5 Questions With Joey Villareal
A Tele-Jaguar Exclusive
This week at Tele-Jaguar we are honored to present 5 questions with Joey Villareal. An author, an educator, a developer of agit-prop at its finest, Joey Villareal is a Chicano revolutionary and freedom fighter who throws his whole life, being and soul towards the struggle for liberation and self determination. With stories and answers that range from tales of solitary confinement to political awakening to authoring a study guide toward the liberation of our people, this week’s offering of 5 questions is truly something remarkable. If you have anything resembling a pulse this installment will leave you moved, awakened and called to action. Without further ado, Tele-Jaguar proudly presents: 5 questions with the great Joey Villareal. Enjoy.
1. You are well-known as a Warrior / Educator / Activist for prisoner’s rights, Raza liberation, and stellar radio host of the revolutionary show, “Free Aztlan!” But tell us, who is Joey Villarreal?
I am the son of child laborers who toiled the fields while their parents worked right next to them. A child of the barrio whose home was raided by the pigs before I started elementary school. Born in San Jose, CalifAztlan but state raised—I am someone whose parents were criminalized before I was born and who was captured and held in juvenile hall at age 12. The boy’s ranches nor CYA could not smother my resistance and so I was sent to prison at age 18. My political consciousness was honed through a decade in solitary confinement. Study groups in Pelican Bay gave painful birth to my politicization. Understanding who my enemies were and who my friends were became a necessary component in maintaining my sanity and continuing my resistance. I am simply a voice, a vehicle that delivers a message to the Chicano nation. A musician that is keeping the beat of resistance beating in the hearts and minds of the gente.
2. How did you get started with your radio show, and what does it mean to “Free Aztlan”
My interest in radio first began with my interest in media. And before that, it was my interest in propaganda which sparked all of this interest. So in the beginning, I would have to say that my interest in media began while in prison because it was in prison where once I became politicized, I had no way to participate with the struggles outside of prison. I could not go on a march, I couldn’t go to a rally, and I couldn’t participate in actions outside of prison because I was in the concentration camp. So I began to create writings and art work as a form of contribution to the movement outside of prisons because that’s the only way I could con tribute at that point especially since I was in solitary confinement, I could no longer organize hunger strikes or other forms of resistance out in general population like I did before although those things were happening, the opportunity was not as it was when I was in GP. This lead me to my interest in studying the history of propaganda and how many revolutionary societies partook in propaganda. Agitation and propaganda. It was during my deep study of agit-prop where I began to really understand the importance of propaganda and of things like radio, music, art work, and writings. I began to really understand the power that these forms of expression had. It was at this point where I was released from prison and I ended up linking up with POOR magazine. I began to work with them and it was through them that I began my program on YouTube, Free Aztlan. I did the YouTube videos once a week for about a year and I got the hang of doing interviews, going over different topics, and conversating about different forms of struggle going on in society. This is where I cut my teeth. After about 1 year, poor magazine began the process of getting their FCC license in order to have a radio station. They obtained the license for the station, KEXU 96.1 FM, and then they asked if I would be interested in having a slot for a radio show. Of course, I took them up on the offer and I’ve been doing Free Aztlan on the radio for almost two years now and so that is how I began the process of Radio. And I really have a deep appreciation for radio because it is an education tool and a platform that people can use to promote justice and to educate the people on injustice. It’s very important. To answer the other question, “What does it mean to free Aztlan”? When I say Aztlan, I’m talking about the Chicano Nation. When I’m talking about free Aztlan, I’m not talking about getting higher paying jobs, I’m not talking about getting parks named after Chicano people, and I’m not talking about having museums or being able to speak a different language. I’m not talking about freeing our people cosmetically. I’m talking about complete emancipation all the way up to forming our own government, all the way up to having our own standing army, and controlling our own resources, economy, and our own politics free from the oppressor nation and this is what I mean by Free Aztlan. That means complete self-determination all the way up to independence. That is free Aztlan!
3. May you please tell us about your book, and where we can obtain a copy? How long did it take you to write your book and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
My book, Chicano Power and the Struggle for Aztlan, is very important. It was written as part of a study group that I was involved with and published by MIM Prisons, which is a Maoist organization that works primarily with prisoners and offers many different forms of political education, political instruction for prisoners, and this organization worked with prisoners in developing correspondence courses. It was through a correspondence course that I took for revolutionary political science that the idea came about for the book Chicano Power. What happened was during the course of my studies, of course we went over many different aspects of political education, and we went over the classics: Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin, plus many different revolutionary theorists, and we covered many other struggles that were taking place. We studied revolutionary organizations within these false US borders and through all of that I loved to study the history the Black Panther Party, the AIM, the Young Lords Party, the Brown Berets, I loved all of it; however, most of the revolutionary groups that I was studying were not Chicano. There was a vacuum in material of a revolutionary nature pertaining to the Chicano Nation, so I ended up volunteering to write a pamphlet on Chicano History and the Chicano Struggle. Once I wrote and submitted the pamphlet, “Chicano Power and the Struggle for Aztlan”, to MIM prisons, they then asked, “how about expanding on this and turning it into a book project?” which I agreed upon. MIM ended up teaming me up with another prisoner who was also politicized and who was also going through the revolutionary political science study group and we embarked on writing this book. We used my 100 page pamphlet and expanded on to that to come up with the book. The book is about 300 pages and it has been described as a Chicano revolutionary history book, a study manual, and a training guide. It talks about theory, has book reviews, critiques of organizations that claim to work in the interest of the Chicano Nation, describes organizing tactics, and political theory. If we were religious, I would say this is our bible. This is the bible for revolution of the Chicano Nation. This is the one stop shop for revolution, this has everything, but I’m not Jesus. This book is very important in carving out the path forward for today’s movement and people can order a copy by sending $20 cash, check, or money order to Aztlan Press, PO Box 4186, San Jose, Califas 95150. Or people can order the book online on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and if you google the book title, you’ll find other retailers. Chicano Power and the Struggle for Aztlan; beautiful book and I hope every household has a copy on their kitchen table. The book took around 3 years to write but this was three years of being imprisoned in solitary confinement so I basically had all day and all night and I wrote for hours and hours and hours a day. I would wake up, work out, and then I would write. Sometimes I would write all through the night until 11 PM, midnight and everything was written by hand and sent out. The organization outside of prison transcribed everything and this is how it was written. It took years to do it through the process of mailing out the writings, debates, back and forth, and agreeing on the final product. We had to continuously modify and correct some of the stuff that was being written. At the end we ended up all agreeing upon the final product and the book, in my opinion, is probably going to be one of the most important contributions that I made to the movement in my lifetime, and I am very proud to have contributed with this book. It is a very powerful book. The entire state of Texas has banned this book from entering any of its prisons. I believe the state of Colorado has done the same and these states do not want this book to get into the hands of the prisoners. The prisons themselves say that the book is a threat to the safety and security of the institution and that it calls for the overthrow of the US Government. I would say that this book calls for National Liberation of the Chicano Nation and I recommend this book to all Chicano people and also to any organization or group that works in the interest of Raza or any anti-imperialist group or movement because the Chicano Nation plays a key role in the future of liberation movements on this continent. The Chicano Nation also plays a key role on what happens to US Imperialism from this point out, so any freedom-loving people I would recommend to get this book and to study it even non-Chicano people should study it to understand the Chicano Nation’s struggles and to understand where we are going in the future.What I hope to accomplish with this book is for our people to obtain national liberation. I hope that this book helps in the process of shaping ideology and political line, and I hope that it is a blueprint on organizing inside prisons and outside prisons and that it in the end helps to promote unity within Aztlan and to be a compass for how our nation moves forward today and in the future.
4. You are involved in the 50th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium. What does being “Chicano” mean to you, and why is the Moratorium so important?
Being Chicano to me means that people of Mexican descent who have grown up under the colonial government, also known as Amerikkka, have been shaped, and have developed differently than the people existing under the Mexican Government. As Chicanos, our interaction with US imperialism living under an Amerikkkan government has made us develop into the Chicano Nation. It helped in the formation of our nation. Stalin talked about how imperialism and the injection of capitalism actually helps in the development of nations because when US imperialism is creating railroads and creating all of this infrastructure so that they can pull out the resources from the oppressed nation in the process they’re building the infrastructure of the new nation because once we become liberated we’re going to have our railroads and all the things the oppressor has built. In one aspect, their exploiting all of the resources but in the process they’re building up the infrastructure of the oppressed nation It was our integration of living under the oppressor nation that helped us to form into a nation. That’s who the Chicano people are. We are of Mexican descent who because of our colonial relationship with Amerikkka, we have developed into a new nation and new people and we are Chicano people. This is what it means to be Chicano to me. Now, the importance of the Chicano Moratorium is important historically, to honor the original Moratorium of 1970, when the Chicano nation opposed the Vietnam War, but today it’s even more relevant because today Chicano people are filling the ranks of the US military faster than any other people. If the military is the arm of US Imperialism, then Raza has a huge responsibility to people around the world to stop US Imperialism. The Chicano Moratorium helps to educate our people that we should NOT join the US Military and that our wars are NOT overseas. There is a war going on here and our people need to join the Chicano movement in order to stop the oppression on OUR people and the oppression that is unleashed around the world at the hands of the US. So, the Chicano Moratorium plays a key role in preventing oppression around the world and exploitation around the world. Today there is a browning of the US Military, Raza are overwhelmingly becoming the highest recruits in the US Military and Raza women are the fastest growing population being recruited into the US Military. So, the Chicano Nation being the largest Raza population in the US has a huge responsibility to people around the world and the Chicano Moratorium helps to educate the people on that responsibility, and that is to say NO to the US Military.
5. You have a beautiful grandson. What would you like him to remember most about who you were to him as 1) a grandfather, and 2) as a revolutionary fighter for the people?
What I would like my grandson Xicotli to remember most about who I was to him as a grandfather, I would like my grandson to know that I loved him very much and that although I struggled throughout my life, that I was a very selfless person who made decisions that would benefit him and his children before anything else. I want him to know that being a grandfather is being a teacher and being an example. I want him to know that I lived my life being the best example that I could, for him, even when it wouldn’t be realized until many years later. I want him to know that what makes me happy is to see him struggle through any obstacles that come his way. I would also like my grandson to know that I gave my life to what I believed in and for the struggle for national liberation for our people. And that I made many sacrifices because this is what I believed in. I understand it is a huge responsibility to resist US imperialism and the Chicano Nation has a huge responsibility in how we move forward. And as I struggled, I understood the sacrifice that I am making, but I know that the contributions that I make will outlive me and will benefit you and all of our people. And I want you to know that when you believe in justice, there should be no sacrifice that is too great to promote your belief. And one day our people WILL be free and I hope you know that your grandfather poured all of his energy in the struggle for a free Aztlan. I love you and I love our Raza, siempre.