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30 Nov 2016

Ask a Mexican: Why Do Mexican Americans Represent Mexican Culture So Poorly?

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Dear Mexican: What’s up with pochos and their disrespect for their origins?

I’m a Mexican who was born and raised in Mexico, a proud chilango, and, well, I gotta know: Why do pochos, or Mexican Americans or whatever, try to make our reputation as bad as possible by acting all like gangsters, drug dealers and lazy, ignorant, people? I mean, no kidding: They represent Mexican culture in the U.S.A., and, well, it doesn’t give us real Mexicans a good image, especially the working ones. I mean, I’m not poor, but I was born poor, and my best example is my dad, who busted his butt off, working for us to get where we are. So, why do pochos depict us as low-rider drivers who do drive-bys, and lazy guys who are ignorant and know nothing? I mean, I got pushed back to eighth-grade again when I studied in the U.S. for a year, just because I came from Mexico. Their excuse was that our school system was different, so they did that. Anyways, I hope you can answer why pochos do that.

Mexico City Misfit

Dear Naco: Man, Mexicans have been fretting about the supposedly bad image Mexican Americans give them ever since Octavio Paz was railing against pachucos in The Labyrinth of Solitude. In “The Pachuco and Other Extremes,” he ripped apart Mexican-American youth as emblematic of a “sheer negative impulse, a tangle of contradictions, an enigma,” and accused them of “grotesque dandyism and anarchic behavior”—and if that doesn’t describe all the wannabe buchones who blast El Komander from their Escalades while driving to Culiacán, I don’t know what does.

Too regional a reference? How about all the Mexican soccer fans who continue to chant “Ehhhhhh … PU-TO” during matches despite FIFA fines and pleas from El Tri? You think Emiliano Zapata would approve of that mierda?

The years have taught me that the more “real” a Mexican says they are, the more pendejo they actually are—and, I mean, you just proved that.

Dear Mexican: I’m a dark Mexican with curly hair who spent my whole life defending my full-blooded Mexican-ness to people who insisted I was half-black. I married a black guy, because (aside from the fact that I fell in love with him), as I explained to my grandma, no Mexican guy ever gave me the time of day, while black guys did. So we have one child who is, as George Lopez says, “Chicano-Plus.”

Why is my family so fascinated with him? “Look at his curly hair!” I have curly hair! “Look at his beautiful skin?” We’re the same color! He looks just like me and not a bit like his black daddy. Same goes for another family member who also married a black guy! What gives with mixed babies and Mexicans? And why didn’t I get this kind of love growing up?

Hating on My Mixed Baby

Dear Pocha: Chill out—everyone’s freaking out about your baby because he’s obviously cute, and mixed babies are the most chulos. You didn’t get that love, en el other hand, because your family was in denial about ustedes’ Afro-Mexican roots. (Dark skin? Curly hair? There’s an African in that family árbol … or at least a Moor.) How to explain the contradiction? Easy: By marrying a black man, you’ve helped to pushed racial ambiguity and anxiety back into the chamber pot of pendejismo where it belongs, right next to Donald Trump and Mexican soccer fans who chant “Eh … PUTO!”

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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