On July 5 my friend Michael invited a few of his friends to his house for a barbecue. Most of the guests were Chicano, Los Angeles natives, male and college educated (alumni of UC Berkeley, UCLA, Columbia, Yale, MIT and USC). At one point our conversation turned to the topic of Navarrette article. We were highly critical of the essay. Navarrette makes inflammatory and bigoted remarks about the Los Angeles Latino community, and his argument is ahistorical.
Yes, Mexican-Americans did not loot in East Los Angeles as did Central Americans and recent Mexican immigrants in other parts of the city. The reason: If there is one thing that Chicanos on the Eastside can claim it is that the land is theirs. It is the closest thing to Aztlan (a Chicano homeland) that there is. In addition, the legacy of the Chicano movement makes it clear to Mexicans that this indeed is a Mexican city (with the largest population of Mexicans outside of Mexico City). Central Americans and recent Mexican immigrants, on the other hand, do not have this perspective and live in a city that does not welcome them and instead only exploits them.