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Dear Mexican: If dark-skinned people are so “undesirable,” unwelcome and put down by you gringos, how come you bake in the sun like zopilotes to get dark? Summer is a fantasy time for all of you, when you can actually get some color in that white skin of yours.

Maybe the whole deal about racists is that they hate being white. I would, too! Maybe white angry males are actually latent homosexuals attracted to dark-skinned men! I know for a fact that white women at one point or another fantasize about dark men, and that many more actually convert that fantasy into reality with guys like me. Who wants to go to bed with a pale guy?

I don’t think being brown or black is bad after all. Comments?

Tall, Handsome, and Dark

Dear Wab: You won’t hear any arguments from me about this, but since I’m not versed in the gabacho ways, I threw the question to the Mexican’s Mexican, William Nericcio of San Diego State and the scabrous Tex(t)-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America. In addition to dissecting the semiotics of Mexican imagery, Profe Nericcio also has insight into the American obsession with image. (Check out his upcoming Eyegiene: Permutations of Subjectivity in the Televisual Age of Sex and Race.) Take it, Nericcio!

“This is the age-old sexual conundrum that is actually easy to explain—we all covet something ‘strange’ from time to time; or, to use other words, the ‘exotic’ is erotic; the other beckons with an erotic electricity that can be blinding and impossible to overcome. Let’s pause here a second and throw racism and sexuality into the proverbial conceptual blender: Racism is an extension of sex when you think about it—the racist’s hate of the visually different other stems from an anxiety (at the level of DNA) for ‘the same.’ The tribal backstory of homo sapiens evolution (whether or not you buy into the frisky intersexual intrigues that just had to be going down with Neanderthals) is a tale of a species that ‘feels safe’ when making the beast with two backs within the tribe, but that benefits in terms of evolution when philandering outside the tribe. Evolutionary anthropologists call this exogamy—basically the species (or the tribe) thrives when you stop sleeping with your familia, second-cousin lovers be damned!

“So enjoy all the love you’re getting and sharing with pale chicas lusting after your swarthy goodness. While you might feel muy guapo with all the attention, know also that these melatonin-challenged mujeres are merely following basic laws of attraction that owe more to Darwin than your own inner-Papi-chulo!”

I read your column some time ago about why Mexicans go swimming in their undershirts. But I think you missed something: All us Mexican guys are terribly un-tanned. Lift up my sleeve, and it looks like someone dipped my arm in the deep fryer, at least after the shirt ends. How do I fix this?

Prieto but Not That Prieto

Dear Dark but Not That Dark Wab: You want to be darker? Um, OK, but the Mexican always loves to shock gabacho audiences by rolling up his sleeves to show a natural skin color even lighter than their lace-curtain Irish auntie. Besides, there’s no better way to get into a gabacha’s chonis is by asking them if they want to see your naturally tanned verga … or not.

¡ASK A MEXICAN! VIDEOS ARE BACK!

Gentle cabrones: After a years-long hiatus, I’ve relaunched the video version of this columna. Follow my weekly rants on Twitter by clicking the hashtag #askamexican, and ask away. Enjoy!

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I am a Mexican who owns a successful wholesale liquidation business, which happens to be an industry dominated by Jews, Asians and some gringos. So why does almost everyone, including mexicanos, who visits my warehouse think my business, or any successful business (for that matter), is always owned by a Jew or a gabacho? Can’t a pinche Mexican own a successful business? Just ’cause I’m 5 foot 4, named Armando and don’t look like the typical “business type” and I don’t have a MBA? My customers always assume I’m the sales rep or the forklift operator and ask to speak to the owner or “El Arabe,” and almost always include a statement like, “El dueño es judio, ¿verdad?” Well, no, the damn owner is not judio: soy yo, si este mexicanito es el dueno de esta bodega. Like only Jews can own a business? Like the stupid joke says, “Two Jews walked into a bar … and bought the place.” Yeah, I don’t think it’s funny, either.

Que la chingada, attention everyone: My pockets may not be as deep as those fucking camellos, but we are getting there. Échame la mano to my Mexican-owned business. I’m thinking about putting up a sign like during the Rodney King riots: “MEXICAN OWNED” … or maybe not, mis gabacho clients se van asustar.

P.S. A Mexican designed our website, not Patrick or Chang. I support the cause.

Mexican Businessman—Believe It

Dear Wab: OK, we get it: You’re not a Jew, and you don’t like Arabs. (Calling Arabs “camels”? Everyone knows Mexicans call Arabs “Talibans” if they want to be insulting.) But the reason why people are so surprised you own a business is because there’s nearly not enough of ustedes.

“Mexican-American Entrepreneurship,” a 2008 study by Robert W. Fairlie and Christopher Woodruff, showed that only 5.1 percent of Mexican-American men were business owners, compared to 12.6 percent of gabachos. The researchers blamed—surprise, surprise!—U.S. immigration policy that kept Mexicans undocumented and away from the pathways to owning a legitimate business.

On the other hand, recent research by University of Southern California professor Jody Agius Vallejo and others shows Mexican Americans getting into the middle class by starting their own businesses—and in some ways succeeding more than other immigrants based on how low they started. And the Mexican would argue that Mexicans are born small-business owners. Selling oranges at freeway exits? Small businessperson. Tamales from car trunks? Small businessperson. Jornaleros, cutting grass for gabachos, screwing wives gabachos don’t screw properly? Small businessperson, small businessperson, small businessperson.

Why do my 90-pound junior-high students wear three and four white T-shirts (all sized 6x or larger), layered one on top another in 100-degree heat … and then complain about the heat?

Maestro De Foto

Dear Photography Teacher Gabacho: Por pendejos—DUH.

Then again, logic and fashion sense among American high schoolers of any ethnicity go together like the PRI and clean government.

¡ASK A MEXICAN! VIDEOS ARE BACK!

Gentle cabrones: after a years-long hiatus, I’ve relaunched the video version of this columna. Follow my weekly rants on Twitter by clicking the hashtag #askamexican, and ask away. Enjoy!

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: While vacationing in Mexico, a couple of times, vendors or waiters have addressed me as chica. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but a Mexican friend of mine back in the U.S. insists that chica is WAY too familiar, and that these guys were insulting me by addressing me in this way. I was a little surprised to hear that, since I think I’m a very respectful person, and wouldn’t have given anyone a reason to disrespect me.

What do you think? Were they just being friendly, or taking advantage of my ignorance? Any advice for the next time I get chica-ed?

La Chica Blanca

Dear Gabacha: While chica isn’t the most formal of expressions (it translates as “girl” in Spanish), it’s hardly the most-insulting Mexican Spanish term a male stranger usually uses to get a woman’s attention.

The starting lineup, in devolving order, are doña (ma’am), señora/señorita (missus/miss), mujer (lady), querida (darling), linda (pretty), chica (girl), chula (honey), mamacita (cutie), pendeja (“dumb” by itself), bruja (witch), mamona (cocksucker), puta (whore), piruja (slut) and Thalia.

I’m wondering what’s going on with Mexicans and their seeming discomfort when presented with a handshake as a greeting. Most of the brown guys I have been around seem like they don’t know what’s going on when it’s time to shake hands. They are slow in taking the hand that is offered, and when they finally do raise their hand for the shake, they don’t look you in the eyes. The worst thing about it is their grip—limp wrist and fingertips only. It’s like you have a wet noodle in your hand.

Do guys in Mexico not shake hands at all, or do they just do it differently than Americans? Should I stop trying to shake hands with these guys? What’s up?

Not Shook Up

Dear Gabacho: Two types of handshakes exist for Mexican hombres—the firm, look-you-in-the-eye one, and the chokala, in which the men exchange a light handshake; cock their manos upward and grip each other’s thumbs; do another mini-handshake involving just the fingers; and finally end with a fist bump. (Sometimes, it’s reduced to just three steps, with the fingers part dropped.)

The firm handshake is the hallmark of the older generation and chúntaros; the latter is practiced by the younger generations. You do get the occasional aversion of the eyes, but that’s just a vestige from the Spaniards who took anyone looking at them directly in the ojos as a sign of disrespect—but fuck Spanish traditions.

But Mexicans … limp wrists? Are you sure you weren’t shaking hands with Puerto Ricans?

¡ASK A MEXICAN! VIDEOS ARE BACK!

Gentle cabrones: after a years-long hiatus, I’ve re-launched the video version of this columna. Follow my weekly rants on Twitter by clicking the hashtag #askamexican, and ask away. Enjoy!

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m a half-mexicana, half-gabacha working as an appointment-scheduler in a medical office. I’m one of a handful of schedulers there who speak Spanish. I’ve noticed that about seven to eight times out of 10, when a Spanish-speaking patient calls and gets one of the schedulers who doesn’t speak español, and waits for myself or someone else to call them back, the patient actually speaks English well. Since mi mamá mexicana always told me to never assume someone can’t speak English, I call back speaking in English, and they respond in English.

I don’t mind speaking Spanish with any of my patients—in fact, I’m happy I can be of service—but it makes me wonder why would anyone would want to wait and waste precious time to get their health situated by not speaking English (given they have the capability). Some of my patients really need the help, and I am ready para hablar, but others patients have better English skills than several of the gabachas I know.

Appointment Desk, This Is Chiquita Curiosa. How Can I Help You?

Dear Pocha: Sometimes, Mexicans who can speak English pretend not to so they can gain an advantage over their gabacho adverseries—the classic “No espeak English” ruse when trying to get out of a situation or trying to make the gabachos think they’re a stupid Mexican. Other times, the English-knowing Mexican will still prefer Spanish, because they can be more exact. That seems to be the case here, given you’re a medical professional, and some Mexican health practices just don’t translate well into the King’s English—how do you tell your doctor, for instance, that your mom’s remedy for a broken clavicle is Vicks and 7-Up?

For those of us living in California, the FIFA World Cup is a big deal. Since we have such a huge Mexican population that has been here a while, is it a safe bet that they root for the U.S. team and the one from Mexico? I know that I tend to place my hopes on Mexico once the Americans get the boot in the first round.

Couldn’t we get a little more love going for our SoCal community by making our support in the World Cup more international?

Soccer Gabacho

Dear Gabacho: Historically, no Mexican in the U.S. would ever root for los Estados Unidos—not so much because it was considered traitorous, but mostly because the team was middling at best, and uber-gabacho. That has changed in the past generation, as the U.S. has not only become a mid-level power that consistently whips Mexico’s ass on the pitch, but also because the squad is now diverse.

At the same time, El Tri has underachieved behind the fresa foot of Javier “Chicharito” Hernández (“Little Pea,” so nicknamed for the size of his huevos), the most overrated Mexican since Maná. Most Mexican Americans will still root for Mexico over the U.S., but there’s at least a grudging respect for the norteamericano side—and at least brown members of Uncle Sam’s Army don’t get pelted with urine bags anymore … much.

Nevertheless, I don’t see a fruitful Mundial for either team, so Mexicans will probably do what they did during the last Cup: suddenly discover their Spanish roots, and go for the goal-getting gachupines.

¡ASK A MEXICAN! VIDEOS ARE BACK!

Gentle cabrones: After a years-long hiatus, I’ve relaunched the video version of this columna. Follow my weekly rants on Twitter by clicking the hashtag #askamexican, and ask away. Enjoy!

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Our graphic artist walked out off the room pissed the other day, because the publisher asked my opinion about a Cinco de Mayo advertisement they were planning to publish (and did end up publishing). The graphic showed a row of chickens with sombreros. The publisher asked if I thought it was funny or racist. I said, “Racist.” Later, when they decided to publish it anyway, the proofreader (who is black) had the same reaction—it was funny, but it was racist because it played on stereotypes.

The graphic artist, who is white, took offense over the observation that the advertisement was racist, asking me if I boycott Mexican restaurants that display sombreros. I don’t go to many Mexican restaurants—not because of the stereotypes, but because the food is usually watered down to fit the taste buds of gabachos.

Anyhow, my question is: Is it me, or do people of non-color just not get it?

Graphically Angry

Dear Pocho: The biggest problem here is that your graphic designer thought putting sombreros on chickens for a Cinco de Mayo celebration was clever. He’s not racist; he’s just a lazy pendejo who deserves to get fired for his incompetence.

But to your point: Of course gabachos will never think that their stereotypes of Mexicans are racist—but a lot of Mexicans also think stereotypes of Mexicans are hilarious. Hell, how else do you explain the popularity of this column, or of George Lopez—who just happens to own the TV rights to this column? Come on, George: Let’s get this fiesta started with tequila shots in a Canadian casino!

It occurred to me that one of the reasons we Mexicans are taking our time reaching our academic potential is an unspoken fear of feminization. There is a phobia that education and the mannerisms that come with it are emasculating. Would you agree?

Brown, Down and No Clown

Dear Pocho: “What a question!” responds the Mexican’s go-to Mexican for philosophical insights into mexicanidad, San Diego State professor William Nericcio, author of the scabrous Tex(t)-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America.

“My first reaction was that I was going to write, ‘I absolutely disagree.’ But then the waves of memory hit me, plunging me into a fetid pool of negative nostalgia—in Laredo, Texas, growing up, I can’t count the times I was called out as a joto, a maricón or a ‘fucking puto’ for doing well in school (and this was in a pretty well-respected Catholic high school). Now, Laredo in the 1960s and ’70s was not progressive when it came to gender politics, and you can guarantee that the homophobic labels tossed at me and other bookheads was a form of linguistic emasculations. The only thing that really saved me was that my love of rock, alternative media and comic books gave me some breathing room.

“I am really thrown by this question—I don’t think it is so much a “fear of feminization” as much as it is an embracing of a macho ideal that will have no truck with books (because women were not spending so much time with books and learning, either). Feo, fuerte, y formal was the mantra of Northern Mexico and South Texas—a world of ranchers, negocio and heat (always the heat). To be ugly (think Charles Bronson), strong and formal (which means you have your shit together, solid—not necessarily formal, in the English sense), was an ideal that left no room for bookish indulgence.

“This is a great, great question—as evidenced by my inability to answer it well!”

Hey, Nericcio: I don’t pay you the big shameless plugs for a half-assed answer! Shall I go find another scholar at Scholar Depot?

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m a pocha, and my husband is a gabacho. (By the way, we loved your explanation in your book of why Mexicans and Irish get along so well—it really explained a lot about our marriage.) We had the rehearsal dinner for our wedding catered by one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Two guests from Santa Fe thought our choice of the caterer was hysterical, because the restaurant is called Sancho’s. They explained to us that in Santa Fe, a sancho is a “back door man.” I had never heard this before.

Is sancho a term just in Santa Fe, or among all Mexicans (except for, apparently, me)?

Don’t Need No Sanchos

Dear Pocha: Sancho as a euphemism for anal sex? That’s a new one for me—and I know all the pervert sexual euphemisms out there, from the infamous Dirty Sanchez to even the Angry Dragon.

I’m more familiar with sancho as Mexican Spanish slang for the other man in a relationship—in other words, the man a husband or boyfriend knows his mujer is cheating with when said husband or boyfriend isn’t around. (The female equivalent is sancha.) The palabra comes from a Mexican Spanish farming term for a “male animal raised by a female animal that isn’t its mother,” according to the definition offered by the Real Academia Española (RAE), the world’s much-fabled custodians of Cervantes. It’s a perfect description of a cheater: After all, the woman is taking care of someone who’s not theirs.

The mystery for the Mexican, though, is why sancho—which is also a proper name, à la Sancho Panza—took on such a strange meaning. The RAE only says it comes from sanch, which they say is the call used to round up pigs. The Mexican thinks the researcher who wrote that etymology had his sancha underneath his desk when brushing up THAT entry …

I’m a white middle-class guy from a part of the country that very obviously used to be Mexico—and might again someday, if some people there get their way.

I don’t think it was any accident that my forebears ended up where they did—I’m proudly told we have a long pattern of being less-white white people. But that does not mean that people in my family do not grow up to wear American Eagle and name their children things like Harper, Logan and Madison. They are also white in other ways: Stuck up! When I moved to Denver, I called my second cousin to hang out. I was very friendly with most of that side, and our dads grew up together in New Mexico. Well, we did not wind up hanging out—because she thought I was calling up to date her.

Mexican, I am sad. Not because my stuck-up cousin won’t hang out with or date me, but because we went from being so interesting to being so sterile. I understand white people who wish they were ethnic, but I don’t know that I’m qualified to get a tattoo of the Virgin. Some white people shave half their head and join other white people who want to be more “real” or more “gutter” or something, but I may not join them, because most of them are also named Logan and Harper.

What can a white guy do to take a stand for decency and hang on to whatever is left?

White Middle-Class Guy

Dear Gabacho: Who says you’re not ethnic? Trying to mack on your second cousin is a VERY Mexican thing to do!

Mexicans encourage gabachos to be proud of their ethnic heritage, whether you’re a mick, honky, limey, goombah, squarehead, armo, ruski or whatever chingada slur is used against Croats. That’s different than expressing general “white pride,” a term loaded with supremacist overtones, undertones and every tone except sense.

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Is there a pecking order at the places where you see day-laborers waiting to be hired? What’s the hierarchy? Are all those dudes Mexican, or are some Central and South American, and if so, who has priority when the random contractor comes by to pick up a worker for the day? Also, after they make a bunch of loot, do they go back to Mexico and live in the lap of luxury, or what? Gracias!

Dude Who Already Got a Job

Dear Gabacho: The ethnic makeup of day laborers really depends on what part of los Estados Unidos you’re in. In Los Angeles: Research done by the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education and my old boss, Abel Valenzuela, has found that about 15 percent of day laborers in the region are not Mexican. In New York, on the other hand, you have big percentages of Eastern Europeans and South Americans (especially Ecuadorians) in the jornaleros equation.

As for a pecking order: Those who came first get the prime jobs, while the latter arrivals get the hard stuff. It’s an American tale as old as time: My zacatecano dad, for instance, works for people from Jalisco. Papi hires michoacano-run firms for any construction jobs at his house; those Michoacán natives, in turn, get poblanos to do the sawing and shoveling. And those workers, in turn always hire a Oaxacan or guerrerense as a chalán to do the dirtiest work imaginable.

All these guys used to go back to Mexico to live the good life after making their pennies here, but the drug cartels put an end to that quick—no joke!

Do you believe there is a cultural difference that causes Mexicans to have less sensitivity about personal and shared space?

I grew up all over the South and lived for six years in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The town where I lived was less than 10 miles from the Texas-Mexico border. Immediately after moving to the valley, I noticed that the Mexican people at the grocery store, mall, doctor’s office, school and most every other place had less respect for their surroundings. Whether shopping for clothes or groceries, I found Mexican people had little restraint when it came to bumping your cart out of the way, shoving you if you were in the way of their purchase, or hovering at a disturbing proximity. I also notice a complete disregard for the products on the shelves of stores: Mexicans would grab a shirt or pants off a table, take a look and throw them on the floor. This same behavior was true at restaurants, bookstores and all manner of shops.

Is there a different attitude toward public boundaries in the Mexican culture? I would like to understand the behavior so I can keep it from breeding untrue stereotypes!

Feeling Violated

Dear Gabacha: You know a Mexican’s sense of personal space is fucked up when our term for standing in line is hacer cola—make ass. Kind of explains our hatred of immigration policy, ¿qué no?

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Our grandparents came from Mexico. The entire next generation spoke Spanish. However, in my generation, almost none of us do. One cousin’s daughter does, because the cousin married a bilingual spouse.

Most white people I know have long ago lost both an awareness of what their actual ethnic roots are, and the original language their people came to America with, when it wasn’t English. Heck, British English can be pretty confusing. My cousins and I, and most of our kids, only know of Spanish from Spanish classes. It’s clear we lost our language treasure.

Fortunately, we love being Chicanos. What do you know of this loss on a local or national scale? 

Spangless Chicano

Dear Pocho: The 2011 National Survey of Latinos by the Pew Research Center reported that while 91 percent of first-generation Latinos said they spoke Spanish “very well/pretty well,” and 82 percent of the segunda generation did, only 47 percent of third-generation Latinos claimed the same—far higher than virtually all other immigrant groups, but still just about half of the first-generation percentage.

Far more telling is the language of preference for each generation while consuming culture: When it came to listening to music, the percentage rates of Latinos who listen to music exclusively in Spanish, English and Spanish, or exclusively in English changed dramatically toward preferring English between the first (49, 31, 18), second (18, 26, 54), and third (10, 16, 74) generations, respectively; the same happened with language preferences in watching television for the first (40, 34, 25), second (12, 17, 69) and third (5, 11, 83) generations as well.

The moral of the story? As I’ve been saying for a decade, all Mexicans irrecoverably become Americans in el gabacho—only the stats change, and always toward inglés. So much for a real Reconquista …

I am constantly in disbelief that so many undocumented immigrants—primarily Mexicans—risk life and limb to enter the U.S. to, as they’ll say, “provide a better life for their children.” Aren’t they aware that U.S. kids now are fatter, sicker and dumber compared to most of the rest of the world?

Since U.S. kids are presently “mandated” 68 risky, experimental vaccines by age 18, we now have epidemics of autism, asthma, learning disorders, diabetes, childhood cancers, ADHD, etc. We have the most vaccinated children in the world, with many more vaccines on the way: fodder for Big Pharma.

Conversely, most racists think illegals are “dirty” and bring diseases into this country, even though it’s been proven immigrant children are very healthy UNTIL they’ve assimilated into the U.S. Your thoughts?

Mother Warrior

Dear Gabacha: While you’re right about niños in the United States being a fat, lazy lot, and también right about Mexican kiddies becoming the same as they assimilate, your tirade against vaccinations is puras mamadas. There recently was a measles outbreak in Orange County, one of the largest to have happened in the U.S. in years. While patient-privacy laws prohibit us from knowing the identity of the victims, stats came out showing vaccination rates in la naranja. The least-vaccinated pendejos? Areas where rich, stupid gabachos were in the majority. Areas with the most-vaccinated people? Mexican-heavy cities.

Mexicans, unlike gabachos, don’t have the luxury of believing far-fetched conspiracy theories put out by celebrity chichis that put our children at risk—we’ve got curanderos for that.

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I like reading your articles—they are funny, sad, insightful, crude, serious and even a little provocative and antagonizing at times.

One thing I find a little antagonizing is the use of the term “Latino” as a synonym for “Hispanic”; certainly yours is not the only forum in which these two terms are used interchangeably. I’ve noticed that you tend to favor “Hispanic” quite a bit more than “Latino”; thank you for that. While I may sound racist by making that remark, I am actually trying to raise cultural awareness and combat racism. I see it everywhere, and its ubiquitous use is absurd.

The Latins as a people, a culture, a language and a tribe came from ancient Italy. On employment applications or government forms, the race/ethnicity section doesn’t include anyone other than Hispanics as synonymous with Latin(o). Where is the room for us Latin Europeans? Us Italians, or French or Portuguese? As Italian-Americans, we rarely even get associated with a culture that came from our own land! See how racism can take many forms?

Thanks, and I hope to hear back from you.

Livid Latin Lover

Dear Gabacho: While I appreciate you regularly reading my columna, methinks you’re not poniendo much attention.

If I ever use “Hispanic” in this column, it’s usually in disparaging terms, as that’s a creation of the Ford administration. I barely even use “Latino,” since this is a column about Mexicans and only Mexicans (with the occasional jabs at coños, carajos, conchas and catrachas, of course).

All of this said, I agree with the spirit of your letter, and urge you to direct your ire not toward Mexicans, but rather intellectuals. It’s 19th-century French intellectuals, after all, who promoted the idea of a Latin America in opposition to Anglo-Saxon America in France’s eternal struggle against the English. It’s the love of anything French that drove intellectuals in Spanish-speaking countries in that era to warm up to that idea of pan-Latino identity in their eternal struggle against gabachos. And it’s gabacho intellectuals up here who bought into that idea in their eternal quest to categorize Spanish-speaking folks as subhuman, carrying on a clash of civilizations that goes back to the Spanish Armada trying to kill Good Queen Bess.

Don’t believe the Latino hype: Mexicans will only consider themselves Latinos for welfare, Hollywood roles and affirmative action. The rest of the time, we’re puro mexicanos, cabrones.

It has come to my attention that when I watch YouTube videos of 1980s music, whenever I sample a lot of the Italo songs, a lot of Mexicans comment on the videos. Basically, anything from Patrick Cowley, Rofo or Mike Mareen will have Mexicans commenting in, mostly to give their memories of that era.

How did Italo dance/Hi-NRG became so popular with Mexicans, at least the Mexicans from Mexico? And don’t forget in more recent years “El Pollito Pio” and “Macarena.”

Interested Dance Music Fan

Dear Gabacho: Don’t forget “Vamos a La Playa” (“Let’s Go to the Beach”) by Righeira, a danceable tale of nuclear holocaust along the coast covered by Los João and immortalized in Lola la Trailera, the Mexican Smokey and the Bandit, except with more murder and mujeres. And you can even toss in “Eva Maria,” a 1960s ditty by Spanish pop group Formula V.

Point is, Mexicans love synth-heavy pop dreck—embarrassingly so. Sometimes, great music comes out of this amor—witness grupero groups like Los Barón de Apodaca or Bronco, pop geniuses such as Los Bukis, or “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, the greatest song in human history.

But most of the time, it’s just terrible—look at Timbiriche or whatever youth group Televisa is placing on a telenovela. Italo dance and 1970s- and 1980s-era Eurodance falls somewhere in between great and grating, which means Mexicans will dance to it. Hell, Mexicans will dance to anything—what else explains the popularity of Maná?

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 follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Even though I have seen it happening with less frequency since I came to the U.S. 20 years ago, the use by Mexicans of the expression ¿Mande? (“command me”) has always struck me.

I personally see it as a symbolic legacy of submission, probably originating from the times of the Spanish conquistadores. Are you aware of any other meaning? What is interesting to me is that I’ve heard this expression coming more often from the so-called pochos than from Mexican immigrants.

Che Argentina

I’m a Mexican-American with a dilemma: Why do most Mexicans respond by saying “¿Mande?” while most other non-Mexican Hispanics respond with “¿Cómo?” I ask around, and nobody has a right answer. I’m sure you will know, ’cause you’re a smarter than the average Mexican.

Cheldingo

Dear Readers: Out of all the folk etymologies that plague Mexican Spanish—like people thinking gringo comes from Mexicans making fun of the green coats of invading gabachos, or that the phonological similarity of Michigan and Michoacán is proof that the Aztecs came from the Midwest—none is more laughable than insisting the Mexican propensity to use ¿Mande? (“Excuse me?”) is a reflection on the perpetual Mexican inferiority complex.

Yes, ¿Mande? is a legacy of colonialism—Cortés used the term in his letters—but so what? So is the word tortilla, and the corrido. All Latin-American cultures keep parts of the Conquest alive in their regional Spanish, but there is no historical evidence that conquistadors in Mexico demanded that their Indian or mestizo servants use the formal ¿Mande? instead of the informal ¿Que? or ¿Cómo? or ¿Perdón? (words that Mexicans also use, by the way) because of their inferior state. Mexican Spanish merely follows Spanish pronoun rules—imagine that!

You want real linguistic subservience? Try su merced (your mercy), which South Americans use in favor of ustedes. Now that’s a wuss culture there.

My parents are immigrants from Mexico; they came here and my brother, my sister and me. Of course, they’ve both retained some rituals that aren’t very necessary and would no doubt seem odd to the average American observer. One I’ve never mustered enough courage ask about is this habit of placing a large stone or a log behind one of the rear wheels. I’ve assumed it’s so the car won’t roll away because of gravity, but I know this isn’t necessary when in park. Or maybe it’s to ward off grand theft auto?

Are automobiles in Mexico just not reliable, or is it just a symbolic action to prevent theft?

Rocky Llantasmande

Dear Peñascoso Tires: Are you kidding me? Putting a log or rock behind a tire is the Mexican version of LoJack. The smart Mexican gets a rock or log craggy or pointy enough so that anyone who tries to make off with the car will immediately puncture the tire or wreck the rim. After that, all you have to do is follow the skid marks to wherever the thieves left the car off. Simple, ingenious and cheap—the Mexican way.

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Published in Ask a Mexican