Chapter 10: "Si Se Puede!"1Chicana/o Activism in San Diego 1965-2000
1. Why is the “Sleeping Giant” view wrong when talking about Chicanos?
During the last decades of the twentieth century in California, Chicana/os and other Latina/os were often characterized as “a sleeping giant.” This characterization may be described as the idea of the sleeping giant. Stated in its most basic form, this idea holds that Chicana/os have been a large group that has been politically inactive.
Although it has continued to be embraced, the idea of “Sleeping Giant” does not apply to Chicana/os in San Diego during the last three and a half decades of the twentieth century, for during this period Chicana/os in the city forged a record of consistent, multidimensional activism. Over the twilight years of the twentieth century individually and collectively Chicana/os engaged in direct and indirect forms of political action, in venues ranging from the streets, universities, parks to electoral booths and courtrooms. Their activism was catalytic and conceptually seminal, as the activists exerted intellectual leadership throughout the decades. It produced concrete achievements, and achieved visibility and influence beyond the boundaries of San Diego. Moreover, it reflected different forms of identity and consciousness. And, it remained undaunted by oppression. Indeed, in addition to demonstrating the inapplicability of the thesis, the activism challenges the implied absence of oppression in the Chicana/o experience in California in the last century, for much of the activism in San Diego was a response to oppression. In San Diego, “America’s Finest City,” the oppression which the activists challenged was multidimensional.
Sí, se puede" is Spanish for "
Yes, it is possible" or, roughly, "
Yes, it can be done."