“¡Somos Más Americanos!”: The music of Los Tigres del Norte as Grass Roots Activism

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Mariana Rodriguez


The music of popular Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte illustrates a Mexican migrant and Chicano/a tradition of using popular music as an alternative way of narrating community life in the U.S.A., most notably the Mexican migrant, Chicana/o and Mexican-American experience of discrimination along ethnic, class, gender and cultural lines. The band grapples with the ways by which a dominant U.S. national discourse has historically subordinated Mexican migrant and Chicano/a communities. Through their lyrics they propose a kind of progressive politics that underscores the importance of equality and antidiscrimination based on ethnic, cultural, gender and class positions. I believe that Los Tigres del Norte should be regarded as political activists, using their lyrics and musical profile to articulate and present a kind of progressive politics on behalf of Mexican migrants and Chicanos, and in ways that work with the legacies of the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Los Tigres del Norte are worthy of attention for a number of reasons. First, they speak of the importance of community building as a form of empowerment for immigrant groups and ethnic minorities in the U.S.A., as typified by the long tradition of community organizations among Mexican migrants, Chicanas/os and Mexican-American communities. Second, it is arguable that Los Tigres del Norte continue the Chicano/a movement fight for human rights and equality. Los Tigres del Norte claim a place for Mexican migrants and Chicanos/as as a viable and productive constituency within the U.S.A. Third, while these musicians are male performers, who engage with civil and migrant rights, they also deal with female issues and characters, departing from traditional views and ideals of the subordinate role of women in Mexican migrant and Chicana/o patriarchal societies. Los Tigres del Norte also engage with notions of an ‘America’ whose pan-ethnic qualities mark the importance of alliances between diverse groups. Their focus on the immigrant experience –documented and undocumented— makes their music an important example of a political project of pan-Latino and pan-American affiliation. In this way, I argue that Los Tigres del Norte should be regarded not only as ‘the most famous and popular band in contemporary Mexican culture band’ (Wald 2001) but as political activists who, in their lyrics, articulate political and social issues affecting the Mexican migrant and Chicana/o communities which might be read as legacies of the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Author Biography

Mariana Rodriguez

Is a PhD candidate at the University of Technology, Sydney.


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