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There's a bit of truth in every stereotype

Dear Mexican: I have a question from one Mexican to another: Why do gabachos think we know everything about plants? During conversations with the estadounidenses, I will get asked about plants, pruning, how to keep roses alive, etc. I understand many of my compatriotas working over here are gardeners (and the best at it!), but that does not give us all a botany degree. Please help me figure it out.

Xochimilco Dreaming

Dear Wab: Within each stereotype lies a kernel of truth, goes the pinche cliche, and your example is a great case. Compared with gabachos, each Mexican — no matter how assimilated or fresa — is a walking greenhouse. Many of our mamis know about the wonders of yerbas (herbs) to tend to a family's medicinal needs: yerba buena tea for most any ailment, aloe vera to salve a burn, and epazote for a bad case of the pedos. All Mexican families try to grow some type of edible plant on whatever land they can find, whether a simple chile plant or towering corn stalks. This knowledge is passed down from generation to generation if you're a good Mexican; if you're not, go find a tía to teach . Gabachos might chortle at us, since growing one's own crops for substinence is the hallmark of a developing society, but that's fine: As the Great Recession spreads and gabachos who suckled for decades on the teat of prepackaged meals and convenience lose their jobs, they'll increasingly realize that living like Mexicans not only makes life more affordable, but it comes with hot second cousins, too!

Dear Mexican: I realize your column is tongue-in-cheek, but you also perpetuate a myth that I have come to find enabling of a serious problem. That is, the myth that all Hispanics are somehow "hardworking" because they'll do manual labor. Or, as I've heard many claim in defense of illegal immigration, "They'll do anything to earn a living." That's a lie. There's one thing the majority of Mexican and Central American immigrants won't do to make a living: think. I teach in Los Angeles. The majority of students in the district are Hispanic — Mexican and Central American. The majority are failing; they're relatively illiterate. They fail because they are lazy. They will not do the work. They will gladly tell you that. What I have come to find, sadly, is that the majority of Hispanics from Mexico and Central America would rather do manual labor than use their brains. This is why Hispanics in the Southwest constitute a growing and perpetual servant class: because they have a visceral hatred of education. It's part of a white liberal myth that manual labor makes for "hard work" when it comes to illegal immigrants and their children. Manual labor makes for sweat, nothing more. Intellectual effort is far more difficult, makes for success and competitiveness, and is why the majority of the Hispanic students I work with are headed for little better than their illegal immigrant parents: manual labor. The reason: not oppression, and not racism, but because, as so many of them proudly exclaim, they're lazy. So, define "lazy gabacho," most of whom can do better than work in the fields, in contrast to "lazy Mexican," many of whom can't muster the intellectual effort to imagine anything better.

Not Proud of My Heritage

Dear Disgrace: If ever there was a case for teacher accountability, it's you. Go to Netflix, order Stand and Deliver and learn a cosa or two.

 
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