Brown is the new white?
What happened to my friend? She is white (Irish—her only aunt was a Catholic nun!), she grew up in Pico Rivera (so most people think she is Mexican with green eyes), she is converting to Judaism, and guess what? All she meets are Mexicans! And all she likes are Mexican men—in fact, the Mexican janitor at the temple she goes to asked for her number. When she first attended her temple, she called me, and guess what? She met Mexican men trying to find their Jewish roots. Now that she is becoming a Jew, she meets more Mexican men. What’s going on? Do I have to become Jewish to find a Mexican husband?
—Her Friend Who Will Not Convert
Guess what? There are Mexican Jews! Have been since the Conquest, which saw more than a few conversos (Jews who converted to the Catholic faith after Ferdinand and Isabella banned Judaism and Islam from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 under penalty of death) come over to the New World and take out their existential angst on the indigenous. After that, they laid low for a couple of centuries, practicing their religious roots in privacy and as far away from prying Catholic eyes as possible (a couple thousand conversos ended up in New Mexico, where some maintain Jewish practices to this day—take that, proponents of Hispano purity!). This hidden history (and Muslims took the same path as their fellow Abrahamic brothers, although we call them Moriscos) has sparked interest among some Mexicans to research their ancestry, which might be why your gal is all of a sudden getting such interest from hombres. Because whether we’re Jew or Muslim, Catholic or Mormon, nothing inflames a Mexican man’s heart like a cute, devout gabachita.
Some time ago, Cain Velasquez won the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title. Not long after, I heard a lot of people saying that his “Brown Pride” tattoo across his chest is racist, and that if any white person were to have a “White Pride” or “White Power” tattoo, everyone would be quick to label them a racist. What’s your take on this?
—More Marvelous Ass-Kicking
You hear this a lot from skinheads—that Mexis proclaiming “Brown Pride” is just like them pushing white pride, so why is it OK for mestizos to be proud of their race but not Whites? That twisted logic shows how pendejos those skins are. The more accurate corollary to brown pride would be the Black Power or Yellow Power movements of the 1960s from which Brown Power emerged. That era saw historically oppressed minorities try to instill a sense of orgullo in themselves, try to deprogram centuries of gabacho thought and laws that maintained minorities should be ashamed of who they are. More importantly, though, brown pride in its most-common manifestation hasn’t been used to preach race supremacy or to terrorize minorities à la the proponents of white pride. Can gabachos be proud of their roots? Damn straight—celebrate your mick or wop or honky ancestry, gabachos, but given that the definition of “white” continuously changes in this country (the Irish once weren’t; Mexis once were), anyone boasting of “White Pride” is as deluded as a, well, a skinhead.
GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK: Books like Huichol Territory and the Mexican Nation: Indigenous Ritual, Land Conflict, and Sovereignty by Paul M. Liffman are welcome, necessary reminders that Indians in Mexico still must fight for respect, their ancestral lands and the eradication of traditions. Liffman commits the academic sin of relying too much on the works of others to validate his points, but Huichol Territory nevertheless stands as an important document of how fucked-up the Mexican government is—and how the Conquest continues. Well-written, too, and encyclopedic.