Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Dear Mexican: We're in state testing this week at the high school where I teach. After the students finish a section, they can only sit and read, or just sit. I did an experiment: I chose the cholo-est, tattooed, pierced nonreaders and dropped your book on their desks. The students that never read were reading for 45 minutes straight. They were seeing words that they use every day in print for the first time. They had as much fun with the glossary as with the questions. They were sharing, laughing and discussing what they read. Then I set the hook: “We'll be using that book in my Chicano Studies class.” Best recruiting tool ever.

That's my personal copy, and it’s getting beat up. I'll be ordering more for the classroom. Thanks again: you have made my job much easier.

Maestro Man

Dear Gabacho: It’s stories like yours that make writing this column worth all the hate mail. The próxima question, on the other hand …

I'm a 23-year-old Mexican girl in my second year at a California state university, and I work part-time at a hospital. I’m dating a white boy who is 25, who works a minimum-wage job and who graduated with a GED. We have been dating for more than a year now, but when we were about six months into the relationship, we decided to move out together. Due to our financial difficulties, we had to move back in with our parents. Now, my traditional father is almost forcing us to get married since we have lived together, or else he wants me to dump him and find someone else who is doing better for himself. It’s so bad that now my white boyfriend does not feel comfortable coming over.

How do I confront my Mexican father? What do I tell my white boyfriend?

A Confused and Sad Mexican Girl

Dear Wabette: While I’m all for new traditions and the exiling of rancho mores to the rancho, don’t discount your father’s partial common sense. Primeramente, you’re WAY too young to be settling down with one guy right now—dios mío, you haven’t even finished college! And while I’m not going to hate on folks who have earned only a GED, a gabacho who wasn’t able to graduate high school when he was supposed to is like a Mexican man who was only able to eat 10 tacos at the last family carne-asada Sunday—a disgrace to the raza, and not much of an hombre.

Not only that, if your dad really was old escuela, he’d have problems with you going to college, period! So pay attention to your papi saying to look for someone else, but do tell him that the days of a woman having to marry the first man who bedded her went the way of the tequila bottle at my friend Gaby’s wedding.

Finally, refry your humble Mexican’s advice, chula: There are many flavors of chorizo in the market, so why buy the first one you see instead of tasting all of them? And finish your education and find yourself a career before getting a novio—the future you’re saving is your own.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Please explain to me why so many mexicanas seem to think it’s more important to stay home and baby-sit than attend school (so that they may become more in life than producers of offspring).

As an educator (lately of students identified as “at risk” for failure in high school), I have faced “absent on account of child care” as the leading excuse for non-attendance and truancy among my mexicana students. Please note, too, that these are not the young women's children; often, they are not even the children of the nuclear family. Consider as well that this is a rare-to-nonexistent excuse among any other student group. (In other words, this does not come up among diverse Latina or other populations.)

Teach Her

Dear Gabacho: I’m not really sure what’s the point of your question. Are you trying to imply that Mexican families don’t want their daughters to go to school? I’m hearing nowadays in education circles concern about how Mexican teenage boys are falling behind their hermanas in educational attainment. Do you know for a fact that those girls are taking care of kids at home?

I’m not trying to deny or excuse the disturbing rates of truancy among Mexicans, among the highest of any ethnic group in the United States, but instead of harping on one particular, imagined cause, how about about attacking the whole enchilada? In “Preventing Truancy and Dropout Among Urban Middle School Youth,” a paper in the January 2009 issue of Education and Urban Society by Louie F. Rodríguez of Florida International University and Gilberto Q. Conchas at the University of California at Irvine, the profes identified high truancy rates as a leading indicator of an at-risk student (DUH!) and did what you seemingly don’t: Ask the students why they’re truant.

They also studied a Boston-area community group that succeeded in reducing truancy among Latinos and African Americans. The trick? Giving a damn about kids, demanding they and their parents care, and making sure it takes a rancho to get the chamacos to succeed.

“Educational research, policy and practice have much to learn from grassroots community-based organizations that directly battle with the social struggles in urban communities,” Rodríguez and Conchas concluded. “Educators must assess the factors and influences within community-based organizations that motivate truant young people as a means to build stronger bonds across institutions.”

Why do Chicanos criticize gabachos while they are in the USA, and when they come back to México, why do they despise their compatriotas mexicanos by showing their dolares? Seems that they don't belong in either the USA or México.

Chale con el Chilango Chafa

Dear To Hell With Chilango Riffraff: The gabacho part is easy—Mexicans of all colores criticize gabachos, because the Virgin of Guadalupe told us to.

As for the criticizing Mexicans in Mexico: They’re just learning from the natives, who never miss a moment to trash Mexicans who live in el Norte and their children as somehow lesser than Mexicans who live in Mexico. All we ever did? Save Mexico’s ass from the Third World over the past 30 years with our billions of dollars in remittances.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: About six years ago, my wife and I adopted a little baby boy. He is “pure” mestizo, and we are complete wabs. I’m a little dark because of my mixed Arab heritage, but my wife is a major league blanca.

He is a sweet little gabacho growing up in the wab world. I don’t mind getting the looks when we go to the taqueria in the barrio or even major league stares when we take him on our trips to Mexico. And I can handle the questions from dumbass wabsters. But I worry about the little guy growing up confused, angry and lost because he is the odd boy out. I tell him that the blood of the Aztec warriors and the conquistadors runs through his veins, and, of course, he kicks whitey’s ass on the soccer field. But all that seems rather inadequate.

How can I help him keep in touch with his gabacho roots while living the relatively privileged wab life? Help me, Mexican: This little guy is the light of my life, and I want to do right by him.

Wabdaddy in Texas

Dear Wabpapi: You sound like a wonderful man, but tienes your ethnic terms wrong.

A wab is a nickname Mexican Americans in Orange County use to deride unassimilated Mexicans—think “hillbilly” in the gabacho context. A gabacho is a gabacho—in other words, someone of the gabacho race, the race that wants to deport wabs, not love them. I use wab and gabacho in my column for satirical purposes, and to teach gabachos new words, so you must’ve misread their meaning.

You want to teach your niño to keep in touch with his wab roots, and live the privileged gabacho life (at least the nice parts, not all the nasty racist crap). Etymological concerns aside, I’m sure there are a lot of Tejanos who are more than happy to direct you to art, music, books (buy libros from Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, porfas), and cultural programs that’ll teach your son about his proud heritage. Just don’t get them talking about the Alamo, and all will be fine!

I’m a judeo (notice I don’t call myself a gabacho) en Norte California, and after driving 1,800 miles to visit mi padre en Texas, I was surprised at the outrage over Mexican drivers in los estados unidos who don’t have a Texas (or wherever else north of the border) driver’s license. Does the USA not recognize foreign driver’s licenses? If they do, isn’t it simply an insurance issue, and, if so, couldn’t this whole silly problem be fixed by having car-insurance companies offer cross-border policies? I know that the idea of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver is frightening, but couldn’t this be fixed if Geico (or whomever) sold norteamericano policies? Is there a law preventing this that I’m unaware of?

Confuzzled Judeo en San Francisco

Dear Judeo: That’s a novel concept—distinguish yourself from gabachos because your tribe definitely ain’t them! Even more novel is your idea of having American authorities recognize foreign driver’s licenses in lieu of American ones. While wonderful and common-sense, the only problem is a matter of bureaucracy and jurisdiction.

The United States doesn’t recognize foreign driver’s licenses per se, but rather something called an International Driving Permit, which must be acquired in a person’s home country before coming to the United States. Since figuring out how to drive legally is usually the last thing on an illegal immigrant’s mind, most Mexicans are caca out of luck on that one.

Furthermore, you have to apply for a driver’s license in American states once you establish residency there, even if you were previously registered somewhere else, whether in el Norte or abroad. In the case of Mexicans, their Mexican driver’s license would only work for so long—and even if they’re here illegally, la licencia de manejar from Mexico won’t stop la migra from deporting your ass.

Best bet? The burro.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m living in Mexico part of the year. I’m learning Spanish, but I can't say I understand it or speak it well. I read several books about the history of Mexico and think I’m reasonably well-informed.

I’m curious about a phrase on a T-shirt in an expensive shop in Puerto Vallarta. It had interesting artwork on it and the phrase "Soy Como la Chingada. Loteria la Tiznada." I asked the storekeeper, a Mexican lady who spoke a little English, what it meant, and she said, “Oh, it's just a joke.” Then a customer who also appeared to be Mexican said it means, “‘I am like the fucked one.’ It's a joke.” I Googled the meaning and gather it means “motherfucker,” but I don't get the lottery part.

Does it mean, “I am fucked because I lost the lottery of life”? Anyone who could afford to shop in that store is obviously not poor. Another site said the phrase goes back to the Revolution and refers to sons of raped mothers. I'm guessing this is some kind of ironic hipster statement, but I don't get the joke.

Retiree Rhonda

Dear Gabacha: Since you didn’t describe the artwork other than saying it’s “interesting,” I’m assuming that the T-shirt was a pun involving Lotería de los 100 Apodos de la Muerte ("The Lotería of the 100 Nicknames of Death"), a novelty take on the bingo-ish lotería game.

One of the cards is titled “La Tiznada,” which in the version I have is a calavera mock-up of Frida Kahlo. But what exactly is a tiznada, and how does it relate to chingada and raped mothers? Tiznada translates literally as “to be covered in soot,” but is usually used to describe a woman whose reputation is besmirched. Tiznada is also a polite synonym for chingada—“fucked,” in the feminine form. “Vete a la tiznada” means the same as “Vete a la chingada,” which means “Fuck off”—or, more accurately, “Go to hell.”

Now the raped-mother part: As the Mexican has explained before, chingar is derived from cingarár—“to fight” in Caló, the language of Spanish Gypsies that had a profound influence on Mexican-American slang—and has multiple meanings across Latin America. The Royal Academy of Spanish lists nine separate entries for the verbo, from “to fuck” to “annoy” to “unevenly hang” in Argentina and Uruguay to “cut the tail of an animal” for Central Americans. But chingar is most associated with Mexico, specifically in its incarnations as “to beat up” (Te voy a chingar—“I’m going to fuck you up”) and especially with hijo de la chingada—“son of the fucked one,” here specifically referring to Malintzin, Cortés’ Indian mistress who brought doom and gloom to the Aztecs.

Nobel Prize laureate Octavio Paz devoted a section of his magisterial The Labyrinth of Solitude to Mexico’s peculiar obsession with chingar and its many conjugations, so I’ll direct you to el maestro: “What is the Chingada? The Chingada is the Mother forcibly opened, violated or deceived. The hijo de la Chingada is the offspring of violation, abduction or deceit. If we compare this expression with the Spanish hijo de puta (son of a whore), the difference is immediately obvious. To the Spaniard, dishonor consists in being the son of a woman who voluntarily surrenders herself: a prostitute. To the Mexican, it consists in being the fruit of a violation.”

And people wonder why Mexicans are chingados

I need to know why Mexicans wipe their boogers on restroom walls.

The White Jesus

Dear Gabacho: The same reason we throw our used toilet paper in the trash—to remind them that even while taking a shit, gabachos can never escape the Reconquista.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I would be most interested in hearing your point of view regarding our raza always voting for someone with a Latino last name—without even considering whether the vato/vata is qualified for a particular office.

I often hear comments like, “If he is Latino, it makes up for all the years of injustice.” But don’t you think that our Mexican forefathers and recent immigrant friends left our native countries because Latino politicians have been unable to govern without corruption? Lately, we have seen what happens when we vote for Latinos without engaging in the issues or their backgrounds—just look at the California cities of Bell, Cudahy and Pico Rivera, where I live.

There was recently a race for one of the most important positions that will actually affect Latino students: a Los Angeles Community College District trustee position. In District 6, we have an incumbent güera who everyone agrees has to go. Then we have a Latino vato politician who is looking for his next big political gig. The Los Angeles Times endorsed an old white guy, but he is a firme vato who has 30 years in the community college system, from profe to presidente. Unfortunately, the old vato lost, and the güera and vendido moved on to a runoff. I’m afraid that our raza voted for the Latino dude without realizing that he will not know how to fix the problems at LACCD, and our students will get the short end of the stick—just like the residents in Bell, Cudahy and Pico Rivera. What can we do to help our people do the right thing?

Tony Villar is a Vendido

Dear Wab: Mira, Latinos are not somehow more predisposed to corruption in politics—look at most of Europe, or any big city in the United States—so your theory that Latinos immigrated to the United States for its less-corrupt politics is like saying Mexicans like pinto beans because they produce fabulous pedos.

That said, I do join you in railing against Mexis voting for the Mexi on the ballot just because he’s Mexi—but again, idiocy in the American electorate is nothing new. How else do you explain two terms of Dubya?

The only way around this is education, education, educacíon—but we live in the United States, where questions like the following are far more pressing to our raza

My camaradas and I always discuss famous celebrity women and how we would like to court them and make sweet love to them! It turns out we wind up always talking about Raquel Welch, Moncia Bellucci, Paquita la del Barrio and Lindsay Lohan. (Lindsay is la reyna of them all.) And we ask ourselves: Why is it that Lohan is our hot topic of conversation every time we talk about women and sex? Do you think she might possibly be Mexican? She is always going to court because of legal and financial problems. Is it that somehow, deep down inside, we want to be her father figure like that one puto sings about? Es porque esta tiernita, fresquesita, chiquitita, y güerita that we find ourselves lusting for this nice piece of chamorro! Can you please help us out why we lust for Lindsay?

And before you ask: If you are wondering why the French name, I’m sick and tired of gabachos and wabs always claiming 1/16 something else, so I claim 1/16 French nobleman with a chingonazo of chile colorado!

Le Chorizo del Douleur

Dear Frenchy: Mexicans like Lindsay Lohan? Sure, she appeared naked in Machete, but I would peg Kate Upton before LiLo as the current gabacha Mexican man crush. Then again, they both are an hombre’s ultimate combo plate of desire: gabachas, young and chichonas.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Readers: The Mexican is currently dealing with deportation issues but will return next week once he builds his 15-foot escalera to climb over that pesky 14-foot wall. Meanwhile, here are some oldies-but-goodies to tide you by like yesterday’s menudo. Enjoy!

Dear Mexican: It seems that whenever Chicano professors want to show off their mexicanidad, they wear a guayabera. In fact, I saw a picture of you in the Los Angeles Times donning the shirt, along with Dickies pants and Converse All Stars. How trite and bourgeois! You go to a café or bar in any university town in Mexico, and the students will think you're totally naco. I stopped wearing the guayabera when a friend said I looked like a waiter in a Mexican restaurant.

Do certain clothes determine your Mexicanness?

Sexy Mexy

Dear Wab: Abso-pinche-lutely. “The bigger the sombrero, the wabbier the man” is a commandment all Mexicans learn from the Virgin of Guadalupe. But seriously: Mexican clothes correspond to social and economic status—sweaty T-shirt indicates laborer, calf-length skirt means a proper Mexican woman, and if a cobbler used the hide of an endangered reptile to fashion your cowboy boots, you're probably a drug-dealer or a Texan.

The guayabera (a loose-fitting, pleated shirt common in the Mexican coastal state of Veracruz and other tropical regions of Latin America) also announces something about its owner: The güey is feeling hot and wants to look sharp.

Why the hate, Sexy? Remember what Andy Warhol said: “Nothing is more bourgeois than to be afraid to look bourgeois.” Who cares if people mistake you for a waiter if you sport a guayabera? Just spit in their soup. And who cares if Mexican university students call me, you or any guayabera wearer a naco (Mexico City slang for bumpkin)? They can't be that smart if they're still in Mexico.

Why do Mexicans call people with curly hair chinos? Most chinos I know have very straight, hard-to-curl hair.

China Confundida

Dear Confused Chinita: The Mexican has discussed the word chino before, as in why Mexicans call all Asians chinos. (Answer: the same reason gabachos call all Latinos “Mexican.”)

Chino is one of the more fascinating homographs (words with the same spelling but different meanings) in Spanish. Its Old World meaning specifically refers to a person of Chinese descent, but in his Dictionary of Latin American Racial and Ethnic Terminology, Rutgers linguist Thomas M. Stephens documents how chino assumed different connotations once the conquistadors pillaged the Americas—and none of those connotations was positive. Stephens' book devotes an incredible seven pages to chino; some of its more peculiar Latin American definitions include “female servant,” “slave from Mozambique,” “concubine,” “young Indian female who served in a convent” and, yes, “curly-haired.” Chino also was the category in the Spanish Empire's Byzantine castas (caste) system designated for the offspring of parents with varying degrees of African and Amerindian blood.

Stephens' only sin is that he doesn't explain why chino took on so many non-Chinese connotations, though he did write that china in Quechua signifies “female servant or animal,” while Nahuatl speakers used chinoa (“toasted”) to describe dark-skinned people. And he offers no insight into the chino-curly connection. 

But it doesn't take a Ph-pinche-D to identify the common threads in chino's various meanings: African blood and servitude. Many blacks, of course, have naturally kinky hair, so at some point over the centuries, chino became an ethnicon (a term meant to comment on an ethnic group's prominent cultural characteristic that become popular shorthand) for both “black person” and “curly.” Mexicans then went on to drop the black denotation and kept the curly connection. Such linguistic amnesia isn't unprecedented in Mexican Spanish: Marrano, which many Mexicans use to call someone a “pig” or “filthy,” comes from the Inquisition-era slur used against Jews who converted to Christianity.

All this wordplay is further proof that Mexico is a country with a racial problem that makes America seem like Sesame Street. The proper Spanish word for “curly,” by the way, is rizado.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: You mentioned in the past that your dad is against illegal immigration, but that's a voice you never hear. Why aren't the legal immigrants and legal aliens “vocally outraged” about the illegals who drive down wages, drive up housing prices, use government services, give all immigrants a bad name, and are on the verge of getting amnesty after cutting in line? The illegal immigrant has very little effect on my life, but seems to have a huge impact on the legal immigrant.

My Best Friend is Half-Mexican

Dear Gabacho: You don’t hear the voices of legal immigrants in the illegal-immigration debate? Republicans trot those tokens out all the time—look at Marco Rubio. Plus, I can disprove every single point of yours—just buy my book for details!

Finally? You say illegal immigration “has very little effect” on your life, yet you took the time to rant, and used legal immigrants as your cover to do so. That’s like saying you’re concerned for the Mexican janitor when complaining to management about how smelly your co-worker’s caca stinks.

I'm an American girl who works at a diner with a lot of very attractive young Mexican men. Most are from the countryside, and only two claim to have been to a large city before moving here. I was constantly cat-called, whistled at and winked at by everyone (including the boy whose attention I've been trying to get) until one of our cooks (and his friend) told everyone to stay off, and that “Ella es MI novia.”

He showers me with unwanted gifts and continuously tries to walk me home from work, even though he lives in the other direction. I've been firm, but he still won’t back down. He tells me that he's the only man from Mexico who I'll meet who won't ever cheat on me or try to control me (I am very independent), that any other man from Mexico would not see a problem with sleeping around, and that it is romantic to continue to court and wait for a young woman, even if she says no, so I should stop trying to stop him. He also sees no problem with our 11-year age gap.

My Spanish is quite good, but my understanding of the culture is minimal at best. I understand that the culture is still very macho, especially in the countryside, so I've tried to learn more about it. Everything I look up or hear is about how all Mexican men cheat, even though I know this is not true.

Could you please explain this culture gap? Is it truly acceptable to cheat on one’s special other? Why is it romantic to drive a woman crazy?

Lost in the Gap

Dear Gabacha: What your describing is the culture of pretender, the Mexican courtship ritual in which the man is supposed to suffer at the cold shoulder (connected to the heaving bosoms) of his beloved, as best exemplified in the song “Tu Enamorado” or the Maria Félix-Pedro Armendariz classic Enamorada.

Just roll with it! And be glad he hasn’t brought back another Mexican courtship ritual—kidnapping.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: In the past, you have defended illegal immigrants by arguing that they (paraphrasing one of your previous columns) will do the jobs gabachos won't do for the same wages. I agree. I have a white-collar job, so I'm totally content to benefit from the low prices brought about by an uneducated underclass unprotected by American labor laws, content in the knowledge that no Mexican will ever take mi trabajo.

But now this DREAM Act comes along, encouraging them to go to college, and my job's up for grabs, too? I already have enough competition from the Chinese and the Indians! What possible benefit could this legislation have for a guy like me? (And you know they're just going to spend 95 percent of their time in school chanting “Sí, se puede” anyway.)

Nightmare Act Is More Like It

Dear Gabacho: I'd rather have college kids chant “Sí se puede” than join a pointless fraternity/sorority or get blotto at said pointless fraternity/sorority parties. All that said, though, you don't have to worry about DREAMers taking your job—you'll continue to have your middle-class lifestyle as these DREAMers catapult over you and become your bosses, because they all possess the drive, ambition and talent that gabachos used to exhibit in college before it became finishing schools for high schoolers.

Better learn how to grovel to el jefe in English and Español, chulo!

I have noticed that Mexican women will put up with being called a ruca, heina, vieja, “my old lady” and even culinary terms, like “my little pupusa” or chimichanga. But when you call her a “torta,” you are in one major fight. Why? What is so bad about tortas?

Don One-Liners

Dear Gabacho: You're calling her “fat,” because tortas are fat Mexican sandwiches made on French rolls.

Want to culinarily woo her? Go old-school and call her a “hot tamale,” or go postmodern and deem her your memela—TRUST ME.

Sometimes when I'm eating a burrito, the bottom end becomes saturated with moisture, and the tortilla breaks, and stuff falls out. Is this the result of a lack of burrito-eating skill, an improperly-made burrito, or is this just the way it's supposed to be?

Chipotle Chingón

Dear Neighbor of Mexicans: Don't be a Mexican and accept the world the way it's supposed to be, ESPECIALLY the art of the burrito. Gabachos are so clueless that they think burritos are supposed to vomit out their contents like a coed in pre-narco Acapulco—¡que pendejos!

A true burrito is an immaculate cylindrical god, wrapped up as tight as bacon around a hot dog, its structure so sound that you can throw it through the air in a spiral, and it won't explode. This isn't even a question of size: The largest burritos on Earth are those made in the Mission District in San Francisco (where Chipotle's founder found his “inspiration” for the chain's burritos), where the Mission burrito is a way of life—larger than bricks, wrapped tight in foil, and never exploding. (Here’s a shout-out to my favorite taquería—that's what burrito emporiums are called in San Francisco—in the Mission, El Castillito!)

If a burrito gets so soggy at the bottom that it disintegrates, then the maker either put too much salsa/guacamole/sour cream in it, or the meat's so damn greasy that it's not worth eating. If your burrito disintegrates, demand a refund—or, better yet, sue the business owner for defaming the burrito's good nombre.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I'm 39. My stepdad—who raised me—just died. This freed my mother to tell me (my stepdad always forbade it) that the man I thought was my biological father all this time is not. The man who IS my biological father is Mexican … totally (e.g. both of his parents were Mexican). He was married twice, and had seven kids (five with the first wife, two with the second) other than me. It appears I was conceived during his first marriage, as he remained married until death from leukemia in 2008. He was a Hispanic leader in my metro area and even ran once for mayor.

What does finding out that I am half-Mexican mean for me? I don't have a meaningful relationship with the man I thought was my biological father. In fact, this news is quite a blessing to me. But I'm kind of paralyzed by it all. Any suggestions?

Brand-New Bewildered Beaner

Dear Half-Wab: Man, where’s Cristina Saralegui when I need her? The most important thing for you right now is to not blame the Mexican ethnicity of your dad for him having abandoned your mother and yourself—I hope and trust that you know pendejos exist in all cultures. I would also talk to your mother about why she held that information from you all your life, as I’m sure it’s upsetting. Was she ashamed she once shacked up with a Mexican, or was it an abusive relationship? Once you’re able to work out the personal part of your discovery—seriously, get at peace with yourself and your mami—then you can move on to the ethnic question.

The pregunta to then ponder is this: How does finding out your part-Mexi feel? Are you ashamed? If so, make sure to tell others that your dad was “Spanish” and make sure to hide the truth from your children, just like your parents did from you. Are you proud of your newfound nopal en la frente? Then ease into your mexicanidad. If you have an English-language name with a Mexican equivalent, Hispanicize it—become a Juan instead of John, or a Rogelio instead of Roger. Wear a cinto piteado, but cover it up by not tucking in your shirt. Say “Latino” instead of “Hispanic,” as you currently do.

Finally, if you don’t care either way that you’re Mexican? Do what all other crypto-Mexicans do: Only become Mexican to get the secret house salsa at your local taqueria, or when the United States faces off against Mexico in soccer.

Why do Mexicans use the streets as a playground, their driveway as a futon and the ditch as a trashcan? I live across the street from 100 percent pure Mexicans who do all their entertaining on the street, making the vehicles drive around them. Is this something taught to them at birth, or is there a class given to them at the prepa (what they call high school)? I just have the need to know.

Vecino de Mexicanos

Dear Neighbor of Mexicans: Crap labor and crappier living conditions for immigrants in America waltz together like Astaire and Rogers—remember slaves and their shacks, Okie farm workers in California's Central Valley during the Great Depression, and the Jewish and Italian peons that stare balefully into Jacob Riis' camera in his monumental 1890 exposé of New York's tenement slums, How the Other Half Lives.

The immigrant high-density blues continues with Mexicans: According to The State of Housing for Hispanics in the United States, a 2005 study prepared by Carlos Vargas-Ramos of New York's Hunter College, 12 percent of Latinos live in overcrowded housing (defined as more than one person living in a room), compared to 2.4 percent of the general population. Add to that the fact that Latinos usually live in neighborhoods bereft of parks, and be lucky your Mexican vecinos play in the street and not on your lawn.

Better yet, be a good neighbor, and join the pachanga!

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: The pinche Republicans are making a gigante ruido about their “Hispanic” senators in Congress. Wachale! Lets call a pendejo a pendejo. Please discuss with tu audienca what Mexicans really think about Cubans in these Estados Unidos.

El Güero Tejano (no Cubano)

As a recent transplant from Miami to Albuquerque, I was wondering what the Mexican's take is on the privileged status of our preferred border-crossers—the Cubans. If a Cuban manages to get his little toe on dry land in the U.S., he is immediately given a new Toyota, an American Express card and the keys to the city of Hialeah.

Aturdido Floridian

Are Cubans Mexicans with connections?

Quiero Ron

Dear Readers: Beyond Puerto Ricans and negritos, no other ethnic group gets so pegged as the eternal enemy of Mexicans as Cubans. If you believe coños like Rush Limbaugh, Mexicans despise Cubans because it’s “a race thing. (Cubans are) just not quite dark—as dark (as Mexicans), and they're oriented toward work.” (Rush obviously never met a beauty from Los Altos de Jalisco, or a paisa from Sinaloa).

But Mexicans for the most part actually like Cubans, and definitely more so than Puerto Ricans. We enjoy Cuban rum and cigars; they believe in curanderos like us; their Spanish is as garbled as ours; we both love guayaberas; and Cuban music legends Benny Moré and Perez Prado spent so much time in Mexico that their tunes are part of the Mexican songbook. (Multiple bandas have covered Moré’s “La Culebra,” while “Parece Que Va Llover” was memorably sung by Pedro Infante and Luis Aguilar in their 1951 film ¡A Toda Maquina!)

What does drive Mexicans crazy about Cubans, however, isn’t so much what they do or who they are, but how gabachos treat them: as gods. One niggling fact: Cuban music inspires excessive mainstream media coverage in relation to its actual popularity in the United States, especially when compared to the ubiquity of Mexican regional music en el Norte. Another one: Gabachos’ insistence that mariachis play “Guantanamera.” Even more infuriating for Mexicans is the immigration narrative gabachos have constructed of Cubans and Mexicans. While Americans opened the gates to Cuban refugees as a Cold War ploy and continue to let said refugees come illegally into the U.S. as long as they land via sea, gabachos have never extended the same courtesy to Mexicans or our Central American brothers during our civil wars.

You can’t hate the Cubans for their special status, but you can hate gabachos for this preposterous double standard. As if Mexicans needed another reason to hate gabas

I’m so annoyed with you printing the letters from idiots. The vast majority of white people don't hate Mexicans. We don't sit around bitching about Mexicans taking our jobs. Most of us don't hate anyone. A lot of us love the fact that America is a melting pot of cultures where we share ideas, music and art, and we just plain love each other.

When you print the letters from idiots, it implies that we all feel that way. We don't. There are idiots of all races, creeds and colors, and the idiots who write ignorant letters to you are not typical of us. They don't represent the majority. There are different colors and cultures because God is an artist, and she needed colors to decorate the world. Most of us celebrate our differences. Giving these idiots a forum is like putting a booger on a Picasso. It just don't belong.

No Hate

Dear Gabacho: Gracias for your heartfelt letter—now, can you please indoctrinate Congress and other idiot gabachos with your wisdom? Because, as you can see with the current amnesty battle, they need it.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican