The Awakening

I have been writing about having to reconstruct my life after being incapacitated by Parkinson’s and trying to reconstruct my life by requesting my Human Resources Files from my past employer, California State University, Northridge (CSUN). My files, articles and reputation are under siege. For at least a decade, I have been writing about neoliberalism in some form or another. Even my first book, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, originally was about the internal colonial model and how it impacted Mexican Americans. Indeed, colonialism in the Americas can traced or justificed by powerful institutions and individuals. For example, Pope Alexander VI issued the Doctrine of Discovery in 1493—a Western idea. It was influential proclamation to justify European colonization. The doctrine itself set the stage where Westerners became heirs to the so-called right to take away lands from indigenous peoples and for the colonized to accept Western religion. It was based on a Big Lie.

In examining gentrification and neoliberalism, I found many similarities to colonialism—which continues to have negative impacts on our people the present. I first got involved with gentrification in studying the Immigration Act of 1928, which created qoutas that favored Eureopean immigrants and took away the rights of American-born women who married immigrants. It extended to Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop—later redubbed Chavez Ravine. An entire community was destroyed so future generations could watch Dodger games and eat Dodger Dogs. It was not difficult to extend this logic to the choice of freeway routes in East Los Angeles, as part of racist programs, plans and policies (e.g., urban renewal, gentrification, redlining etc.). Like in the case of the Doctrine Discovery, these racist programs, plans and policies are maintained by the Big Lie, which includes the creation of a caste system.

When I awoke, I found even “friends” who were spreading the Big Lie at CSUN: they allegedly established the Scholarship Foundation, Operation Chicano Teacher, and the CHS Course of Study. I know there were others who made this possible, but the new claimants were not among them. Some of them even stole pieces I had written and published them. I tried to correct people, but often they are ready to believe the Big Lie. Muddling this up were outsiders who would offer up opinions without knowing what they were talking about. The Big Lie cannot be corrected through hearsay or misinformation.

At the beginning of the search for how and why I had gotten in this pickle, I had already been marked. Throughout the past decades I have gotten into many heated confrontations with university adminstrators. Through the document search, I discovered a world I had never known. CSUN was controlled by another entitycalled The University Corporation (TUC)—headed by the President of the university and controlled by the Chancellor of the system. As the precurer to CSUN, San Fernando Valley State College (SFVSC), this institution had enjoyed tremendous growth that was financed by the enrollment of first-generation Mexican Americans and other Latinos.

CSUN was not built with state funds. The state had not built a building in over ten years. Student funds built all the buildings, even the dorms, and students paid dearly with the profits going to TUC. The outcome was that many students could not afford to eat on campus or sleep in the dorms. Sounds like a neo-liberal university to me!

It is crystal clear that CSUN would not be as prosperous as it is without Mexican American and Latina/o students. It was on our/their land that it was built. They were simply the commodities. The Black population is at an uncappetable less thamn 5%. If Black students would be at least 10%, then the number of student of colors would increase on a campus where the professors and administration are almost all white. How is this possible? In reviewing CSUN documents, I’ve found the admistration hostile towards Black and Brown student organizations who seek transformative change on campus and beyond. In the years to come, we will be writing the true story of CSUN. It can only become a more perfect university by writing the true story and imagining a new university.

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.