By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Dear Readers: ¡VIVA MÉXICO, CABRONES! Happy 200th cumpleaños to America's favorite country, to the land of pretty señoritas and eternal economic crises, to the world's greatest, drunkest bola de hijos de la chingada! Celebrate this 16th, drive safe, and guys: Remember to wear a helmet before going into battle with a gabacha, if you coger my drift. On with the questions!
Dear Mexican: On the Fourth of July, my mother's neighbors in Pico Rivera decided to rope off the street and have a block party. She was given a flier that said in English, "Come Celebrate Independence Day!" but on the flip side, in Spanish, it said, "Vengán a Celebrar el Día de la Manzana!" I've Googled my culo off and I can't find any reference to celebrating Apple Day in July. Is this just a made-up holiday by illegal immigrants so they can party down on the Fourth and still thumb their noses at the gringos by NOT celebrating American Independence Day? It doesn't make sense—my wife's family snuck over here illegally in the '70s, and they always looked forward to the Fourth of July barbecues, etc., and the only Apple Day I can find is in Great Britain in October. My mom said that if they had put "Independence Day" on the flier, they would have all shown up two months late on September 16. What gives?
—Ready to Pop Some Picollo Petes
Dear Wab: I think what we see here is what Chicano scholars like to call rasquache: the uniquely Mexican art of creating beauty from crap. I'm talking black velvet Elvis portraits, additions to homes, fitting 19 to a car, the entirety of Mexico City and the comedic stylings of George Lopez—all rasquache. In this case, it seems your neighbors apply rasquachismo to semiotics by associating the Fourth of July with apple pie and creating a new nickname for the holiday, so don't take offense. Hey: At least they translated the invitation, instead of the usual gabacho ruse of calling the police when Mexis start parking on lawns because they invited too many people to the house again.
Why are Mexicans in Southern California professing so much hate against African-Americans? Especially since they are mostly Catholics, and I believe racism is against all Catholic teachings? Who's teaching these mostly young Mexicans to hate and kill African-Americans? I'm not talking about killing gang-banging African-Americans, but innocent people like the girl murdered in Long Beach. I'm sure you know that an African was the president of Mexico, and fought for its independence! So, what's the problem?
—Know Nothing, and Proud
Dear Readers: I received the above carta a couple of years ago, when a spate of race-motivated murders and beatings between Mexicans and African-Americans got the media to do specials, write breathless stories and wonder out loud if the reason that Mexicans targeted negritos was because of an anti-black gene embedded in the Mexican soul. Know Nothings, of course, used the anti-negrito crimes to further push their claim that Mexicans are evil. Flash-forward to this year, in Staten Island, where it emerged that Mexicans were being targeted by African-Americans because of their ethnicity. Did the media push the story that the perps targeted Mexis because African-Americans are inherently racist? No, because that's faulty logic, just like the anti-black-gene canard.
Ethnic conflict in the United States is as American as Apple Day—not excusing it, and not denying that Mexico does have its own unique racial pendejadas, but the Mexican finds its highly amusing at how easily the media and Know Nothings cast us as inherent racists yet don't apply the same standard to our persecutors. What's good for the ganso isn't good for the gander, apparently. Finally, yes: Mexico had a black president (Vicente Guerrero) and a freedom fighter (José María Morelos).