CVIndependent

Fri11222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Note: The Mexican has been deported from his job at his home paper, the OC Weekly, because he didn’t want to lay off half his staff, so we’re re-running a column from a few years ago.

Like any good Mexican, he'll return next week with some news. In the meanwhile, enjoy a bacanora for him, porfas!

Dear Mexican: I'm 39. My stepdad—who raised me—just died. This freed my mother to tell me (my stepdad always forbade it) that the man I thought was my biological father all this time is not. The man who IS my biological father is Mexican … totally (e.g. both of his parents were Mexican). He was married twice, and had seven kids (five with the first wife, two with the second) other than me. It appears I was conceived during his first marriage, as he remained married until his death from leukemia in 2008. He was a Hispanic leader in my metro area and even ran once for mayor.

What does finding out that I am half-Mexican mean for me? I don't have a meaningful relationship with the man I thought was my biological father. In fact, this news is quite a blessing to me. But I'm kind of paralyzed by it all. Any suggestions?

Brand-New Bewildered Beaner

Dear Half-Wab: Man, where’s Cristina Saralegui when I need her? The most important thing for you right now is to not blame the Mexican ethnicity of your dad for him having abandoned your mother and yourself—I hope and trust that you know pendejos exist in all cultures. I would also talk to your mother about why she held that information from you all your life, as I’m sure it’s upsetting. Was she ashamed she once shacked up with a Mexican, or was it an abusive relationship? Once you’re able to work out the personal part of your discovery—seriously, get at peace with yourself and your mami—then you can move on to the ethnic question.

The pregunta to then ponder is this: How does finding out you are part-Mexi feel? Are you ashamed? If so, make sure to tell others that your dad was “Spanish” and make sure to hide the truth from your children, just like your parents did from you. Are you proud of your newfound nopal en la frente? Then ease into your mexicanidad. If you have an English-language name with a Mexican equivalent, Hispanicize it—become a Juan instead of John, or a Rogelio instead of Roger. Wear a cinto piteado, but cover it up by not tucking in your shirt. Say “Latino” instead of “Hispanic,” as you currently do.

Finally, if you don’t care either way that you’re Mexican? Do what all other crypto-Mexicans do: Only become Mexican to get the secret house salsa at your local taqueria, or when the United States faces off against Mexico in soccer.

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans use the streets as a playground, their driveway as a futon and the ditch as a trashcan? I live across the street from 100 percent pure Mexicans who do all their entertaining on the street, making the vehicles drive around them. Is this something taught to them at birth, or is there a class given to them at the prepa (what they call high school)? I just have the need to know.

Vecino de Mexicanos

Dear Neighbor of Mexicans: Crap labor and crappier living conditions for immigrants in America waltz together like Astaire and Rogers—remember slaves and their shacks, Okie farm workers in California's Central Valley during the Great Depression, and the Jewish and Italian peons that stare balefully into Jacob Riis' camera in his monumental 1890 exposé of New York's tenement slums, How the Other Half Lives.

The immigrant high-density blues continues with Mexicans: According to The State of Housing for Hispanics in the United States, a 2005 study prepared by Carlos Vargas-Ramos of New York's Hunter College, 12 percent of Latinos live in overcrowded housing (defined as more than one person living in a room), compared to 2.4 percent of the general population. Add to that the fact that Latinos usually live in neighborhoods bereft of parks, and be lucky your Mexican vecinos play in the street and not on your lawn.

Better yet, be a good neighbor, and join the pachanga!

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m an Arizonan of the anti-SB 1070 ilk who has just adopted an Arizonan 5-year old boy who is obviously (visually anyway) of Mexican descent. I want to do right by my son where his heritage is concerned; I have my own ideas about what that means, but I value your opinion.

I’m enrolling him in a public elementary school that has a Spanish-language program (and hoping that the state Legislature doesn’t kill such things), and have a passing knowledge of some of the pertinent literature. (Among other things, I once produced a radio reading of Bless Me, Ultima for the local station for the blind.) I expect we are destined for difficulties from intrusive questions to downright racism in the future, so my immediate goal is to continue to grow my relationship with my son in such a way that he has no doubts that his family loves him unconditionally. Beyond that, though, I’d be interested in your ideas about what a gringo-raised Mexican child ought to be exposed to in order to have a healthy sense of self and a reasonably sophisticated acculturation.

Expatriate Ohioan

Dear Gabacho: This letter reminds me of Discovering Dominga, a wrenching 2003 documentary that appeared on PBS’s POV series and dealt with a Guatemalan girl named Dominga who was adopted by an Iowa family after she survived the massacre of her village (and family) by the Guatemalan military during the 1980s. Her adopted parents changed Dominga’s name to Denese and raised her to be a Midwestern girl; it worked mostly fine, until Denese became an adult and began researching her past, which tore her new life apart even as it healed her inside.

Discovering Dominga’s overarching question was whether full-scale assimilation was smart in the long run for everyone involved, and I agree. You’re at least off to a good start: You’re not negating your new hijo’s ethnicity, and you’re going to stand against the haters. But the best advice I can give you is to let your son grow into his ethnicity. If he wants to identify only with his gabacho parents, that’s OK; if he eventually wants to rename himself Xipe, that’s OK as well.

The important thing is to love him for who he is—and remind him to NEVER stay at a Motel 6.

Dear Mexican: At every family gathering, my Mexican family brings out a bottle of tequila to toast something. Indeed, my Mexican mother drank tequila until she was 77 years old.

My question is: What is it about tequila that brings families together?

Herradura Blanco for Me, Por Favor

Dear Gabacho: TEQUILA!

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexican men always tuck in their T-shirts? Do they believe this will clean up their dusty, sweaty, overworked appearance?

The Mick

Dear Mick: That, and any loose clothing at a blue-collar job is an accident waiting to happen. Any working man knows this; the fact that you don’t is just further proof of the decline of the gabacho male in los Estados, and why we need more Mexicans to Make American Men Great Again.

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: My wife and I chose to adopt children instead of having our own. We were living in Costa Mesa at the time, so we put down white or Latino as a preference, but were open to any ethnicity. We ended up adopting six—all Latino. It wasn’t until after we brought home a 7-year-old boy (now 15) that we were told that he was a Mexican citizen, abandoned here in the U.S. for years.

When we started the adoption process, the Mexican government fought hard to get him back. I did a little research and discovered that Mexico does not seem to want Americans to adopt Mexican children.

I can totally understand why a country would want to keep its children, but in that same year, Mexico allowed only 73 American adoptions, while tiny Guatemala allowed thousands. It pains us when we go with our church to help out at orphanages right across the border knowing that those children want families—and Americans just a few miles away are willing to adopt them.

Gringos Frustrados

Dear Gabacho: One of the reasons Guatemala had such high adoption figures in the last decade—numbering into the miles, as you put it, with more than 4,000 in 2007 alone—is that Guatemala is a poorer country than Mexico, and the government was more than willing to unload poor kids abroad; things got so crazy that the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is no longer allowing adoptions from the country, period.

Mexico, on the other hand, has always been more tight-fisted with its chamacos getting into gabacho hands—a 2011 El Paso Times investigation found “virtually no new adoption requests from Mexico to the U.S. were processed between 2008 and late 2009” due to American, Mexican and international bylaws.

I feel how frustrated ustedes are about the situation, but Mexico and other countries need to guard against child exploitation. On the other hand, them fighting ustedes over a kid already in los Estados Unidos reeks of jingoism—it's every Mexican's mandate to fuck with gabachos at all time, after all. Just pay off those officials with pesos or something, and tell them to vayanse a la chingada.

Dear Mexican: Why is rock en español so mellow? You'd think that with so much injustice, Mexican rock bands would sound angrier.

El Gigante de Anaheim

Dear Anaheim Giant: You’d think so, right? Back in the Mexican’s rockero days, groups like Maldita Vecindad, Café Tacuba, El Gran Silencio and so many more were laying down tracks as political as they were moshable—for crying out loud, death-metal icons Brujería once recorded a song imaging hateful California governor Pete “Pito” Wilson getting assassinated with an AK-47! And who can forget rock gods El Tri singing about wiping their shit-stained culos with the border wall in “El Muro de la Vergüenza” (“The Wall of Shame”)?

But those days are long gone; nowadays, you’re lucky if the latest pop chanteuse even gives a shout-out to the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa. Answer is simple: Maná. Oh, “matando güeros/estilo O.J. Simpson,” where art thou?

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!

Published in Ask a Mexican