(PNS reporting from SAN JOSE) Johnny Ramírez had a huge confession to make to his Pre-Columbian Latin American history class last week. The summer he spent in Barcelona really changed him, the San Jose State junior told his fellow students during section.
“I always felt this pressure to be true to my indígena Aztec roots, you know? Even though me — and well my parents and grandparents, too — were all born right here in California, I always wanted to honor my family’s real roots,” the well-known Latino campus activist said. (Ramirez, right, was photographed at an immigrants’ rights march last May Day.)
When he was in Barcelona, he said, he realized that he had Spanish blood, too, and it wasn’t something to be ashamed of — but proud. He has a cousin, Juanita, who has hazel eyes, so obviously his family has Spanish blood, too.
“I’m actually mestizo, not indígena like I had thought,” he said, noting that this epiphany hit him while he was drinking Spanish wine and eating tapas at this really cool café by his host mother’s house.
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Reaction from other activists was muted. Veronica Lujan, Ramírez’s defeated opponent in the race for president of the Latin American Film Club, told hermanas after class she always knew that he was a poser.
“I mean, he was born right here in San Jose, it’s not like he’s actually ever been to Mexico, let alone to whatever village he says his family is from,” she said. “He’s down, but not that down.”
Ramírez told the class he was looking forward to exploring his mestizo roots, even if it meant parting ways with a part of his indígena identity, although he said he would be keeping the huaraches he bought at that second-hand store on Haight Street.