Dear Mexican: I’m a misplaced half-Mexican in Mississippi, of all places. The area I live in is WHITE as WHITE can be, and has been for many foreign-hating years. However, I have seen the Latin community more than double in the four years I’ve been here. This makes me feel more at ease, since a diverse culture is what I’m used to. I spent my first 23 years born and raised in California.
My dilemma is that I find two different kinds of Latins (mostly Mexicans and Guatemalans): They are either really friendly and relieved to see another brownie, or they are NOT that accepting. I am a half-beaner: My dad is from Mexico, and I have dark skin, curly hair and the hips and ass to prove it. Problem is, I wasn’t raised as a Mexican; my dad never taught me Spanish, and I never had anything but a white neighborhood and white friends.
How can I get my brown homies in this WHITE town to accept my white-raised side, too? I feel misplaced, because the whites think I’m another “border jumping, job-stealing” Mexican, while the Latins think I’m a tanned whitey who hates them. We should be sticking together, right?
The Confused Coconut
Dear Pocho: First things primeramente: Drop the “Latins” moniker. That hasn’t been used to describe Mexis since the days when baseball writers referred to Robert Clemente as “Bob.” But having traveled through the Magnolia State—I’ve enjoyed Delta tamales in Greenville, tried a so-so burrito in Iuka, and lectured about Mexicans in the South during the fabulous Southern Foodways Symposium at the University of Mississippi—I hate to say this truth: Racist good ol’ boys are more likely to accept you than Mexicans.
Mexicans have shunned other Mexicans since the days when the Tlaxcalans and Totonacs sided with Cortés against the Aztecs. Gabachos? Yeah, they hate us, but all you have to do to get accepted by them is open a Mexican restaurant. It doesn’t matter if it sucks; you’ll mesmerize them into submission like catnip mesmerizes a gato.
Dear Mexican: I had an affair with a younger Mexican co-worker. I warned him not to get attached, as I was married, and then I didn’t follow my own advice. In the end, I made the mistake of asking what his brother would think if he knew about us—and he ended the relationship, because he realized his whole family would be disappointed. The problem is, he means a lot to me and made me feel so good. How could he call me hermosa and preciosa, tell me I was perfect—then end it?
I realize family is very important to him, but he knew what we were getting into from the start. Is there a way to get him back, or should I give up? Is that family bond, which I’ve witnessed seems to be a very Mexican thing, strong enough that now that it’s clicked with him, there’s no going back?
Dear Gabacha: So you’re telling me you’re mad at a Mexican because he did what you asked—that is, you invited him in, but asked him to not get attached, and he didn’t, and now you’re sad? That’s just like the United States asking Mexico to send over men during the Bracero Program in the 1950s, but asking them not to become American—and then Americans get shocked that Mexicans remain Mexican. Comal, meet olla.
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