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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Ask a Mexican

24 Apr 2013
Dear Mexican: I have always liked ranchera music. As of late, I have wanted to get deeper into the history, the culture and especially the songs and lyrics. The older I get, the more rancheras seem like poetry to me … sounds cursi, I know. Do you know of a good book or two or a website that I can read or check out? I went to my local library, and they didn’t have a very good selection. And Borders or Barnes and Noble? Forget it … so por favor and gracias, if you could. Houston Honey Dear Wabette: Of course Borders doesn’t stock any books on rancheras—Borders doesn’t exist anymore (and borders don’t exist, period, but that’s neither ni aquí no allá). Most research on Mexican music concentrates on corridos, our ballad form that celebrates bad men, events and horses … but actual scholarly treatises on ranchera? Few and…
17 Apr 2013
Dear Mexican: What do we need to do to make the güeros understand that we come in peace as Mexicans? We are from this great American continent as well, but in the average close-minded English-speaking folks’ definition of “American,” it’s amusing to see they don't understand what it really means, as in: Unless you are from one of the few nature-communing groups of people now dubbed “Native Americans,” then you cannot say you are American; being that either yourself, your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents (you get the point) came from the Old World and hence have been in this land “illegally” for much, much longer than us bean-lovers. So I repeat my question: How can we make these green-gos understand we come in peace? That we are here to live a good life in peace and to take it or leave it: We are here TO STAY! Help me make…
10 Apr 2013
Dear Mexican: We're in state testing this week at the high school where I teach. After the students finish a section, they can only sit and read, or just sit. I did an experiment: I chose the cholo-est, tattooed, pierced nonreaders and dropped your book on their desks. The students that never read were reading for 45 minutes straight. They were seeing words that they use every day in print for the first time. They had as much fun with the glossary as with the questions. They were sharing, laughing and discussing what they read. Then I set the hook: “We'll be using that book in my Chicano Studies class.” Best recruiting tool ever. That's my personal copy, and it’s getting beat up. I'll be ordering more for the classroom. Thanks again: you have made my job much easier. Maestro Man Dear Gabacho: It’s stories like yours that make writing…
03 Apr 2013
Dear Mexican: Please explain to me why so many mexicanas seem to think it’s more important to stay home and baby-sit than attend school (so that they may become more in life than producers of offspring). As an educator (lately of students identified as “at risk” for failure in high school), I have faced “absent on account of child care” as the leading excuse for non-attendance and truancy among my mexicana students. Please note, too, that these are not the young women's children; often, they are not even the children of the nuclear family. Consider as well that this is a rare-to-nonexistent excuse among any other student group. (In other words, this does not come up among diverse Latina or other populations.) Teach Her Dear Gabacho: I’m not really sure what’s the point of your question. Are you trying to imply that Mexican families don’t want their daughters to go…
27 Mar 2013
Dear Mexican: About six years ago, my wife and I adopted a little baby boy. He is “pure” mestizo, and we are complete wabs. I’m a little dark because of my mixed Arab heritage, but my wife is a major league blanca. He is a sweet little gabacho growing up in the wab world. I don’t mind getting the looks when we go to the taqueria in the barrio or even major league stares when we take him on our trips to Mexico. And I can handle the questions from dumbass wabsters. But I worry about the little guy growing up confused, angry and lost because he is the odd boy out. I tell him that the blood of the Aztec warriors and the conquistadors runs through his veins, and, of course, he kicks whitey’s ass on the soccer field. But all that seems rather inadequate. How can I help…
20 Mar 2013
Dear Mexican: I’m living in Mexico part of the year. I’m learning Spanish, but I can't say I understand it or speak it well. I read several books about the history of Mexico and think I’m reasonably well-informed. I’m curious about a phrase on a T-shirt in an expensive shop in Puerto Vallarta. It had interesting artwork on it and the phrase "Soy Como la Chingada. Loteria la Tiznada." I asked the storekeeper, a Mexican lady who spoke a little English, what it meant, and she said, “Oh, it's just a joke.” Then a customer who also appeared to be Mexican said it means, “‘I am like the fucked one.’ It's a joke.” I Googled the meaning and gather it means “motherfucker,” but I don't get the lottery part. Does it mean, “I am fucked because I lost the lottery of life”? Anyone who could afford to shop in that…
13 Mar 2013
Dear Mexican: I would be most interested in hearing your point of view regarding our raza always voting for someone with a Latino last name—without even considering whether the vato/vata is qualified for a particular office. I often hear comments like, “If he is Latino, it makes up for all the years of injustice.” But don’t you think that our Mexican forefathers and recent immigrant friends left our native countries because Latino politicians have been unable to govern without corruption? Lately, we have seen what happens when we vote for Latinos without engaging in the issues or their backgrounds—just look at the California cities of Bell, Cudahy and Pico Rivera, where I live. There was recently a race for one of the most important positions that will actually affect Latino students: a Los Angeles Community College District trustee position. In District 6, we have an incumbent güera who everyone agrees…
06 Mar 2013
Dear Readers: The Mexican is currently dealing with deportation issues but will return next week once he builds his 15-foot escalera to climb over that pesky 14-foot wall. Meanwhile, here are some oldies-but-goodies to tide you by like yesterday’s menudo. Enjoy! Dear Mexican: It seems that whenever Chicano professors want to show off their mexicanidad, they wear a guayabera. In fact, I saw a picture of you in the Los Angeles Times donning the shirt, along with Dickies pants and Converse All Stars. How trite and bourgeois! You go to a café or bar in any university town in Mexico, and the students will think you're totally naco. I stopped wearing the guayabera when a friend said I looked like a waiter in a Mexican restaurant. Do certain clothes determine your Mexicanness? Sexy Mexy Dear Wab: Abso-pinche-lutely. “The bigger the sombrero, the wabbier the man” is a commandment all Mexicans…
27 Feb 2013
Dear Mexican: You mentioned in the past that your dad is against illegal immigration, but that's a voice you never hear. Why aren't the legal immigrants and legal aliens “vocally outraged” about the illegals who drive down wages, drive up housing prices, use government services, give all immigrants a bad name, and are on the verge of getting amnesty after cutting in line? The illegal immigrant has very little effect on my life, but seems to have a huge impact on the legal immigrant. My Best Friend is Half-Mexican Dear Gabacho: You don’t hear the voices of legal immigrants in the illegal-immigration debate? Republicans trot those tokens out all the time—look at Marco Rubio. Plus, I can disprove every single point of yours—just buy my book for details! Finally? You say illegal immigration “has very little effect” on your life, yet you took the time to rant, and used legal…
20 Feb 2013
Dear Mexican: In the past, you have defended illegal immigrants by arguing that they (paraphrasing one of your previous columns) will do the jobs gabachos won't do for the same wages. I agree. I have a white-collar job, so I'm totally content to benefit from the low prices brought about by an uneducated underclass unprotected by American labor laws, content in the knowledge that no Mexican will ever take mi trabajo. But now this DREAM Act comes along, encouraging them to go to college, and my job's up for grabs, too? I already have enough competition from the Chinese and the Indians! What possible benefit could this legislation have for a guy like me? (And you know they're just going to spend 95 percent of their time in school chanting “Sí, se puede” anyway.) Nightmare Act Is More Like It Dear Gabacho: I'd rather have college kids chant “Sí se…