¡ASK A MEXICAN!
Published: July 20, 2011
Dear Ask a Wetback: You and your fellow law-breaking wetbacks don’t like Arizona’s SB 1070? Too damn bad. Trot back to Make Sick o and protest there, see where it gets you. If you’d work half as hard cleaning up your dump nation as you do sneaking in here, your nation would be worth staying. But … you lazy illegal mooches would rather live off the dole. Get the point, Jose? Go to hell.
— Kerns Kan Kreat
Dear KKK: “Make Sick O”? Clever! Gotta steal that one like we Mexis have stolen the Southwest …
It is just me, or is referring to oneself as Mexican no longer acceptable? Hispanic, Latino, Indian-Spanish mix — take your pick. We even have a Mexican actor (Edward James Olmos) referring to himself as Jewish because some old fool told him that “Olmos” is an old Jewish name. Really? On that basis you are no longer our favorite pachuco in Zoot Suit? How can this be? Do you think sometime in the next couple of decades the term “Mexican” will no longer exist? In the future, will your column be referred to as Ask A Hispanic?
— Digital Compadre
Dear Wab: Primeramente, it’s not some old fool that told Olmos he’s of Jewish descent — it’s the actor’s own genealogical research that found he’s descended from Jews who escaped Hungary, landed in Spain and became conversos under penalty of death, then migrated to Mexico with their modified name, Olmos. And Olmos has never claimed full tribe membership: He always points out that he’s a mix of everything — the classic raza cósmica argument that puritan pendejos such as yourself have abandoned in favor of some fantasy heritage in which we’re all descended from Cuauhtémoc. On that note, you’re also wrong in thinking the ethnic identifier “Mexican” will disappear in the United States — quite the opposite. Time was, to paraphrase the libro of legendary Chicano scholar Rudy Acuña, when brownies were anything but Mexican. We called ourselves Latin, Mexican-American, Hispanos, Californios, the hilariously stupid “Spanish,” Chicano, and even plain-ol’ American, but “Mexican” meant fighting words as recently as the 1960s, when Consuelas turned to Connies and Franciscos became Franks. Nowadays, my generation of Mexis is more than happy to call ourselves Mexicans — what’s the shame in it? Why mitigate our mexicanidad with a hyphen or a euphemism? Just like the Irish in Southie, or guidos in Jersey, we revel in our heritage to distinguish ourselves from those boring gabachos who long ago forsook their ethnic identity out of shame. As for this column becoming Ask a Hispanic — I’d sooner turn migra than subject myself to that much self-loathing.
> Email Gustavo Arellano