Chicano Power: Folklorico Collective Leadership
We are raised to aspire to be leaders, not followers, and are frequently exposed to leaders and their exemplary lives and movements. However, what qualities do we identify to emulate? How do we identify them? Do leaders lead away from, towards, or in consideration of? What movement or mass of people are leaders leading? Do leaders create their own path or retrace ancestral ways of truth?
As folkloristas, we inherit a vast collection of narratives, experiences, and sources of infinite knowledge that empower and propel us to move forward. This knowledge instills in us a sense of leadership, a yearning for knowledge that develops our voice and sets our pace. Leaders are observant of the community they stand with, which in turn fosters a sense of responsibility. We take great measure to document the music and preserve the footwork, in securing the proper material for the specific regional cultural group. Folkloristas make the journeys to the communities to experience them, to not only know of them, but conocerlas truly. And when this is not possible, we turn to the maestros, the master-artisans of the communities we study, in the hopes of building up our own community.
For many, folklórico gave us that remate of determination in our endeavors and scholarship that was necessary in order to call oneself, folklorist@ universitari@. Greater pride should be expressed in representing a collegiate folklórico group for it is among our students that we see the manifestation of what our Chicano/mexicano leaders of old envisioned for La Raza Cósmica of Aztlán.
Leaders of the transnational cultural exchange were teaching each other the dances of our native lands and simultaneously reconnecting our youth to the roots of our culture, its music, traditions, and dances. This cultural exchanged powered our youth to fight for higher education for our people and led to the establishment of many of our collegiate folklórico groups. Community leaders also taught us the leadership skills necessary to develop community mobility and academic mobility. We were taught that leadership should be continuous and always developing itself and not the individual. Individual will one day no longer be, but the leadership with remain as a legacy to those leaders and the organization will thrive. The power of the collective leadership was seen as our collegiate groups faced challenges as it took root on our campuses across California. It is this same dedication and commitment, nurtured and fueled by an ancestral passion that defines you as a leader. It is being at centers of advanced learning and understanding the power of the collective voice, of the sense of empowerment, and the knowledge of those before us that will guide the next leaders into their future. As the migrant maestro once said, “for all education should end in service.”
This post was written by Joshua Vazquez, Danzantes Unidos Board Member, Los Angeles Representative and UFS Liasion. Joshua was the Director of the first University Folklórico Summit at UC Riverside in 2013.
To learn more about the Unviersity Folklórico Summit and Danzantes Unidos, visit our website at http://www.danzantes.org/.