Why Do Americans Call Mexicans "Illegal"?

And what do Mexicans think of Koreans?

Dear Mexican: These days, using the word "nigger" is considered so offensive that we now use the term "N-word" in its place. Of course, never mind that African-Americans use it amongst themselves as a term of endearment, pero esa es una historia para un otro dia. Sin embargo, it raises a pregunta for me: Por que no one uses "B-word" for "beaner," "W-word" for "wetback," and "S-word" for "spick?"

While I don't advocate the use of ANY ethnic slur, I find it curious/interesting that similar "abbreviations" (like N-word) don't exist for those used to refer to Mexicans, and I'd like to know your take on this. (Of course I'll admit that those "abbreviations" may exist, and I haven't heard about them yet.)

—P.C., But not a Pendejo

Dear Gabacho: The three anti-Mexi slurs you used are so 1950s — the only people who use those words nowadays are old gabachos and Alabamans. No need to ameliorate those, anymore so than mick, dago, chink, Mohammedan or square head. Besides, you forgot the most important abbreviated euphemism right now: the I-word, for "illegal" when referring to undocumented people. A campaign run by the always-chingón Applied Research Center (publishers of the even-more-chingón magazine, Colorlines) is seeking that everyone stop using the term "illegal" outright, or at the least resort to using the awkward I-word stand-in. The only people who use that term, unfortunately, are Aztlanistas of all ethnicities, while the N-word term has become part of mainstream culture. (Its first appearance in the mainstream media, by the way, dates to a 1987 St. Petersburg Time article, while the term seems to date back to PC pendejos in charge of HR relations for the government during the early 1980s).

What's the difference, then, between the public's reticent acceptance of using the N-word for nigger while completely ignoring the I-word campaign? Easy: One term has centuries of nasty history behind it involving slavery, race, lynching and all other sorts of nastiness, while illegal as a stand-in for "Mexican" only dates back to the 1950s — the earliest reference I could find to illegals being used as a noun to refer to undocumented Mexicans is a 1951 Los Angeles Times story quoting a government official about the Mexican waves then invading California. Before that, America actually cheered on "illegals" invading a sovereign land: the Jews who tried to illegally enter the British Mandate for Palestine before the establishment of Israel were called "illegals" by the press, and there was even a 1948 documentary called The Illegals based on the subject. Of course, that's ancient history for Americans, who never liked to be reminded of their double standards, especially when they involve Mexicans. Besides, America always needs ethnic slurs to toss around and make itself feel better — and while the era of nigger is largely over, the days of illegal are just beginning. Go us!

As a Korean-American daughter of an illegal-immigrant (Mexican) employer, I'm very curious to know what Mexicans think of us. (I have a feeling that the answer is going to be less than shining.)

—Hangul Heina

Dear Chinita: We have no real beef with Koreans, other than you stole our tacos.

GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK: The "Drop the I-Word" campaign, of course. The Mexican doesn't have a problem with using illegal — reappropriation, cabrones! — but I do support the ARC's campaign, because they're righteous broders who do good work. Visit droptheiword.com for more information.

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

 
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4 comments
Lily Pad2713
Lily Pad2713

This to inform you of a person living and working in the United States illegally.The names that this person assumes are as follows: Gabby Vega, Gabriela Sanchez (her niece), Karla P. Durazo (her aunt), Patty Durazo (her sister),Julieta Sanchez (her aunt), Patty/Patricia Sanchez (her sister/her niece) Rocio Sanchez (her sister), Mayra Viramontes (her cousin), Karen Durazo (her cousin),Kenya Durazo (her cousin), Karina Sanchez (her cousin). All of the names assumed by her can be substantiated through her facebook account which is under the names Gabby Vega & Gabby Sanchez. Her Employer (who is married to Elona Shaw) whom she is having an affair with is: Dr. Larry Stark 3201 W. Peoria Ave # A-100 Phoenix, AZ 85029. Her assumed Social Security # is her Aunt’s Soc. Sec. # 611-32-7757 (Karla P.Durazo) who actually lives in California. The birthdates used May 17, 1968 & March 26, 1972 etc… She drives a pathfinder with AZ lic. # AHT4587. Her address is/was: 2220 W. Mission Ln. #1095 Phoenix, AZ 85017 SRP Acct # 919-863-000 Her Phone # is/was: 602-628-3116 (All compliments of Dr. Larry Stark including Breast implants, plastic surgery, Full Medical & Dental, Gym membership etc…). This young woman has made it easier for other illegals to obtain medications including narcotics and evade citizenship tests through the Doctors office that she works/worked in. Also supplying them with false identification and documentation. I am very concerned about the illegal activities (Document Fraud, Identity Theft,Conducting crimes in America) that she has ben involved in. Why is she still here and why hasn't she been sent back to Mexico?

Concerned Citizen

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

All African Americans DO NOT use the N word.

Guestperson
Guestperson

This column never fails to bring the bigotry and racism.

The word "illegal" is used because if you are here in the USA without permission from the govermnent, then you are here "illegally". It doesn't make a difference to me WHERE you originally came from.

This racist "journalist" would do better to work with the people of Mexico to bring down the levels of corruption and gang violence in their own country rather than encourage people to break our laws and call white people racist for pointing that situation out.

Legal American
Legal American

Americans call illegals illegal because when they get here ilegally they then are illegal. Sometimes when here illegally they do shit like this: http://www.wfaa.com/news/local...

My nomination for BAD ILLEGAL MEXICAN OF THE WEEK is Jose 'Illegal' Sofuentes.

 
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