There, but for the grace of God, Go I
Rodolfo F. Acuña | Northridge, CA | August 4, 2013
One of the most frustrating aspects of writing is when people read your piece and then react to what they think you said—completely missing the point. In my last blog I wrote that I hated gangs, whether they were street gangs or college gangs. I also made it clear that although I hated gangs that I loved the kids. This was a lead-in to an essay that actually was critical of academics and activists who criticized but never do anything to correct the problem by changing institutional structures. Gangs or even alcohol abuse are constructed by society, and over time they become culturally accepted.
Anyway it is something to think about. In the sixties and seventies, I would have simply put a c/s after my work. C/S means con safos – meaning that whatever point you have is symbolically protected from backlash, put-downs, or derisive comebacks. It avoided a lot of nasty back and forth chatter.
There was a Chicano magazine called Con Safos that was established circa 1967. It was the brainchild of Ralph ‘Rafas’ López, a student at Cal State College LA. Rafas went to his brother’s Arturo ‘Turi’ Flores’ house where they discussed the magazine. It attracted talented people such as Frank Sifuentes, Ralph Lopes, Rudy Salinas, and a host of gifted writers and artists. I got to know the group through Oscar Castillo, a photographer, and Sergio Hernandez, an artist and cartoonist, who were students at San Fernando Valley State College.
Con safos was not a Mexican expression but a Chicano creation. The c/s sign-off accompanied Chicano placas (monikers) and graffiti throughout the Southwest, Midwest and Northwest, and even spread to Mexico. The origin is not known, it is speculated that, like the pachuco, its genesis was in South El Paso’s Segundo Barrio.
Although the responses to my last essay were not antagonistic, I must admit that I felt like protecting my meaning with a c/s…