Ask a Mexican

Ask a Mexican: Are we La Raza Cósmica or are we mutts?

Dear Mexican: This pregunta has been simmering in my brain for a while, like slow-cooking birria, and the recent question about whether saying "Viva la Raza" is racist reminded me to ask you. According to José Vasconcelos, the Mexican people are La Raza Cósmica (Cosmic Race), which to me seems like a romantic version of the "melting pot" farce. In Guillermo Bonfil Batalla's México Profundo, he suggests that notions like La Raza Cósmica are used to de-Indianize the majority of the Mexican people. We have a strong and rich indigenous history; thus, umbrella terms like mestizo and raza cósmica further detach us from our cultural and ethnic identity, as well as from the natural claim to our tierra y nuestro soberanía. And for what? To produce a legally enslaved working class that's neither Indian nor Spanish, but a mix, mongrels, mutts? What do you think? Are we La Raza Cósmica? Mestizos? Mexicanos? Or, as Reies Tijernia posits, are we Indio/Hispanos?

Bastardo de la Inquisición

Dear Bastard of the Inquisition: Gracias for bringing up México Profundo, a great book that complements Richard Drinnon's fabulous Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building. While I understand Batalla's argument, it's also one that doesn't consider the supremacy of the mutt, which is what Vasconcelos was trying to hint at. Societies that remain pure have a much harder time surviving in this mundo than those that absorb and learn from other cultures. You think the Aztecs got to the top of the Templo Mayor by keeping only to the ways of their ancestors all the way from Aztlán to Tenochtitlán? The Mexican feels it's crucial for Mexis to remember their indigenous roots, because the only good thing the conquistadores left us was Spanish and distillation — but we embrace the mutt, as well, as that allows us to be whoever we want to be and draw from all the cultures that make us. Compare that to gabachos, who can only be gabachos, because they have largely forsaken this country's melting-pot past — and who the hell would want to be a gabacho like that?

Dear Mexican: Why do so many Mexicans like Maná?! WTF, and why do they think they're truly a rock en español/Latin alternative band? They suck and blow big time, and are more equivalent to Hootie and the Blowfish than anything else, and should be placed in the POP section!

Puro Pinche Caifanes

Dear Pure Fucking Caifanes: While no one makes more fun of the Guadalajara-based quartet than me, maybe we Maná-haters should cut the fresas some slack. After all, their early success with rip-offs of the Police and Sting assisted in convincing gabachos that there was more to Mexican music than sombreros and Herb Alpert. Their concerts are now puro pinche parri nostalgia fests that inspire Mexi MILFs to squeeze into dresses four sizes too small. "Mariposa Traicionera" ("Treacherous Butterfly") is a legit rola, and the accompanying video of lesbians and thongs is simply magnificent. And on a more serious note, Maná members have donated muchos pesos to saving sea turtles via their nonprofit — and who can hate people like that? Actually, a lot of Mexicans like you and me. You compare the chavos to Hootie and the Blowfish, but they're more like the Dave Matthews Band of rock en español — despised by the purists as the group cries all the way to the banco.

CONGRATULATIONS TO: The Dream 9, a group of undocumented activists who traveled to Mexico, tried to cross back into el Norte to highlight the plight of people like themselves, were detained by la migra — sometimes in solitary confinement — and are currently out of prison, awaiting an asylum hearing. The struggle isn't over, of course, but their bravery is simply inspiring. Again I ask America: Why wouldn't we want such brave men and mujeres — and the millions of people they stand for — as citizens of this country?

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano