Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath: So now City Plan Commissioner Neil Emmons wants to rename the Dallas North Tollway after César Chávez. Proposals floated this summer to rechristen Industrial Boulevard after the late farm-labor leader—and then Ross Avenue—have drawn too much opposition, so let's try the tollway, he says.

Good idea. One of Chávez's causes was limiting poisons sprayed in grape fields. Granted, he was more concerned with grape pickers' health than the grapes; nevertheless, the tollway is the gateway to the Park Cities, whose denizens sip Chardonnay and Cabernet by the truckload.

Winos aside, Emmons told The Dallas Morning News' City Hall blog last weekend that the tollway would be a good spot to memorialize Chávez since its construction cut through the heart of what was once Dallas' Little Mexico neighborhood. This led to some confusion and anger among the Morning News' hip and well-informed readers, which Buzz feels obliged to clear up.

First off, Morning Newsies, Chávez is not the guy whose face is on the poster your kids hang in their rooms upon returning home from their first semester of political science in the Ivy League. That's Che Guevara. Different guy.

Buzz does, however, appreciate your suggestion that Davis Street or Maple Avenue would be better candidates, since that's where those people live. Nothing scares a timorous gringo more than taking a wrong turn and winding up in an overly pigmented neighborhood. Renaming Davis would be like posting a sign to warn those not culturally open-minded that "Here Be Dragons." (And a really good price on auto body work.)

Finally, please put aside your worries that renaming a street for Chávez is the first step of Mexico's scheme to reclaim the Southwest. ("First they came for our streets. Then they came for our women!") We know this because we checked with Gustavo Arellano, author of our Ask a Mexican! column.

"It amazes me that nearly 175 years after the Alamo, the gabacho intruders of Texas still get weirded out whenever its conquered minority dares assert some type of cultural pride," Arellano told Buzz. "Listen, O pasty sons and daughters of the Lone Star Republic: Mexicans merely want a bit of acknowledgment for the vital role they play in your state—and if you don't believe me, talk to the ghost of Juan Seguín."

Feel better now, Morning News readers? If you need more reassurance, you can visit with Arellano yourself on September 20 when he comes to town to promote his new book, Orange County, A Personal History (details to come in a future Ask a Mexican! column). Frankly, we think it might be a good idea to show up. Sure, he says there are no plans to re-conquer Texas...

 
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