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Who are Chicanas?
     Chicana refers to women of Mexican descent born and/or raised in the United States.  The term Chicana (and Chicano) came into popular usage during the Chicano movimiento of the 1960s and 70s as Mexican-American activists sought to define a cultural and political identity for themselves.  Some believe that the term derives from the indigenous Mexica (Meh-sheik-a) tribes of Mesoamerica; others point out that the term was used as a derogatory reference to Mexican-Americans in the Southwest U.S. for many years, until it was reappropriated by activists. 

     In the 1960s, the term was picked up by a generation of activists to signify their uniquely American identity which meant two things:  1)  acknowledged and took pride in their Mexican heritage, and 2)  demanded that white America acknowledge historic and persistent patterns of racial inequality in legal, political, educational, and social opportunities for Mexican-Americans.   A Chicana or Chicano identity specifically rejects the idea that we must deny our Mexican heritage in order to be a 'real' American.  To identify as Chicana means we are both Mexican and American.  It's important to realize that many women of Mexican descent call themselves Mexicans, Mexicanas, Latinas, Mexican-American, or even Hispanic for a variety of significant, often personal, reasons. 

What's Chicana feminism?

Chicana feminism means almost as many different things as there are different Chicanas. For the purposes of this space, Chicana feminism can be defined as a critical framework which looks at inequalities along lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality as they effect women of Mexican descent in the United States.  That means talking about sexism, racism, homophobia, and poverty as interlinked issues.  Chicanas have launched important critiques of the Chicano movement, the women's movement, and the gay/lesbian movement, challenging each to think about the way racism, sexism, and homophobia are all embedded and interconnected, not only in contemporary society, but in our own movements as well. 

How is Chicana feminism defined (specifically)?

You can look at a this page on definitions of Chicana feminism by various Chicana activists and scholars from Ana Nieto Gomez to Gloria Anzaldua (students and other research paper writers should be sure to check it out).  Other Mexicana and Latina work which could be called precursors to Chicana feminisms such as the writings of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and other lesser known mexicanas. 



Resources on Chicanas (MUST for students)


Chicanas chingonas


Suggested readings on Chicana Literature


In May 2004 Gloria Anzaldúa, one of the most important chicana critic, feminist and activist passed away and all the Chicana community mourns her death














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© Antonia Domínguez Miguela. Site last updated: 14 October 2004