Down in Mixico
Dear Ask a Wetback:
You and your fellow law-breaking wetbacks don’t like Arizona’s Senate Bill 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 in. But … you lazy illegal mooches would rather live off the dole. Get the point, Jose? Go to hell.
—Kerns Kan Kreat
“Make Sick O”? Clever! Gotta steal that one like we Mexis have stolen the Southwest …
It is just me, or has 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 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?
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 makes it a point that’s 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” was 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.
GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK: Speaking of Acuña, the godfather of Chicano studies definitely deserves a shout-out. Although the profe ain’t teaching much anymore at his home base of CSU Northridge, Acuña still pens pertinent essays, nowadays mostly on the pendejo purges of Chicano studies being instituted by Know Nothings across the United States. Find out why the discipline is so dangerous by reading his holy trinity of tracts: Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Sometimes There Is No Other Side: Essays on Truth and Objectivity, and Anything But Mexican: Chicanos in Contemporary Los Angeles. Acuña dares write about Mexicans in history without resorting to greaser caricatures or painting them with the false glaze of gay caballeros and fan-possessing señoritas—and for daring to write the truth, Know Nothings’ chonis get all in a bunch. Fight the troglodytes and buy Acuña’s books, preferably from your finer Chicano coffee shops.