Ask a Mexican

Ask a Mexican!

Dear Mexican,

I welcome the inclusion of a nice big scoop of chopped habaneros in the bland casserole that is America. Must admit, however, it gave me pause the other day when I saw an all-too-typical familia of recent arrivals at K-Mart: mom, pop and four kids less than 5 years old—nine months and a day apart, tops—with another one or two in the oven. I have problems with any culture that thinks they've got the green light from God to breed like flies and then brings that philosophy to our rapidly despoiling country. If Bach were alive today, I'd say, "Nice fugue. Now what's with the 20 kids, asshole?" In the past, we've seen the same multiplying mindset in immigrants from other Catholic countries (hello, Kennedys!), but it seems with assimilation and the concurrent increase in prosperity, their fertility rates take a nosedive after two or three generations. Will Jesús and María someday wake up and realize they no longer need six sons to scratch in the dirt to survive—or the eight daughters that came along while they were trying for sons?

—Árbol Abrazar

Dear Tree to Hug,

You must not enjoy that spicy casserole too much since you compare Mexicans to maggots, ¿qué no? Nevertheless, even a blind pig finds the jalapeño once in a while. A 2002 study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that while first-generation Mexican and Central American women in California averaged about 2.4 children, those in the second generation only birthed about 1.4 niños. Strangely, third-generation Mexican women averaged bigger litters than the second, an anomaly that the PPIC report attributed to—I'm not making this up—how mujeres identify themselves. "It is likely that women who identify as of Mexican or Central American ancestry," researchers Laura E. Hill and Hans P. Johnson say, "have higher fertility than women who have at least one grandparent born in Mexico or Central America but who do not identify as of Mexican or Central American ancestry." The Mexican has a more plausible theory: Third-generation mexicanas must deal with sluttier morals and the indefatigable Mexican spermatozoa, a war as Sisyphean as our latest Operation Wetback.

After asking my dad about black people in Mexico, it almost seemed as if Mexicans don't like speaking about black people in their country. I think it's strange that Mexico, unlike many other Latin American countries, doesn't have a big black community, and the blacks that it does have seem to be shunned. Are we Mexicans racist toward black people?

Ay Mami, Que Será Lo Que Tiene el Negro

Dear Wab,

In a word, . But Mexican racism toward negritos is different than the kind practiced by gabachos. Although the Spaniards imported hundreds of thousands of African slaves to Mexico, most of them either died off or jumped into the country's mestizaje with gusto. Mexico's African community has never been particularly large or distinctive as a result: The current count is about 1 percent of Mexico's 105 million souls, and most live in the coastal states of Guerrero and Veracruz. With such a small population in a country where white means might, modern-day Afro-Mexicans don't encounter the type of oppression experienced by blacks in the United States. Really, the worst stings they suffer are mass-media depictions as Sambo-like caricatures. The best example remains Memín Pingüin, a beloved, virtuous comic book character who looks like a gorilla with a hat. But the times, as Bob Dylan once howled, are cambiando. One of Univisión's current telenovelas, Destilando Amor (Distilling Love) recently featured a subplot involving the daughter of a white-as-snow Mexican family dating an Afro-Mexican. The positive portrayal of the negrito in Destilando Amor means there's hope for Mexicans to become as politically correct as gabachos.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano

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