Following a meeting on Sunday, the Mexican-American student group MEChA is considering a name change. As the Associated Press reported, student leaders of the group voted almost unanimously to drop “Chicano” and “Aztlán” from the name—Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (“The Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán”). Some chapters also use the word “Chicanx” in its name. The students voted for this change after a discussion on whether the words are homophobic, as well as anti-indigenous and anti-black. The online reactions following the name change reflect the strong reactions as the organization heralds in a new generation of leaders.

“The members of the more than 60 other Indigenous tribes of the land contained within the nation-state of Mexico, or those whose ancestors come from the many tribes located south of Mexico, do not claim Aztlán as their homeland,” writes Nicolás Cruz, a member of MEChA’s Seattle University Chapter, in a widely-shared document. In the document she adds, “It is true that since its inception, MEChA has established that Chicanx ‘is grounded in a philosophy, not a nationality’… But what if the historical roots of Aztlán and its use in the Chicanx power movement are tied to Mexican nationalism?”

Others who were present at the meeting, and involved in the organization either in the past or present, shared their support for the decision on social media:

While other past members —and, allegedly, the UCLA chapter which hosted the conference where the vote took place— were against the change.

“Maybe this should serve as a wake up call to many of us that maybe, just maybe, we should have remained active in the struggle and we should have worked w todays MEChistas” wrote Ron Gochez, a former MEChA chairman, on Facebook.

MEChA is a student organization that “promotes higher education, cultura and historia” founded in 1969 in Santa Barbara, California. The group seeks to unite students under the principle of self-determination, and historically has become an agent of change across universities, via protests and on-campus organizing.

At the moment, it is unclear what the new name would be. Still, the vote took place, and now members are focused on ensuring that the change is more than symbolic.

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