CVIndependent

Wed01222020

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Dear Mexican: Why do SO many chamacos of this generation. who are Mexican, refuse to learn Spanish and/or speak it? What’s the big deal? Are they THAT embarrassed of their native tongue because they’ve been so Americanized, or what? It’s been bugging me for years!

I’m Mexican-born and raised in San Diego, and grew up quite differently from most Mexican kids, I guess, but I never backed down to speak, read, write and learn Spanish. Osea, que conejos con está generación?!

Cachanillo, ¿Y Que?

Dear Pocho: Sure, the Pew Hispanic Center and other survey-happy think tanks publish study after study showing how quickly children of Mexican immigrants learn English, and how fast they begin to favor that idioma instead of habla. But the fact remains that it’s more acceptable than ever for people to speak Spanish, especially given that we’re in the end stage of Reconquista. And still, Mexico kids end up becoming English-dominant, as they always have in post-World War I America.

Why? Because despite what Univisión wants you to believe, English is how you win in los Estados Unidos—and win, we must. Besides, what’s wrong if Mexican kids lose the ability to speak Spanish? Sure, being bilingual is great, but a lack of Spanish doesn’t somehow make you less Mexican—just ask Cuauhtémoc.

Dear Mexican: When I was a small child of a poor farm family in Oklahoma, we started to have visits from an extended family of about a dozen persons who were following the harvest work from the border northward. They would stop again on their way south when harvest was over. Our farm was on a river, and our cabin had lots of shade and space for them to set up their tent and make the campfire. My mother always welcomed them, and we nine children were delighted to find these friendly brown children to play with. Mama would give them corn, tomatoes and sweet potatoes from our garden. They, in turn, would show my mother how to make flat bread on the cooking fire, and how to use very hot peppers in cooking.

I regret that the way to cook that flat bread was not passed on to me. I wish someone could tell me how to cook that bread. It would remind me of the great joy and delight we all felt when we saw them coming down our road from the high Dust Bowl plains. “The Mexicans are coming! The Mexicans are coming!” we shouted, and it was a great moment in our lives twice a year for three or four years in the 1930s.

Most of the Mexicans I encounter now are doing yard work or picking fruit here in Florida. Each time I see a brown face, I greet them with a smile and think of those wonderful people who I have always considered amigos. If anyone can give me a recipe for making the flat bread like those amigos made it, I would be most grateful.

Okie From Kissimmee

Dear Gabacho: Flat bread? You mean a tortilla, right?

Your letter is sweet, so I’ll spare you any further ridicule other than to note, as I always do when talking about Oklahoma, that the state should unconditionally support undocumented immigrants since it was founded by those dirty illegals called Sooners.

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

In 2000, Riverside County agreed to a settle a dispute with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development which was triggered after 24 Coachella Valley families filed complaints. According to HUD archives, the complaints stated “that Riverside County had targeted Hispanic-owned and -occupied mobile home parks for selective and discriminatory enforcement of its health and safety code and regulations.”

"The enforcement agreement is a major victory for a largely disenfranchised population, compensating victims of housing discrimination and resulting in a multi-million-dollar cooperative effort to build housing and provide needed services to farmworkers throughout the area for years to come," said Ilene Jacobs, then the director of litigation for California Rural Legal Assistance, which represented the farmworkers in the case. (The statement came from a HUD news release.)

Today—a decade and a half later—the county is still working on upholding its end of the settlement.

In December, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, by a vote of 4-0, approved an agreement with the Galilee Center—an organization that works to fill the needs of the underprivileged and disadvantaged—to construct and operate a facility in downtown Mecca that will provide permanent shower, restroom and laundry services for migrant farmworkers in the eastern Coachella Valley.

Such a facility was one of numerous mandated remedies to be undertaken by Riverside County as part of that 2000 HUD settlement.

“We call it Plaza Esperanza,” Galilee Center president and founder Gloria Gomez said recently. “It’s for the farmworkers, but anybody will able to use it, especially the people who are in the streets. … ‘Esperanza’ means ‘hope’ in English, because the people have been waiting so many years for these showers and laundry facilities.”

Riverside County District 4 Supervisor John Benoit said he has worked for years to find the right strategy to bring this facility to fruition.

“For some years, we have had a horrible facility that offered some of these comfort services, but it was quite a way outside of downtown Mecca,” Benoit said. “Then a few years ago, some people I know who have been involved in great nonprofit human health and services experiences in the valley decided to open up the Galilee Center in Mecca. … So I went to them and said, ‘This potentially could be a great cooperative effort where instead of spending the money to build a completely new facility and figure out how to manage it, we could work together.’

“I’m very pleased that notion has come to fruition and is nearly operational. They’re going to offer a lot of amenities that we could never have offered at just a simple shower and cleanliness facility. Certainly, it will be an asset to the community.”

Gomez elaborated on the Galilee Center’s plans.

“We’re going to have 12 showers for men and 12 showers for women,” she said. “The shower and laundry areas are being paid for by the Riverside County funds. We’re fundraising to build a large family community room where we’ll have televisions for the people and computer stations to help them search for jobs on the Internet. Also, we want to have classes to help give instruction to people who don’t know how to write their names.”

A December press release from Benoit’s office mentioned that $1.2 million in funds were designated for the comfort-station construction. Gomez said that won’t quite cover all costs.

“We’re bringing in extensions for the gas, water and sewer lines from Second Street,” Gomez said. “That’s pretty far away, so it’s expensive to bring those utilities to our site.”

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has also agreed to provide $75,000 per year in operational funding for the new facility, which is slated to open May 18. Will that prove sufficient?

“We will be open November through March and again May through July,” said Gomez. “And during those months, our daily hours will be Monday through Friday from 1 to 7 p.m., while Saturdays and Sundays will be from noon to 6 p.m.

“During the other months, we will have the community room open and available. This first year of operations, we will find out exactly what the costs will be—especially during the hottest summer months, since the facility is going to be air-conditioned.”

Benoit praised all the work the Galilee Center has done and continues to do. “I think it’s great when you see the government able to work with these walking saints like Gloria Gomez and (Galilee Center CFO and co-founder) Claudia Castorena, because they’re trying to do the right thing for their community.”

Even after the HUD settlement and other initiatives over the past 15 years, the quality of life for our valley’s migrant-worker community needs improvement.

“There is an ongoing need for food. Right now, every Thursday, we have between 300 and 500 families who come to get food staples for the week,” Gomez said. “An even bigger need is health issues. Mental health is a big issue on this side of the valley. Our people need rental assistance and utility assistance. Some of the farmworkers work hard their entire lives to put food on our tables, but now they’re retired and receive no government assistance, because they’ve been undocumented. We encounter so many different problems and situations with this population. We can only do so much.”

If you’d like to contribute to the success of Plaza Esperanza—the Galilee Center is in special need of shampoo, soaps and towels (white towels are preferred because they’re easier to wash), as well as toothbrushes, toothpaste and small bottles of mouthwash—call the Galilee Center at 760-396-9100, or visit galileecenter.org.

Published in Local Issues

Dear Readers: The Mexican wants to beat you to the carne asada case this Labor Day fin de semana, so behold two oldies but goodies I amazingly haven't yet passed off as new in this columna. The first one is extant and one of the favorite questions the Mexican has ever got; for the second respuesta, I've added some new thoughts at the end, given it dates to 2007, yet the question is, like the Mexican lust for gabachas, eternal.

Enjoy, and eat 11 tacos de chorizo for your favorite Mexican, wontcha?

Dear Mexican: Whatever happened to the “lazy Mexican"? Now all I hear is that they’re taking our jobs.

Ronnie Racist

Dear Gabacho: Isn't that the stupidest paradox? Really: How can someone simultaneously be a yeoman and a layabout, unless he's Shaquille O'Neal?

But accusing ethnics of being both is America's most cherished immigrant insult. Every group felt its contradictory sting: Chinese (opium smokers or railroad coolies), Irish (drunks or ward bosses), Scandinavians (oafs or Vikings), Italians (slum dwellers or Mafiosi), Jews (rag-picking parasites or international bankers) and now Mexicans.

The insult's popularity draws its venom from our Puritan forefathers, who considered life outside of labor sin. It's a miracle the phrase on Auschwitz's gate, Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Brings Freedom), isn't inscribed on the Capitol Dome. What's strange, though, is how modern-day gabachos forgot the Protestant work ethic long ago; meanwhile, immigrants continue to pick up Max Weber's flame without forgetting to enjoy life. Bested in both works and pleasure, gabachos seethe, grow fat and elect evangelicals—and don't get me started about faith without works and its relationship to American sloth.

I had a heated discussion in my van pool with a couple of gringos in which they made a comment that immigration (both legal and illegal) needs to stop. I replied jokingly, "Then who will take our orders at McDonald's, or work in the fields?" They had the nerve to tell me there are Americans willing to work those jobs, especially in the fields. I laughed. Wasn't there a study a couple of years ago in which they sent Americans who were collecting unemployment to pick strawberries, and they all quit within a week?

Pocha From the Central California Coast

Dear Gabacho: Many readers have asked the Mexican about the study you cite, but I've yet to verify its existence. This makes me believe it's an urban legend along the lines of successful Guatemalans, or Mexican women taking it up the ass to keep their virginity. Besides, who needs a mythical study proving gabachos don't work in agriculture when the government has documented this phenomenon?

Consider the Department of Labor's 2005 National Agricultural Workers survey. The finding that's pertinent to us: 83 percent of America's agricultural workers identified as "Hispanic," and Mexicans constituted the vast majority of that figure. Gabachos, meanwhile, accounted for only 3 pinche percent of all fruit and vegetable gatherers. Many factors besides laziness can explain why gabachos won't take these jobs—terrible wages and working conditions, for example, plus better employment opportunities for English speakers—but the fact remains that gabachos and crop-picking go together as well as Mexicans and la migra.

So, want to save America from the Aztlanistas, gabachos? Head for the fields and groves; wrap a bandanna around your face to fend off the pesticides; and start picking. And make sure there are no bruises on the fruit, lest the foreman dock you an hour's pay.

Modern-day coda: This is exactly what hasn't happened in the years since, which just happen to fall under the Great Recession. Farmers have BEGGED Americans to pick their crops because of a shortage of Mexican workers—and nothing.

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