A Chicano is a person of Mexican descent born in the United States. Chicana is the female form of the word; it often also has feminist connotations. The term Chicano is believed to be offensive by some Mexican-Americans, who prefer other terms such as Hispanic, or Latino or simply Mexican. In Mexico, the term can connote a person of low class and poor morals, while in the U.S. it carries multiple meanings. Sabine Ulibarri, an author from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, notes that Chicano is a politically loaded term, though it is considered a positive term of honor by some. For Chicanos, the term can imply being from the United States and not from Mexico. As a mixture of cultures from both countries, being Chicano represents the struggle of fitting into the world of Americans while still maintaining the cultural sense that you learned as a child of Mexicans. Bruce Novoa, another Chicano author, once wrote that Chicanos exist in the space created by the hyphen in Mexican-American.

The literary and political movements of the 1960s and 1970s among latinos established Chicano as a term of ethnic pride for some.

Many Chicanos refer to themselves as la raza (literally, the race). Some use the phrase la raza de bronce ("the Bronze Race") seeing themselves as "brown" or "bronze" because of their aboriginal American ancestry (as opposed to white and black people). Using another term common in early 20th-centry americanista/indigenist thought, some also refer to themselves as la raza cósmica, which means the cosmic race.

Unfortunately chicanos are classified and stereotype as "gangsters" and the style differs from the average "Mexican" from Mexico. The mexicans from Mexico are normally categorized as "Border brothers" with their cowboyish dress attire and unique style of music where as the chicano dress attire and style are "Lowriders" and gang affliation vato locos from the surenos or nortenos. Chicanos are also often known to feud with the "Border brothers" from Mexico.

Before Spanish colonization, the Aztec empire was the dominant nation in Mesoamerica and its predominant language was Nahuatl. Huitzilopochtli was the Aztec god of fire, war, and the sun. Mexi was another name for Huitzilopochtli. There was a split in the Aztec community, and the group who considered themselves the sons of Huitzilopochtli called themselves Mexica, whence the name Mexico is derived. The word Chicana/o may be derived from Xica (Chica), from Mexica (Mechica). Many individuals of Mexican descent view the use of the words Chicana or Chicano as a reclaiming and regeneration of a culture destroyed through colonialism, although these are only opinions and may not reflect the view of all Chicanos.

The term Chicano is also used in the context of Chicano/Chicana writers. This term is used as a term of pride, but only in the south-west of the U.S.; in the rest of the U.S., it is sometimes perceived as a derogatory term. Chicanos are the biggest group in the U.S. among the Latino population.

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