Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This journal tells two stories. One is an account of my experience with a Brown Beret chapter, the Southside Berets of San Antonio, Texas, in the mid-seventies. The narrative is based on my journal notes written while “hanging out” with a dozen or so street men or “batos locos” (crazy guys) in 1974– 1975, ...

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1. On Slow Writing

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pp. 1-19

Some thirty years ago, when I was searching for a dissertation topic, I carried out an ethnographic study of a Brown Beret chapter that formed during the Chicano movement of the late sixties and early seventies. For seven months in 1974–1975, I hung out with a group of thirteen young men as they learned about the Berets and the Chicano movement. ...

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2. Regeneración

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pp. 20-42

In April 1974, after three years of activism against police brutality and barrio warfare, the Westside Brown Berets (the original San Antonio chapter) decided to go “underground”—that is, it disbanded. Internal tension among members, along with loss of support from Chicano movement organizations, …

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3. Por La Causa

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pp. 43-58

As noted before, the Southside Berets constituted a “second generation” chapter, consisting of four veteran Berets—Toro, Chivo, Loso, and Tino—and nine recruits. Three more recruits joined later: Rosado, sponsored by Java; George, sponsored by Toro; and for a brief period Concha, also sponsored by Toro. ...

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4. Somos Camaradas

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pp. 59-77

From the outset it was evident that the Southside Berets were an unusual, if not unique, political formation. Even as the members were learning about the political movement they had joined, they were forming an encompassing social group that exhibited many of the features of a gang. ...

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5. A Dallas Vamos

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pp. 78-97

In the weeks following the No Borders Conference, there had been much discussion about a forthcoming statewide Beret meeting in Dallas. Everyone was excited. Now the newly reconstituted San Antonio Berets were about to meet their comrades at an executive committee meeting composed of representatives from all the Beret chapters in the state. ...

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6. Negotiating Locura

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pp. 98-115

The Southside Berets returned from the statewide conference with a renewed sense of mission. Meeting and interacting with the other Beret chapters set off efforts to tighten up. Toro and Java called for more discipline; Toro requested that I give the group political education classes; ...

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7. No Somos Comunistas

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pp. 116-128

My December 1974 visit to Austin, Waco, and Dallas reinforced my realization that the Southside chapter I was with was the most “loco” of all the chapters in the state. This may have been due to the seasoned experience of the leadership in the older chapters. The Austin Berets had organized in 1973 and had acquired their headquarters in early 1974. …

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8. What We Do to Live!

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pp. 129-149

In addition to the craziness or locura of individuals, another element that created unpredictability in this lower-class world stemmed from the underground economy of drug dealing and peddling of “found” goods. Money-making ventures, especially selling marijuana, were difficult to resist in this world of scarce opportunities. …

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9. From the Island Kingdoms

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pp. 150-173

After seven months of hanging out, coupled with intensive interviews, I felt I had developed an accurate snapshot of the complex and uneven political development of the Brown Berets throughout Texas. In the case of the Southside Berets, one might wonder whether a much longer stay would have yielded more nuanced observations and conclusions ...

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10. And the Political Edge?

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pp. 174-187

I return, finally, to the questions that moved me to undertake this ethnography in the first place. After my long, fitful search for an appropriate metaphor, the material has aged and thus become harmless. The passage of time has taken care of the ethical and political dilemmas that paralyzed me in the mid-seventies. ...

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11. Many Years Later

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pp. 188-198

Naturally wanted to know what happened to the Berets, as a group and as individuals. I returned to this book project in earnest in 2007 and began reconnecting with several ex-Beret leaders. My interviews with them confirmed various features of my assessment thirty years earlier, ...

Bibliographic Notes

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pp. 199-207