Dear Mexican: I’m not sure if this is solely an Orange County thing, but as a high-school student in SanTana, I can’t help but realize that the great majority of rockabilly kids are Mexican. Why is this? Weren’t the ’40s and ’50s kind of a bad time for Mexicans?
Chicana con Ganas
Dear Motivated Chicana: Yes y no. While Mexican-American activists were fighting for civil rights through lawsuits and voter-registration drives, young people were getting into cars, rock and roll and R&B, and changing their names from Consuelo and Jorge to Connie and George, the better to assimilate. The ’40s generation were pachucos, but more than a few Mexis became so-called rebels during the ’50s. (One of my favorite cinematic nuggets is the fact that there is a Mexican in the Pharaohs car club that kidnaps Richard Dreyfuss’s character in American Graffiti.) Of course, all of that means little to the current generation of Mexican rockabillies (call them chilibillies, por favor), who like the scene for the same reason that Mexis like Morrissey, lowriders and oldies: Those subgroups pay strict attention to dress, hair, music and gender roles, and they romanticize the past and violence. Hey, at least we’re not Confederate reenactors, who have no excuse for their fun other than liking people who fought to defend slavery.
Dear Mexican: A mexicana friend of mine told me that assertiveness is not part of the Mexican, or even Latino, culture and that assertiveness may even be considered rude by Mexican standards. As far as you know, is there any truth to Mexicans, or Latino people in general, not feeling comfortable being assertive?
Out in Front
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Dear Out: I’ve been hearing this horseshit my entire life, from Catholic priests saying we should never look people in the eyes to yaktivists making excuses for underperforming students to sociologists going back to the days of The Children of Sanchez. And I gotta ask: Where are the meek Mexicans? Are they the millions who have come to this country undocumented over the past couple of decades, risking everything for the great unknown? Are they the field workers, jornaleros, carwasheros, mineros and canners who have held some of the fiercest union strikes your labor history books never bothered to cover? Are they the DREAMers storming the offices of their local politicians, demanding amnesty? Maybe the parents working nonstop to give their kids a better future? Or is it those who remain in Mexico, raising DESMADRE against the corrupt PRI and PAN duopoly? An unassertive Mexican is like a non-vendido Mexican Republican: People say they exist, but they don’t.