Ask a Mexican
Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans applaud first-generation Mexicans who assimilate completely, but criticize (and apply the term vendidos) to first-generation Mexican Americans for doing it? (And why is it that there is no real name for U.S. citizens in English, forcing us to use the name of the continent? Someone should translate estadounidenses.)
Take my case, for example. Both of my parents are Basques—don’t get them wrong, they are grateful; they really love Mexico and will proudly tell you they are 100 percent Mexican, because Mexico adopted them, but they also love their original culture and speak Euskera fluently. (Well, one speaks Euskara, the other Euskera; one is from Donostia, the other from Bilbao, so they spell a few words differently.) They play Mus almost every day, prepare typical Basque dishes (txipirones, txangurros, pil-pin and the infamous kalimotxo, which is a drink that is obtained by mixing red wine and cola, almost always in a 1:1 ratio), and partake in all sorts of Basque cultural activities.
I feel proud of that heritage and speak some Euskera (badly, but I can communicate), but I don’t feel Basque, and don’t feel the need to participate in any kind of Basque cultural activity. (I love to play Mus, not because it’s Basque, but because it’s a great game.) I feel Mexican—hence, the only cultural activities I participate in are Mexican activities. (Whatever that means; Mexico has but a few real national cultural activities. The different regions have different cultural activities, making the country very interesting and diverse.) Most Mexicans applaud my behavior, and obviously applaud any similar behavior of other sons and daughters of immigrants. The funny part is that they despise the same behavior when sons and daughters of Mexican immigrants do it in the U.S., calling then by any number of names. (I would say most of them can’t be published, but I can see that you don’t have any trouble publishing “risky” words in Spanish.) In fact, many Mexicans feel betrayed by them. Why is it that the same exact behavior is applauded and vilified?
By the way: My wife says that the irony of all is that I will probably have a son or a daughter who, when talking about his father and mother, will explain how he or she is very proud of his/her heritage of his/her Mexican parents, but he/she doesn’t feel Mexican and can’t understand why his/her father feels it is so important to speak fluent Spanish. I know my father will look me directly in my eyes and exclaim poetic justice.
The “Mus”-Loving Mexican With Basque Parents Who, According to His Wife, Will Probably Have an American Kid With Bad Spanish Abilities
Dear Pocho: The only reason I let you run on and on here is because of your Basque heritage, which I’ve always respected. And your question is so pinche confusing, it might as well be in Euskara, one of the few languages in the world with no relatives.
But this is what you’re saying: Mexicans in Mexico love it when the Mexican-born children of immigrants identify with their culture (like Mexican-Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o), applauding it as natural, but get mad when the same happens to the children of Mexican immigrants in the U.S.
Easy answer: Mexicans want everyone to be Mexican—except Cuban-American presidential candidates, of course.