White Boys and Booze

Forget Hispanics and tequila. What we're really worried about are those darn homosocials.

The main point of that paper was that different cultural and ethnic groups have their own distinctive ways of consuming booze, which can have particular health effects. One of the things I found most interesting in his paper was a summary of factors other researchers have found over the years that may contribute to heavy drinking among immigrant minorities.

At the top of the list was "acculturative stress...most typically felt by immigrants who are faced with the turmoil of leaving their homeland and adapting to a new society."

That's easy to see, when you think about it. Immigration to this country has always been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the immigrant finds opportunity in an affluent and free society. On the other hand, he is cut off from all the certainty and comforting familiarity of his native place.

Dr. Raul Caetano, an expert on ethnicity and alcoholism, says alcohol ads in public venues are bad for everybody, including Anglos.
Mark Graham
Dr. Raul Caetano, an expert on ethnicity and alcoholism, says alcohol ads in public venues are bad for everybody, including Anglos.

There are things that can help. It helps to find a new American neighborhood that sort of looks and feels like home, maybe a corner of North Oak Cliff with some funky tire stores that look a little like Guanajuato (if the people in Kessler Park will leave them alone and stop trying to make them put brick planters full of pansies out front).

Church helps, for the church-going person. But think what a comfort it also might be to walk into a grand official building, a Latino Cultural Center near downtown Dallas, and see one's native culture celebrated there.

To the immigrant coming up to the walk, just as to the fourth-generation Latino, a place like that would say, "You are taken seriously in this place. This is your place. You are a part of what is official and permanent here."

Guinness United Distillers & Vintners North America Inc., the makers of Jose Cuervo tequila, was trying to provide the money needed to give Latinos a center of their own. The company had offered to give $1 million--the amount needed to get construction going on the Latino Cultural Center--in exchange for having a part of the center named after Jose Cuervo tequila. (It was OK, remember, to rename the Starplex amphitheater in Fair Park for Smirnoff vodka.)

But the Anglos on the Dallas City Council went berserk, as if this were the craziest, dumbest, most boorish idea ever to come before them.

I should say that Dr. Caetano, when I found him, turned out not to be favorably disposed at all toward naming the Latino center for Jose Cuervo. But his objection is to alcohol advertising in all public places.

"The issue for people in public health is not one that affects Latinos only," he said. "Public health professionals have for many, many years come out against the pervasive advertising and pervasive use of moneys from beverage companies to supply groups like the arena or other public places."

So, for the sake of argument and not because I personally believe this, let us stipulate that naming the Latino Cultural Center for a brand of booze might have had a deleterious effect on the morality of Latino people. How much real chance is there that having beer logos plastered all over the Peace Symbol Arena might actually contribute to alcoholism among Anglo-Americans?

In her article about "male homosocial alcohol subculture," the main instances West looked at were fraternity houses and the Navy. In fraternity houses, the researcher asked young men what particular kind of activity was most compatible with their male-bonding drinking sessions. And they said?

Sports. Of course. Fuball. Basketball. Hockey.

So there you have it. The fatal glass of beer. The perfect formula for alcoholism. Big, huge beer logos all over the Peace Symbol Arena, thousands of young white morons with money in their pockets and an atmosphere that says, "Just do it."

And have we heard one single word of concern about any of that from our illustrious city council or the boys over at Belo? No. And I'll tell you why. You didn't hear it here, OK? This is off the record. But according to what I hear, a whole bunch of those guys over at Belo are known homosocials.

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