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21 Oct 2015

Ask a Mexican: Is It Racist to Call Someone 'Mexican'?

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I’m a white, college-educated, liberal, Democrat, socialist U.S. citizen. I don’t have any problem with Mexicans coming here to get a good job. In fact, I don’t see the “problem.”

From your perspective, why are Republicans and redneck dickheads so into building that big fence on the border? What I mean is: If there are so many “illegal” Mexican immigrants in the U.S., what is stopping them from becoming “legal?” Is it really a question of attaining citizenship, or is it just plain ol’ ignorant racism?

Taco Lover in Houston

Dear Gabacho: Gracias for writing in, Bernie Sanders! Love ya, but I don’t think you stand a chance against that pendeja Hillary—but good for you for pushing her into Aztlanista territory.

As for the preguntas: Republican dickheads want to build a wall because it’s the simplest “solution” to the immigration “problem” and is symptomatic of how out of touch they are with America’s raza reality. They obviously don’t know that if we do build a 100-foot tall wall tomorrow on the U.S.-Mexico frontera, some chilango from Tepito will build a 101-foot ladder the following day—and the slide that goes with it—while a culichi will construct a tunnel underneath it that would rival the Lincoln Túnel. And it’s those same Republican cagaleches who are stopping undocumented folks from becoming legal by failing to work with Democrats on a good amnesty program.

Hey, I get it: The GOP knows that once we get the vote—and I know I said this last week, but it bears worth repeating—we’ll make them as irrelevant as the payphone.

Let me start out by saying that I’m a HUGE fan of your newspaper columns. I’m writing you because at a recent family dinner, one of my cousins was telling the family his opinion of the word “Mexican.” He proceeded to say that the word is racist and degrading, and everyone should refer to people from Mexico as “Cinnamon People” or “Cinnamons.” He said this because, in his opinion, most people from Mexico have a light tint or shade of red to their skin. So with this thought in mind, I asked my Mexican friends at school if “Mexican” is racist and degrading; all but two just laughed at me. A few people have agreed with my cousin but still: I’m very confused.

Is “Mexican” a racist word? I have seen countless people call someone a “Mexican” at school and get knocked out for it, yet I can refer to my Mexican friends as anything I want (partly because I’m half-black, and they can call me whatever they like). Can you help me understand? Should mainstream America start referring to the Mexican people as “Cinnamons”? Or is my cousin being ignorant/racist? Can you PLEASE help me understand this conundrum?

Eager in Elizabethtown

Dear Young Mujer: “Cinnamons?” At least your cousin didn’t suggest “wetbacks.”

He’s not racist—one of the most romantic songs in the Spanish language is the bolero standard “Piel Canela,” which translates as “Cinnamon Skin” and was immortalized by Eydie Gormé (yes, of lounge-lizards legend Steve and Eydie) with Trio Los Panchos. That said, calling someone a “Mexican” can be racist, mostly if the person being called that isn’t a Mexican, or if the person saying it pronounces it “Messkin” and has a deportation cannon next to them.

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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