The Mexican American Studies Professor Running For Congress
A Xica Nation exclusive interview with Miguel A. Levario, PhD.
As a son of El Paso, Texas, Dr. Miguel Levario’s consciousness about borderland identity and militarization began early. He chose the field of borderland studies, and went on to Notre Dame and Stanford. He received his PhD from UT Austin and now teaches at Texas Tech in Lubbock. Dr. Levario’s book, Militarizing the Border: When Mexicans Became the Enemy, which reaches as far back as 1895 to put our modern experience into context as part of a larger, intergenerational militarization of the Texas borderlands and Mexican American peoples.
I first met Dr. Levario many moons ago when I was a student at UT Austin. I unknowingly enrolled in his Mexican American Studies course, a course which changed my life. At the time I was part of the Mission-Texas.com digital resistance, and the historical and critical analysis as well as the dialogues that occurred in that class put everything into context for me on many levels – from what I was witnessing in Mission and what I had lived as a Tejana. The class also offered a safe space to engage with others on the topic, one not so welcome as being brown and empowered was equated with being subversive in a post 9-11 Texas (that was on the cusp of seeing the big immigration marches of the early 2000s.) This course offered me a new lens on history and the present, and served as one of the first critical moments that sparked my own decolonization.
Recently, Dr. Levario announced that he was running for Congress in the 19th District in Lubbock, Texas.
Here is what Dr. Levario had to share in an exclusive interview with Xica Nation:
What is your name / location(s) / how you ID? Titles?
Miguel A. Levario, PhD, Chicano/Fronterizo, Associate Professor of History
Political bio (coming April 17): www.levarioforcongress.com
Until April 17th: https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/207983/miguel-levario-for-congress
Why did you choose to run for office?
I have always been a politically conscious and active member of both academia and my community. Since arriving at Texas Tech and Lubbock, I’ve inserted myself into community activism by joining demonstrations, speaking at protests, and informing my community through Facebook and other social media outlets of the issues that affect or impact Mexican Americans and the border. When approached with the opportunity to serve my community as an elected official I felt this was a natural evolution of my activism, fight for social justice, and equality of opportunity for all.
To what extent has your work in academia/Mexican American/borderland studies prepared you for this new role in public office?
There is no doubt that my training in Mexican American and borderlands studies prepared me for this new chapter. The interdisciplinary skill set of understanding sociological, economic, cultural, and historical contexts allows me to think critically of the unique set of circumstances that have befallen on the underserved. It is my contention that my interdisciplinary background uniquely positions me to understand both the broader impact of policy but identify the nuanced effect it has on communities from various regions and demographics. In other words, I feel as though I am able to confront complex issues from a holistic perspective rather than a nuanced or singular lens.
If you could say three things to the next generation, what would those three things be?
One thing I would suggest to the next generation is do not disengage from your community whether it be your circle of friends, your neighborhood block, dorm, work place, or city and state. Be active in a way you feel most useful. It can be small or it can be large like running for public office but never disengage from your surroundings. Second, I would encourage them to always question and think critically of everything even if it makes one uncomfortable. Thinking critically always has a positive result. You either hold fast and true with what you believed because you have questioned, researched, and dialogued or you have learned something new or different because you questioned, researched, and dialogued. Lastly, compassion. It sounds trite but we have to have compassion for each other because we don’t always know each others’ struggle or hardship. Whatever the façade suggests isn’t always accurate and we need to take the time to listen and act compassionately for others.
Are there any upcoming events you would like to share?
We are hosting my candidacy announcement in Lubbock, Texas on April 17, 2017 at the Charles Adams Gallery at 6:00pm, https://www.facebook.com/events/215836422234943/
How can people support you?
Currently there are two ways you can donate:
CrowdPac campaign: https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/207983/miguel-levario-for-congress
After April 17 you can go directly to: www.levarioforcongress.com