What is a Chicano?


Chicano is a term used to refer to Mexican-Americans, or U.S. Citizens of Mexican descent. Chicano is the male form and Chicana is the female form. The word Chicano was originally used as a derogatory label for sons and daughters of Mexican migrants. During the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Mexican-Americans used the word Chicano as a form of empowerment and pride. The origin of the word is unclear. Some believe it started being used in California in the 1930s and 1940s. Others believe the term began in Chicago in the 1950s. Many Mexican-Americans moved to Chicago at this time and referred to themselves as "Chicago-Mexicanos", which they shortened to "Chicano". Most Chicanos believe the term predates both these assessments.
Currently, the term Chicano has been appropriated as a political identity that can be claimed by other U.S. Latinos.

The Chicano Movement, or Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement began in the 1940s and encompassed a broad cross section of issues. The issues ranged from
restoration of land grants, to farm workers' rights, to enhanced education, to voting and political rights, as well as emerging awareness of collective history. Socially, the Chicano Movement addressed what it perceived to be negative ethnic stereotypes of Mexicans in mass media and the American consciousness. The Chicano Movement is sometimes called La Causa (The Cause).


Some Chicano slang words that you may encounter in Chicano Punk songs are:

Migra - This term refers to the INS or US Immigration and Border Patrol. It comes from the Spanish word "inmigraci
ón" or immigration in English.

Cholo - A Chicano gangster.

Pocho - An Americanized or "whitewashed" Mexican.

Ruca - Girlfriend or woman.

Heina -
A girl or girlfriend.

Vato - A dude, guy or man.

Homes - Homeboy or homie.

Pedo - To be intoxicated or drunk.

Crudo - A hangover or to be hungover.

Órale - "Right on!"

Güero - A white person.

Güey - A homeboy or a dude.

Ése - Short for Sureño, or southsider. Usually used to mean "that guy" or homeboy, dog, or dude.

Joto - Derogatory term for a homosexual.


Click here to go to the Chicano Wikipedia page.

Chicano.org - An online Chicano Magazine.

Soy Chicano! - A Chicano online forum.

UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
- UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library and Archive was established in 1969.

Click image below to go to the Chicano Punk Bands page.