By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Dear Mexican: I know that Mexicans and pochos can be black, white, Asian and indios, but I just got my U.S. census form. Figured you would be the best person to ask about question No. 9 about race.
I know I'm not white (I've been pulled over too many times). I'm not black (I haven't been beaten by the chota like my black amigos). I am not Asian (I sucked at math and have a perfect driving record), and I am not Native American (I don't have long hair or a dream catcher). The census has been kind enough to allow me to identify myself as Hispanic of Mexican ancestry, but not as my race. Instead, I get to make up my own race. Any suggestions?
—Viva La Raza
Dear Wab: I haven't heard so much unnecessary whining from Mexicans about an issue since Carlos Menstealia decided to call himself a beaner. Primer point: Since when are we supposed to take the U.S. census' racial classification seriously? This is the same clump of the government caca pie that has spent a good century trying to determine exactly what Mexicans are—"white" one decade, of "Hispanic" origin the other, maybe "masters of Aztlán" soon. We've proven a clusterfuck for the government because, well, that's what Mexicans are to this country—a grand, glorious, tequila-soaked chingazo to American racial taxonomies, and anything we can do to further destroy racial classifications in this country is bueno.
All this said, the ninth question in the census—despite its rigid caste classifications—does allow people to decide what race they are (the Mexican picked "CHINGÓN" as his raza, and urges the rest of ustedes to do the same) if you don't like thinking of yourself as a gabacho, negrito, indio or all the different chinitos they list. Prefer the conquistador in your blood over the mestizo? Fill it in. Think you're full-blooded Nahua despite the bigote on your lip and your güera grandma? Fill it in. Happy with Question 8, which has a category for anyone who has any roots to Mexico? Check it. But stop the grand existential dilemma and teeth-gnashing over the imperfect census, banda: Do we really expect anything right to come out of Washington regarding Mexicans and public policy?
I am a güera from the Midwest who married a chiapaneco. Before I married a Mexican, I never had any problems with the census. But this year, while filling it out for the family, I got stuck on question number 9, which asked me to decide what race my husband is. He says mexicano; I say he's mexicano, too. The 2010 census, however, says that mexicano is not a race. Who decides that shit? I read once that you said the census is a crock of mierda anyway, so I figured I'd ask you. What race is a dark-skinned chiapaneco from el Soconusco?
—Confundida con el Censo
Dear Gabacha: From the southernmost region in Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state? Probably Mayan of some sort, so he's an Indian—but, wait! No box for Mexican Indians! Gracias for allowing me another excuse to rant about the census. Honestly, and no matter what Vaconcellos wrote and gabachos believe? "Mexican" is not a race; it's a nationality, and one that even some of its inhabitants won't fully embrace. But how pendejo is it of the census to allow the various chinito nationalities to classify themselves as distinct races, but not Latinos? Last I checked, Asia had as much miscegenation going on as Mexis, as many conquests and ethnic conflicts as the Empire of the Sun—yet somehow they constitute distinct, pure razas, and we don't? Since when did the census hire Lou Dobbs to decide racial classifications?
The U.S. census says Mexicans are white. How can that be?
—Born a Baboso
Dear Gabacho: The U.S. census doesn't say any such thing. It allows us to be white if we want—and why not? Someone has to shore up the numbers and prestige for that declining raza in this country.
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, myspace.com/ocwab, 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!