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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Dear Mexican: How come you call yourself a Mexican? By definition, you’re a Chicano, not a Mexican.

A Mexican is a person who was born and raised in Mexico, not beautiful Orange County. A Mexican is a person who is proud of his country and appreciates and respects the Mexican flag, even though he left the country years ago. A Mexican read the free textbooks provided by the Secretaria de Educación Pública during his school years and studied Mexican history. A Mexican is a person who sang the Mexican national anthem every Monday morning while watching six kids carry the flag around. Mexicans know the difference between the more than 150 chiles that exist in our country. Mexicans grew up eating candies with different chiles. Mexicans watch Televisa and Televisión Azteca, not Telemundo or Univisión. Mexicans speak fluent Spanish, not Spanglish. Mexicans came to this country to work hard and have a decent life, not to destroy this place like you and your people believe. Mexicans believe that family and religion are the most important values. Mexicans are not planning to take over California—we are too lazy to even think about it, and we do not believe in wars.

I can go on and on describing the differences between you and me, but let’s just leave it like that. How can you even describe our culture, values or behavior if you don’t have a clue about it? Eating burritos at Taco Bell, going to Mexican parties in SanTana and having Grandma cooking some Mexican dishes doesn’t make you a Mexican.

Más Pendejo

Dear Wab: Let’s run down your list: check (most of my parents’ rancho had relocated to Anaheim by the time I was born), check, check (my dad’s cousin was a history teacher in Mexico), check, check, check, check (where do you think Univisión gets most of its programming … Lifetime?), por supuesto, check and too late. Add to this my mestizo heritage, the facts that mi papi was an illegal immigrant and I didn’t speak fluent English until I was 6 or 7, and that I grew a mustache in the time it took you to read this sentence, and I’m more Mexican than Pedro Infante.

Besides, who made you arbiter of mexicanidad, Real Mexican? National character is never static, and anyone who claims otherwise is as deluded as a Trumpbro.

Dear Mexican: Why do we always think Mexican men drink tequila and sing mariachi tunes, while the women are pretty señoritas?

Viva Mexico

Dear Gabacho: Mexicans frequently blame ustedes for perpetuating various stereotypes about nosotros over the centuries, but a big part of the blame also falls on us: During World War II, a time when Mexico’s film industry experienced a renaissance that scholars refer to as La Época de Oro (The Golden Age), Mexican movie studios produced great social tales, comedies and horror films—but the ones that received the most acclaim were the comedias rancheras. They starred matinee idols such as Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, who meted out frontier justice and wooed the chicas guapas from underneath sombreros—always while guzzling tequila and riding on horseback. The image came from the state of Jalisco, birthplace of mariachi and tequila. “Needing a people who could personify hispanismo,” wrote Joanne Hershfield …

(A note from the Mexican: The answer continues, but thanks to shrinking newspaper sizes in the decade that I’ve wrote this, I can’t fit the whole respuesta in anymore. Support your local alt-newspaper, gentle cabrones.)

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

Dear Mexican: We have Mexican teenagers in my apartment building who are chronic troublemakers. My question to you is: Why do Mexicans break the rules, refuse to be corrected, and harass us senior citizens? Why is it always the Mexicans who are the worst? Is it in their culture? Or are these just uneducated low-lifes? Their fathers are nowhere in sight.

The management here and the cops can hardly keep up with them—probably because they’re Mexicans, too.

Frustrated

Dear Gabacho: You didn’t give me specifics, so I’m not sure if the young Mexicans in questions are merely playing in the hallway in violation of apartment rules or making you pay a protection “tax.” I’m thinking the former, because Mexicans are taught to revere viejitos as if they were their own abuelitas, so they rarely disrespect the elderly.

Since you’re claiming Mexican cops and apartment managers are conspiring to protect the kids from punishment, I’m going to mark you down as a nasty old bigot, the kind who remembers when Mexicans were referred to as “wetbacks” and everyone laughed at Sy the Little Mexican. In the case you actually are a kind old soul, and a bunch of asshole kids are truly harassing you, call up an old Mexican grandma: Her chancla will have them scrambling faster than a gabacho running to the restroom after eating habanero salsa.

Dear Mexican: Why do the women on Mexican television wear so much eye makeup?

Mascara Maven

Dear Gabacho: The same reason American women on television do—patriarchy.

Dear Mexican: I was in a Mexican restaurant and saw a map of Mexico on the wall with all the states shown. I’d previously assumed that Chiapas and Yucatán were cultural regions, like Appalachia or the Pacific Northwest, not states in a republic. I never really liked or learned geography.

In public school, maps always showed North America as Canada and its territories, the U.S. and all its states—but Mexico as a unitary region. Wikipedia says that Mexico’s official name is United Mexican States (in English). Cartographers might say that Mexican state names won’t fit in available space, but they still draw Rhode Island on the map of the U.S. Showing Canadian territories makes Canada seem “like us,” while showing Mexico as a single region makes Mexico seem undeveloped, under-governed and homogenous.

Other countries also have states or provinces that aren’t shown, like Brazil and China. Mexican states probably vary more than Canadian provinces do. Is the snow in Manitoba different than the snow in Ontario?

Why do you think that most maps made in the U.S. show U.S. states and Canadian territories, but not Mexican states?

“F” in Geography

Dear Gabacho: Because the U.S. and Canada are English-speaking neighbors, while Mexico ain’t.

Meanwhile, Mexican maps don’t offer the same courtesy to its Central American neighbors in showing each country’s departments (their version of states)—further proof to chapines, catrachos, ticos and guanacos alike that Mexicans are brown Hitlers.

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

Dear Mexican: Our graphic artist walked out off the room pissed the other day, because the publisher asked my opinion about a Cinco de Mayo advertisement they were planning to publish (and did end up publishing). The graphic showed a row of chickens with sombreros. The publisher asked if I thought it was funny or racist. I said, “Racist.” Later, when they decided to publish it anyway, the proofreader (who is black) had the same reaction—it was funny, but it was racist because it played on stereotypes.

The graphic artist, who is white, took offense over the observation that the advertisement was racist, asking me if I boycott Mexican restaurants that display sombreros. I don’t go to many Mexican restaurants—not because of the stereotypes, but because the food is usually watered down to fit the taste buds of gabachos.

Anyhow, my question is: Is it me, or do people of non-color just not get it?

Graphically Angry

Dear Pocho: The biggest problem here is that your graphic designer thought putting sombreros on chickens for a Cinco de Mayo celebration was clever. He’s not racist; he’s just a lazy pendejo who deserves to get fired for his incompetence.

But to your point: Of course gabachos will never think that their stereotypes of Mexicans are racist—but a lot of Mexicans also think stereotypes of Mexicans are hilarious. Hell, how else do you explain the popularity of this column, or of George Lopez—who just happens to own the TV rights to this column? Come on, George: Let’s get this fiesta started with tequila shots in a Canadian casino!

It occurred to me that one of the reasons we Mexicans are taking our time reaching our academic potential is an unspoken fear of feminization. There is a phobia that education and the mannerisms that come with it are emasculating. Would you agree?

Brown, Down and No Clown

Dear Pocho: “What a question!” responds the Mexican’s go-to Mexican for philosophical insights into mexicanidad, San Diego State professor William Nericcio, author of the scabrous Tex(t)-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America.

“My first reaction was that I was going to write, ‘I absolutely disagree.’ But then the waves of memory hit me, plunging me into a fetid pool of negative nostalgia—in Laredo, Texas, growing up, I can’t count the times I was called out as a joto, a maricón or a ‘fucking puto’ for doing well in school (and this was in a pretty well-respected Catholic high school). Now, Laredo in the 1960s and ’70s was not progressive when it came to gender politics, and you can guarantee that the homophobic labels tossed at me and other bookheads was a form of linguistic emasculations. The only thing that really saved me was that my love of rock, alternative media and comic books gave me some breathing room.

“I am really thrown by this question—I don’t think it is so much a “fear of feminization” as much as it is an embracing of a macho ideal that will have no truck with books (because women were not spending so much time with books and learning, either). Feo, fuerte, y formal was the mantra of Northern Mexico and South Texas—a world of ranchers, negocio and heat (always the heat). To be ugly (think Charles Bronson), strong and formal (which means you have your shit together, solid—not necessarily formal, in the English sense), was an ideal that left no room for bookish indulgence.

“This is a great, great question—as evidenced by my inability to answer it well!”

Hey, Nericcio: I don’t pay you the big shameless plugs for a half-assed answer! Shall I go find another scholar at Scholar Depot?

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