Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Adventures in Incorrectitude

     I couple of thoughts about last week’s wonderful “Emigdio Vasquez” mural event:
     First, I’ve known trustee Marcia Milchiker for about twenty years now, and, when we encounter each other, as we did a couple of months ago at Bower’s Museum, we chat. We even occasionally exchange emails.
     Last Thursday, at the mural event, Marcia told me something odd: that the event wasn’t on the list of district and college events routinely provided to trustees. She only knew about it, she said, because of a flier that managed to come her way.
     If that’s correct, it’s quite an oversight.
     Or something.
     Could it be that artist Vasquez was deemed too “radical” for board consumption? It’s hard to say. Based on what we’ve seen over the years, it wouldn’t be surprising.
     Second, the event’s vibe was so positive that, in my post last Thursday (comprising dozens of pictures), I didn’t mention the brief-but-wonderful spanking IVC President Glenn Roquemore received at the hand of guest speaker Jerry Padilla for referring to Vasquez as an “Hispanic” artist. According to Padilla, a somewhat legendary Ethnic Studies instructor at Fullerton College, Vasquez, being an individual of Mexican descent, should be described as “Chicano,” not “Hispanic.” The latter term, he explained, was invented by the (unsavory and appalling and racist, etc.) Nixon administration back in 1972.
     Well, I did a little looking, and the latter factoid appears to be correct. According the University of Minnesota’s Chicano and Latino Studies program,
Hispanic is a term that was adopted by the US government under the Nixon administration as a means of referring to those formally called Latin Americans. Because it is a term used to label the community from the outside, some folks find it an inauthentic identifier.
     I say: if the Nixon people had anything to do with the label “Hispanic,” then “Hispanic” oughta be permanently eschewed, hombre.
     At last week’s mural unveiling, many a smile was (or was not?) suppressed when Padilla tagged Roquemore for his use of that unfortunate Nixonian coinage.
     I should mention that Padilla’s speech, though heartfelt and well-received, was nevertheless riddled with various uncomfortable incorrectoids, including references to past girlfriends and allusions to the unsavory nature of a certain “basement studio.”
     Back in 2012, the OC Weekly declared Padilla to be OC’s “Best Community-College Professor,” providing the following brief bio:
Multiple generations in North Orange County have learned about Chicano, California and ethnic history under the legendary Jerry Padilla, who has taught at Fullerton College for more than 40 years. They enroll not just because some of his courses satisfy the GE requirements, but also because few people are better qualified to teach the subjects than he. A third-generation Orange Countian of Mexican and native descent, Padilla engages his students with witty banter and heavy pedagogy, all with an enthusiasm befitting a kindergarten teacher. You know you have a great professor when he can preach about Carey McWilliams in one sentence, then crack a joke about not being able to get lucky at the infamous Foxfire Restaurant in Anaheim Hills.
     No doubt Padilla deserves all of the recognition he receives, but, to me, his banter at times seemed less “witty” and more wince-inducing, like the endless and multifarious lapses into uncouthery and throwbackery by one’s beloved parents, aunts, and uncles.
     Still, it was a great event.

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