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11 Feb 2015

Ask a Mexican: Why Do Some Mexicans Get Offended When You Speak to Them in Spanish?

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Dear Mexican: Can you please explain why some Chicanos and mexicanos get offended when you speak to them in Spanish? As a fellow Chicano, I find it hard to believe that raza gets offended by this genuine approach.

Have you noticed this behavior yourself—that little dirty look that comes when you say “Hola”? Is this pattern more deeply rooted in the times when speaking Spanish was shameful act in the U.S.? If the Reconquista was to ever be fulfilled, how would Spanish-speaking Chicanos and non-Spanish-speaking Chicanos get along?

Habla Henry

Dear Henry Is Speaking: As if Mexicans don’t have it hard enough—narcos back home, Know Nothings in the States, and a Mexican soccer team that probably won’t win the FIFA World Cup in our lifetime—now comes this conundrum.

I get the underlying anger of Chicanos and Mexicans who don’t want to speak Spanish—they’re upset you don’t think they’re smart enough to understand English, or are so ashamed of not knowing Spanish that they take it out on you. Then there’s the flip side: Mexicans who get enojados if you address them in English—as if you’re supposed to know they don’t speak it! Can’t paisas and pochos get along? And the answer is, of course, no. That’s why the Mexican always greets everyone, regardless of linguistic ability, with a mariachi cry, the universal language of chingones, and goes from there.

I have to do an interview report on Mexican culture, and I need to interview a person who is from Mexico, but I don’t know about that culture, even though I’m Mexican myself. You Mexicans call me a whitewashed Mexican, so I don’t think I will have the questions that I will need, so anyways: What good questions should I ask when I do my interview report about Mexican culture?

Run Ronaldo Run

Dear Wab: Asking the Mexican about questions to ask Mexicans about Mexicans? How meta! The only real pregunta I have for my raza for which I don’t have an answer is why more of you didn’t buy my Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, or how come someone hasn’t started a torta chain that’ll turn Chipotle into the next Chi-Chi’s.

CONFIDENTIAL TO

Know Nothings who are trying to blame the recent measles outbreak on Mexicans—it ain’t happening. Vaccination studies show that Mexicans are among the most-vaccinated people in the United States, whether they’re getting shots here as chicos, or they are getting stuck by those crazy needles that our parents and cousins had to undergo back in Mexico that left a giant mark on their arms that looks like a Neolithic-era ceremonial scarring.

The least vaccinated people in los Estados Unidos, on the other hand, are gabachos: Amish, survivalists and suburban moms who lunch on kale. The myth of Mexicans bringing pandemics to kill off gabachos is a tool that the right tries to use again and again to further their career, but remember the last guy who tried it? Former CNN host Lou Dobbs? He’s competing against a UHF signal nowadays, and that destiny will happen to all conspiracy-spewing gabachos like him—oh, and they’ll also get beautiful half-Mexican grandkids.

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!

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