Ask a Mexican

Why are first-generation Latinos so judgmental?

Dear Mexican: Why is it that many first-generation Latino students are so quick to judge and alienate second-generation students just because their parents went to college and are able to afford a little more? People treat me differently and think I will look down on them, yet I grew up in the barrio and never acted like I was higher than them. The only difference is that my parents went to college to give me a better life. Why does that have to affect how I'm treated among other Latinos?
Pocha Pero No Pendeja

Dear Wabette: I turn the columna over to Jody Agius Vallejo, sociology professor at the University of Southern California and author of the magnificent Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican-American Middle Class, for which your humble Mexican wrote the intro. Take it, profe! "Many first-generation Latinos (meaning that they are foreign-born) are quick to judge some second-generation Latinos like you because they themselves are constantly judged by middle-class Latinos. Most people mistakenly assume that Latinos exhibit ethnic solidarity and that everyone gets along. However, the Latino population is not monolithic, and divisions exist depending on national origin, generation, and whether you are upper-, middle- or lower-class. These divisions are exacerbated by American society (especially the media and racist politicians), which homogenizes and stigmatizes Latinos by portraying them as uniformly poor, unauthorized and uneducated.

"Despite these stereotypes, there is an established, and growing, Latino middle class. But middle-class Latinos must deal with these disparaging stereotypes in their everyday lives, especially when they are mistaken for unauthorized immigrants or when people assume that they are uneducated simply because they are Latino. Thus, middle-class Latinos, especially those who are disconnected from the immigrant struggle for upward mobility because they were raised in middle-class households by college-educated parents, often attempt to distance themselves from immigrants as a way to deflect discrimination. This distancing behavior is nothing new; it's seen among all immigrant groups, past and present and is indicative of the American assimilation story. So I suspect that some first-generation Latino students anticipate that you will look down on them and they thus snub you before you can (in their imagination) snub them."

The Mexican's advice? Tell the haters que se vayan a la chingada.

Dear Mexican: I work in the music biz and go to my fair share of Anglo and Latino shows. One thing I notice is the mosh pits at hard-rock, metal, punk, ska and similar kinds of shows. In Anglo mosh pits, it looks like the fans are literally trying to kill one another, often leaving people severely injured. But Mexican/Latino mosh pits seem to be composed of fans locking arms, dancing with one another, with a no-man-left-behind kind of attitude. Can you explain why so much brotherly love exists in the mosh pit when in the outside world it seems like Latinos love to bash and cut down their fellow paisas?
El Vampiro

Dear Vampire Gabacho: Not necessarily true. Go to a concert by Brujería, the most hard-core metal group of all time, and see what part of your spleen hasn't been absorbed by your appendix.

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