SOMOS EN ESCRITO The Latino Literary Online Magazine
Ernesto Todd Mireles
Dr. Ernesto Todd Mireles was born and raised in the 1970s-80s in Michigan, the northern reaches of the Xicano diaspora on la otra frontera (the Canadian border), which is geographically embedded in the territory of the Niswi Skoden Three Fires People. He witnessed firsthand how devastating to a region can be the loss of jobs from dependence on a single industry such as auto making.
Mireles grew up as a practicing Jehovah's Witness, and was introduced to organizing and field work at a very young age. His ideas about organizing within the Xicano community began to form in 1990, when he accepted the job training position at El Renacimiento, a monthly bilingual newspaper published in Lansing, Michigan. In 1992, Mireles entered Michigan State University and began a decade-long involvement with the Chicano youth group, Movimiento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlán.
Since then, Mireles has worked as an organizer for the United Farm Workers, United Steel Workers and the American Federation of Teachers. During these years, his ideas about organizing and anti-colonial struggle sharpened with the creation of the Xicano Development Center in Southwest Detroit. Mireles returned to Michigan State University where he earned his doctorate and inadvertently became a college professor.
Mireles lives with his family in Prescott, Arizona, where he teaches Xicano Studies and community organizing at Prescott College. His documentary War of the Flea: The Fight for Xicano Studies shows how Xicano students at Michigan State University forced a major university to establish a Xicano/Latino Studies program despite their small numbers and how an increasingly marginalized Xicano/Latino community was barraged by attacks by the white power structure.