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Dear Mexican: In a nutshell, you inspired me to rediscover my culture, my pride as a Mexican and my love for my people (though is hard to love my own people at times).

I’m writing a college paper on Latin-American issues—more specifically, on Mexican apathy, which is deeply rooted here in my city of El Paso. I don’t know if you’ve noticed when you have been here, but we live in a Mexican-majority bubble that could easily be called a Mexican utopia in the United States. This same privilege enables a lack of unity and motivation to rise above our social issues, such as a low rate of superior education. The worst part of living in this city is the antagonizing sentiment we have against our own kind, based solely on the fact that many recently migrated, and there is a sad misconception that most of the recent migrants are on welfare. We are not united in the same way other Southwestern communities have come together to protest to oppose racist legislation. This city is in a state where institutionalized racism is rampant and self-evident in Rick Perry’s disrespect for our heritage, which predates that of his illegal-alien-invading granddaddies of The Alamo.

I long for the pissed-off sentiment of the Chicano movement that pushed things out of the dark ages for us in this country. Our people went dormant for too long, thinking it wasn’t so bad anymore, but as we are constantly shoved back into the Jim Crow era, I see we are waking up to the house being on fire. Unfortunately, we are divided between those who have been here long enough to get educated and realize this, and the other half that’s just happy to fall into a false conformity and worry only about Mexico’s soccer team making it to the World Cup.

I see El Paso as a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with Mexicans in this country. Self-conformity and apathy will kill us faster than diabetes and high blood pressure. I have my theories on why all of this is still a problem, but I come to you for further enlightenment for the reasons previously stated. I will greatly appreciate any input you may provide during your busy schedule.

I Do Love Chico’s Tacos, Though

Dear Wab: Gracias for the kind words—glad I could wake you up from your pocho doldrums.

Don’t so harsh on your beautiful hometown, though—all the Mexican utopias in los Estados (San Antonio, Los Angeles, SanTana, among others) since time immemorial are a mix of vendidos who try to gentrify barrios, and activists who actually get things done. Why? That’s the American way.

How to wake people up? Show them a picture of Iowa Congress-pendejo Steve King.

I was out drinking and meant to ask you: Why do Mexicans love Buchanan’s whiskey so much? Did a ship o’tipple from Ireland wreck in the Bay of Campeche in the 19th century or something? And why does every Mexican guy who orders it pronounce it bukanas?

At Least It’s Not Kilbeggan

Dear Gabacho: Get your whiskeys straight. Buchanan’s is Scotch; Kilbeggan is Irish whiskey. But at least your Mexi-sense is correct.

Just like Cristal gets shout-outs from rappers, Buchanan’s began getting referenced by singers of corridos in last decade, especially of the narco variety. However, while getting bottle service for Cristal lets everyone know that its drinker is a lover of the high life, any plebe who buys a round of bukanas for his compas is letting the bar know not to fuck with him.

The choice of a whiskey instead of a tequila as a mark of Mexican manhood isn’t particularly surprising—hombres have been pounding it ever since El Piporro downed bottles while driving in Chulas Fronteras. As for the pronunciation chingadera? Easily explainable explanation, ese: elision.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: This pregunta has been simmering in my brain for a while, like slow-cooking birria, and the recent question about whether saying “Viva la Raza” is racist reminded me to ask you.

According to José Vasconcelos, the Mexican people are La Raza Cósmica (Cosmic Race), which seems like a romantic version of the “melting pot” farce. In Guillermo Bonfil Batalla’s México Profundo, he suggests that notions like La Raza Cósmica are used to de-Indianize the majority of the Mexican people. We have a strong and rich indigenous history; thus, umbrella terms like mestizo y raza cósmica further detach us from our cultural and ethnic identity, and the natural claim to our tierra y nuestro soberanía. And for what? To produce a legally enslaved working class that’s neither Indian nor Spanish, but a mix—mongrels, mutts.

What do do you think? Are we La Raza Cosmica? Mestizos? Mexicanos? Or according to Reies Tijerina, are we Indio/Hispanos?

Bastardo de la Inquisición

Dear Bastard of the Inquisition: Gracias for bringing up México Profundo, a great book that complements the fabulous Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building, by Richard Drinnon. While I understand Batalla’s argument, it’s also one that doesn’t consider the supremacy of the mutt, which is what Vasconcelos was trying to hint at. Societies that remain pure have a much-harder time surviving in this mundo than those that absorb and learn from other cultures—you think the Aztecs got to the top of the Templo Mayor by keeping only to the ways of their ancestors all the way from Aztlán to Tenochtitlán?

The Mexican feels it’s crucial for Mexis to remember their indigenous roots, because the only good thing the conquistadors left us was Spanish and distillation—but embrace the mutt as well, as that allows us to be whoever we want to be and to draw from all the cultures that make us. Compare that to gabachos, who can only be gabachos because they have largely forsaken this country’s melting-pot past—and who the hell would want to be a gabacho like that?

Why do so many Mexicans like Maná?! WTF, and why do they think they’re truly a rock en español/Latin alternative band? They suck and blow big time, and are more equivalent to Hootie and the Blowfish than anything else and should be placed in the POP SECTION!

Puro Pinche Caifanes

Dear Pure Fucking Caifanes: While no one makes more fun of the Guadalajara-based quartet than I do, maybe us Maná-haters should cut the fresas some slack. After all, their early success with rip-offs of the Police and Sting assisted in convincing gabachos that there was more to Mexican music than sombreros and Herb Alpert. Their concerts are now puro pinche parri nostalgia fests that inspire Mexi MILFS to squeeze into dresses four sizes too small. “Mariposa Traicionera” (“Treacherous Butterfly”) is a legit rola, and the accompanying video of lesbians and thongs is simply magnificent. On a more-serious note, Maná members have donated muchos pesos to saving sea turtles via their nonprofit—and who can hate people like that?

Actually, a lot of Mexicans like you and I can. You compare the chavos to Hootie and the Blowfish, but they’re more like the Dave Matthews Band of rock en español—despised by the purists as the group cries all the way to the banco.

CONGRATULATIONS TO

The Dream 9, the group of undocumented activists who traveled to Mexico, tried to cross back into el Norte to highlight the plight of people like themselves, and were detained by la migra—sometimes in solitary confinement. They are currently out of prison, awaiting an asylum hearing. The struggle isn’t over, of course, but their bravery is simply inspiring. I ask America again: Why wouldn’t we want such brave men and mujeres—and the millions of people they stand for—as citizens of this country?

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: My co-worker was driving to work this morning when she realized she was being followed by a Mexican in his vehicle. He followed her for at least three miles on the road, and during this time, he waved at her, smiled when she frowned, and even puckered his lips. She took small streets and confirmed that he was following her every move until she was able to lose him.

Why do Mexican men tend to follow women when they are driving? Do Mexican men really think that relationships start on the road?

Perturbed in Pacific Palisades

Dear Gabacha: Let’s ask Chris Berman. In a 1990 Sports Illustrated profile (one of the first big ones on the legendary sportscaster, since the magazine was still lamely comparing him to Fred Flintstone), Boomer admitted to pulling the very stunt you just described. “One day in 1979, he tracked a silver Firebird down Interstate 84,” the story reads. “When it pulled into the parking lot of an elementary school, so did he. Berman got out of his station wagon and nonchalantly kicked its tires. When the driver of the Firebird walked past him, he asked her to go to breakfast with him the next day. She accepted, and four years later, they were married.”

Maybe your friend should’ve stopped her vehicle and met the Mexican of her dreams. Instead, she gets a yenta of a gal pal to stereotype only one group of men instead of admitting that all men are perverted pendejos one way or another. Next thing I know, you’re going to ask why Mexican construction workers make kissy-kissy sounds at women—without having ever walked past a Manhattan demolition crew.

The U.S. public opposed NAFTA, so why can’t more people connect trade policy to the current immigration debate? Why won’t people in this country get involved, even for selfish, populist reasons? Why should Latin Americans (and poor people worldwide) have to do all the work themselves? Before I read Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown’s Myths of Free Trade, do you have any recommendations for opening the eyes of gabachos, gringos and all the rest? Perhaps getting this published would be a start, so I will stop typing.

¡La Lucha Continua!

Dear The Struggle Continues: Here’s the problem, and you already hinted at this: I could recommend all sorts of books and authors that show the devastation NAFTA wrought on Mexico in the form of destroyed industries, and the subsequent mass migration to the United States that gabachos fret over so pinche much—but it won’t matter.

The best writer on Mexican immigration’s effects on Mexico and el Norte, of course, is Los Angeles Times scribe Sam Quinones (whose books I always plug come Christmastime), but most every Chicano writer and artist has railed about NAFTA ever since it started … to the choir.

How can you make gabachos care about NAFTA? Make it sing the national anthem in a mariachi costume.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m curious about the meaning of the term “Viva la Raza” that I have often heard expressed by my friends and family. I know what it translates to, but I don’t know why we say it.

I happen to be what some call a “half-breed,” and therein lies my dilemma. “Viva La Raza” implies that the person who says this is of a certain “race.” My mother’s family is from the state of Georgia and of French, Scottish and English descent, whereas my father’s family hails from New Mexico and has been in the northern part of that great state since 1627; if you count my indio ancestors (who are undoubtedly in my lineage; after all, my grandmother is short and brown), my family was in the Santa Fe area prior to European settlement in the Americas. This makes me and my father's people mestizos.

In addition, my family may also be Jewish. It has come to light that many of the old Hispanic families of Northern New Mexico are descendants of the “hidden” Sephardim Jews that pretended to be Catholic and moved to the New World in order to escape the Spanish Inquisition. In addition, aren’t most Hispanos (who hail from north of the border) and Mexicans (from south of the border) mestizos, and didn’t most of the Indians get killed by the Spaniards and Anglos? If so, “raza” or “race” seems to be artificial and really doesn’t mean anything.

Furthermore, this is true the world over with all of the so-called “races.” It seems to me that we are all half-breeds, mestizo, metis, mulattos or what ever you want to call us. It is my understanding that the human race is the only race, and that we all came “out of Africa.”

With this in mind, perhaps we should do away with “Viva la Raza” and come up with something new … like “Viva la Herencia!” or “Viva la Gente!”

NuMexiHillbilly

Dear Wab: So many questions, so little time! I’ll concentrate on the viva part, since the rest of your pregunta rumbles along like a Big Jim chile in a gabacho’s panza.

No one is going to rally under slogans that translate as “Long live the heritage!” or “Up with people!”—they’re too fresa. And while I’m with you on the whole chinga tu madre toward racial classifications, “Viva la Raza” will never be dropped, nor should it. It ties anyone who says it back to the Chicano Movement, from which the term originated. (The earliest citation I can find was in a 1966 Los Angeles Times article that quoted legendary activist Bert Corona as exclaiming during a fundraising dinner in L.A: “Viva la causa; viva la raza; y viva la unidad—“Long live the cause; long live la raza; and long live unity.”)

The raza part connects the slogan to the idea of la raza cósmica—the Cosmic Race, the idea put forth by José Vasconcelos of a day when humanity trumps the antiquated razas of the Enlightenment. The viva part is a direct descendent of the Grito de Dolores, the proclamation issued by Miguel Hidalgo ushering in Mexico’s War of Independence.

It might seem strange to have non-Mexis shout “Viva la Raza!” in this egalitarian society, but Mexicans don’t find it racist or exclusionary, because it isn’t—after all, we all have enough female cousins who have married gabachos and bedded enough gabachitas to make us like y’all enough.

A QUICK NOTE ON MEXICANS BEING THE FATTEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD

Some of ustedes have sent me reports stating that Americans are no longer the fattest people in the world; Mexicans are.

My reaction: Who says Mexicans don’t assimilate?

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I had a conversation today with an 18-year-old female Mexican co-worker that completely blew me away.

She has a 3-month-old baby with her 19-year-old (also Mexican) unemployed boyfriend. They have just found out that she is pregnant again. After listening to her sob about it, I asked her if she was going to keep the baby. Horrified, she responded, “We are Catholic; we don’t believe in abortion.” She also revealed that her religion does not allow her to be on birth control.

There is obviously a serious problem in this country with teenage pregnancy, and a trip to the mall reveals an extremely high number of Mexican-American teen mothers. My question is: If these girls are so “Catholic,” why are they having premarital sex in the first place?

Protestant Pendejo

Dear Gabacho: While I would love to blame the Catholic Church for all Mexican ills—hell, for all the ills of the world, since that pedophile-protecting institution deserves a millstone around its neck—the facts simplemente don’t fully support the stereotype that Papism rules over Mexican sexual practices.

On one hand, in the July 2011 issue of Journal of Women’s Health, “Religiosity and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Latina Adolescents: Trends from 1995 to 2008” showed that Mexican chicas in the United States were historically more likely to remain virgins than non-Mexi Latinas because of their religious beliefs—but that gap is now nonexistent, and fewer mexicanas remain virgins until 18 than ever before. The reason? The docs who authored the piece think it “may be a result of the general decline in holding to religious tenants on human sexuality in the U.S. culture.”

Meanwhile, Antonia M. Villarruel, John B. Jemmott, Loretta S. Jemmott and David L. Ronis, in their “Predicting Condom Use Among Sexually Experienced Latino Adolescents” for the August 2007 issue of the Western Journal of Nursing Research, found that “students who had higher levels of religiosity … had stronger intentions to use condoms and were more likely to have used condoms during their last sexual intercourse,” and that “the influence of cultural variables on condom use is speculative at best.”

In other words: Stop blaming the Church for Mexis not using condoms, and start blaming gabachos for telling our girls it’s perfectly fine to schtup without a condom while they’re teens. In fact, let’s blame gabachos for all of Mexico’s ills—we’ve been doing it since the Mexican-American War!

I work at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico (which I suppose would be in the state of Aztlán to you?). We’re a nuclear-weapons lab. I do research and testing on plutonium. Being from Illinois, I’m not very used to all the Spanish names and culture surrounding me. For instance, what does Los Alamos mean? How about Pajarito, the name of the mesa where the plutonium facility is? You may be amused to know that there is a program at the lab called “Bolus Grande,” which I’m told means “big balls” in Spanish. We blow up plutonium inside the Bolus Grandes. Somebody once said missiles were just phallic symbols, so maybe it’s that, huh?

Anyway, if you could enlighten me on any of the Spanish names at the Los Alamos Lab, I’d be much obliged, amigo!

Breaking Nerd

Dear Gabacho: I worry for a country that entrusts its nuclear weapons research to someone who doesn’t bother to learn Spanish, especially children’s Spanish, and especially the translations of the places where he works and lives.

Los Alamos is “The Cottonwoods” and refers to the trees around Los Alamos. “Pajarito” is “little bird” and is derived from an archaeological site on the Los Alamos Lab property. And I just hope that whoever told you “Bolus Grande” is “big huevos” in Spanish isn’t in charge of the next neutron bomb or whatever weapon Obama is prepping to use against the Chinese.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: So I walked into Carl’s Jr. the other day and gazed at a dozen middle-aged women of Mexican decent hustling and bustling around a kitchen. A flawless performance, yet I couldn’t help but think of my days as a youth and the responsibility I learned from my first job.

Do you think the youth of today have had less of a chance to procure a decent work ethic because most of today’s minimum-wage jobs are occupied by immigrants (both legal and illegal)? Put simply: If I lived a stone’s throw away from Canada, and their minimum wage was $14 an hour, I might go there to work and send all the money back to my family in the U.S. But I wouldn’t think it was right.

The Mick

Dear Mick: Blaming Mexicans for the flojo-ness of millennials? That’s the latest rant of Know Nothings, especially during the Great Recession. And, for once, it’s based on facts: Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employment for 16-to-19-year-olds is at the lowest level since World War II, when we sent off said lazy teenagers to fight Hitler and Hirohito, and pointed the finger at immigrants.

But now we get to the issue that the right never wants to acknowledge in their rants: capitalism. It’s not the immigrants who told companies to depress wages and break unions to hire them; that’s due to the captains of industry seeking to make as much money as possible. It’s not the immigrants who force consumers to buy from rapacious corporations; that’s all on the plates of gabachos who want the cheapest products possible. And it’s not a fair system, but it ain’t the immigrants who insist on free-market capitalism—that’s all America, chulo.

Finally, spare us your hypothetical fretting about taking away jobs from others—your mick ancestors sure as hell didn’t care when they were robbing jobs from the Dutch.

I am a gabacha who lives in LA. My aunt, whom I love, is from Argentina—and she spends mucho energy going on and on about how her ancestors settled there from France, and therefore, she is actually white. (While I don’t have access to her ancestry.com profile, she and her children look as brown as many of the Mexicans I know.) Recently, her son has been applying for jobs and has gotten turned down, and blames not being hired on “all the quotas” there are for hiring people of color.

Is it just my aunt and her kids, or do all Argentines take pains to distance themselves from the rest of Latin America? I also don’t get why, if my cousin really thinks quotas are why other people are getting hired, he doesn’t play the race card and identify as “Hispanic,” since he could legitimately do so.

Sorry. I know your expertise is on Mexico and not Argentina, but there is no ¡Ask an Argentine! column for me to write to.

Blood Sausage Lover

Dear Gabacha: Even though I ain’t a carajo, I know enough about them to qualify as an expert—I once nearly dated one; I think Messi is God; and my compañera Aura Bogado blasts Know Nothings away over at The Nation and Colorlines. While Argentines do think they’re superior to all Latinos, what Latinos don’t?

I’ve always felt bad for them—from Perón to the Dirty War to Menem to Messi not being able to do anything during the World Cup, their string of bad luck makes them the Mexicans of the pampas, with chimichurri instead of salsa, and men who are far more fey.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I live in La Habra, Calif., and I’ve noticed that the local Mexicans have a real affinity for palm trees—the more, the better. Some houses have more than 50 planted in a 10-by-20 front yard—so many that you can’t see the house. What’s up with this? Is this some kind of Mexican status symbol?

The Crazy Gringa

Dear Loca Gabacha: It’s a reminder of—take your pick—Palm Sunday, a Mexican’s home state, the beach, the beauty of nature, the eternal Mexican propensity to turn anything into a business, and the fact that it’s better to buy better weapons and no longer rely on fronds for your shivs.

My boss, a gringo, questioned me on the choice of words I used in an ad that I wrote in a local grocery-retailer magazine. The article informed the reader that my company is now supplying a product that many of the customers who shop at their stores had grown up on. I stated, “We can now expand our product offerings to your Mexican customers.” My boss took exception to this statement and thought it might be offensive to Mexicans. I hope that it was not in anyway offensive to our neighbors to the south and those living here in the United States.

Was my boss being overly sensitive or did I indeed use the wrong choice of words?

A Proud American

Dear: Gabacho: Both. Your jefe must be clueless about the billions of spending dollars controlled by Mexican consumers in the United States, a market that’ll be loyal to a brand for life, for even the most nominal of nods—witness the Mexican affinity for gabacho beer companies because of their sponsorship of soccer teams and Vicente Fernández tours.

And your sentence, to quote The Elements of Style, is una pinche porquería. You should’ve written “We know Mexis. Give us more mucho dinero, pendejos.”

Attracting the Mexican dollar isn’t something hard; hard is trying to imagine Mexico winning the FIFA World Cup at some point in this millennium.

How can I explain to a Mexican to pay the printed price without hurting feelings?

Let’s Not Make a Deal

Dear Gabacho: You can’t—haggling is as ingrained into the Mexican psyche as hating the United States. And it ain’t just Mexis who won’t accept the printed price—read the memoirs of the children of immigrants over the, oh, last 150 years in this country.

Cry me a río about making people pay the value of the product. You bought your merchandise at a reduced, wholesale price gracias to your business license, which allows you to mark up that price and make a profit. The producer, in turn, marked the price up for you so they could make a profit. That gabachos still insist on paying an arbitrary price for something despite it being inflated to nearly twice its actual value is the biggest question that the Mexican has about gabachos after the allure of Friends.

During the Iraq invasion, a Mexican guy at work said that every extended Mexican family has one person who looks just like Saddam Hussein. Are you the Saddam in your family?

Gin Rummy

Dear Gabacho: No, I’m the Saladin.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Readers: My columna a couple of weeks ago about whether Aztec savagery influences violence in Mexico today drew muchos responses, both bueno and malo. Here are two:

Dear Mexican: I enjoy reading all your replies and was thinking about the column you wrote about the violence/Aztec blood.

I grew up in Huntington Beach and am a “brown man” (Iranian decent). I’m currently in Shitzona finishing up pharmacy school, and I made an interesting observation today at a gas station: The reason Mexicans are “sketchy” or “violent” or whatever the stereotype is, is due to the level of treatment they receive from their environment. I’ve played lots o’ fútbol back home and worked lots of jobs where I worked side-by-side with Mexicans. What I have found is that while back home, the Mexicans still had some of the Napoleanesque machismo complex, complete with super-pervy sexual (toma, güey, etc.) behavior. Here in this hellhole joke of a state, the Mexicans are double the classic stereotypes that I encountered back home.

What I’ve found is that the pinche güeros here are about seven to 10 times more ignorant, and this, naturally, lends itself to overt racism. While I grew up in bro-y, stars-and-stripes, surf-Nazi punk HB, Arizona seems to have beat conservative Orange County in terms of its discrimination (as everyone knows). This donkey’s-ass level of ignorance results in a level of treatment from the white ruling class that is extremely cold, condescending, rude, arrogant and downright oppressive to the minority class, which in this case is overwhelmingly Mexican. This level of intolerance of la raza, I feel, is what develops the combative nature of the Mexican.

While this is a very simple observation, I wanted to get your thoughts on it, as I have always been very bewildered by some of the actions of the Mexicans I have interacted with throughout life.

Dear: Persie: You’re referring to internalized oppression, the sociological observation that minority groups end up believing and acting out the very stereotypes that the dominant culture imposes on them. Such pathologies usually manifest themselves in long-established minority cultures, though; in the case of recent Mexican immigrants, blame any fulfilled stereotypes on the fact that most foreign men overcompensate their machismo to mask their pain of living among Know Nothings—and if you don’t believe me, look at Marco Rubio.

You missed an opportunity to correct a misunderstanding in your reply to Puzzled by Narco Violence, when he described the Aztec as “notorious butchers and cannibals.”

Yes, human sacrifice was practiced by Mesoamerican cultures like the Mexica, but it was in the context of religious ceremonies they believed to be necessary to appease their gods so that the universe would not come to an end. It was part of their belief system and was performed by priests in a very strict ritual. Although it was done on a vast public scale, the goal was to recall the spiritual justification for the empire by its subjects. In that respect, they were not much different from their European counterparts, where public executions drew huge crowds and the goal was to reassert the sovereign’s divine power after it had been injured by a criminal act.

On the subject of cannibalism, I would remind the writer that recent evidence has proved that it was practiced in Jamestown, Va., by the pilgrims.

Naco de Neza

Dear Wab: In other words, the Aztecs were notorious butchers and cannibals. Gracias for clearing that up!

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m a U.S.-born Mexican who spent some of my years growing up in Tijuana.

Why do Mexican Americans from Santa Ana (Orange County) and South Gate (near Los Angeles) always think they’re harder than the rest of us Mexicans, even though their neighborhoods are like 100 times better than the colonia in which I grew up? I mean, they have the Santa Ana Zoo and South Coast Plaza; we've got Plaza del Rio, which is right next to a mainline sewer. Please explain the misplaced pride these folks have in their hometowns.

Like George Carlin said, “No one should be proud of where or how they were born,” or something like that.

Confused Border Brother

Dear Wab: Two things here. What George Carlin said was, “I could never understand ethnic or national pride. Because to me, pride should be reserved for something you achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth. Being Irish isn’t a skill; it’s a fucking genetic accident.” And while he’s technically correct, ethnic and regional pride is as old and enduring as the paintings at Lascaux—there’s no use in arguing its rationality.

What IS funny, however, is your point about Mexicans who grew up in the United States saying they’ve had a tough life. Unless you’re three days removed from the border and working at one of those tomato-growing slave camps in Florida, you ain’t got it hard. Tough is, as you pointed out, growing up in a Mexican urban colonia à la Plaza del Rio in Tijuana, or Tepito in Mexico City. Tough is growing up like my parents in the ranchos of Zacatecas, picking through cow shit as kids to find corn kernels to cook for dinner. Poverty does exist in the United States, but it pales compared to what people in other countries must endure—and it sure as hell doesn’t compare to the tenement slums of Hell’s Kitchen at the turn of the 20th century and before.

Despite this nation’s current economic malaise, we live in the good times, so if you ever hear some Chicano yaktivist bitch about their rough-scrabble life in some American suburb, make sure to record it: That’s further proof that Mexicans assimilate, because they’ve turned into whiny, entitled gabachos.

After living in London for many years and marrying an inmigrante of South Asian Muslim origin, this Midwestern gabacha involuntarily relocated to Southern Arizona recently with a mixta baby. Despite a few instances of being swarmed by the Border Patrol while out on walks and being detained at border checkpoints, my prieto husband has found America more welcoming than the Paki-bashing culture of his childhood in the United Kingdom.

However, the dulce de leche-tinted baby is often mistaken for Mexican here. People have tried to speak Spanish to her, but sólo habla Ingles, except for Google Translate. How do we handle raising an ethnically ambiguous child in a Latino-heavy culture? I have been told that there is no foreign-language requirement in public schools here, and I don’t think keeping the TV perpetually tuned to Telefutura is a good idea, but we are all strangers in this very strange land.

Tamarindo and Tortillas

Dear Gabacha: First off, for a Midwestern gabacha, you do VERY well with your español—good for you to go with the Reconquista flow!

As for your child: If you’re going to continue to live among Mexicans, you’re going to have to accept that she’s going to turn part-Mexican. Definitely teach her to be proud of her Paki side, and make sure to be a good school mom and teach all those Mexican kids about your daughter’s culture. But the preponderance of Mexis means your daughter will grow up immersed in the culture, learning the words and customs. And that will further confuse people, gabachos and wabs alike, as she gets older: You mean to tell me that someone who looks like a Mexi and talks like a Mexi isn’t one? And that’s a great thing—be proud of the fact your child is one glorious monkey wrench in the pendejada that is ethnic identity, an ossified relic as relevant to today as courting your bride by kidnapping her.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: A co-worker recently turned me on to a website that features many videos of unspeakable atrocities that the drug cartels are committing in Mexico—including many graphic displays of murders and beheadings. I recently saw one of a woman getting her head cut off with a knife! I wish I had never seen this, but it can't be unseen.

Now, most Mexicans I have met are very nice, generous people. Mexico is also such a strong Catholic country, where the church preaches to be good and helpful to your fellow man. How can it be possible that these types of evil people really exist there? Is it because they still have Aztec blood running in them? As we know from history, the Aztecs were notorious butchers and cannibals.

Puzzled by Narco Violence

Dear Gabacho: As we also know from history, the English used to draw and quarter people, then place their body parts in different parts of the country—so what’s your point? Do we blame the English for the atrocities that some American soldiers have committed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do we blame them for Ed Gein? Or for the lynchings of African Americans that gabachos committed through the mid-20th century? Of course not—such talk of sanguinary determinism is as stupid as racists freaking out that a Mexican-American boy from San Antonio sang the national anthem before an NBA Finals game dressed in a mariachi suit. (Would Know Nothings had freaked out if a gabacho in a kilt had done the same?)

Refry this: Drug cartels commit atrocious crimes because drug cartels are criminal enterprises—and the last time I saw The Godfather, it seemed like criminal enterprises tried to strike fear in each other by being more brutal toward their enemies (and even innocents) than the other guys. But if you want to play your game: Why didn’t you include the Spanish side of the mestizo equation in your pregunta? After all, they plundered their way through the Americas in ways that would make the Aztecs seem as peaceful as Quakers.

Dear Mexican: I've been playing pickup basketball at a gym in Alhambra near El Sereno (in the Los Angeles ares). Some of the guys who play are covered head to toe in tattoos and have their heads shaved. Are they cholos or La Eme, or is this the current fashion? They seem like nice-enough guys, but they have tattoos all over their necks and heads. Do fellows get those outside of prison? If so, why do they do that?

Afraid to Call a Foul

Dear Gabacho: What does it matter to you? All you should care about during a basketball game is kicking the other team’s ass, and humiliating whoever is guarding you.

Why do the guys you play with have so many tattoos and shave their heads? Why don’t you ask them? If they’re willing to rub their sweaty bodies against you, I’m sure they’re more than happy to explain why they look the way they do. But you probably won’t, because that’ll ruin your hipster fantasy of being so down with la raza that you can post up on a Mexican Mafia member in the barrio without getting killed.

Are they cholos? Maybe, but you didn’t describe their tattoos, so I won’t assume like you do. For all you know, the opposing center who most likely schools your ass three times a week could be a Cal Tech cabrón.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

Published in Ask a Mexican