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British Association for American Studies


Issue 10, Spring 2007: Article 4


Issue 10, Spring 2007: Article 4

U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal

Issue 10, Spring 2007

‘Ya Basta! – That’s enough!’ [1] – Gangbanging and Protesting; an analysis of the Political Subculture of Luis J. Rodriguez’s Always Running

Josephine Metcalf
© Josephine Metcalf. All Rights Reserved

And for a time, for a most productive and wonderful time, gang violence stood at a standstill. For a time it appeared the internal warfare had given way to the struggle for land, language and liberty – when we had something more important to fight for.[2]

Whilst Rodriguez’s autobiography, Always Running: La Vida Loca – Gang Days in LA (1994), offers graphic depictions of life in his gangbanging prime, including armed robberies, heroin abuse, shootings and stabbings, he simultaneously delineates his active role in the radical Chicano Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This essay will demonstrate that this equivocal positioning remains central to his autobiography. Indeed, Rodriguez fully admits that whilst struggling to process his life as a member of ‘The Animal Tribe’, he possessed a conflicting heightened sense of consciousness that ‘wanted to flirt with depth of mind, to learn more about my world. My society. About what to do’. [3] Although Always Running is dedicated to his gangbanging son, Ramiro, in ‘helping to end the rising casualty count for the Ramiros of this world’, [4] the reader also perceives the radical and Marxist undertones that permeate the body of the text with a far wider reaching focus than merely the gangs of East LA. This paper will scrutinise the development of Rodriguez’s political disposition, in the context of the radicalisation of America during that era (unprecedented since the 1930s), and chart its deliberate impact on his life writings.

Whilst Mexican American autobiographical theory shares numerous traits with life writing criticism in general, questions of identity have often specifically been raised by Chicano authors as a result of their wish to draw on traditions from both sides of the border. Predominantly, this is manifested in language usage, as both English and Spanish (representing their American/Mexican selves) wrestle for ultimate control of their authors’ identities. Some of the most renowned contemporary Chicano autobiographers, for instance Oscar Zeta Acosta and Richard Rodriguez, have voiced their struggle to find a comfortable position between the two languages and it will be useful herewith to draw a comparison with Luis J Rodriguez’s predecessors. As the life writing theorist, Laura Marcus, claims, ‘this trying-on of alternative identities is central to ethnic autobiographies’; thus autobiographical form has become ‘a key element in new understandings of cultural identity and coalition politics’. [5] Richard Rodriguez depicts his use of Spanish as a private experience, contrasted with his public association with English. Acosta’s identity struggle culminates in a visit to Mexico, whereby ‘One sonafabitch tells me I’m not Mexican and the other one says I’m not American. I got no roots anywhere’. [6] Luis J Rodriguez relates to this dilemma: ‘I had fallen through the chasm between two languages. The Spanish had been beaten out of me in the early years of school – and I didn’t learn English very well either. This was the predicament of many Chicanos’. [7]

All three authors use their autobiographies to shape their personal and political identities, moving precariously through these two opposing cultural forces. Whilst Richard Rodriguez happily succumbs to the domination of English, letting language become what Marcus terms ‘a magical instrument of reconciliation’, Acosta’s text remains a ‘dangerous double agent’ moving between these oppositions. [8] Luis J Rodriguez repeatedly refers to the plight of the Mexican experience, whereby immigrants were viewed as ‘phlegm stuck in the collective throat of this country’. [9] Dissimilar to Acosta and Richard Rodriguez, however, Luis J Rodriguez expands on Marcus’s reference to ‘coalition politics’, aiming his text not merely at rejected immigrants or gang members, but additionally other minority groups, as well as those on the lowest social stratum – ‘This book is part of their story’. [10] As early as his Preface, Rodriguez makes clear that he is seeking a society ‘not where a few benefit at the expense of the many, but where everyone has access to decent health care, clothing, food and housing, based on need, not whether they can afford them’. [11] Always Running becomes a brief lesson in sociology, as Rodriguez emphasises that issues of unemployment and poverty are not limited to the Chicano population of LA and should not necessarily be viewed as such. Thus, Rodriguez’s ‘I’ has incorporated Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s infamous referencing of the ‘I’ of the individual, as well as the ‘I’ of the race (in Gates’s essay, this was applied to African American autobiography), but moreover developed the referential ‘I’ to apply to all those struggling to survive in American society. [12]

As Always Running progresses, Rodriguez becomes increasingly ensnared between resistance (resistingresisting the ruthless dominant milieu of 1970s LA) through subcultural rituals as part of the gang, and resisting itance through revolutionary protests as part of the Chicano Movement: ‘I ended up back in the streets. Somehow, though, it wasn’t the same as before. A power pulled in those books I learned to savor…’. [13] The Reagan Administration’s retort to the gang’s ritual resistance was a dramatic increase in suppressive tactics, a trend continued through subsequent Presidential years. Certainly, the 1980s witnessed extensive condemnation of gangs in the media, the construction of nine new Californian prisons, and the launching of the militant Operation Hammer by the LAPD’s CRASH team in order to – literally – smother gangs. [14] Clinton continued the war on crime with longer prison sentences (‘3 strikes and you’re out’) and the recent Bush Administration has even, in the case of former gang member, Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams, answered with the death penalty as a suppressive tool. Rodriguez pleads for a change in America’s response to these marginal subcultures, claiming, ‘young people are looking for people, places, art and literature that can reflect their values, pain, visions and confusions’. [15] Rodriguez documents a similarly oppressive reaction to revolutionary rituals in the 1970s, when the federal government intervened: ‘…every organized expression for justice and liberation was targeted, its leaders killed or jailed, its forces scattered’. [16] He cites as examples, not merely the Brown Berets, but allied groups such as the Black Panthers, the Puerto Rican Liberation Group, the American Indian Movement, the Young Lords, and the Weathermen. [17]

The binary opposites of ritual resistance (the youth subculture) versus revolutionary resistance form the backbone to Always Running. [18] The life writing critic, Herbert Leibowitz, famously argued that literary style, rather than content, is the crucial interpretive link to understanding an autobiography. Hence the reader becomes a ‘secret agent’, or ‘literary sleuth’ who must analyse the ‘slippery clues’ that an author leaves behind, in order to grasp their intentions. [19] For instance, Richard Rodriguez shrewdly divides his autobiography into distinct private and public chapters, to represent the two extremes of his assimilation experience. The bulk of Luis J Rodriguez’s story forms a linear narrative, chronicling his childhood and teenage years. He is ardent in emphasizing that although the essence of the book is about La Vida Loca, this is inextricably linked with his life as an activist. These two conflicting lives are collapsed into one account, with opening chapter quotations from characters such as Antonin Artaud (a French philosopher with radical views), Nelson Perry (an African American revolutionary) and Sandra Cisneros (a Chicano novelist/poet), combined with chapters that commence with citations from a Lomas gang member, a Barrio boxing coach or a Mexican adage. Accounts of friends killed in a police chase are followed in the next breath by assemblies to discuss social revolution; when arrested for intent to commit murder, his description of prison revolves around poetry; attendance at the Chicano Moratorium Against The War results in being sucked into the criminal justice system. This concoction of stories delineates the continual, irresistible lure of the gang for youth, despite Rodriguez’s role as a radical advocate. Indeed, Rodriguez refuses to construct himself as a preaching mentor, and instead we witness him confess on more than one occasion, ‘I was back to the way of the ‘hood’. [20] Even the glossary of Spanish terms included at the end of Always Running, lists a continual blend of barrio terminology (‘Vatito’, ‘Vato Loco’, ‘Chota’) with revolutionary expressions (‘La Raza’, ‘Regeneracion’, ‘Teatro’). [21]

On a perfunctory level of analysis, it appears that Rodriguez’s stories of gang exploits hold much in common with other memoirs, such as those by African American street gang members: ‘Tookie’ Williams (Redemption) and Sanyika ‘Monster’ Shakur (Monster: The Autobiography of an LA Gang Member). Certainly, all three confront issues of LA’s ‘pobreza’ (poverty, described Rodriguez as ‘an old friend’ [22]) and economic deprivation, as well as police brutality and war analogies. Despite slightly diverse reasoning behind the development of contemporary street gangs (the Crips were founded as a quasi-political version of the Black Panthers during the Civil Rights Movement, while the Mexican Cholos have been traced to the earlier Pachucos and their immigratory experience of culture conflict), both African American and Mexican American gangs have interchangeably swapped styles and rituals of the gang experience. For instance, Rodriguez affirms that as they grasped the English language, ‘it was usually the Black English we first tried to master’. [23] Later, in prison and juvenile detention centres, Blacks mimicked the Cholo style and emulated Mexican slang. This similitude extends into their autobiographies, as all three are ambivalent in their attitude towards the gang: they voice anti-gang reflections in hindsight, despite concurrently glorifying their battle tales.

Yet it is difficult, beneath the surface of these gang narratives, to identify any notably similar lines of political thought. This is particularly engaging in view of Rodriguez and Shakur, whose autobiographies were both published in 1993. Despite voicing comparable concerns with modern day LA (such as the Rodney King riots and resulting temporary Crip-Blood truce), Rodriguez’s mindset appears to remain in the radical era of over twenty years prior, thus sharply altering the political undercurrent of his text. By comparison, Shakur was not born until 1963 (nine years after Rodriguez and ten years behind Tookie), and did not commence gangbanging until 1974.

By 1974, Rodriguez had already rejected gangsterism, and was actively involved in M.E.C.H.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), recently becoming the Mecha organiser for all East LA High Schools. This corresponded with the rupturing of the radical sentiment that had swept America over the previous decade: once the Brown Berets disbanded in 1972, the movement gradually splintered and attention turned to alternative matters such as the environment and second-wave feminism. For exhausted radicals, it became an excuse to return to mainstream America. As Shakur strode towards his gangbanging prime, he was blind to what Eithne Quinn has described as ‘the wider forces of depoliticization and conservative retrenchment in 1970s America’. [24] In essence, by 1974 Shakur was not positioned in such a socially consequential historical era. Instead, he was simply an 11-year-old child banned from his school’s outing as punishment for flashing a gang sign during a class photograph. [25] Whilst conservative forces took hold in the early 1970s, the peak political challenge to gangs has often been linked to the election of Reagan a few years later. During the 1980s, Reagan’s rise to power signified a reduction in state funding for education, increase in prison spending, a slumping economy with resulting loss of jobs, and emphasis on an individualist rather than collectivist way of thinking that would come to represent America’s widespread mood over the next two decades. These forces combined, led to a dramatic surge in gang membership.

Despite having renounced gangsterism by this stage, Rodriguez deliberately refers to the ongoing impact of Reaganomics, witnessing its effects played out through his son, Ramiro. This too, is the environment which is described so emphatically during Shakur’s gangbanging glory. It might be useful to herewith draw a brief comparison with Monster in order to demonstrate the importance of radical politics to Rodriguez. Indeed, Shakur’s text, with its discussion of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and requests for a separate state, quite clearly understands radical ideologies that aim at fundamental change in the structure of society. But Shakur does not contextualise this in the larger frame of the Civil Rights Movement; instead it remains very much an individualist attitude, within solely his African American experience. Certainly, there is a selfish, maverick feel to Monster, in stark contrast to Always Running‘s call for collective radicalism. This is perhaps reflective of the early 1990s American consciousness, whereby, ‘this political dissipation, the sense of the intractability of social problems and declining believe in government intervention, seem to have fostered a situation in which the only thing worth discussing is personal responsibility and entrepreneurial self-reliance’. [26] Indeed, during Clinton’s era, ‘an individual – in the face of deindustrialisation and punitive government policy – is cornered into a position of callous individualism’. [27]

It should also be noted that Rodriguez’s situation meant that he was quite literally free to participate in a revolution (he started writing excerpts of the book when he was 16 years old, and was only ever imprisoned for minimum periods of time): ‘At 18, I barely escaped a long prison term. I had the help of mentors and activists in the most radical wing of the Chicano Movement, people to whom I owe my life, people who steered me in the direction of struggle, study and poetic science’. [28] In contrast, Shakur’s autobiography is a faithful prison ‘conversion’ narrative, having been written whilst the author was incarcerated and thus physically hindered from contributing in anything stronger than textual politics. [29]

In the space of a larger essay, it would be useful to assess the wider media responses to Always Running and its radicalist inclinations. Particularly in view of the rightwardly realigned, post Civil Rights environment in which Rodriguez, Shakur and Tookie have all found such a receptive audience. Whilst gang theorists such as Martin Jankowski have chronicled the tense relationship between contemporary gangs and the media, for Mexican Americans in particular the strained association between the two is often traced back to the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, whereby a press smear campaign contributed to the start of the insurgence. In Beatrice Griffith’s American Me, a study of the 1940s Pachuco experience in California, she highlights the sensationalised press coverage of the early gangs and the chaos that ensued as a result:

There have been many reasons suggested for the newspaper blow up of the ‘Mexican’ juvenile gang activities. Some say news was scarce, and these kids were good copy. Others believe that there was a well-planned conspiracy afoot to incite race riots and put Mexicans in their place. Whatever the cause, the results were patent: the jitterbug Mexican American youth, who looked upon the zootsuit as his mark of style distinction and group security, had become the chief adversary of servicemen and a threat to local civilians. [30]

Rodriguez details the booming business of the local press due to media coverage of gangs in his era, as well as the inflated media-police response in the wake of the 1992 riots. [31] Some book reviews of Always Running which I have collated to date do certainly invoke – to varying degrees – the social/racial constructions and political ways of thinking that fed into Rodriguez’s text. These reviews were published in either traditionally left-wing journals (for example, Progressive, Choice or Nation) or literary-based journals (Poets & Writers Magazine, Grand Street), thus similar to those very style of publications in which Rodriguez himself found such an appreciative audience when publishing sections of his book (as this essay will later demonstrate). It could be interesting to assess whether more mainstream (capitalist) media sources address the cultural and social messages of Always Running, and whether they do so in specific times and social circumstances (for instance, whether different readers inhabit different social locations in the narrative; whether different readers stress the radicalism of the 1960s/70s or whether they apply his political viewpoints merely in the context of contemporary LA society).

Whilst simultaneously locating the cultural meanings of Always Running through media reception work, it would also be valuable to do so by encompassing audience studies, in particular those Californian high school pupils who have been actively encouraged to read the text. In an interview I conducted with Rodriguez in 1997, he felt it important to mention that his book was originally banned in areas of the US (for instance school districts in Texas, Illinois and Michigan; in Kalamazoo he was invited to speak at a school but was not allowed to bring a copy of the text with him). In the same interview, Rodriguez made his opinions on gang autobiographies quite clear:

I believe those youth who need to relate to books such as Always Running or Monster should be able to read them. These are hard-core and intense books. Perhaps younger readers should be guided through them with the help of teachers or parents. I can even see why some of them would be ill-served by such books, especially children at an impressionable age. But I am against the censoring of such books. They need to be made available for the community as they are needed. I know my book has saved lives. I know young people who have never read a book all the way through until they read mine. [32]

It could be argued that the origins of the above assessment manifested themselves in 1970 when, as Always Running records, Rodriguez demonstrated his faith (or lack of) in the power of books and curriculum texts. For instance, he voiced disgust when a schoolteacher refused his request to write a book review on Griffith’s American Me, and instead forced him to write about Wordsworth. [33] Tookie too, recognises the influential, pedagogical potential of books, and from his cell on death row produced a series of children’s books, assisting with reading skills whilst also preaching anti-gang sentiments. (Interestingly, Shakur prognosticated this outcome, for whilst he was still a little Crip, he recalls Tookie as a ‘magnificent storyteller’. [34])

As the Chicano Movement gathered momentum in the 1960s, schools and the educational system became a crucial site of struggle. In fact, Rodriguez illustrates his radical social positioning as early as 1968 when, aged 13, he participated in his ‘first conscious political act’ [35] at one of the East L.A. ‘Blowouts’. During these so-called protests, students across the country walked out of their schools to demand equal education. Their dissatisfaction stemmed from the fact that ‘the school had two principle languages. Two skin tones and two cultures. It revolved around class difference’. [36] A couple of years following his first Blowout, Rodriguez participated in his school district’s chapter of To.H.M.A.S (To Help Mexican American Students), in addition to aiding the development of the Chicano Studies Centre within his own school. According to his autobiography, Rodriguez played an industrious role in both of these later two remonstrances. Indeed, in an article written in 1994, Rodriguez explained that ‘schools for the most part, fail to engage their creativity and intellect. As a result young people find their own means of expression – music being the most obvious example, but also the formation of gangs’. [37] Rodriguez’s continual belief in the need for education to play an active role in the reorganization of society is demonstrated not merely in his action plan for Ramiro, but moreover in the numerous selective review quotations from high school pupils and instructors situated in the front of the Touchstone edition of the text.

By the late 1960s, frustration at the lack of recognition for the Chicano canon exploded to produce a demand, as evidenced in Always Running, for a strict academic commitment to the study of minority literatures, as well as the recruitment of minority faculty, as a means of expressing the distinct features of Chicano culture. [38] Rodriguez asserts that Mexican American gangbanging was a logical riposte to this previous lack of cultural discourse: ‘As a Chicano, born into this world stripped of dignity, history and culture, bereft of my language and land, how will I respond? Mi Vida Loca was a response’. [39] The 1960s Chicano Renaissance sparked a fundamental change in Rodriguez, as for so many other Chicano poets struggling to find an appropriate voice in a culturally frustrated America. Indeed, the period consequently produced a new wave of social protest poetry. As Chicano critic, Joseph Sommers, writes of this poetry:

…rather than merely reflecting historical experience, [it] carries in its form and its structures an interpretation of this experience, an interpretation which is capable of impact upon the consciousness of its reader. By this logic, the writer is neither an omniscient vates, a seer, nor a self-anointed revolutionary, but rather a creative interpreter, whose identification with a social group connotes responsibility to it, one who must assure the contradictions of his or her social conditions and struggle to resolve them. [40]

Rodriguez independently undertakes this role of creative interpreter aged 15, when his father donated him an old typewriter. [41] Shortly thereafter his school entered him (successfully) into a competition reflective of the era: a Chicano Literary Contest in Berkeley, organised by Quinto Sol Publications. [42] Although the promised publishing contract with Quinto Sol neglected to materialise, throughout the two decades prior to 1993, Rodriguez published excerpts of his narrative and poetry in locations varying from journals analysing Mexican American thought, to literary magazines for new authors, to a critical cultural journal that encouraged non-institutionalised work from a radical perspective. [43] His commitment to social protest in the poetical mould has thrived past his school days, as detailed in Always Running, and sought to saturate his continued dedication to revolutionary ideologies: ‘Today I fight with words, ideas and poetry’. [44] In 1992, Rodriguez won the prestigious PEN/Josephine Miles Award for his book of poetry, The Concrete River River was published by Curbstone (as was Always Running before being purchased by Touchstone Press), a diminutive publishers devoted to South-Of-The-Rio Grande political writings, including those of Claribel Alegria and Roque Dalton. [45] In 1989, Rodriguez went one step further in his belief that ‘Poetry can point the way out of our present cultural crisis’ [46] and founded the Tia Chucha Press, a poetry publishing house that deliberately solicits socially conscious material. [47]

The reader of Always Running cannot help but note how the author deliberately steers them into his radical mindset of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Unarguably, it is difficult to avoid noticing that Rodriguez’s revolutionary tendencies are deeply embedded in his role as an anti-gang activist (both ‘then’ and ‘now’); a role which he has chosen to execute through his (life) writings. The realist autobiography has become a progressive text, one that calls upon the reader to question their views of American society. Always Running bespeaks the political climate of America in the 1960s/70s in all its radical standpoints with a twofold result. Firstly, Rodriguez demonstrates his anxiety towards the youth gang (the ‘Ramiros’) of contemporary American society. Despite Shakur’s alternative views, Rodriguez argues that gangbanging cannot be overcome by oneself: ‘The thing is, no matter what one does individually in this setting, the dangers keep lurking around every corner’. [48] Secondly, he exemplifies his own sense of responsibility, and moreover encourages a collective response, in order to work towards the reorganisation of American society. ‘Ya Basta’ Rodriguez exclaims, ‘That’s enough!’, referencing both gangbanging as well as unequal societal rights. This equivocal positioning is the crux of Rodriguez’s text; his redemption is not merely a literary reflection, but instead is equally situated in hindsight and in the revolutionary Brown Power years of the 1960s/70s.

University of Manchester


[1] Luis J Rodriguez, Always Running: La Vida Loca – Gang Days in LA (NY: Touchstone, 1993), p. 260. A popular slogan during the Chicano Movement.

[2] Ibid, p. 166.

[3] Ibid, p. 113.

[4] Ibid, p. 11.

[5] Laura Marcus, Auto/biographical Discourses (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), p. 292-293.

[6] Oscar Zeta Acosta, The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo (San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books, 1972), p.196. Acosta was famous for being a legendary defensive lawyer, whose contempt for America’s legal system as well as his ostentatious personality, was often said to personify the Chicano mood in the 1960s/70s. Both his autobiographies (Brown Buffalo and The Revolt of the Cockroach People), published in 1972 and 1973 respectively, address the revolutionary implications of the era.

[7] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 219.

[8] Marcus, p. 7.

[9] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 19.

[10] Ibid, p. 10.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Gates is quoted in Kenneth Mostern, Autobiography and Black Identity Politics; Racialization in Twentieth Century America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 12.

[13] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 139.

[14] ‘Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums’ (CRASH) was the LAPD’s specialised anti-gang unit, started in the 1970s and disbanded in the wake of the Rampart Scandal in 1999. Operation Hammer was a CRASH initiative that Chief of Police Daryl Gates introduced in 1987 to crack down on gang violence in South Central Los Angeles, favouring aggressive tactics and mass round-ups of black youth as suspected gang members.

[15] Interview conducted with Luis J Rodriguez, 1997.

[16] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 249.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Stuart Hall has examined at length the ‘ritual resistance’ of youth subcultures, referring to the process of ‘bricolage’: of adapting or utilising styles and spaces for a group’s own usage. Ritual resistance can be considered a process of ongoing negotiation, rather than ‘revolutionary resistance’, which ultimately aims to reject or overturn.

[19] Herbert Leibowitz, Fabricating Lives: Explorations in American Autobiography (NY: Alfred A Knopf), 1989, p. 3.

[20] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 233.

[21] Ibid, p. 253-260.

[22] Ibid, p. 32.

[23] Ibid, p. 85.

[24] Eithne Quinn, ‘Work, Play and ‘Lifestylization’ of the Black Pimp Figure in Early 1970s America’, in Media, Culture, and the Modern African American Freedom Struggle, ed. by Brian Ward (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001), p. 228.

[25] Sanyika Shakur, Monster: The Autobiography of an LA Gang Member (NY: Atlantic/Penguin, 1993), p. 4.

[26] Eithne Quinn, Aint Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang (NY: Columbia University Press, 2005), p. 168.

[27] Ibid, p. 31.

[28] Rodriguez, Luis J, ‘Writing Off Our Youth’, in Prison Life Magazine (New York: October 1994), pp.8-9.

Rodriguez, Prison Life, p.8.

[29] Contemporary prison ‘conversion’ narratives are often considered to start with The Autobiography of Malcolm X in 1965, and include authors such as George Jackson and Thomas Carr.

[30] Beatrice Griffith, American Me (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), p. 17.

[31] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 111 and p. 249 respectively.

[32] Interview conducted with Luis J Rodriguez, 1997.

[33] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 139.

[34] Shakur, p. 246.

[35] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 165.

[36] Ibid, p. 83.

[37] Luis J Rodriguez, ‘Rekindling the Warrior’ in Utne Reader (July/August 1994), p. 58.

[38] Interestingly, one of the most famous contemporary Chicano autobiographies, by Richard Rodriguez, controversially argues for an assimilationist posture that rejects bilingual education. This caused great controversy amongst Chicano theorists as it worked against the demands of the Chicano Movement.

[39] Rodriguez, Prison Life, p. 9.

[40] Joseph Sommers, ‘Critical Approaches to Chicano Literature’ in Modern Chicano Writers; A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. by Joseph Sommers and Tomas Ybarra-Frausto (New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc, 1979), p. 38.

[41] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 134.

[42] In 1965, a professor from Berkeley founded Quinto Sol Publications, the pioneer publisher of Mexican American authors.

[43] Amongst others, these journals include El Grito, Puerto del Sol and Left Curve.

For a list of the Rodriguez’s articles, please see A limited list of Rodriguez’s articles are available at URL [Accessed 28 March 2007.]

[44] Rodriguez, Prison Life, p. 8.

[45] Alegria is a Nicaraguan-American poet, dedicated to non-violent resistance; Dalton was a poet and revolutionary from El Salvador.

[46] Rodriguez, Luis J, ‘What is American About American Poetry’, available at URL on [Accessed 28 March 2007].

[47] Interestingly, this Mexican American perspective corresponds with Kinohi Nishikawa’s discussion of a backlash trend in the early 1990s towards funding independent, localized black publishing houses.

[48] Rodriguez, Always Running, p. 9.