Origins and evolution of Homies as hip Rasquache cultural artifacts

Taking the Homies out of the barrio or the barrio out of the Homies 1

Authored by: Francisco A. Lomelí

Routledge Handbook of Chicana/o Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138847873
eBook ISBN: 9781315726366
Adobe ISBN:


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The issue of representation and re-signification of Mexicans or Chicanas/os in American mass media, and cultural venues for that matter, has been troublesome, thorny and frequently problematic. More often than not the gaze tends to return to the prefabricated concoctions of the nineteenth century where “greasers”, “spics”, bandidos and peons leaning on cacti were first portrayed, inevitably recycling anachronistic or incongruous images that have a life of their own, thus embodying vicious stereotypes difficult to eradicate. At the heart of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of Mexicans as a racially and/or culturally mixed people with the Native American which for Anglo America was hard to fathom. This often-provoked descriptions of Mexicans as mongrels, primitive, blood-thirsty, instinct-driven descendants of the Aztecs – as if the latter were the only Indigenous group – and culturally backward, or intrinsically flawed because they are supposedly unable to assimilate. In other words, their defects are so many that one can only wonder if they possess any virtues. Commonly viewed as ahistorical villains with a fuzzy background and devoid of a legitimate culture, persons of Mexican descent have been depicted in terms of a “cultural deficit model” as background characters instead of protagonists, workers and not decision-makers, anonymous masses instead of humanized bodies, silenced women in lieu of females with multiple dimensions, superstitious people, recent illegal immigrant interlopers or suspicious second-class citizens. In other words, Mexicans in the United States have historically had to work against an upward treadmill of disadvantage as invalidated beings because they supposedly do not match the “norm”.

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