanos express pride in this identi-
fication and are "are responsive and committed to helping others of
[their] people".^ Denver's Chicano Community may thus be defined
as an ethnic group of Spanish heritage who may also take pride in
their local historic origins. The members participate in inter-
actions which enhance their individual relationships in mutual
The research for this thesis has utilized interviews with
thirty metropolitan Denver Chicana leaders. This thesis will the
examine the Chicana s relationship to her family, in both childhood
and as an adult. The areas to be examined include her educational
opportunities, geographic mobility, discrimination experiences and
professional activity which have been part of the Chicana's devel-
opment as a leader in the community. The study will describe her
perceived leadership role with the respondents commenting on their
lives and their community.
The three organizations to which they belong form a struc-
ture for their activities but are not the major subject of the
investigation. The communities in which the Chicanas interact, the
ethnic Chicano and .Hispanic communities of Denver as well as the
Anglo or dominant society, form the environment of las-mujeres.
Because of the geographic and historical influences in the
environment in which the study was conducted, it is necessary to
develop boundaries. These boundaries will limit the scope of the
material. Although the women interviewed are not necessarily
native to the area, it is never-the-less within a particular com-
munity that their leadership has been recognized. The following
sections set the limits for this examination of the Chicana
leader's relationship with her community.
Colorado: Once and Still Under Hispanic Influences
Simple census demographics cannot reveal the unusual char-
acter of the Hispanics of the State of Colorado and the Denver
area. Unlike Los Angeles, Colorado has a large Chicano population
which claims long term residency. Many families trace their ties
to a period of pre-Anglo settlement. The San Luis Valley to the
south of Pueblo, Colorado, the Arkansas River and the valleys of
northern New Mexico have been sending and still send migrants to
the city. Denver does not have the large and fluctuating Mexican
national migrant flow which is evidenced in Southern California.
It is possibly closer in character to some Texas cities which have
earlier experienced long term Chicano pressures.
The following discussion of regional influences is provided
to establish the unique identity of this Chicano community. For it
is this community in both its native daughters and in the Chicanas
it has attracted, that leadership has been expressed. This emer-
gence is viewed as a function of the particular environment. The
developments which this study will report may well not occur in
another area with another background and residential pattern.
Metropolitan Denver is not within any of the currently
defined areas of Mezoamerica.^ Yankolvich, et. al. do include
Denver in their attitudinal studies of Spanish speaking people.
But, it is not one of their five major Hispanic cities. Denver's
Hispanic population has been traditionally small. The general
influx of people from the region and nation to Denver in the seven-
ties and early eighties has instigated dramatic changes in all
segments of the city including the Hispanic. Nevertheless, the
Hispanic population is still characterized by greater residential
stability and a higher birthrate than the total population. This
demographic profile is consistent with regional influences and
suggests the degree to which Denver has responded to recent
regional patterns of immigration.
Regional Influences: Isolation and Tradition
Once an "integral part" of New Mexico, southern Colorado
was the northern most tier of settlement for various waves of
colonists from Mexico and New Mexico to the area above Santa Fe.
While official colonization of Colorado did not begin until the
early nineteenth century, the explorer Coronado touched the area in
1540.-'- The major Spanish/Mexican southwestern settlements of
California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas developed in comparative
isolation from each other and from Mexico City. Different classes
of people propelled by different motives and governments gave each
colony a distinct personality.
During the eighteenth century in Arizona and New Mexico,
exploitation of local resources was encouraged and large numbers of
laborers immigrated to jobs in the mines. ^ New Mexico's harsh
terrain acted as internal and external dividers, isolating small
villages. The Sonora Desert isolated New Mexico and Arizona from
Mexico City and its influence. The mountains and rugged terrain of
northern New Mexico further separated the colonists decreasing the
potential for interaction with each other, as well as the rest of
the territory or Mexico. These hardy colonists developed a culture
which stressed some aspects of Hispanic values oyer others asso-
ciated with Mexican Americans of the southwest. Loyalty and res-
pect were retained from their colonial heritage and inculcated in
Traditional Mexican village life was autonomous and
included "responsibility for defense, allocation of land and water
and the care of the indigent".^ Authority and responsibility were
revered in the similarly patterned New Mexican village. Sixteenth
century Iberian ideals of composure and trust were instilled. A
"right way" governed all activities. The'persona of the absent
king was emulated in the devotion to the father.4 Because of the
isolated conditions, the Spanish/Mexican woman was an integral part
of the family's economic process, though her role was idealized.^
Allegiance to the family, not the province, and fragmented politi-
cal attitudes, precluded community action in response to changing
The patronas system was never as freely established in
northern New Mexico as it had been in Mexico. Church and State
were under-represented. The family was essential for survival in
these isolated areas.
For the poor in this agrarian and pastoral society family
solidarity was a necessity involving the widest possible links
with members of the community. 7
Support elements such as the nineteenth century mutualista
system (mutual aid societies) and the traditional compadrazqo
(godparent) were integral in this frontier society.6 8 in a land
without fences, folk culture produced efficiency in herding, agri-
culture and mining. ^ The availability of land through grants
encouraged settlement of the periphery.
For at least fifteen years before Bent s Fort was founded
in 1833 on the Arkansas, Hispanics were settling the banks of
Colorado's southern rivers. The new Coloradoans brought with them
a way of life preserving a heritage of sixteenth century Spanish
colonialism. This tradition was mixed with indigenous elements
into a comfortable culture. Mountaineers developed a pastoral
economy that left a legacy of communal property use.7 These were
halcyon years in comparison to events which followed annexation by
the United States.
Lopez y Rivas views the taming of the west as one of "daily
violence and systematic use of physical intimidation".7-*- Colorado
was not an exception to that pattern. Barrera suggests that the
1848 treaty with Mexico annexing the southwestern parts of the
United States was the beginning of Chicano history and of Chicano
subjugation by a colonial power. Certainly it held the potential
for change in the villages of southern Colorado and northern New
Mexico. However, Samora reports that until the 1940 s, this parti-
cular area was undisturbed by mainstream America, Europe or Latin
America. Acculturation was resisted.
While Hispanics dominated numerically in southern Colorado,
the smaller numbers of Hispanics in Denver developed a closely knit
community, a barrio. This was the result of both a preference for
living with other Hispanics and because of the prevailing discrimi-
nation against those who spoke Spanish.^ ^ The home environment of
many of the parents of the Chicanas interviewed for the study, and
of a number of the women themselves were located in this and simi-
lar enclaves throughout the State. Culture and language was
preserved in familial isolation while the Chicano fulfilled an
expanding region's need for labor. Successive streams of migrants
from Southern Colorado joined the barrio. This pattern of migra-
tion from outlands to an urban enclave is a variation of the stand-
ard pattern for ethnic Americans. Chicano migration from rural
Colorado to Denver itself was limited until the early part of this
Morrisay suggests that the not fully known Mexican American
experiences in acculturation seem to be a variation oÂ£_ previous
ethnic models. The Mexican American has not necessarily followed
the patterns set in prior migration streams, particularly that
stream exemplified by ethnic groups arriving in America's Eastern
and Southern ports. Certainly Barrera's concept of American
colonialism in relation to the Chicano must be considered as one
"variation" of the usual migrant American ethnic story. From
Barrera's perspective, the saga of this region is one of colonial
descendants being colonized as part of national expansion.^
Demographies].ly, Denver, Colorado has several identities.
First, it is a city and county within the same geographic bound-
ries. Metropolitan Denver consists of the central city (Denver)
and suburban Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson counties. The Census
Bureau uses Denver as the central city within the larger Denver-
Boulder Statistical Measurement Survey Area (SMSA). In this broad
category, the SMSA includes Denver, Boulder, Gilpin, Adams, Arapa-
hoe, Jefferson, and Douglas counties.
Today, within Colorado, over three-hundred and forty-one
thousand people of Spanish origin form 11.8 percent of the State s
population. The largest urbanized Spanish-origin population reside
in the Denver-Boulder SMSA area. There, 46.4 percent of the Colo-
rado Spanish-origin population reside, or about 6% of the total
The Denver Boulder SMSA total population is currently esti-
mated as having almost an eleven percent growth rate.^ This
occurs in a period in which the total population of the nation has
grown 3 percent. The Hispanic population nationally increased 16
percent in five years from the 1980 census reaching 16.9 million.
Hispanics in 1985 formed 7.2 percent of the total U.S. population
compared to 6.4 percent five years earlier.^? The following table
illustrates Hispanic population distribution in the four metropoli-
METROPOLITAN DENVER PERCENTAGE OF SPANISH
County Total Population Spanish Origin % Spanish Origin
Adams 245,944 38,458 15.6
Arapahoe 293,621 13,161 11.5
Denver 492,365 92,237 18.7
Jefferson 371,753 19,561 5.3
Source: 19E 10 U.S. Census (PC80-1-C7)
Spanish origin persons form 11.6 percent of the four county
metro area. The majority live in the City of Denver and adjacent
Adams County to the north and Arapahoe County to the south. His-
torically, the northern quadrant of Denver has been home to its
Spanish-speaking population with the west side the focus of resi-
dential expansion. During the seventies desegregation goals
created an Anglo exodus from the city, diminishing the number of
families and school age children. From 1969 to 1984 Anglo students
decreased from "64 percent of the total student population to
38.5%". Elementary school statistics released in October, 1984
suggest Denver's problems with Anglo flight have abated with a
slightly increased Anglo student population.^
METROPOLITAN DENVER POPULATION BY RACE AND
County White Black American Indian Eskimo & Aluet Asian Pacific Spanish- Grigin
Adams 219,471 6,216 2,095 3,686 38,458
Arapahoe 274,727 8,407 1,474 4,580 13,161
Denver 375,628 59,095 4,318 8,934 92,257
Jefferson 357,611 1,908 1,866 4,427 19,561
Source: 1980 U.S. Census (PC 80-1-C-7)
Gottlieb investigated the potential accuracy of a Spanish
surname and Mexican origin in Denver. Ascription of Mexican ances-
try to a Spanish surname produces erroneous readings in only 4
percent of cases analyzed. He concluded rather than from a South
American or European Spanish origin, a Spanish surname is a good
"genetic marker" of Mexican inheritance within the city.^9 His
data were based on hospital statistics. 1980 Census data released
in mid-1983 give those of Mexican origin a dominant presence among
Hispanics in the city. The data do not distinguish Chicanos from
those more recently from Mexico.
METROPOLITAN DENVER MEDIAN AGE
County Hispanic Total Population
Adams 21.5 26.5
Arapahoe 23.2 30.2
Denver 22.9 30.3
Jefferson 22.2 29.3
The State 22.6 28.6
Source: 196 iO U.S. Census (PC 80-1-7)
Hispanics are markedly younger than the total population.
The most advanced Census Survey for the nation indicates Hispanics
on the average are, however, increasing in median age. The median
age for persons of Spanish-origin in 1985 was 25.2 compared to 23.2
in 1980. This is a comparable, difference from the current U.S.
median of 31.9 years and 30.6 irt 1980.80 Denver reflects a young
population overall. Hispanics in 1980 were nearly a year younger
(at 22.4) than the national Spanish-origin median age of 23.2.
The total population of the four county Metropolitan Denver area
had a medial age of 29.1. This was a year and a half younger than
the nation's median age (30.6). The high fertility rate among
Hispanics is viewed throughout the nation as continuing to support
the ethnic group's young population.
METROPOLITAN DENVER EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF
PERSONS 25 AND OVER
Percent of High School Graduates Percent of Persons, 4 or More Years of College Median No. of School Years Completed
County Hsp. Tot.P* Hsp. Tot.P* Hsp. Tot.P*
Adams 53.7 73.5 5.5 10.0 12.1 12.5
Arapahoe 75.4 88.6 17.5 31.9 12.7 13.8
Denver 42.8 74.7 6.1 24.8 11.1 12.8
Jefferson 48.6 77.9 13.3 26.8 12.6 13.0
The State 48.6 78.6 6.9 23.0 11.8 12.8
Source: U.S. Census (PC-8-1-C7)
*Total county population
The educational level of the four county metro area is
distinguished by the City and County of Denver's low level of
educational attainment for the Hispanic population over twenty-
five. The total population's median education equals that of the
State. The suburban counties reflect higher median educational
levels for those of Spanish-origin and for the total population,
with the exception of Adams county. The median number of school
years for the. Hispanic in the suburban counties exceed the state
median, while the median of the total population varies. Arapahoe
and Jefferson counties' Hispanic population have high levels of
college graduates compared to the other two metro counties. This
is in keeping with their overall higher levels of educational
METROPOLITAN DENVER SPANISH-SPEAKING (AT HOME)
AS A PERCENT OF THE TOTAL POPULATION
Age/years 5 to 17 18 and over
County Total/Sp. Spkg. Total/Sp. Spkg.
Adams 5.6 8.1
Arapahoe 1.6 2.5
Denver 9.7 9.9
Jefferson 1.7 2.6
Source: U.S. Census (PC 80-1-7, Table 172)
The Metropolitan Denver Hispanic is most probably an
English speaking person. A market analysis for KUVC, a bilingual
public radio station, suggests that 89 percent of the Metro Denver
Hispanics use primarily English.^ This development lends credence
to a respondent remark in a preliminary survey. English was then
viewed as the "literate" language of Denver's Chicanos.
Summary. The Hispanic population of metropolitan Denver is
young and concentrated in the city and county of Denver and Adams
county. The census data show the Hispanic population to be younger
than the total population in keeping with national trends. Studies
indicate that Mexican origin is probable for a majority of Denver's
Hispanics. English is probably spoken by the Denver Hispanic.
Hispanic educational attainment in the city of Denver falls behind
that of the total population, while in suburban counties higher
levels are usually achieved for the person of Spanish-origin as
well as for the total population.
Outline of the Remainder of this Thesis
The following chapters will examine the literature, discuss
survey methods, describe findings and offer a summary with conclu-
sions and suggestions for further study. Focus will be on the
Chicana leader as a woman in many roles interacting between and
within different cultures which form the population of one of the
fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States.2
Chapter Two examines literature as it relates to the
Chicana, the Mexican American family, language and culture. This
chapter is a review of organizational participation and leadership
among the Mexican Americans.
Chapter Three discusses the methodology of this study.
Included are subject selection, questions, interview methods and
analysis of data.
Chapter Four will review the findings as they relate to a
questionnaire and to the issues raised within the interviews.
Significant trends, and events will be presented.
Conclusions and suggestions for research follow a summary.
1. Lyle W. Dorsett, The Queen City: A History of Denver
(Boulder, CO: Pruett Pub. Co., 1977), p.284.
2. Ibid. p. 286.
3. Busing of public school pupils within the city of Denver in
order to achieve court ordered desegregation goals aroused the
indignation of many Hispanic parents. These parents wanted to
keep their children in local neighborhood schools. Busing was
instigated and continues to be mandated in various areas of
4. Dorsett, Queen City, p. 283.
5. Paul M. Sheldon, "Community Participation and the Emerging
Middle Class," in La Raza: Forgotten Americans, ed. Julian
Samora (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press,
1966), pp. 125-157.
6. John R. Martinez, "Leadership and Politics," in La Raza:
Forgotten Americans, ed. Julian Samora (Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame, 1966), pp. 47-62; see p. 47.
7. Ibid. p. 47-48.
8. "Hispanic Power Arrives at the Ballot Box," Business Week, 4
July 1983, p. 32, "Hispanic Power at the Polls," Newsweek, 4
July 1983, pp. 23-24.
9. Interview with G. October 1984, Denver, Colorado.
10. Iael Porter and Samuel A. Betty, "Communication Correlates
of Hispanic Intra-Urban Mobility: A Preliminary Study," a
paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communi-
cation Association, Chicago, 4 November 1985.
11. U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau, Adelante, Mujer:
A Conference Model for Hispanic Women, 11-12 January 1980,
Denver, CO. (Phamplet No. 20)
Julian Samora, ed. la Raza: Forgotten Americans (Notre
Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1966), p. 208.
13. Chris F. Garcia and Rudolph 0. del la Garza. The Chicano
Political Experience: Three Perspectives/ (No. Scituate MA:
Duxbury Press, 1977); Margarita B. Melville, "Introduction"
to Twice a Minority: Mexican American Women, ed. Margarita
B. Melville (St. Louis: The S. V. Mosby Co., 1980), p. 2.
14. John Naisbett, Megatrends: Ten New Directions for Trans- forming our Lives (New York: Warner Books, 1982), p. 6-7.
15. James McGregor Bums, Leadership and Social Change, (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), p. 414.
16. Ibid., p. 418.
17. Ibid., p. 409.
18. Ibid., p. 4.
19. Ibid., p. 13.
20. Ibid., p. 19.
21. Ibid., p. 418-421.
22. Bernard M, , Bass, Leadership, Psychology and Organizational
Behavior (New York: Harper, 1960), cited in Stodgill s
Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of Theory and Research,
ed. B. M. Bass, (New York, The Free Press, 1981), p. 31.
23. Ibid., p. 31-32.
24. John Garcia, "Yo Soy Mexicano," Social Science Quarterly 62
25. Ibid., p. 97.
26. U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Census
of Population and Housing; 1980, Census Tracts, Denver-
Boulder, CO, p. B-3.
27. Pino, Tom, "Labels: A Precusor to Unity in the 80 s: La
Luz 9 (Aug. Sept. 1981):28.
28. Ibid., p. 32.
29. Ibid., p. 33.
30. La Voz, "The Markey Survey," Denver, CO, 1982. (Mimeographed)
31. Interview 11/3/82 with 0.
Julian Samora, ed. LA RAZA: Forgotten Americans (Notre Dame,
IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), p. xv.
American Heritage Dictionary (Boston: American Heritage
Pub. and Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1975), p. 450.
34. Leo W. Jeffres and K. Kyoon Hur, "Communication Channels
Within Ethnic Groups," International Journal of Intercul-
tural Relations 5 (1981):116.
35. Ibid., p. 117.
36. Alfredo Mirande and Evangeline Enriquez, La Chicana: The
Mexican American Woman (Chicago, LL: The University of
Chicago Press, 1979), p. 10.
37. Garcia, "Yo Soy", p. 92.
38. Ibid., p. 4.
39. Lael Porter, "Media Access: Denver's Hispanic Community,"
1982, p. 15. (Typewritten).
40. Mario Barrera, Race and Class in the Southwest: A Theory
of Racial Inequality, (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre
Dame Press, 1979), p. 1.
41. Ibid., p. 4.
42. LARASA, "A Multicultural Perspective of Chicano Identity,"
El Espejo 6 (Sept. 1982) Denver, GO: LARASA, Latin American
Service and Research Organization, p. 8. (Mimeographed)
43. Roland L. Warren, The Community in America, 2nd ed.
(Chicago: Rand McNally College Publications, 1972), p. 2.
44. Ibid., p. 9-10.
45. Bradley S. Greenberg, et al, "Mass Communication and Mexican
Americans" in Mexican Americans and the Media, (Norwood, NJ:
Albex Pub. Corp. 1983), p. 7.
46. James S. Sauceda, "Chicano/a Ethnicity: A Concept in Search
of Context," in Intercultural Communication: A Reader, 3rd
eds. Larry Samovar and Richard F. Porter (Belmont, CA: Sage
Pub. 1984) p. 7.
47. David Chaney, "Communication and Community," Communication
48. D. Hymes, "On Communicative Competence in Sociolinguistics
eds. J. B. Pride and S. Holmes, (London: Penguin, 1972), p.
279; cited by Chaney, "Communication and Community", p. 29.
49. Chaney, "Communication and Community", p. 30.
50. Robert L. Nwanko and Humphrey A. Regis, "The Perception of
Transcendent Interest: Communication and Identification in
an Emergent Community," International Journal of Intercul-
tural Relations 7 (1983):363-
51. Primary relations are defined as: "social relations that are
lasting, are based on frequent and direct contact and are
characterized by deep personal and emotional involvement."
Members of a primary relationship are "involve(ed) in a
variety of common interests and activities." George A.
Theodorson and Achilles G. Theodor son, A Modem Dictionary of
Sociology (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1969; reprint
ed., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1979), p. 313.
52. Peter J. Steinberger, "Political Participation and
Communality: A Cultural/Interpersonal Approach," Rural
Sociology 46 (1981):12.
53. Susan Emley Keefe, "Real, and Ideal Extended Familism Among
Mexican and Anglo Americans: On the Meaning of 'close'
Family Ties," Human Organization 43 (Spring 1984):70-72.
54. Nwanko, "Perception", p. 364.
55. Richard V. Far ace, Peter R. Monge and Hamish M. Russell,
Communicating and Organizing (Reading, MA: Addison-Weseley
Pub. Co. 1977) p. 158.
56. Susan Emley Keefe, "Personal Communities in the Cities:
Support Networks Among Mexican Americans and Anglo
Americans," Urban Anthropology 9 (1980):70.
57. Jeffres and Hur, "Communication Channels", p. 124.
58. Richard A. Garcia, "Political Ideology: A Comparative Study
of Three Chicano Youth Organizations," Masters Thesis, Univer-
sity of Texas at El Paso, 1970, cited in Bibliografica Chicana
Mario T. Garcia, ed. (Ypsilanti, MI: Bilingual Press, 1983),
p. x. John Garcia ("Yo Soy Mexicano,") also confirms the
distinctions of Mexican American and Chicano.
59. Joel Garreau, The Nine Nations of North America (New York:
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981: Avon Books, 1982); Regions: Con-
cern Tries to Divide U.S. into more Meaningful Regions," Wall
Street Journal 4 January 1984.
60. Yankelevich, Skelly and White, Inc., "Spanish U.S.A. 1984" a
study commissioned by SIN Television Network (New York:
Yankelevich, Skelly and White, Inc., 575 Madison Avenue,
N.Y. 10222), pp. 1-21. (Mimeographed)
61. LARASA, "Contributions of the Spanish Sumamed American to
Colorado," (Denver, CO: LARASA, Latin American Research and
Service Organization, 1976), p. 1-3. (phamplet)
62. Matt S. Meir and Feliciano Rivera, The Chicanes: A History
of Mexican Americans (New York: Hill & Wang, 1972), p. 20;30.
63. Robert J. Rosenbaum, Mexicano Resistance in the Southwest:
The Sacred Right of Self Preservation (Austin IX: University
of Texas Press, 1981), p. 145.
64. Paul Horgan, The Heroic Triad: Essays on the Social
Energies of Three Southwest Cultures (New York: Holt,
Rhinehart and Winston, 1970), p. 124.
65. Richard Griswold del Castillo, La Familia: Chicano Families
in the Urban Southwest, 1848 to the Present (Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), p. 74.
66. Rosenbaum, Mexican Resistance, p. 143-148.
67. Griswold del Castillo, La Familia, p. 42.
68. Ibid., p. 43.
69. Femie Baca, "Stages in Bicultural Development," (Denver, CO:
University of Colorado at Denver ), p. 1, forthcoming in
Preparing Teachers for Bilingual Education: Basic Readings,
vol. II. (Typewritten)
70. LARASA, Contributions, p. 8.
71. Gilberto Lopez y Rivas, Conguest and Resistance: The
Origins of the Chicano National Minority (Palo Alto, CA:
P .& E Research Pub. 1979), p. 68.
72. Barrera, Race and Class, p. 7; Samora, la Raza, p. xii.
F. Baca confirms Samora s report in her 1984 essay. (Bicul-
tural Development," p. 2).
73. Judith L. Gamble, "Introduction to Historic Auraria,"
Colorado Heritage 2 (1985):4.
74. Marietta Morrisay, "Ethnic Stratification and the Study of
Chicanos, "Journal of Ethnic Studies 10 (Winter 1983) :92;
Barrera, Race and Class, p. 212-210.
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Census
of Population: 1980 Vol. 1, Characteristics of the
Population, Chapter C, "General Social and Economic
Characteristics,:Part 7, Colorado, Table 59.
76. Rocky Mountain Mews, June 5, 1985.
77. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Persons
of Spanish Origin in the United States (March 1985: Advanced
Report, Series P-20, No. 403, issued Dec. 1985, p.l.
78. "City's School s Anglo Flight Reversed", The Denver Post,
5 October 1984.
79. K. Gottlieb, "Spanish Surname as a Marker of Mexican
Heritage in Denver, Colorado," American Journal of
Physical Anthropology 57 (Feb. 1982):194. (Abstract).
80. Census, Spanish Origin: 1985, p. 2.
81. "Bilingual KUVO signs on Tonight," The Denver Post, 29 August
82. Rocky Mountain News, 5 June, 1985.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Research on Chicanas has been limited.^ The Chicana as an
individual distinct from the Chicano has been examined only since
the early 1970's. The 1976 National Institute of Education Confer-
ence on the Educational and Occupational Needs of Hispanic Women
issued a call for systematic research in areas of: socialization,
education, occupational choice, career mobility, organizational
membership and leadership.^ Existing descriptive studies of
Mexican and Mexican Americans as leaders do include women, but they
are usually of specific individuals in revolutionary or other
highly political contexts.
This chapter will first present historical overviews of the
Chicana. The overview will be followed by a review of related
findings on the Mexican American family, language and culture.
Next, contemporary Chicana perspectives will be presented. Chicano
leadership in general is followed by literature on participation in
voluntary organizations by both Mexican Americans and the ethnic
poor. Women's leadership is reviewed including her organizational
participation. An interview with a politically prominent Hispana
completes the Chicana leadership section. A summary concludes the
La Chicana: Historical Prototypes
Literature concerning the Chicana has sprung from the
necessity to differentiate her from the Chicano. Aspirations of
women for equity, both within the Chicano movement and as members
of the larger society, created a need for self-awareness and self-
identification. In order to look forward, Chicana feminists have
first looked back.
Two female protypes pervade Mexican cultural history and
enter into contemporary Chicana symbolization. One is La
Malinche, the traitor, also known as Dona Marina. It is known she
was bom into the Aztec aristocracy and the loss of her birth-
rights resulted in slavery. As concubine to the explorer Cortez,
she was his translator and mother of the first Chicano, "the
bastard race of Mestizo".^
The other model is that of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the
virgin mother, giving endlessly to her family, adored and vener-
ated. In their opposition La Malinche vs. La Virgin) the physi-
cal-spiritual aspects of womanhood, of motherhood, are seemingly
forever dichotomized. Masculine attitudes and behaviors toward
women are similarly dual in nature. This cleavage has persisted
into the contemporary era both in Mexico and the United States.^
Octavio Paz in the labyrinth of Solitude emphasizes the
negativism of La Malinche and the Mexican psyche in respect to her
specific role as La Chingada, the violated mother.
Her passive receptivity, her willingness to be violated
are given special attention, leaving little doubt that such
passivity is more deplorable than an active seduction would
have been. The point is particularly critical for Chicanas
because its cultural manifestation is that as members of the
"tainted sex" and as symbolic daughters of La Malinche, their
sexuality, whatever its form, is stigmatized."
In another view Saiz describes la Malinche as a woman who,
though a slave, undertook an accepted position within her culture
as gift to the Spanish conquistador. She probably was perceived as
chattel by the invader. Saiz suggests Doha Marina undertook the
position as an aid to her honored owner, unaware of the portent for
her people. It is known she acted as a communicator, a liaison
between peoples. Saiz speculates that her influence is potentially
closer to one of saviour, not traitor, in the possible prevention
of further travesties in the conquest; Mirande and Enriquez
recommend the re-evaluation of La Malinche. Was she a traitor or
was she a cultural scapegoat? Current examination of the story of
La Malinche suggests dissatisfaction with her historic severe
treatment. Her role; as concubine and slave, translator and con-
queror's confidant, has promoted stereotypic negativism towards
women who went beyond a limited family sphere.^ Doha Marina's
ability to mediate between cultures is appealing to those with
heightened awareness of the role of the contemporary Chicana.
In opposition to the negativism of La Chingada, the Virgin
embodies the proposition of. legitimate families within a framework
of virginal, submissive piety. This is not dissimilar from the
role of the Azteca. The early Azteca was trained and honored for
her role of mother by both family and the total community. Home
was the Azteca's place and she was to passively submit to events
that befell her. Saiz suggests the first mestizos were imbued with
their mother's Indian culture while acknowledged paternal ideas
were adapted. The difficulty of some of this transition Saiz
suggests is evidenced in the role of water in the two religions
confronting the first mestizo. Baptism for the Aztec focused on
survival, as water represented a living element. It was used on
the young child to symbolically prepare it for life. The Christian
baptism used water as a preparatory step for life after death.
"One stresses when living, the other living after death".9
The act of violation becomes a repeated theme in Mexican
culture, acknowledging the burden of having been bom of rape, of
shame and through conquest. It is overcome by one's pride in one s
Mexicaness. (Over time this has become distilled into the Mexican
concept of machismo, or. extreme masculinity. This behavior is
considered one means of protest against inferiority feelings which
are a result of the conquest and colonization. It has resulted in
a portrait of male-female interaction of authoritarian macho and
submissive female, as characteristic of family life.^
La Chicana Overviews
The nurturing role of the Chicana in her family and com-
munity is emphasized by Saiz. As colonist of the area that was to
become the southwestern United States, the Chicana was frequently
alone. In the migration process the Chicano left her for varied
periods to pursue economic gain. Her resourcefulness was chal-
lenged in this situation as was that of the Mexicana similarly left
behind in Mexico as her male partner left for the Colonies. As a
result, these Chicanas undertook the leadership and responsibility
of their families. Rural Chicanas in both areas retained the
family respect for age, authority and the father that is character-
istic of traditional Spanish culture, thus perpetuating rule by
Traditional Chicano values stem from a rural, agricultural,
herding, mining, small village orientation. These values come
under stress with twentieth century urbanization. Trade, manufac-
turing, food processing and other economic activities, contrast
with prior more pastoral and more cooperative endeavors. Also,
life in the city has brought more limited social contacts as the
Chicano has lived (until recently) in a more restricted social
Saiz suggests the urban Chicana is delegated to a position
of inferiority. In her interactions with the Anglo world, she has
developed concomitant hardness and cunningness as survival techni-
ques. In a World War II reaction to barrio life and generational
differences, the young Chicana sought her identity as the pachuka.
Intermarriage by Chicanos followed that war and sponsored the imi-
tation of the gabacha (Anglo female) as Chicanas reacted to their
loss. Nontraditional family patterns emerged and created a gap
between the traditionals in the barrio and those who left. A new
suburban lifestyle developed for the Chicana who became, by neces-
sity, a wage earner. Meanwhile, racial discrimination continued. 12
Chicano political growth on University campuses in the late
sixties brought the Chicana to her own self-examination. In
attempting to assist the Chicano in this period of civil rights
change, the Chicana recognized her entrenched, subordinate position
within the ethnic group as it Sought equity. Disillusionment led
many women to abandon the movement. Scholars and activists began
to focus on the role of the Chicana as a double minority. Saiz
proposed that in seeking her own identity the Chicana would be able
to contribute to the progress of the entire Chicano community.
Mirande and Enriquez in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary
approach use historical, sociological and literary sources. The
authors point to societal change as the possible cause of the
pervasive male-female role differences. The communal society of
the Aztecs, with a strict division of labor, gave way under the
colonial life imposed on the mestizo. Spanish economic require-
ments in the Mexican colony developed a more individualistic system
of labor and the rise of the nuclear family. Participation of the
mestizo in the colonization of the southwest propelled this devel-
opment. Two groups of settlers left central Mexico, marked by a
caste system. One, los ricos, light skinned and European in
appearance, had concomitant social and economic privileges. The
others were los pobres, who either became peons or lived in isola-
tion. Women were needed as part of the economic production system
in austere circumstances. Continuation of traditional Spanish
customs regarding the females's protected status was difficult.
The Chicana undertook various roles, no matter if she was a rica at
a hacienda, or a pobre in her small adobe. The authors warn
against the application of Mexican national (cultural) characteris-
tics to the contemporary Chicana in the United States.-^ They,
never-the-less, seem to hold the Aztec family system in it's com-
munity orientation as protype for the Chicana today.^
The socialization of the Mexican American family is des-
cribed by many authors as inculcating qualities which are antithe-
tical to "advancement and mobility in an urban industrial
society".The centrality of the family is considered by some as
an "impediment" to urban-industrial ideas of individual achievement
and mobility. Further, Mexican-American nepotistic values "may be
incongruous with the rational business ethos which prevails in the
United States."^ As a result of the Mexican historical exper-
ience, a sense of dependence exists where familial attention to
respect-authority values and a 1iving-in-the-present attitude
engenders this relationship (as opposed to the Anglo propensity
towards future gratification and values fostering individual
independence and achievement). However, the family is acknowledged
as a primary support system. Role expectations predispose the
Chicana to passivity, not towards behaviors which would encourage
her socio-economic mobility. Chicanas are encompassed by the
family and are not encouraged toward advancement as are Anglo
Mirande and Enriquez challenge this pathological portrait
of the authoritarian Mexican-American family viewing it as social
science mythology. They suggest the diversity of Chicano family
life precludes such stereotypic categorizing. They point to the
Mexican American family's high historic stability versus implied
social pathology. As a basic support system, the Chicano family is.
acknowledged by both non-Chicano and Chicano researchers as an
important social institution providing needed warmth and support in
an otherwise hostile and unrewarding environment. The authors
counter that the female role in the family is not one of passivity,
but of activity emanating from the home. The Chicana is the
nucleus of the family and as such, the cultural mainstay of the
family. In this role, the Chicana has fought encroaching institu-
tions as she has sought to preserve tradition. In doing so, the
Chicana has shown authority and power in her spheres.-^
The contemporary Chicana, as part of the labor force, has
been an exploitable commodity. She is underpaid compared to other
females in the general United States population. Similarly, she
has under-achieved educationally compared to other ethnics.
Chicanas, more than, other Hispanas, are less likely to have com-
pleted High School and lag behind the Chicano in educational
achievement. The 1977 statistics indicate that recent achievements
in increased minority access to higher education has seen far more
Chicanos than Chicanas advance to collegiate status. Among Anglos
at the same time there has been a strong trend towards equalization
of the sexes in higher education.
Two cultures have collaborated in the low education-low
paying job syndrome. The Chicana who reaches beyond the tradi-
tional role expectations is suspect to others in the community. To
stay within a parameter of ethnic acceptability while advancing
economically and socially, the Chicana must "demonstrate that [she]
can assume positions of responsibility and leadership commensurate
with [her] abilities without becoming masculinized or rejecting
[her] family and culture.
Women are dichotomized into good-bad roles in contemporary
Chicano literature. This follows years of American literature in
which the sensual or bad Mexican American woman, both exotic and
appealing, has been both attractive and repelling. This is a
"regrettable" image to Mirande and Enriquez. Within Chicano
literature, as part of the male rite of passage, the Chicana is
frequently a disposable sex object. Only in her role as the
idealized mother, the virgin/submissive, is the Chicana allowed to
emerge positively. Chicana writers, through relatively new Chicana
literature, are thus "making headway in breaking oppressive bar-
riers in the greater society and in their culture as well."20
Contemporary Chicanas have antecedents in revolutionary
Mexicanas who actively participated in the overthrow of the French
regime (1867) and ensuing Mexican dictatorships. Within the
United States, after standing with the Chicano in post-annexation
(1848) debasements, the Chicana became part of the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries' labor movements. The Chicana role was one of
frequent martyrdom in which their lives were given in support of
Chicano actions. Usually, however, they were auxiliary sup-
porters;^ A lack of education is cited as the cause of Chicana
participation expressing itself primarily at the grass roots level
of action.^ Consequently, the education of Chicano children
become an early focus for both the Chicana and the mutualista (self
help) societies.By the mid-twentieth century, Chicana leader-
ship developed in the efforts of women such as Maria de Hernandez
and Deloras Huerta. De Hernandez sought education for Chicanos in
Texas that was comparable to that received by others during the
thirties. Huerta in the sixties and seventies was the very able
vice-president of the United Food Workers in California, with Csar
Chavez as president.
Chicana feminism, propelled by California's 1970 Chicano
Student Movement activities, is viewed as culturally rooted. Lib-
eration for the Chicana can be developed only within the context of
the culture. Chicana feminism is not part of or subordinant to the
Chicano Movement. It recognizes the Chicana's unique, separate
role in achieving her identity. Chicana feminists have made La
Malinche a positive symbol in their exploration of their position
within a male dominated heritage. They recognize that both Chicano
and Chicana movements have been a reaction to "white" machismo.26
Enriquez and Mirande identify a mid-seventies reanalysis and redef-
inition of Chicano machismo. As a result, the machismo behavior is
seen as encompassing not pride in gender but pride in ethnicity on
the one hand, and as a rejection of the dominant society's image of
the Mexican American male bn the other.
Herrera and Lizano, in their leadership overview La Mujer
Chicana, draw attention to Chicanas as communicators. In historic
social movements of change and rebellion, Chicana leaders sometimes
develop. Usually they are involved as supporters of causes. The
revolutionary period of 1900-1917 in Mexico was critical to Mexi
cana development as activists and militants. The nineteenth cen-
tury pattern of martyrdom-victimage gave way in the United States
to the development of women leaders who were reflective of the
entire community. Thus, today Chicanas as "mujeres de su pueblo"
(women of their community), direct their femininity and feminism
towards the La Raza s (movement) culturally accepted goals.27 The
authors suggest existent parameters of Anglo feminism will negate
Chicana identity. They exhort an aggressive behavior directed
toward the retention of Chicana humanism while participating in the
dominant society's legal and educational system.
The historical overviews of the Chicana trace her lineage
from the Azteca in a community oriented society to her supporting
role in Chicano labor and social movements in the United States.
Underlying prototypes of the good-bad woman, as seen in La Malinche
and the Virgin, dichotomize her position in myth and literature.
This dichotomized role and machismo leads to stereotyping. This
legacy of stereotyping is viewed as distorting the role of women in
supporting the Mexican family. The active position the Chicana has
taken in the development of the southwest includes promoting the
economic and social welfare of her family and community in a hos-
tile atmosphere. The Chicana has been wife and mother, a pioneer,
a promoter of communal activities (such as the mutualista family
activities), and a supporter of Chicano labor activities. She also
has been aggressive in interactions with Anglos as required for
survival. Reassessment of her subordinate position within Chicano
society became a part of Chicana self-growth in the aftermath of
the Chicano movement. During the early 1970's, the call for
Chicano rights engendered in the Chicana the desire to overcome the
role of a double minority. Thus, a new Chicana feminism developed
which views its actions as both aiding the Chicana in an authorita-
tive/male culture while it promotes the Chicano community.
The Mexican American Family: Contemporary Research
Senor views the literature of the Mexican American family
as supporting a continuation of the traditional image of the
Chicana as the self-sacrificing nurturing mother with few contacts
outside the family. The continuation of these ideas results in sex
roles governing behavior. But, as in all human families, the
Mexican American family is the source of the individual's sociali-
zation, religious training and culture. As the major socializing
force, the family's influence is of importance. Until recently
American research has tended to focus on the more rural and usually
poor Mexican American.
Griswold del Castillo notes the conspicuous absence of any
historic recognition of the increasing urbanity of the southwest
Mexican American settler.29 However, in the past decade Chicano
scholars and others have extended the scope of our knowledge of the
diversified Chicano experience.
Murillo presents two main attitudinal "dimensions" which
seem to characterize the various streams of Mexican Americans:
respect and obedience 'to elders and male dominance. The first
encourages hierarchical family interaction as well as serving as a
screen to protect the individual dignity. The second is male
autocratic behavior which within the family is used to reaffirm
and thus to retain community respect.^
The Mexican American mother, traditionally remaining at
home, is held by effective bonds to the family. However, female
behaviors are culturally circumscribed. Salazar and Aragon sug-
gest Chicano/Chicana physical realities of self as well as their
attitudes in male-female relations are surprisingly similar. The
high protectionism a father exhibits towards his daughters may be
accompanied by punitive actions to enforce cultural expectations.
Males within the family follow the more permissive life allowed by
a double standard. They thus deeply ingrain a pattern of what a
"women's life...should be". Ruth L. Martinez found the Mexican
American family had preserved the concept of the subservience of
the Mexican female from its Spanish heritage. Garcia-Bahne sug-
gests the dichotomous view of women, as stereotypically good or
bad, limits a'man's choice in his behavior. Viewing the good
woman as the idealized: mother in Rivas' estimate places all other
women in the position of being bad, or as prostitutes. This
includes sisters and daughters. This cultural script of abnega-
tion and domination upholds the cultural ideal of sacrificing
mother. Saiz suggests this ideal will disappear with the
Chicana's development as a collaborating coworker. 3 3
Both nuclear and extended families characterize Chicanos.
Keefe cites the extended family as the source of personal community
networks and as the individual s prime support group.However,
Anglos and Chicanos without local kin have value systems which are
not necessarily less familistic than those whose families are
proximate. However, the key to traditional extended Mexican Ameri-
can familism and the personal community network is geographic
Goodman and Beman found that unlike other ethnic children,
Chicano barrio children cite kin as their most highly valued rela-
tionship. Trained to help, the Mexican American child is disci-
plined by respectfulness and learns to value work for its partici-
pation and contributory values to the family. It is not for per-
sonal achievement or its intrinsic value that work is performed.3 ^
Murillo, Mirowsky and Ross all report that mutual group responsi-
bility is paramount and is the very nature of family obligation.
Murillo adds that the necessity of sharing is not impeded by either
poverty or reliance on public assistance.-30
Chicana girls view their parents as an entity, equally
accessible, while boys tend to see their fathers as more distant
yet pervasive authority figures.37 The familial attitude toward
education among many Chicano parents is actually at times one of
conscious non-involvement. Perceived inferiority because of lan-
guage constraints, as well as lower personal educational levels,
restricts parent-teacher interaction. Also, the feeling that par-
ents should not interfere with their childrens educational pro-
cesses further inhibits support.High levels of education are
not necessarily sought by those generationally close to Mexico. A
grade school education is often considered quite satisfactory.
Ruth L. Martinez reported a high school graduate as "unusual" for
her California Mexican [American] community. This achievement
endowed new status to the individual and to the community. Fur-
ther, the educated Mexican rebuked prevailing stereotypes of gen-
iality and docility. Instead, the graduate demonstrated that
action and responsibility are equally potential for Mexican [Ameri-
cans] who have access to the tools provided by education.40
Success, American style, or upward mobility, stimulate
guilt for those who cannot achieve or make it on their own.^ Low
ambition but high self esteem is associated with lower economic
stratum Mexican Americans.^ with an external focus of control the
Chicano tends to perceive his fate is in the hands of others.
Paramount group responsibilities and the pressures of American
society should induce high anxiety levels. However, the social
community network, which has developed out of kin relations pro-
vides a mechanism for coping.^
Family centrality among Hispanic Americans may no longer be
as pervasive as in the past. Judee K. Burgoon, et al., states that
"to the extent [the greater centrality of the family] exists, it
has not produced social and personal values contrary to the major-
ity culture." They further suggest historic patrilocality may
exist only as ideal among many lower class families. The multi-
generational household driven by male authority may be totally
stereotypic today and does not recognize the warm supportive
environment created by the family. A reexamination has begun in
some areas of the social influence of the Mexican American family.
Griswold del Castillo, in considering the number of kin at home,
sees little difference between Mexican American families and Anglo
families. As a result he views extended generational family at
home as rare and related to generational distance from Mexico.^
Keefe finds Mexican Americans to be characterized by an
extended family with emotive interdependence and geographic propin-
quity. There is an ethnic preference for the Mexican American to
be less mobile than the Anglo. Their geographic stability encour-
ages the building of a kin network and the Mexican Americans have
created a kin-based community on the multiplex relationships which
evolve. These characteristics create a strong network within a
limited geographic area. Anglos value families, but their defini-
tion allows them greater geographic mobility. Baca-Zinn suggests
that as the traditional Mexican American pattern changes and their
economic status increases, there may well be increased egalitarian-
ism in male-female roles within the family. For Mexican American
families, de Snyder and Padilla found that the coexistence of tradi-
tional and egalitarian patterns does not suggest the latter's substi'
tution for the former. ^ 5
language and Culture !
Language unifies the ethnic Community.46 Spanish is pre-
ferred by many Mexican Americans. Yankelovich, et al., in a study
for SIN Television points to the "Spanish language [as]... increas-
ingly seen as the most important mechanism for preserving Hispanic
culture and identity.'"47 Judee K. Burgoon, et al., suggests
varying degrees of bilingualism occur across the United States
"primarily as a result of variations in economic status and rural-
urban differences. Bilingualism has become an indicator of non-
traditionalism and increasingly is present among the young and
better educated Hispanics. The bilingual use of language depends
on locality and context, the "nature of the interaction situation"
and the speaker's gender for Mexican Americans. Language switching
is contextually appropriate to the speaker.^ Monolingual English
may be an increasing mode of language behavior in some areas.
Although there, is a preference for the use of oral Spanish
and less use of written communication by Mexican Americans, an
investigation between Colorado Chicanos and a similar survey group
in Texas revealed the Coloradoans use less spoken Spanish than
their Texas peers. They also read more non-English newspapers.49
Among inter-ethnically married Chicanos, de Snyder found
that by the third generation males had diminished in use of Span-
ish while women were more prone to use it in conversations with
friends.60 Griffith views linguistic change for the Mexican
American as rejection of the traditional community and acceptance
of the Anglo world. He also suggests the "cross pressures" ex-
perienced in acculturation may stress the bilingual more than
acculturation pressures among non-English speaking Mexican Ameri-
cans.^ Anxiety occurs over socioeconomic and stressful life
situations in the acculturation process. However, "some aspect of
Mexican culture effects the expression or the acceptance of
psychosocial ly dysfunctional behaviors."^
The family may be one support mechanism in relieving
stress, a culture tied dependence. However, Griffith also suggests
that the bilingual may receive more cross pressures than other
Mexican Americans. The bicultural/bilingual individual's rejection
of the traditional community is paralleled by the community's
attempts to counter Anglization processes. The results of the
individual's negation of the community's attempt to counter his
Anglization would tend to diminish acculturation. F. Baca, a
proponent of biculturalism, suggests the individual with two lan-
guages and access to two cultures is strengthened in his or her
ability to "adapt to a changing world".
La Chicana: Contemporary Perspectives
The U. S. Census Bureau has and continues to examine the
Hispana in relation to her ethnic group, the total society and as a
member of the work forced Discrimination, both inter-cultural ly
and intra-culturally is at issue in much of the journal literature
and monographs.^ Barerra traces the employment change of the
Chicana from home to factory and ascribes her subjugation to both
U. S. class and colonial systems.Aragon Shepro places the
Chicana in a "bottom of the ladder" position in employment, educa-
tion, health care, political representation and social freedom.
This low status is viewed as the result of compounded discrimina-
tion. Shepro suggests that language inpediments also negatively
effect communication interactions and contribute to discrimination
The Hispana is almost "non-existent" politically within her
community both because of her lack of education and cultural subor-
dination. This lack of political participation in leadership roles
extends to her activity in the American society.66 However, the
retention of traditional values is being affected by changing sex
roles. The Chicana is forced to balance the rewards which come
from fulfilling the expectations of two cultures, Anglo and Chi-
cano.66 While the two value systems are not dichotomous, they
require life choices between expectations of a more community
oriented society and one with a more individualistic approach to
The Seventies' traditional or Anglo women's movements
neither recognized the Chicana nor inspired her to join their
programs. Centered on countering (Anglo) masculine oppression,
these programs did not meet Chicana needs of liberation within the
community.61 Generational cues may change the particular focus,
but Chicanas recognize the need to work for social change while
preserving the vital interests of the ethnic group. Pervasive
themes among a group of multi-generational, rural southwest mujeres
include the continuation of the respect motif, women's place in the
family, the desire for educational opportunity and a willingness to
participate in social transformation.^
Acuna points to the growth of the total Chicano population
as motivating changes for the Chicana. Socio-economic growth is
bringing class distinctions, however, to the goals being set by
Chicana leadership. In Corta-Cardenas' estimate, conflict occurs
when the Chicana seeks education because there is a fear of her
acculturation or the loss of Chicanismo. Yankelovich, et al.,
found that a preference for women in the home rather than in the
workforce exists even when income is needed, as in lower salaried
families. Never-the-less, Acuna points to two developments which
have resulted because of the feminist movement. First, middle
class Chicanas are able to face issues of employment priorities and
mobility. Second, the poor Chicana now works with community groups
of both sexes, in achieving her own employment goals. Overall the
Chicana has greater visibility as she moves from activist organiza-
tions to professional groups.
Simoniello directs attention to the study of Chicanas as
careerists or professional women. She perceives that Mexican
American women as professionals are "unique". This is because
parental love and concern were not removed when any of the eight
Chicana careerist in her study went beyond culturally anticipated
normative behavior. Simoniello chose a very small sample to ex-
plore the development of professional career women. She offers no
comparison to other ethnic groups in the exploration of these
characteristics. She does identify the career responses to profes-
sionalism with a personal need to excel in both family relation-
ships and in her career. That is because the career/professional
Chicana has a dual identification with the Anglo and Chicano cul-
tures. Guilt associated with her not placing the wife/mother role
in a primary position, reminds her of her family relationship.
Simoniello also notes that within her group, women of
similar ages shared similar attitudes and perceptions in regard to
discrimination, both racial and sexist. The older women did not
sense racial discrimination directly as youths, or did not identify
it as such. With adulthood came perceptions of discriminatory
practices. The younger women indicated earlier awareness of both
categories of discrimination. Their career success is seen as a
duality of personal and status achievement. The latter is tied to
economic mobility. 5
The Mexican American family has been the source of stab-
ility and support for the individual. This has occurred while the
family has promoted cultural values of respect for elders, male
authority and a focus on family obligations. Chicanas have until
recently been restricted to family-based activities. Geographic
propinquity is key to kin relationships. These relationships form
the basis for community. Children are taught group responsibility
but may not be supported in educational processes. Low ambition in
educational achievement, an external focus of control, male autho-
rity and family centrality are seen as characteristic features of
the Mexican American family. However, Chicano family centrality is
not viewed as contrary to the dominant culture's values.
Bilingualism is an indication of changing socio-economic
conditions. Inter-ethnic marriage diminishes the use of Spanish as
does further individual acculturation or adaption into the Anglo
world. Stress occurs for the bilingual/ bicultural in interactions
with the traditional community, as adaptations take place to new
The Chicana has been subordinated in two cultures both
economically and educationally. The development of self-awareness
and liberation for Anglo women in the 1970's did not compel or even
seek Chicana membership. Rather, Chicana's developed their own
feminism aS a result of a need to work for ethnic and personal
liberation. Visibility has occurred with the promotion of commun-
ity goals. Career and professional women have emerged as Chicanas
have exceeded cultural norms.
Chicano Leadership: Overviews
Sheldon posits that the Mexican tradition of high indivi-
dual worth has limited the willingness of Chicanos to conform to
groups outside of the family. Chicano traditional individualism
when coupled with the heterogenous nature of the Mexican American
in Sheldon's terms creates a non-group.^ They are a people unable
to speak in unity. The lack of strong leadership is culturally
promoted by extended family loyalty; a double standard with highly
defined male-female roles; and an attitude among "rural folks
[indicating] distaste for individual advancement at the expense of
one's peers".7 Even with increased urbanization, Sheldon suggests
rural norms are helpful in understanding Chicanos.
Mexican Americans, who retain their ethnicity while making
socio-economic "superiority" and who are able to "exert unusual
influence on their peers", are the "actual or potential leaders of
the community."* "Playing a leadership role", or helping the
community, or helping an individual "in trouble" are the criteria
Sheldon used in recognizing Hispanic leadership. While recog-
nized as influential, the individual may be constrained in leader-
ship by a lack of peer recognition. Only one leader is perceived
for a community even though different individuals may nominate a
different person, if asked. Sheldon's respondents, all voluntary
participants in community organizations, were outstanding "by
definition". However, "their concept of themselves as leaders had
little support from other respondents".^
Martinez cites the two types of Mexican American leader-
ship. These types occur when need for specific action brings
about the requirement for a specific leadership. One style is
the radical, the driver of people, and the other of the diplomat,
the link of the community to the outside world. Martinez suggests
that the former mobilize and speak out to obtain results, the
latter communicate between two societies. Either style may not
accomplish all that is desired.71 in the southwest prior to World
War II, political participation was largely limited to Chicanos in
New Mexico. Thus post World War II political action groups have
created new symbolism and a sense of unity. However, the indivi-
dual member rather than the group's leader is the focus of respon
sibility for action. Martinez suggests that Spanish speaking
people have a problem in expressing group aspirations through an
Responding to Martinez' limits on Mexican American leader-
ship, Garcia and de la Garza use Ralph Gunzman's typology to find
three types of leadership in the Chicano community. First is the
Internal, or Reputational leader who may be invisible to the out-
side world. This group may include women who know the community
and its resources well. The Internal leader is a problem solver
for both the individual in personal need and for the organizational
needs of the community. The External leader is ideally a bridge
builder to the dominant society. One important type of external
leader is the Chicano who "had it made"....and returned to help
those less fortunate. The social worker ahd a priest are other
external leaders. The external leader usually functions as an
information source but is particularly valuable when she is a
female, a Chicana. For instance the social worker is often a
Chicana, and wields power in the role of decision maker for eligi-
bility and reward for those dependent on welfare systems.
The most important leadership role Garcia and de la Garza
define is that of the Intermediary. He is the linking agent
between two status and culture systems. The danger in occupying
this role is that although he is in a leadership position, he may
be perceived by Anglos as not up' to Anglo standards. Garcia makes
a plea that Chicanos in leadership positions be accepted on their
own cultural terms. Another danger is that intermediary leader may
be co-opted, that is, drawn into the Anglo culture and become less
of a Chicano representative. The "changed Chicano" may no longer
represent Chicano needs and actually prevent more representative
Chicano leadership from emerging. The Intermediary leader is some-
times labeled as a venido or sellout.^
Conditions in an environment of poverty constrain leader-
ship development. O'Shea and Grey note, however, that many of the
poor perceive themselves as actively engaged in community decision
making even if they themselves are not leaders. Specific actions
related to community activity increases with increased income.75
Greenberg and Dervin found that the informal leadership of the low
income community changes with the expansion of that role into other
strata. Those who gain influence in the greater or dominant society,
exchange this for less influence within the low income community.
Chicano leadership has evolved around those who obtain
benefits for the community and those who seek to bridge the two
communities, Anglo and Chicano, either forcibly or diplomatically.
Intermediaries are the linking agents between two cultures, two
status systems. The Internal (or Reputational) leader has long
been of value in solving community problems with available resour-
ces. Women are included in this group. The External leader simi-
larly solves problems but taps the resources of the greater commun-
ity. Perceptions of leadership seem to create the recognition of
only one spokesperson for a community while actually multiple
leadership exists, but is unrecognized. Informal leadership sur-
renders its local influence when power and influence are gained in
the Anglo world. Leadership is thus constrained by a tradition of
individualism and a distrust for cooperation with the Anglo.
Participation in Voluntary Organizations
"Association with others is a catalyst for involvement" and
enhances individual participation in "the polity", Williams, et al.,
found in their 1973 study. Kutner states that voluntary organiza-
tions are crucial for individual, community and social change.
Duran follows these assessments by specifying the voluntary organi-
zation function as mediator between the individual and his govern-
ment, channeling information and legitimizing levels of informal
leadership between the community and the greater society. As a
coping mechanism, organizational association allows ethnics to
Participation by Hispanic Urban Workers and the Urban Poor
Sheldon discovered that no or low organizational participa-
tion existed among working class Mexican Americans in the sixties.
This segment of the Mexican American population considered affilia-
tion with ethnic organizations a measure of acculturation into
Anglo-urban society. Among the urban poor, Greenberg and Darvin
noted minor volunteer organizational participaticn and low develop-
ment of leadership. They go on to suggest that the informal
leadership of the Hispanic community, which Kurtz earlier reported
as clustering about information gate-keepers, indicates potential
leadership because of the degree of perceived community involvement
by Chicanos. For low-inaome Hispanics, non-family, non-peer group
association is centered around the church. Kutner suggests
Catholicism as an alternate to community participation in ethnic
assertiveness. Interpersonal contact in urban poor environments is
highly homogeneous. While incipient leadership occurs among all
poor people, reliance on kin-peer networks limits community and
organizational involvements. Greenberg and Darvin found mutual aid
as a norm in the poor-kinship system and allied to same sex rela-
Community Participation and Middle Class Status: Mexican Americans
Sheldon found active urban community participation in East
Los Angeles by a group of Mexican Americans emerging as middle-
class citizens. His research revealed associations and values by
the group members not previously described in the literature.
Prior work on Mexican Americans had focused on more rural and small
town populations. In the East Los Angeles area of the Sheldon
study, there lived both the new community participants and more
traditional working class urbanites. The latter did not differ
greatly in behavior from patterns, cited in the literature on rural
Hispanics, while the community participants, the emerging middle
class group, showed several strong distinctions. To verify his
results, Sheldon studied a sample of individuals from rural Texas,
New Mexico and southern Colorado. This sample supported the exist-
ing literature. Thus, Sheldon's new middle class population,
having truely left the ghetto and intermingled with the Anglo
population, was exhibiting behaviors dissimilar from the working
class urban Mexican American resident as well as the rural resi-
dent. However, the community participants retained their ethnic
and cultural ties while developing skills and techniques to:
Achieve soci-eccnomic superiority and to exert unusual
influence on their peers and frequently on the life of the
broader community in other words, the actual or potential
Among three ethnic groups studied by Williams, et al.,
Blacks led in organizational participation followed by Anglos and
then Mexican Americans. Strang familism is suggested as inhibi-
ting the latter's voluntary group participation. Hispanics who do
join groups maintain strong ethnicity. McMillan suggests that
organizational participation is a lower priority for Mexican
Americans than that of the general population. For those who
express the importance of kin in close proximity, there is even
less participation in voluntary organizations. Within volunteer
groups, the pattern of social organization of Mexican Americans is
similar to that of Anglos. Every individual in organizing his
leisure time considers similar questions of time perception and
social networks in relation to such variables as neighborhood,
proximic relations, sex of household, and residential stability.
This pattern of similar Anglo-Mexican American social ordering was
valid even if the ethnic organization met in an area associated
with Anglos or in isolated ethnic turf. Duran notes however, that
among urban Hispanics, Mexican Americans participated less in
organizations than other latino ethnics.
The proclivity of Blacks to participate in voluntary
organizations has been ascribed to compensation theory, that is,
the achievement through group association of rewards not easily
found in the larger society. Neither Williams, et al., or McMillan
fully apply this theory to explain levels of Hispanic participation
in organizations. Instead they suggest as key ethnic theory which
stresses awareness of each other, hence group cohesion and local
participation. Williams, et al., found the variety of Mexican
American organizations and differing participation, such as high
PTA involvement, may lend credence to both theories in explaining
their voluntary organizational activity. On one hand, the two
theories may actually be complimentary. On the other, specific
information not sought in their study would be needed in order to
isolate variables which would support one theory or the other.
Specifically, Williams, et al, states that further information on
ethnic organizations and their membership is needed. They also
postulate that ethnic voluntary organizational patterns can indeed
fulfill requirements for both of these theories.
Effects of Cannunity Participation
Both the community and the individual are affected by a
person's membership and the results of that membership. First/
one's membership leads potentially to other political involvement.
Second/ participation in the organization promotes the cultivation
of social skills and enhances the individual's self-image. Last,
volunteerism is necessary to community organization. The Mexican
American voluntary association fulfills both political and social
goals. Identity is found in the use of the Spanish language in
group meetings. Membership is associated with education and
is a vehicle suggesting middle class status.^ Specific neighbor-
hood communication attitudes may impede or accelerate the growth
of voluntary associations. Informal networks are extensive with
those of the lower economic stratum. Among those for whom family
ties are very strong, there may not be a need for formal organiza--
tion. The attitudes of the local neighborhood therefore act as a
push-pull factor in voluntary involvements.
Sheldon's description of Mexican Americans in East Los
Angeles contrasts the attitudes of the community participant with
those ascribed to Mexican Americans in general. From his
research, the following characteristics have been extracted to
describe the two outlooks.
MEXICAN AMERICANS AND COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION
Community Participation Traditional Non-Participant
Optimism Mobility High Regard for Education Active in Political Organizations High Civic Spirit fatalism (resignation) Stability* Indifference to Education/ English Language Conformation only to the Family Group High Independence
Source: Sheldon 1966
Stability is sought following any migrant (camp)
The community participant reveals the adaptation of middle
class American values. Sheldon found however the ethnic cultural
heritage largely persisting as the community participant engaged
in neighborhood, employment and educational activities.
Voluntary organizations are a means for the development of
informal leadership. They channel information and allow the indi-
vidual to cope with the government.' There is low organizational
participation among urban poor in general. Informal leadership
exists for the Hispanic in the networks which radiate from informal
gatekeepers. Interpersonal communication on a face-to-face basis
and kin-based communication network form the basis for activities
of the poor in their community contacts. Emerging middle class
Mexican Americans differ from both rural and traditional urban
workers in their socio-economic gains and the use of influence to
Compared to other ethnics, however, the Mexican American
has low rates of voluntary organizational participation. Blacks
lead with Anglos following, and Mexican Americans last. Blacks are
perhaps more active to obtain from their group activity rewards
which are unobtainable in the broad community. Mexican Americans
with proximic kin participate less than those without. The pat-
terns of Mexican American voluntary organizations are similar to
these of Anglos.
Community participation seem to lead to greater political
involvement and enhances the individual. Community organization is
expanded by individual voluntary efforts. Specific neighborhood
attitudes will determine degrees of participation. Those who join
organizations among the Mexican Americans exhibit non-traditional
attitudes and behaviors in comparison with the non-participant.
Women as Leaders^^
Women are stereotyped as non-leaders. Even when situa-
tional clues hint at the leader of a group, women are not so
perceived. Stereotypic discrimination impedes women's rise to
positions of leadership. Our expectations of others as well as
individual behavior determines the emergent leader. When men are
present or available, regardless of "conscious" beliefs in skill
and ability the inability of women to satisfy leadership demands
was found to be held by both men and women.^
Still characteristics of leaders are considered andro-
Leadership, task persistence, achievement, motives,
intellectual abilities and many other psychological abilities
do not favor one sex over another for job performance.
Actual or self-perceived limits because of discrimination
and fear of success challenge women in their professional commit-
ments as leaders.^ Mutual support is needed to overcome effects
of continuously maintained patriarchy in power situations.^
Women who become eminent in political organizations are
marked by different socializations than women who emerge as
leaders in other areas. Kelly discovered that women political
leaders more closely resemble men in the same category than
resemble other women. Unlike other types of eminent leaders,
political eminents came from all classes equally. Family, sex
role ideology and practices are more important than the reported
middle class-upperclass distinctions that have been made pre-
viously. Mothers who hold a public role seem to influence
daughters in their political activity. Kelly discovered three
times as many mothers of political women had held professional,
business or skilled jobs compared to mothers whose daughters
achieved eminence because of other personal characteristics. The
characteristics which distinguished the other eminent women were
either their marital association or their prominence in areas
other than those of politics, business or organizations.. Further,
the maternal independent role which Kelly associates with working
and career mothers creates a difference for eminent women, but not
In her research Kelly found that two-thirds of her politi-
cally eminent women came from economically "impoverished families".
This was not the case for men.96 The home environment for both men
and women of political distinction was similar, but women reported
disliking their teachers more, of having better relations with
peers than men reported, and finished their education with less
college than men. Women political eminents also were more likely
to be divorced than their male peers.^
In voluntary associations functioning as auxiliaries,
women's leadership has been associated with employment status. In
the Sixties, members of voluntary organizations who were working
mothers formed less than 40 percent of those in leadership roles.
By the mid-seventies, Black and Platt found there was no relation-
ship between members' employment and leadership. Dominating their
results, however, was the relationship between husband and wife in
leadership roles at local levels of organizational participation.
Her leadership is dependent on his activity. At state levels, this
is no longer valid. Women are anticipated to be capable for
leadership roles on their own merits. A two level recruiting
system exists. At the local level the husband's status and other
family variables influence leadership choice. At state and
regional levels, individualistic leader characteristics influence
involvement and selection.
The process and style of decision making in women's groups
has come under examination. Research suggests influence in deci-
sion making as being gender associated. McShane and Oliver report
that critical analysis (the scientific method) was criticized as
being a masculine decision making process in women's groups. It
encourages a dominating form of leadership compared to the more
egalitarian group processes used by women in alternate health
agencies. However, the egalitarian approach may result in local
groups having to use crisis decision-making solutions for health
care delivery rather than to adapt to structured, goal oriented
(male) decision processes. In the case of crises solutions, the
actual egalitarian group decision making process is considered more
valuable to the women themselves than the use of the scientific
method. This latter method views success or failure in meeting
objectives which may not meet immediate needs.
Chicanas as Leaders
Blea found expressions of Chicana leadership in a Colorado
barrio. She believes historically, that the participation of women
in community affairs has been ignored in studies of Mexican Ameri-
cans. The experience of the Chicana has been unlike the experience
of the Chicano because of the protected female position. This more
sheltered role has kept her from blatant discrimination. The
Chicana while remaining in the more supportive atmosphere of the
barrio has not been immune from subtle discrimination by society.
In her study, Blea found Chicanas had participated in a political
caucus but were not involved at that juncture in its leadership.
Chicanas of the barrio were "assist(ing)' Chicanos in higher educa-
tion, political employment and all sections of health fields".
Chicanas who were single parents or heads of households were parti-
cularly visible in their community participation.^ ^
In middle-class Anglo feminism, a womans fear Of exploita-
tion places the white male in the role of aggressor.-*-^ Conversely
because of Chicano subjugation under the Anglo equity between male
and female is always the goal of Chicana leadership.-^ It is
suggested that as the "most oppressed" of all women the Chicana in
her community is more able to create friendship" between the sexes
and each other," replacing a legacy of conqueror and conquered.!
Equity, not enmity, is sought by Chicana feminists.
Participation in organizations allows the development of
potential leaders. Within male dominated organizations, Chicanas
must look for election to leadership positions by the worthiness of
their own merits, rather than just because there are an increased
number of Chicana participants. Acknowledgement of female decision
making skill and Chicana capacity for leadership, must come from
the dominant male membership.! ^
Polly Baca, at a National Institute of Education Confer-
ence, called for Hispanas to be "leaders of people", not leaders of
"Latino or Feminist Movements". They should strive to be in a
position where they "would be able to contribute fully to our
representative democracy,".! Hispanic traditions have excluded
women from visible leadership. A lack of education has even
further impeded them from progressing in areas of employment.
Baca-Barragan went on to state that the Chicana, after addressing
her "unique educational and occupational needs", will be able to
"exercise her democratic right of political participation and
"develop freely to her fullest capacity in a cooperative commun-
ity".^-^ She concludes that through involvement, and through poli-
tical participation with hard work and proven competency, the
Hispana will achieve positions of power and inf luence, including
Polly Baca; Interview
In response to a request for update on the Hispana Leader,
Ms. Baca-Barragan reviewed this topic and other issues in a per-
sonal interview.110 first concern discussed was the. "almost
non-existent role" Chicana/Hispanic were relegated to in the mid-
seventies as minority females in quest for representation in
women's groups. The Hispana was not then represented on women's
Boards, nor in the media or on the speaker's platform.^ Evalua-
ting the current scene, Ms. Baca-Barragan comments that:
(Today) we have made some strides. There are more women
getting involved now. There are a number of Hispanic women
within the National Women's Political Caucus......There is not
a single Hispanic woman who is the chair Or who has been the
chair of a national white feminist organizaticn....we still
have not been elected. (There is at this time)....no one we
can claim and reach out to as a sister.
Baca-Barragan notes there are positive developments in
Chicana leadership. Within the traditional women's organizations
such as the League of Women Voters and NOW (National Organization
for Women), Hispanas are coming closer to leadership positions at
the state level. A Colorado Chicana does chair the state organiza-
tion of NOW and she "may be the only Hispana at that level within
the organization", said Baca-Barragan. Another Hispana chairs the
Women's Political Caucus in Texas. National political caucus
groups created "slots" for Hispanas years ago. But, Baca-Barragan
As Hispanas within a traditional white women's organiza-
tion, only those two, within my knowledge, have achieved
significant leadership positions.
With the exception of the state level in Anglo womens
organizations the Hispana is:
Still not 'top dog'! It is better, there is movement
is growth is improvement. But we are still not there.
Ms. Baca-Barragan comments that the summer of 1980's Inter-
national Women's Conference did have a Hispana, a member of the
U.S. Civil Rights Commission* in attendance. The earlier 1977
conference did not involve Hispanas of this country at all.
We have not been as visible. We have not been supported
as leaders to the degree I think we should be supported.
Within Colorado, Baca-Barragan notes:
There has been an increase of Hispanic women's participa-
tion within Hispanic organizations.....There is a group of
women who have beoome more involved in general through the
A Denver Chicana was president of the organization in 1984
and is probably the third woman that "could achieve leadership at
the state level in traditional white women's organizations". If
there were more Baca-Barragan was "sure she would be aware of
At the national level, the numbers of women in Congress did
not change in the last election although there was a "shift in
location". Nationwide, among over a hundred Hispanic State Legis-
lators, there are only eight women. New Mexico is the only state
where a Hispana is at the state office. There are Hispanas in
"some city council positions" and they are in this role in "three
major cities for the first time". Baca-Barragan views Hispana
political activity and development "essential in leadership". His-
panas she believes:
Bring together different force(s).... positive political
alliances. In some cases they have a chance of doing that
better than the men do.
In her paper for 1976 NIE Conference, Baca-Barragan posed
the rhetorical question:
Have all individual Americans had an equal opportunity to
obtain the educational background necessary to achieve the
occupational opportunities to allow the free development of
the individual to her/his fullest capacity?
Nine years later in response to that question Baca-Barragan
reports that "women are generally getting degrees and Hispanic
women are part of that. They are also more aware more willing to
take risks involved. That has been a raw valve" [sic].
Facing political reality, Baca-Barragan notes that "a
bright attractive Hispanic woman is somewhat of a star", and has
significant political opportunities which she can use. She recalls
her own situation in the 1973 Democratic National Committee when
she covered "two categories" in her appointment.
Today s Denver Hispana is "more middle class", while there
were "not a whole lot (of middle class Hispanics) in her genera-
[We were the] first generation [that had] the opportunity
of getting an education, and as a consequence of this educa-
tion have been able to move into the economic world of the
middle class... (As) first genera tion...you don't have the
mentoring or the role model you can rely on...We ve been
encouraging other women to do the same thing. But there were
so few numbers of us...It is just now beginning to increase
numerically...That's the significant part of it...its that
now you see the geometric progression starting to take place.
And of course, it happened to us slower than to Anglo women
because they were farther ahead.
Minority men have been part of the Colorado House and
Senate for two decades. Ms. Baca-Barragan is the first and only
minority woman to be elected to the Colorado State Senate.
It doesn't seem right...something is wrong... There should
be others elected. Other than a lack of opportunity....
The statement was not finished.
Summary of Literature
Chicanas are women of the Southwestern United States with
cultural ties to Mexico. The influence of Mexican cultural ties
varies according to the individual's generation and distance from
the border nation. The ethnic identification of the Chicana is
multidimensional, includes factors as self-image and degree of
cultural attachment. Persons of Mexican origin are heterogenous
not homogeneous in their social behaviors. They are heterogenous
because of their being in various stages of acceptance and/or use
of values and behaviors of the dominant society. Despite hetero-
geneity the common bond among all Hispanics is the Spanish lan-
The Chicana has been historically defined, as the creator
of the Chicano (Mestizo) race. She has been cast in the role of
traitor, or bad woman, or in the opposing position of sanctified
wife-mother. This dichotomy of attitudes towards women has resul-
ted in delegation and subjugation of the female in Mexico and by
extension to those of Mexican heritage in the United States.
High familism and strong group loyalty has been character-
istic of Chicanos. The role of the male as authority figure is a
highly defined cultural norm. The female role reinforces the male
through female submission to male authority. Anglo discrimination
against the male and resulting machismo behaviors further isolated
the Chicano family. Isolation and tradition combined to keep the
Chicanos within a closed system. However, post World War II life-
style changes including high urbanization have created changes in
the traditional family practices. Ethnic cultural practices do
persist over generations and in inter-cultural marriages.
The family is the major source of information for the
individual. This develops through communication networks consis-
ting of proximate kin. They provide a support network in which
their interpersonal interaction is key. The Chicano community
consists mainly of a communication network with some individuals
functioning as information sources and others functioning in new
roles as patrones capable of intervention with government systems.
Inhibited by both a lack of education and low cultural
expectations, the Chicana was, until recently unable to advance
economically. Her idealized leadership roles in the past focused
on her work as revolutionary heroine or martyr. Her position of
community leader, the internal broker, whose influences meets both
group and personal exigencies, is unrecognized by the Anglo.
While data supports Chicano incipient or potential leader-
ship occurring among all poor, the Chicano's strong reliance on the
peer-kin network is key to their community/participation. Organi-
zational involvement that does not involve family or peer group is
low. Voluntary group association encourages the development of
communication between the individual and larger society through
group interaction and leadership development. Mexican American
involvement in such groups is low compared to other ethnics. It is
associated with acculturation and middle class status. Those who
do participate in voluntary associations maintain strong ethnic
identification. Their associational activity itself may be similar
to that of Anglos. Both social and political goals are sought by
members seeking middle class status. Thus education and the dev-
elopment of personal and social skills are encouraged.
As group activity leads to expanded political interaction
in the fulfillment of personal and community goals, leadership
transitions from informal to formal. Mexican American leaders
respond to several distinct community needs. The radical and the
linking agent, both in their own ways seek to represent Chicano
interests and communicate their concerns to the major society.
External leaders and/or diplomats bridge the gap between cultures.
Internal leaders are information specialists and by their influence
support and protect the cohesion of family and community. Success-
ful leadership interactions with the main society may develop
personal aggrandisement. In turn, lessened credibility and support
from the ethnic community may result. Community perceptions of
representativeness and usefulness governs recognition of leader-
Women in general are not usually perceived as leaders.
Yet the characteristics they display do not differ from that of
male leaders. Childhood socialization for politically prominent
women leaders differs from that of other women leaders. Both
poverty and a strong role model in an independent, publically
aware mother influence the emergent leader. Governing female
cultural stereotypes as well as lack of appropriate forums in
which to develop and express leadership characterizes past Chicana
history. Participation in voluntary organizations encourages her
leadership directions. The socialization patterns of eminent
women in political organizations differs from that of other women
leaders. The Chicana who has achieved status and success has had
high parental support, valued education as the way to achievement
and has perceived discrimination as highly related to her genera-
tion. Familial pride parallels individual accomplishment for the
1. NIE Conference on Educational and Occupational Needs of
Hispanic Women, 29-30 June 1976, 10-10 Dec. 1976, National
Institute of Education, ED 1.311:62 (1977), (Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980) p. 8.; Marie
Nieto Senour, "Psychology of the Chicana," in Chicano
Psychology, ed. Joe L. Martinez (New York: Academic Press,
1977), p. 329.
2. NIE Conference, p. 13.
3. Alfredo Mirande and Evangeiina Enriquez, La Chicana: The
Mexican American Woman (Chicago, IL: The University of
Chicago Press, 1979), p. 24-25.
Malinche was bom in the province of Coatzalcualo. At
eight, she was taken by Mayan traders to be sold to the
Tabascanos. She was fourteen when given to Cortez.
Enriquez and Mirande, La Chicana, p. 24-25.
4. Flor Saiz, La Chicana (preliminary booklet) n.p. (1973),
2nd printing, p. 11; Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p.
23-31, 96-117; and Carlos Fuente Lecture, Spring 1983,
University of Colorado at Denver.
5. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 28, citing Octavio Paz,
The Labyrinth of Solitude, trans., Lysander Kemp, (New York:
6. Saiz, La Chicana, p. 13-17.
7. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 29-31.
8. For a comprehensive review see "The Role of Women in Aztec
Society" Chapter Two, Mirande and Enriquez-, La Chicana
9. Saiz, La Chicana, p. 21.
10. Mirande and Enriquez, la Chicana, p. 110-111.
11. Saiz, La Chicana, p. 38-43.
Ibid., p. 43-57.
13. Mirande and Enriquez, la Chicana, p. 53-68.
14. Ruth L. Martinez in her 1942 Thesis for Claremont College,
Calif., The Unusual Mexican: A Study of Acculturation,
views the Mexican who has come to the U.S. as the result of
blood fusion, (Spanish and Indian), not cultural fusion.
Thus, he is the product of peoples creating a new whole
which has indistinguishable parts due to centuries of
mestizo maintenance, (reprint edition, San Francisco:
R & E Assoc. 1973), p. 13.
15. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 111.
16. Leo Grebler, Joan W. Moore and Ralph C. Gunzman, The
Mexican-American People, p. 351, (New York: The Free Press,
1979) and Joan W. Moore, Colonialism: The Case of the
Mexican American," Social Problems 17 (Spring 1970):130,
cited by Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 111.
17. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 111-117.
18. Ibid., p. 129.
More advanced data reveals the Chicana has completed only
9.6 years of school compared to 9.7 for Puerto Ricans, and
more than 12 by women of Cuban, Central and South American
origin. Non-Hispanic women are slightly ahead of Cubans
with 12.5 years of education. U.S. Department of Labor,
Womens' Bureau, Time of Change; 1983 Handbook on Women
Workers, Bulletin No. 298 (Washington: U.S. Government
Printing Office, 1984), p. 30.
19. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 141.
20. Ibid., p. 179.
21. Prior Chicana revolutionary activity is not mentioned in
the sources consulted.
22. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 203-224. Further
insight into politically active Chicanas is to be found in
Sylvia A. Gonzales, "The Chicana Perspective: A Design for
Self-Awareness" (San Jose, CA: San Jose University, 1976),
ED 13809 c.1974; and in Gloria Herrera and Jeanette Lizcano,
"La Mujer Chicana (The Chicana Woman)", (U.S. Dept, of
Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education,
Washington, D.C.), ED 103147, July 1975.
23. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 223-224.
24. Mirande and Enriquez in La Chicana, p. 224, cite Paul S.
Taylor in Mexican Tabor in the United States, vol. 1.,
(Berkley, CA: University of Calif. Press, 1930), p. 64.
The mutualista society is thus described as a response to
"Anglo oppression...as organizations of Chicanos [emerged]
that sought to provide each other with mutual support and
protectionism for such things as burial services, health,
protection against abuses by police and the law and illegal
deportations." The mutualistas found in nineteenth century
New Mexico were also social in function. The more enduring
of these groups included family participation is some form.
Robert J. Rosenbaum, Mexicano Resistance in the Southwest;
The Sacred Right of Self Preservation, (Austin, TX: Univer-
sity of Texas Press, 1981), p. 145-148.
25. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 224-225, 233-234.
26. Mirande and Enriquez, La Chicana, p. 242.
27. Herrera and Lizcano, La Mujer, p. 6.
28. Senour, "Psychology of the Chicana" p. 330-331.
29 Richard Griswold del Castillo, La Familia: Chicano
Families in the Urban Southwest, 1848 to the Present, (Notre
Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), p. 4.
30. Nathan Murillo, "The Mexican American Family," in Chicano
Social and Psychological Perspectives, Nathaniel N. Wagner
and Marsha J. Haugh, eds. (St. Louis: The C.V. Mosby Co.
1971), p. 103.
31. Albert Salazar and Ernest L. Aragon, "The Hispanic Treatment
Program" in Mental Health and the Mexican Community, ed.
Patricia H. Gallegos (Conference of the Public Health Ser-
vice, U.S. Department of Health and Human Welfare, 29-30
July 1980, Pueblo, CO), p. 72; R. Martinez, Unusual Mexican,
p. 14; Betty Garcia-Bahne, "la Chicana and the Chicano
Family" in Essays on la Mujer, eds. Rosaura Sanchez, Pt.1,
and Rosa Mar Inez, Pt.II, Anthology 1. (Los Angeles: Chicano
Studies Center Publication, University of California, Los
Angeles, 1977, 4th printing 1981), p. 40-43; Octavio Rivas,
"Family Script in the Mexican Macho's Culture," Transact-
ional Journal, 13 (Oct 1983):240; Saiz, La Chicana, p. 57.
32. Susan Emley Keefe, "Real and Ideal Extended Familism Among
Mexican and Anglo Americans: on the Meaning of 'Close'
Family Ties," Human Organization 43 (Spring 1984):70-73.
Susan Emley Keefe, "Personal Communities in the City:
Support Networks Among Mexican Americans and Anglo
Americans," Urban Anthropology 9 (1980):68-69.
34. Mary Ellen Goodman and Almo Beeman, "Child's-Eye-Views of
Life in an Urban Barrio," in Chicanos: Social and Psycho-
logical Perspectives, ed. Nathaniel N. Wager and Marsha J.
Haugh (St. Louis: The C.V. Mosby Co., 1971), p. 112.
35. Murillo, "Mexican American Family," p. 102-104; John
Mirowsky and Catherine E. Ross, "Ethnic Culture and its
Emotional Contradiction," Journal of Health and Social
Behavior, 65 (June 1984):11.
36. Murillo, "Mexican American Family" p. 103.
37. Goodman and Beeman, "Child's View," p. 112.
38. U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Public
Health Service Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Administra-
tion, "Communicating with our Sons and Daughters," Pub. No.
(ADM) 78-696 (1978), p. 8.
39. Ross Forney, "Comments: Finding Solutions to the Hispanic
Dropout Issue," Insight XX (7), 26 March 1985 (Colorado
State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational
40. R. Martinez, "Unusual Mexican," p. 1-7.
41. Garcia-Bahne, "Chicana and Chicano Family," p. 33.
42. Goodman and Beeman, "Child's View," p. 117-118.
43. Mirowsky, "Ethnic Culture," p. 10-11.
44. Judee K. Burgoon, "Interpersonal Communication and Mexican
Americans," in Mexican Americans and the Mass Media, Chapter
2, B. S. Greenberg, M. Burgoon, J. K. Burgoon and F.
Korzenny (Norwood, NJ: Ablex, Publishing Corp., 1983), p.
41; Griswold del Castillo, Richard, La Familiar Chicano
Families in the Urban Southwest, 1848 to the Present (Notre
Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), p. 96.
45. Keefe, "Extended Families," p. 68-69; Maxine Baca-Zinn,
"Employment and Education of Mexican American Women: The
Interplay of Modernity and Ethnicity in Eight Families,"
Harvard Educational Review 50 (Feb. 1980):48 and Maxine Baca
Zinn, "Chicano Family Research: Conceptual Distortions and
Alternative Directions," Journal of Ethnic Studies (Fall
1979):59-71, cited by R. Griswold del Castillo, "Chicano
Family History, Methodology and Theory: A Survey of Contem-
porary Research Direction/' in History Culture and Society:
Chicano Studies in the 1980 s, ed. M. T. Garcia (Ypsilanti,
MI: Bilingual Press/Eastem Michigan University, 1983), p.
100; Nelly Salgado de Snyder and Amado M. Padilla, "Cultural
and Ethnic Maintenance of Inter-Ethnical ly Married Mexican
Americans," Human Organization 41 (Winter 1982) :361.
46. Daniel F. Duran, Latino Communication Patterns (New York,
Amo Press, 1980), p. 6-7; Luiza Amodeo, Rosalyn Edelson and
Jeanette Martin, "The Triple Bias: Rural, Minority and
Female," a paper presented at the Southwest and Rocky
Mountain Division of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, Greeley, CO: 21-25 April 1981 (ED
207758), p. 6.
47. Yankelovich, Skelly and White, Inc., "Spanish USA:
1984," a study commissioned by SIN Television Network
(New York: Yankelovich, Skelly and White, Inc., 575
Madison Avenue, N.Y. 10222), p. 10. (Mimeographed)
48. J. Burgoon, et. al., "Interpersonal Conrnunication," p. 51.
49. Kuvelesky, P. "Use of Spanish and Aspirations for Social
Mobility among Chicanes: A Synthesis and Evaluation of Texas
and Colorado findings," a paper presented at the Annual
Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Social Science Association,
Laramie, Wyoming, 1973 (Eric Document Reproduction Series No.
ED 075128) cited in J. Burgoon, et. al, "Interpersonal
Communication," p. 49.
50. de Snyder and Padilla, "Maintenance," p. 360.
51. James Griffith, "Relationship Between Acculturation and
Psychological Impairment in Adult Mexican Americans,"
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 5:(1983): 453.
52. Ibid., p. 451.
53. Ibid., p. 453; Femie Baca, "Stages in Bicultural Develop-
ment" (Denver, Co: University of Colorado at Denver )
p. 16. forthcoming in Preparing Teachers for Bilingual
Education: Basic Readings, Vol II. (Typewritten)
54. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Persons
of Spanish Origin in the United States: March 1979, Popula-
tion Characteristics, Series P. 20, No. 354 (Issued October
1980); U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau, Time of
Change: 1983 Handbook on Women Workers, Bulletin No. 298,
(Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office); U.S. Depart-
ment of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, "Conditions of
Hispanic Women in America Today," [Edward Fernandez and
Carmen de Narvas, ed.], prepared for presentation at the
First National Roundtable for Hispana Business and Corporate
Leaders, 22-23 March 1985, Denver, CO; U.S. Department
of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Persons of Spanish
Origin in the United States (March 1985): Advanced
Report, Series P-20, No. 403.
55. S. Gonzales, 1974; Herrera and Lizcano, 1975; Gonzales,
1976; Garda-Bahne 1976; Cotera, 1977; Apodoca, 1977;
S. Lopez, 1977; Griswold del Castillo, 1980; S.
Gonzales, 1980; Corta-Cardenas, 1982; and others.
56. Mario Barrera, Race and Class in the Southwest; A
Theory of Racial Inequality, (Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1979), p. 94-99.
57. Theresa Aragon Shepro, "Impediments to Women Organizing," in
NIE Conference on Educational and Occupational Needs of
Women, 29-30 June 1976, 10-16 December 1976, National
Institute of Education, ED 1.311:62 (1977), (Washington, DC:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980) p. 121-122.
58. Polly Baca-Baragan, "Lack of Political Involvement of
Hispanic Women as it Relates to Their Educational Background
and Occupational Opportunities," in NIE Conference on Educa-
tional and Occupational Needs of Women, 29-30 June 1976,
10-16 December 1976, National Institute of Education, ED
1.311:62 (1977), (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing
Office, 1980) p. 40.
59. Senour, "Chicana Psychology," p. 340; Miguela Rivera, "A
Profile of Professional Women: Professional at What Cost,"
a presentation at the First National Roundtable for Hispana
Business and Corporate Leaders, Denver, CO, 22 March 1985.
60. Rivera, "Profile of Professional Women".
61. Marta Cotera, "Feminism: The Chicana and the Anglo
Versions," in Twice a Minority: Mexican American Women,
Margarita B. Melville, ed. (St. Louis: The C. V. Mosby Co.,
1980), p. 226-228; Griswold del Castillo, La Familia, p. 11.
62. Nan Elassar, Kyle Mackenzie and Yvonne Vigil, "Excerpts from
Las Mujeres: Conversations from a Hispanic Community,"
Frontiers 5 (1980):39.
63. Rudolfo Acuna, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos 2nd
ed., (New York: Harper and Row, 1981) p. 402-403; Margarita
Cota-Cardenas, "The Chicana in the City as Seen in her Lit-
erature," Frontier 6 (1981); p. 16; Yankelovich, et. al.,
"Spanish 1984," p. 8; Acuna Occupied America, p. 405.