Dear Mexican: I’m not sure if this is solely an Orange County thing, but: As a high school student in SanTana, I can’t help but realize that the great majority of rockabilly kids are Mexican. Why is this? Weren’t the ’40s and ’50s kind of a bad time for Mexicans?
Chicana con Ganas
Dear Motivated Chicana: Yes y no. While Mexican-American activists were fighting for civil rights through lawsuits and voter-registration drives, the young people were getting into cars, rock ’n’ roll and R&B, and changing their given names from Consuelo and Jorge to Connie and George—the better to assimilate. The ’40s generations were pachucos, but more than a few Mexis became so-called rebels during the ’50s and continuing into the present day.
For years, one of my favorite cinematic nuggets was discovering that there was a Mexican in the Pharaohs car club that kidnapped Richard Dreyfuss’ character in American Graffiti—we were part of George Lucas’ gabacho nostalgia-fest as a different type of greaser, raza!
Of course, all of that history means little to the current generation of Mexican rockabillies (call them chilibillies, por favor), who like the scene for the same reason Mexicans like Morrissey, lowriders and oldies-but-goodies: Those subgroups pay strict attention to dress, hair, music and gender roles, and romanticize the past and violence. Hey, at least we’re not Civil War Confederate re-enactors, who have no excuse for their fun games other than they liked people who fought to defend slavery.
A mexicana friend of mine told me that assertiveness is not part of the Mexican—or even Latino—culture, and that assertiveness may be considered rude by Mexican standards. An example she gave would be a Mexican consenting to go out of his/her way to do a favor, especially for a gabacho, instead of being assertive and saying “No puedo” or “I’m too busy to help.” Another example would be a Mexican (legal or otherwise) never questioning a boss’ request—although a work situation is definitely a different story.
As far as you know, is there any truth to this claim that Mexicans, or Latino people in general, don’t feel comfortable being assertive?
Mi’jito’s Padre aka Mipadre’s ’Jito
Dear Father of a Son, aka My Dad’s Son: I’ve been hearing this horseshit my entire life, from Catholic priests saying we should never look people in the eyes, to yaktivists making excuses for underperforming students, to sociologists going back to the days of The Children of Sanchez. And I gotta ask: Where are the meek Mexicans?
Are they the millions who have come to this country undocumented over the past couple of decades, risking everything for the great unknown? Or are they the field workers, jornaleros, carwasheros, mineros and canners who have held some of the fiercest union strikes your labor history books never bothered to cover? Is it the DREAMer (or whatever those secular saints call themselves as nowadays) storming the halls of their local politicians, demanding amnesty? Maybe the parents working nonstop to give their kids a better future? Or is it those who remain in Mexico, raising DESMADRE against the corrupt PRI and PAN duopoly?
An unassertive Mexican is like a non-vendido Mexican Republican—people say they exist, but they don’t.
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