Showing papers y bling
I was a history major at the University of Arizona in Tucson, which I believe was part of the Gadsden Purchase, the last piece of old Mexico the United States “acquired.” That got me thinking: What was the citizenship status of all Mexicans/gringos who lived in parts of Mexico “acquired” by the United States, in that big piece of territory from Texas to California? Did Mexicans gain dual citizenship—Mexican and American? Did gringos gain dual citizenship? Was Sam Houston now an American and Mexican citizen? Did Mexicans in the Gadsden Purchase now have to show their papers to U.S. sheriffs?
—Curiosa y Chula
Dear Curious and Cute Gabacha:
So many questions, all related to one—didn’t that degree teach you economy of words? You’re right about Tucson being part of the Gadsden Purchase and that Mexis had to show papers then like we do today. The gabachos who lived in Texas when it ceded from Mexico were technically still American citizens, since they were all really scouts for Manifest Destiny even if they took a citizenship pledge for Mexico. That made it easier for the United States to reprocess expat gabachos upon taking Aztlán, and those gabachos never bothered with their Mexican status again (besides, history major: Remember that they called themselves Texians to differentiate themselves from the Hispanic tejanos). The Mexicans who lived in the conquered territories, on the otra hand, were offered the chance to become American citizens per the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Not que that did any good: Those Mexicans proceeded to suffer through a century of official segregation, unlawful land grabs and persistent discrimination—not that we’re bitter about it or anything. And, yes: Sam Houston was a Mexican and American citizen at one point, but not like he bothered with the former other than to ensure a clear path to dismantle Mexican rule.
I’ve had a lot of gabachos ask me constantly about my gente’s love of gold jewelry. I mean, from my mom and sisters’ semenarios to me and my dad’s rope chains with a cross or santo dangling from them, it’s true! Even the fact that I remember wearing jewelry even way back when we were struggling to make it day to day, picking onions. Way before black rappers made gems and gold in their teeth so commercial, my relatives have been sporting that same look. I’m not sure where I heard it, but is it true that one of our ancestral cultures were the first to sport gold or gems in their teeth?
—Beaners Love it, Nosy Gabachos
By “ancestral cultures,” you’re probably referring to the Mayans, whose artistry with shoving metals onto their dientes for aesthetic purposes has long fascinated archeologists. I wouldn’t call them the first culture to do that, though, as mankind has modified their body parts since the days of the Venus of Willendorf. The whole cosa about the poor showing off bling isn’t anything cultural but rather an indication of class, or what sociologists know as conspicuous consumption, whereby los pobres spend beyond their means on items that have no real value to them other than appearance of status. But the modern-day phenomenon of Mexicans sporting gold or silver caps and fillings in their mouth is actually physics and economics of a different kind: Gold alloys tend to last longer than other caps, while silver is more affordable. Perdón for not coming up with a funnier answer, but Mexicans aren’t always about the irrational, cabrones.
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