Labor of love
02.17.02 // 3:09 a.m.

Note: Written a year ago, by myself and a fellow student for the State of Aztlán (MEChA’s column) in UCLA's Chicana/o and Latina/o newsmagazine. I made some modifications.

I include it here because I often have to remind myself why I do what I do since its really easy to forget.


“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”

– Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Socialism and Man in Cuba (1965).

“I wish my life was motivated by great feelings of love, not just a yearning for justice… This is the love I hold for those who become “the people.” It is they who inspire me, who call me to go a bit beyond myself, to try to pray a little harder…”

– Roberto Rodriguez and Patrisia Gonzáles, “Column of the Americas: To Write With Love.” (February, 2001)

In light of the most recent Hallmark Holiday, we would like to share with nuestra comunidad real love, which is more than just brightly colored cards, flowers, and chocolate. Love. Say the word a few times. Now expunge all the mushy thoughts you have in mind and think about what the word really means. I will not quote Webster’s because I doubt that the writers of the favored lexicon know more about love than we do. I know each and every one of you knows love in one form or another. How can we not?

Our communities are founded on what sociologists like to call strong kinship networks. That’s merely fancy academic jargon for tight knit families and communities. Love in the form we would like to talk about is the love we have for each other as native peoples of Ixachitlan. Love is a word we should include more often in our speech as student activists, as well as in our actions towards one another and our community.

As Mechistas and student activists we exert a great amount of time and effort in the process of completing our tasks. At times we simply go through the motions of planning a conference or going to a protest/rally because we feel we have to, yet our heart is not in it. We forget to feel the passion necessary for keeping us focused and guided in all that we do. Yet we stay on campus late into the night writing proposals, discussing pertinent issues in meetings and planning for events.

However, many of us forget that beyond the walls of this campus lies the community that we hope to serve. We march on the hot streets of Downtown LA in fear of the militaristic police that we see blockading the streets, but do we know whom we are doing this for? We forget the youth conferences, graduations, and outreach projects are not just activities to include in a resumé, but are actions truly affecting the lives of those we reach out to. Chicana/o students must realize that our activism is a manifestation of our love for nuestra gente rather than hate for those who continue to oppress us.

Our elders tell us that we must not draw our energy from intense hatred and anger for the oppressors but from the love of our people. We cannot waste precious time and hating those who oppress us or wish to do us harm because we have to be better. Possessing hate in our heats will only work to derail us from our path of progressive change for the improvement of nuestra comunidad. Our agenda must always consist of first and foremost the advancement of our gente – all those who continuously struggle for self-determination.

In the next few months Mechistas and various other student groups will be planning vigorously for the March 14 meeting of the UC Regents here at UCLA. Our love for out youth stems from the fact that we see our familias and ourselves in them. We would much rather see our brothers and sisters pursue a post-secondary education in order to learn the tools necessary to create change in their barrios.

Roberto Rodriguez and Patrisia Gonzáles teach us that we should be inspired by the community we serve. This includes all those people we love unconditionally, our family and friends.

We draw inspiration from the students who are part of the Xinachtli program at Venice High School, from our families who support us through all that we do, from our friends who work tirelessly, and from the broader community who benefit from the programs we have.

The next time someone asks why you do what you do and why you sacrifice so much when the results are not largely visible, answer them: “it is a labor of love.” And don’t be afraid to say it.

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