Trending
MOST READ

Best Tattoo Shop

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy Disappear into ‘Eleanor Rigby’

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy Disappear into ‘Eleanor Rigby’

Screens: “If you’re going to start, you might as well start big,” an ambitious person once said. Ned Benson must have been paying attention, because for his first... By Cameron Meier 9/17/2014
Best Brunch

Best Brunch

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
The Different Types of Roommates You Might Encounter and How to Deal

The Different Types of Roommates You Might Encounter and How to Deal

College Guide 2013: If you’re going to be in a college dorm, a spacious apartment, a cramped shared bedroom or anywhere on a college campus for that matter, be prepared for your... By Mary Caithn Scott 8/20/2013

Best Fajitas

Best of SA 2012: We wracked our brains over this one. Fajitas are pretty much all the same, no? Kinda like huevos rancheros. Our mind then drifted to a certain middle sister's wedding rehearsal... 4/25/2012
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

ASK A MEXICAN

¡ASK A MEXICAN!

Photo: , License: N/A


Dear Mexican: Why do so many Chicanos claim to be Aztec?
— Chicano stuck in leavenworth

Dear Gabacho: You're right. The beaner love for everything Aztec mostly stems from the Chicano Movement, which appropriated various Mexica iconography (the stylized United Farm Workers black eagle, the concept of Aztlán, the airbrushed paintings of warriors and scantily clad heinas on car trunks and blankets) to make a long-vanquished culture their own during an era where they were searching for an ethnic heritage. They, in turn, got the idea from indigenismo, the Mexican intellectual movement from the 1920s that took pride in Mexico's Indian past. And the indigenistas, in turn, went with the Aztecs because they're the Lost Cause of Mexico. There is more known about the Aztec empire than other Mexican indigenous groups because the Conquest — the foundation myth of Mexico — involved battles between the Aztecs and Spaniards that featured copious documentation, both in the codices that survived and the Spanish chronicles. The ultimate symbol of Mexico — the golden eagle perched on a cactus, snake in its beak—references the Aztec legend of the foundation of Tenochtitlan. And Nahuatl words are muchos in Mexican Spanish—for the gabachos at home, any word that ends with the suffix –te (chocolate, tomate, cacahuate, aguacate) came from the Nahuatl suffix –tl.

But the Mexican must admit that he cringes at Aztec worship. For one, all that obsession comes at the expense of other tribes, tribes that the Aztecs probably would've killed or subjugated if they were still around — they were the Romans of Mexico, and I don't mean that as a compliment. In addition, that romanticizing has problematic roots: indigenismo was part of bigger project of justifying modernity at the expense of the past. "Indigenismo was … a means to an end rather than an enduring mission," wrote David A. Brading in his 1998 paper "Manuel Gamio and Official Indigenismo in Mexico." "If incorporation was its aim, then essentially it sought to destroy rather than fortify the peasant culture of native communities. Modernising nationalism of the brand advocated by [Mexican intellectuals] found consolation in past glories but its inner vision was based in the liberal resolve to transform a backward country into a modern nation able to defend itself from foreign hegemony."

But, hey: if you want to change your name from Jose Gonzalez to Nezahualcoyotl Moctezuma and go to sweat lodges on weekends even though you're lighter-skinned than a Southern belle, be my guest! I'm sure your ancestors who fought the Aztecs — both indigenous and Hispanic — would've approved!

Why do Mexicans in Mexico refer to each other by certain traits when they are from different towns? For example, I heard people from Monterrey are codos (stingy)? And I heard people from Guadalajara are usually blond. What about Mexicans from Durango, Michoacán, and Sonora?
— El pochito

Recently in Arts & Culture
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus