Essay Vato

ESE Vato, if I'm not mistaken, started during the Pachuco Era of the 1940s, 50s, 60s to the present day. It may have been in use prior to the 1940s. It is a term that essential acknowledges the existence of another person from a similar ethic background.( i.e. Chicano, Mexican-American, Pocho, Manito, Tejano or any other version of Mexican-American identity for those before and after the American CONQUEST of the Southwestern Untied States, which was and still is OUR HOMELAND!

The Pachuco Movement is reputed to have started in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Sister City of El Paso. To this day that metropolitan area on both sides of the border is known as "El Chuco."

The Pachuco Movement was a non-verbalized rebellion and a symbol of ALIENATION to the Gringo culture which was seen as trying desperately to smother us as a people, so they could continue with the continuation of completing the CONQUERING PROCESS. The most effective way to accomplish that is to strip a people of their language, culture, and then to CRIMINALIZE all things that their culture needs for its survival.

The Mexican Americans of that era responded by inventing their own 'LINGO" known as "Pachuquismos." That lingo spread far and wide throughout the American Southwest, and it was by accident or design, injected into future generations of Chicanos.

The Zoot Suit dress style of the 1940s was grossly mistaken as THE DRESS CODE FOR PACHUCOS. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Zoot Suit was a dress style of choice made by Chicanos, to establish as sense of IDENTITY when it was being totally denied by MAINSTREAM AMERICANS. But, that style was soon to be interpreted as being “ the dress code for Mexican or Chicano GANGS.” One thing those mainstream Americans very conveniently forgot to acknowledge was that they thought we were IMMIGRANTS like them! NOT TRUE!, While they chose to come to this country (The United States), this country decided to come to us, and took our lands BY ARMED ROBBERY, then rapidly continued to follow the TRAIL OF BROKEN TREATIES, by violating most of the provisions of THE TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO, in which the Mexicans were forced to cede over one half of their territory to the United States, at the point of a GUN!. Land rights that were guaranteed under the treaty were very quickly and expeditiously violated as the largest LAND GRAB IN AMERICAN HISTORY began, fulfilling the Gringo Agenda of MANIFEST DESTINY.

By the mid 1950s, while I was still a preteen my brothers and I and all our friends quickly adopted the "Chuco lingo." Not even our parents knew what we were talking about. If the entirety of my parent's generation had adapted that lingo, they could have been used very effectively as CODE TALKERS.

By the 1960s the Chicano Movement emerged with more clearly defined goals of resistance and to acquiring our own autonomy, known as Chicano Nationalism, and a separatist movement, however short-sighted.

So, the term., "ESE VATO," has come to symbolize the tip of the iceberg of a newly invented lingo, that was perhaps THE ONLY THING LEFT WE COULD CLAIM AS OURS!

Jerry Lujan, Chicano Activist, Vietnam Veteran, retired, disabled, but still kicking and resisting. I am open to all comments.

Jerry · 2 years ago

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“Orale ese Vato”

As this paño humorously titled Orale ese vato (Spanish for roughly, right on, man) shows, one characteristic of Chicano art is that it avidly consumes and reconfigures both American and Mexican pop culture with its own slang, looks, and attitude. A paño is a hand-drawn handkerchief traditionally designed by Chicano prisoners. Like a letter that retells memories of both good and bad times, paños are often mailed as gifts to friends and loved ones. Valued as a vibrant popular art that overlaps with muralism, tattoo design, graffiti, and auto airbrushing, paños and their makers are receiving increased exposure for their visual storytelling abilities. An illustrator and a muralist known for depicting Chicano themes, Walter Baca (1947-1993) designed this paño in New Mexico in 1992.
Description (Spanish)
Como lo muestra este paño con el gracioso títuloÓrale ese vato , un modo de caracterizar al arte chicano es la forma en que consume ávidamente la cultura pop tanto americana como mexicana y la reconfigura con su propia jerga, perspectivas y actitudes. Un paño es un pañuelo dibujado a mano, tradicionalmente diseñado por prisioneros chicanos. Al igual que una carta en la que se recuentan memorias de tiempos idos, buenos y malos, los paños se envían a menudo como presentes a los amigos o seres queridos. Valorados como una expresión vibrante del arte popular superpuesta al muralismo, al diseño de tatuajes y a la pintura de automóviles con aerógrafos, los paños y sus creadores están recibiendo cada vez más publicidad gracias a sus habilidades visuales narrativas. Walter Baca (1947-1993), ilustrador y muralista conocido por sus representaciones de temas chicanos, diseñó este paño en Nuevo México en 1992.
Currently not on view
Date made
Baca, Walter R.
Place Made
United States: New Mexico, Albuquerque
Physical Description
cotton (overall material)
ink, pen (overall material)
overall: 42 cm x 41 cm; 16 9/16 in x 16 1/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Rudy Padilla
Popular Culture
Mickey Mouse
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ethnic
Cultures & Communities
Mexican America
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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