Quick to judge
Why is it that many first-generation Latino students are so quick to judge and alienate second-generation students just because their parents went to college and are able to afford a little more? This happened to me recently. People treat me differently and think I will look down on them, yet I grew up in the barrio and never acted like I was higher than them. The only difference with my life is that my parents went to college to give me a better life … why does that have to affect how I’m treated amongst other Latinos?
—Pocha Pero No Pendeja
I turn the columna over to Jody Agius Vallejo, sociology professor at the University of Southern California and author of the magnificent Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class, for which your humble Mexican wrote the intro. Take it, profe!
“Many first-generation Latinos (meaning that they are foreign born) are quick to judge some second-generation Latinos like you because they themselves are constantly judged by middle-class Latinos. Most people mistakenly assume that Latinos exhibit ethnic solidarity and that everyone gets along. However, the Latino population is not monolithic, and divisions exist depending on national origin, generation, and whether you are upper-, middle-, or lower class. These divisions are exacerbated by American society (especially the media and racist politicians), which homogenizes and stigmatizes Latinos by portraying them as uniformly poor, unauthorized, and uneducated.
“Despite these stereotypes, there is an established, and growing, Latino middle class. But middle-class Latinos must deal with these disparaging stereotypes in their everyday lives, especially when they are mistaken for unauthorized immigrants or when people assume that they are uneducated simply because they are Latino. Thus, middle-class Latinos, especially those who are disconnected from the immigrant struggle for upward mobility because they were raised in middle-class households by college educated parents, often attempt to distance themselves from immigrants as a way to deflect discrimination. This distancing behavior is nothing new and is seen among all immigrant groups, past and present, and is indicative of the American assimilation story. So, I suspect that some first-generation Latino students anticipate that you will look down on them and they thus snub you before you can (in their imagination) snub them.”
The Mexican’s advice? Tell the haters que se vayan a la chingada. And now you know why Vallejo is an acclaimed professor, while the Mexican teaches at the College of the Calles.
I recently went to a heavy-metal show for a band from Spain called Mägo de Oz. The show was at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena, and the two opening acts were local Mexican heavy-metal bands, so needless to say, the majority of fans at this show were Mexican metalheads. I work in the music biz, and thus I go to my fair share of both Anglo and Latino concerts on a regular basis. One thing I notice is the mosh pits at hard-rock, metal, punk, ska and similar kinds of shows. It looks like in any Anglo mosh pit, the fans are literally trying to kill one another, oftentimes leaving people severely injured. But Mexican and Latino mosh pits seem to be composed of fans locking arms, dancing with one another and a no-man-left-behind kind of attitude. Can you explain why so much brotherly love in the mosh pit when in the outside world it seems like Latinos love to bash and cut down their fellow paisas?
Dear Vampire Gabacho:
Not necessarily true—go to a concert by Brujería, the most hardcore metal group of all time, authors of the single greatest stanza in history (“Matando güeros / Ricky Ramirez style”: “Killing white people / Richard ‘The Nightstalker’ Ramirez style”—even Gershwin couldn’t come up with something that beautiful!), and see what part of your spleen hasn’t been absorbed by your appendix.