Ask a Mexican

Hooray for Mexico's Mutts

Dear Mexican: This pregunta has been simmering in my brain for a while, and the recent question about whether saying "Viva la Raza" is racist reminded me to ask you. According to José Vasconcelos, the Mexican people are La Raza Cósmica (Cosmic Race), which, to me at least, seems like a romantic version of the "melting pot" farce. In Guillermo Bonfil Batalla's México Profundo, he suggests that notions like La Raza Cósmica are used to de-indianize the majority of the Mexican people. We have a strong and rich indigenous history. Thus, umbrella terms like mestizo y raza cósmica further detach us from our cultural and ethnic identity, and the natural claim to our tierra y nuestro soberanía. And for what? To produce a legally enslaved working class that's neither Indian nor Spanish, but a mix, mongrels, mutts. Bastardo de la Inquisición

Dear Bastard of the Inquisition: Gracias for bringing up México Profundo, a great book that complements Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building. While I understand Batalla's argument, it's also one that doesn't consider the supremacy of the mutt, which is what Vasconelos was trying to hint at. Societies that remain pure have a harder time surviving in this mundo than those that absorb and learn from other cultures. The Mexican feels it's crucial for Mexis to remember their indigenous roots, because the only good thing the conquistadors left us was distillation — but embrace the mutt, as that allows us to be whomever we want and draw from all the cultures that make us.

Why do so many Mexicans like Maná?! WTF, and why do they think they're truly a rock en español/Latin alternative band? They suck and blow big time and are more equivalent to Hootie and the Blowfish. Puro Pinche Caifanes

Dear Pure Fucking Caifanes: While no one makes more fun of the Guadalajara-based quartet than me, maybe we should cut the fresas some slack. After all, their early success with rip-offs of Sting assisted in convincing gabachos that there was more to Mexican music than sombreros and Herb Alpert. Their concerts are now puro pinche parri nostalgia fests that inspire Mexi MILFS to squeeze into dresses four sizes too small. And, on a more serious note, Maná members have donated muchos pesos to saving sea turtles — and who can hate people like that? Actually, a lot of Mexicans. They're more like the Dave Matthews Band of rock en español — despised by the purists as the group cries all the way to the banco.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano