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25 Jan 2017

Ask a Mexican: When Is It Proper to Call a Mexican 'Latino' or 'Hispanic'?

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Dear Mexican: Recently at the local Northgate market, I saw a man wearing a T-shirt that said “MEXICAN” followed by a clarification: “NOT Latino: Latinos are Anglo Europeans from Italy. NOT Hispanic: Hispanics are Anglo Europeans from Spain.”

I may be crazy, I’m pretty sure the words for those two descriptions are “Italian” and “Spanish.” Do I need to start telling my family members that we are actually of Latino descent? What’s the proper term so I don’t refer to all such people as “Mexicans” like an asshole?

Dago Dino

Dear Gabacho: Don’t pay attention to that T-shirt; it’s the mindless droppings of a group of yaktivists who long ago declared your beloved Mexican the biggest vendido in Aztlán, beating even Carlos Menstealia and Paul Rodriguez.

Mexicans are Latinos in the way Americans are North American: an identity of convenience, not a matter of the corazón. The only time Mexicans use “Latino,” like Americans with “North Americans,” is when trying to group themselves with other people based on perceived shared traits: language for Mexicans, countries involved in the Monroe Doctrine for Americans. Other than that, “Latino” and “Hispanic” are labels with about as much use in the daily lives of Mexicans as condoms.

Dear Mexican: In the 1820s, the Anglos were coming to Texas (which at the time was under Mexico’s control) for the rich farmland. When doing so, they violated the empresario land system, and brought slaves despite Mexico’s outlawing of it.

So my question is: Do you think the current immigration issue is simply a matter of, “What goes around, comes around?”

A Curious Anglo History Teacher

Dear Gabacho: More like, “Agua que no has de beber, déjala corer,” which translates as, “Water that you shouldn’t drink, let it stream by.” In other words, gabachos should’ve never drunk from the fountain of Manifest Destiny or cheap Mexican labor, because now they’re faced with either total Reconquista, or a collapse in their standard of living once cheap Mexican labor and imports goes adios.

This brings to mind another aphorism: Be careful what you wish for, because it just might park its car on its front lawn …

Dear Mexican: My girlfriend and I have had a standing argument about what some of my relatives call me. My cousins’ children call me “tío,” and I say I’m their uncle. My girl argues that they are really my second cousins, and I’m really their cousin, too. I can see her point, but she’s a gabacha and doesn’t understand that they refer to me as their tío out of respect for being older. All our white friends agree with her, but all our Mexican friends agree with me.

So who’s right?

El Tío Primo

Dear Cousin Uncle: Que chingada do gabachos know besides how to despoil the environment and kill indigenous folks?

But they’re technically correct on this: According to gabacho conventions, the children of your first cousins are called second cousins, while your children and them are first cousins once removed, whatever the hell that means.

I still say gabachos should be like Mexicans on this one: Even though the technical term for a first cousin is primo hermano, we usually use that to refer to any second cousin or third cousin thrice removed—basically anyone and everyone younger than us in our family.

Anyone older? tío. Anyone evil? Trump.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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