The dispute is this: I am increasingly tired of him making snide comments about how I don’t understand Mexico and Mexicans. First, he has never spent any time here—perhaps 20 days in his life. He has never lived here and needs a translator when he visits. Second, he knows next to nothing about Mexican history or culture. It’s sad that he doesn’t know Morelos from Guerrero, can’t tell a corrido from a banda and doesn’t know tacos al pastor from tacos Sonora. Finally, a lot of what he says seems frankly wrong. His perspective on Mexican culture seems a lot more East-L.A. cholo than the way my middle-class friends and family here live and think.
His response is always that I can’t understand the real Mexican culture because I’m Anglo. “It’s in the blood,” he’ll say. I reply that those are almost the exact words white racists would use to exclude him from being a “real American” and you are where you live and whom you choose to be. I sure feel like I understand as much as a third-generation, English-speaking kid from Colorado. Your opinion? —Culiche Gringo
Dear Gabacho: You know why you’re more Mexican than your pendejo of a pocho pal? Because you’re smart enough to call yourself a Culiche, what natives of Culiacán call themselves (although I’m more familiar with culichi, but what do I know—I’m just a pinche Zacatecano). You also refer to gabachos as “North Americans,” a literal translation of the Spanish norteamericanos, yet another of our many synonyms for gabachos. All that said, have sympathy on the pocho. You yourself note you are whom you choose to be, and if he wants to practice symbolic ethnicity, despite being less Mexican than a Taco Bell shell, by all means allow him! National identity is as fluid as the Pacific, Culiche, and you are the grand gabacho proof of it. Now, FedEx me some aguachile and chilorio, chingón.
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/garellano, youtube.com/askamexicano, find him on Twitter, or write via snail mail at: Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433!