A pocho's identity crisis and Latin America's superiority complex
Dear Mexican: I'm thinking of moving to Mexico. I'm a first-generation mexicano. My parents are absolutely against it, insisting that it's violent and that I should be proud of being an American. I'm not looking to lose my American-ness; I just want to add some more mexicano to it. Is there a movement of people of Mexican descent moving to Mexico?
I Am Not Joaquín
Dear Wab: No need to move to Mexico if you're looking for more Mexican — just move to Los Angeles! El Paso! The non-racist parts of Tucson! Chicago's Little Village barrio, or even Pilsen! You didn't tell me much about who you are, so I'll peg you as a pocho desperately trying to get in touch with his roots and think a jaunt in the rancho will have you being más macho than Chente. (Quick aside: Gabachos? This happens to ALL children of Mexican immigrants. Eventually, we all feel we lack in cultural authenticity and seek out our roots, usually by returning to the towns of our ancestors. But we return with little more than rancho gossip and a teenage wife; we're still American at the end of the día, a fact for which we overcompensate by renaming ourselves in Nahuatl or getting an Aztec calendar tattoo.) Or maybe you're not a pocho, but a child of immigrants who accompanied his parents on annual trips to their native villages, and you have a romanticized view of how life in Mexico is gracias to spending a couple of weeks there during holidays, when all the expatriates have returned to show off what they've earned in el Norte. Snap out of it, cabrón. Mexicans do move back to Mexico all the time, of course: The Pew Hispanic Center's report "Mexican Immigrants: How Many Come? How Many Leave?" cites stats provided by Mexico's National Survey of Employment and Occupation that figured 433,000 Mexis returned to la patria from February 2008 through February 2009, a figure slightly below previous years. But have you ever given any thought as to why your parents left their home country and never returned?
Dear Mexican: Why do you think Argentinians think they are superior to Mexicans and other Latin Americans? Could it be because they have a British island?
Dear Wab: One of the few jokes the Mexican knows — and it's not even a joke, but more of a humorous observation — is that an Argentine is an Italian who speaks Spanish and thinks he's British. It's this supposed superiority complex that gets Mexicans' chonis in a bunch, but I have news for you: All Latin Americans think they're superior to other Latin Americans, and all of them think everyone else is snooty (ask a Colombian about venezolanos). Mexis and Argies have no real historical beef outside of soccer, and our countries are more similar than either side would admit to. They welcomed Nazis; we gave Che Guevara and Leon Trotsky a home. Their caudillos (Juan Manuel de Rosas, the Peróns, Leopoldo Galtieri) were as buffoonish as ours but more homicidal. They waged a disastrous war against England for a couple of islands (las Islas Malvinas to the carajos, the Falklands to the rest of humanity), while our efforts to keep Aztlán went laughable. And while Soda Stereo was a great rock en español band, I'll take Café Tacuba over them any day. So, Mexicans and Argentines: No need to play the superiority game among ourselves. We're equally jodidos.
GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK! UCLA professor Robert Chao Romero is this columna's go-to expert on all things chinito, and I'm excited to announce he's finally published a book: The Chinese in Mexico: 1882-1940, a majestic piece of scholarship that mixes in data, anecdote and vivid writing to show how Mexicans mistreated Chinese for far too long, and yet the Chinese persevered. Find it in your nerdier bookstores or buy it online — but buy it.
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