Dear Mexican: I walked into Carl's Jr. the other day and gazed at the dozen middle-aged women of Mexican descent hustling and bustling around the kitchen. A flawless performance, yet I couldn't help but think of my days as a youth and the responsibility I learned from my first job. Do you think the youth of today have had less of a chance to procure a decent work ethic because most of today's minimum-wage jobs are occupied by immigrants (both legal and illegal)? Put simply: If I lived a stone's throw from Canada and the minimum wage there was $14 an hour, I might go there to work and send all the money back to my family in the U.S. But I wouldn't think it was right.
Dear Mick: Blaming Mexicans for the flojo-ness of millennials? That's the latest cant of Know Nothings, especially during the Great Recession. And for once, it's based on facts: Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employment for sixteen-to-nineteen-year-olds is at its lowest level since World War II — when we sent lazy teenagers off to fight Hitler and Hirohito — and pointed the finger at immigrants. But now we get to the issue that the right never wants to acknowledge in their illegals rants: capitalism. It's not the immigrants who told companies to depress wages and break unions to hire them; that's the captains of industry seeking to make as much money as possible. It's not the immigrants who force consumers to buy from rapacious corporations; that's all on the plates of gabachos who want the cheapest products possible. And it's not a fair system, but it ain't the immigrants who insist on free-market capitalism; that's all America, chulo. Finally, spare us your hypothetical fretting about taking away jobs from others: Your mick ancestors sure as hell didn't care when they were robbing jobs from the Dutch.
Dear Mexican: I am a gabacha who lives in L.A. My aunt, whom I love, is from Argentina but spends mucho energy going on and on about how her ancestors settled there from France and how, therefore, she is actually white. (While I don't have access to her Ancestry.com profile, she and her children look as brown as many of the Mexicans I know.) Recently, her son has been applying for jobs and has gotten turned down, and he blames not being hired on "all the quotas" there are for hiring people of color. Is it just my aunt and her kids, or do all Argentines take pains to distance themselves from the rest of Latin America? I also don't get why, if my cousin really thinks quotas are why people are getting hired, he wouldn't play the race card and identify as "Hispanic," since he could legitimately do so. Sorry — I know your expertise is on Mexico and not Argentina, but there is no ¡Ask an Argentine! column for me to write to.
Blood Sausage Lover
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Dear Gabacha: Even though I ain't a carajo, I know enough about them to qualify as an expert. I once nearly dated one, I think Messi is God, and my compañera Aura Bogado blasts Know Nothings away over at The Nation and Colorlines. And while Argentines do think they're superior to all Latinos, what Latinos don't? I've always felt bad for them — from Perón to the Dirty War to Menem to Messi not being able to do anything during the World Cup, their string of bad luck makes them the Mexicans of the Pampas, with chimichurri instead of salsa and men who are far more fey.