Why don't Mexicans compete in the Winter Olympics?

Dear Mexican: How come Mexicans don't perform in the Winter Olympics? What, no talent? Or are Mexicans afraid of snow? I'm thinking both. Also, Mexicans don't do too well in the Summer Olympics, either — they even suck in soccer. There is plenty of snow in Mexico, so don't use that excuse.

Dumber, Stupider, Pendejo-er

Dear Gabacho: Lies, all lies. Mexico did participate in the 2010 Winter Olympics, in the form of some fresa Alpine skier named Hubertus von Hohenlohe, who got worldwide attention because — chingao! — he was a Mexican in the Winter Olympics. Sure, Mexico is no Norway and does have snow, but take a look at the map of the world, find the countries sharing Mexico's latitude, and you'll see that few, if any, of them participate in the Winter Olympics, let alone medal. As for the summer Olympics, Mexico had as many medalists — three — as India and as many gold medals (two) as Argentina and Cuba, two Latin American countries that spend muchos pesos on their Olympic programs. Why the relative subpar showings? The answer is in this joke: Why doesn't Mexico have an Olympic team? Because all the people who could run, jump and swim are already in the United States.

Dear Mexican: I'm a white American woman. My ex-boyfriend (who I have a son by) refuses to acknowledge any of his Mexican heritage. He was born in Los Angeles, his mother in Texas, his father in Ohio, and his grandparents in Mexico. His parents both speak Spanish but mostly choose to use English; meanwhile, I know more Spanish (which isn't very much) than my ex! He acts as if Mexicans are stupid and not worthy of being any part of him. My son is blessed with a tan all year 'round, dark-brown eyes and dark coarse hair, yet I'm the one who sees the beauty in this, not his father. He has said proudly that he wishes he would have a child with light hair and blue eyes. How could he be so self-hating when he made such a beautiful child? I'm concerned that my son will grow up denying this very important part of him, all because his father has a distorted self-image. What can I do to make sure my son accepts himself and embraces what he partially came from?

REAL Mexican-Loving Gabacha

Dear Gabacha: Self-hate has always played a role in the Mexican psyche (read the works of Nobel laureate Octavio Paz for classical insight) — but that doesn't mean your hijo needs to fall into that vicious cycle. Not sure of your arrangement with your pendejo of an ex (dual custody? Visitation rights? Itinerant?), but the important thing for you to do is to inculcate your son with Mexican culture. Sing him the songs of Cri-Cri, the Mexican version of Doctor Seuss. Have him watch Dora the Explorer, and that other show with her Diego sidekick, whoever the hell he is. Indulge him with Sesame Street, which has been loving Mexican culture ever since Linda Ronstadt sang ranchera classics with a Muppet mariachi, as iconic a cultural validation moment for my generation of Mexicans as the Supremes singing at the Copacabana. Graduate him into age-appropriate material (modern-day Mexican music, sexycomedias, Sabado Gigante) when applicable. And tell your ex to man up: Just because he's a self-hating Mexican, just because he got shit from his generation of playground racists, doesn't mean he has to ruin it for his morenito. It's the 21st Reconquista century, for chrissakes, not the era of the castas.

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Why must you characterize the desire to embrace the country he's in (rather than yearn for the country of his grandparents) as self-hate? Why must you write as if the behavior of all three in this domestic drama--father, mother, son--is uniquely Mexican?

Go read novels, see old movies, about the immigrant experience whether Italian, Polish, or (like my background) Swedish and you will hear the same stories. There invariably will be, within the same family, at least one child who rejects his/her background and wants to move on along with one or more who is perfectly happy in his/her heritage. It's got to do with individuality, just one element in the human condition.

If the father is truly rejecting his child because he's not blond and blue-eyed (as I assume the mom is and that's what he thought she'd produce) of course that's both hard-hearted and ignorant on his part. But studiously insisting that her child learn everything Mexican is foolish too. Why not see where he naturally gravitates? Sounds like both parents are visiting THEIR relationship issues onto their son.

You say the father's parents choose to speak English and you know more Spanish than your child's father. That was exactly the situation in my own Swedish background. My mom -- way back in the 20s -- deliberately moved out of the Brooklyn ethnic neighborhood because she wanted to be so good at her English that she THOUGHT in English. My father acquiesced in the move but always regretted he basically could barely speak Swedish by the time he was 50 and wished that we children knew at least a few words of that language.

Friends back in Brooklyn we saw occasionally over the years DIDN'T speak as good English as my mom--no doubt about that. I observed that all of us--those that moved and those that didn't--kept up Swedish Christmas customs and food as well as sometimes attending Swedish dances.

To characterize my mom as self-hating is just plain silly. It's two different ways of reacting to life. When she moved to America she was making an irreversible decision. Said she cried herself to sleep every night for six months and then it was over and she relished being "Amercan" and (she said) had no desire to ever go back there. My father remained sentimental, nostalgic, and if he could have afforded it WOULD have paid a visit to Sweden.

I repeat--it's two different ways of reacting to life. Relax, leave your kid alone for a few months and try to observe what HE does when not pushed and pulled between parents with different views. Probably will select somewhere in the middle I suspect.

Three of us children visited Sweden as adults more than once and found it wonderful--the Smoland my mother re-called as very poor and something like living in poorest part of West Virginia we found (maybe it's socialism?) to be lovely, prosperous, with stone fences--looked something like upscale western Connecticut.