10/16/2008 00:17 AM EST
Roberto ‘Dr. Cintli’ Rodríguez
Not long ago, while preparing for the Law School Admission Test and
while organizing against the relentless attacks against the Raza
Studies Department – one day, Consuelo Aguilar woke up, barely able to
speak. We all thought it was stress from studying for the test and
stress from having to defend this educational program, administered by
the Tucson Unified School District . Instead, after a series of
medical examinations, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of
cancer. All this – including her treatment – has taken place within
the past few months. Her cancer has been much more aggressive than
anyone could have imagined.
Consuelo Aguilar is a very special human being. In fact, I'd go so far
as to say she is a gift to humanity. At the same time, this Tucson
native is little different than lots of young women across the
country. Young women and young men. She fights for dignity. She is
from the school of young people who sacrifice their lives to bring
about change… who fight and sacrifice to bring about peace, dignity
In that sense, young women and young men like her have always existed.
It is they that have always made the great changes in history. In this
particular case, she has made a great difference in Arizona - and really --
to this very small world we live in.
Consuelo works for Raza Studies – the highly successful department
that has been under siege by right-wing forces for years, particularly
this past year – perhaps because Raza Studies teaches a story much
more ancient and far different than the one about Columbus discovering
América. Through the work of Agustine Romero, PhD., we know that the
attacks have certainly nothing to do with academics as Raza Studies
students consistently outperform and go to college at higher rates
than all other students.
Consuelo is a graduate of the University of Arizona, long associated
with Mexican American Studies, as a student and as a community
representative. She too has long-been associated with MEChA –
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan – long the Achilles heel of
the same forces who oppose Raza Studies. Yes, MEChA is the antithesis
of hat-in-hand Mexicans that at one time accepted their humiliation
While there is little doubt she is a warrior, I'd rather think of her
as an eagle – as her last name alludes to. There are few joys in life
more precious than to see the flight of an eagle. She is like
Cuauhtémoc (a Mexica resistor) – 'the eagle that descends'. She
descends and ascends, but mostly, she soars. And like her first name,
she also consoles.
Here are some words from one of her beloved mentors, UA Professor
Raquel Rubio Goldsmith: "Consuelo is a joy to
any teacher. She brings
not only her dedication to social justice, but
does so in a
multi-faceted way. From her robust mariachi voice (yes she was a
singer for a student mariachi band), to her elegant "chicana" taste in
her silent but energetic organizing talents to true belief in
she has been a gift to us in Mexican American
Studies. Her Master's thesis
on the criminalization of immigrants is
a testament to respect for scholarly
work as well as community needs."
And this from Maya Bernal, a 1st Year UA Student: "It is difficult to
share just a few words about such a wonderful mujer (woman). Consuelo
has done so much for me and the community. She is constantly working
for the lucha (struggle), projects with her students,
droppin' knowledge and spreading
hope for our people to see better
days. I have never known her to be doing
nothing, or even one task at
a time. Where would any of the students,
teachers and this community
be without Consuelo?
Once she and her family have overcome this
scratch on the CD known as life, she will be back leading the fight.
for change, the fight for social justice, the fight for
human rights, the fight
of the people. Consuelo, I am grateful you
saw the potential in me to become somebody great."
I write this today, knowing that times nationwide are tough and that
the nation and Tucson is divided. And yet, in times like this,
we are reminded of our common humanity, our common stories and common
narratives. Consuelo's life is precious and priceless. She will win.
Her family will win. She has already won. What her family needs at
this time are words and prayers from the community she fights for… the
community she has sacrificed for and the community she represents.
Contributions can be made directly into the Consuelo Aguilar
Benefit Donation Fund at Wells Fargo via this account number:
Roberto Rodríguez, a research associate at the University of Arizona, can be
reached at: XColumn@gmail.com