Ask a Mexican

Why Aren't Italians Called Latinos?

Dear Mexican: One thing I find a little antagonizing is the use of the term "Latino" as a synonym only for "Hispanic." I've noticed that you tend to favor Hispanic quite a bit more than Latino; thank you. The Latins as a people, a culture, a language, a tribe, came from ancient Italy. On employment applications or government forms, the race/ethnicity section doesn't include anyone other than Hispanics as synonymous with Latin(o). Where is the room for us Italians, or French or Portuguese? Livid Latin Lover

Dear Gabacho: If I ever use "Hispanic" in this column, it's usually in disparaging terms, as that's a creation of the Ford administration. I barely even use "Latino," since this is a column about Mexicans. All of this said, I agree with the spirit of your letter, and urge you to direct your ire not toward Mexicans but rather intellectuals. It's 19th-century French intellectuals who promoted the idea of a Latin America in opposition to Anglo-Saxon America. It's the love of anything French that drove intellectuals in Spanish-speaking countries in that era to warm up to that idea of pan-Latino identity. And it's gabacho intellectuals up here who bought into that idea in their eternal quest to categorize Spanish-speaking folks as subhuman. Mexicans will only consider themselves Latinos for welfare, Hollywood roles and affirmative action.

When I watch YouTube videos of 1980s music, whenever I sample Italo songs, a lot of Mexicans comment on the videos. How did Italo Dance/Hi-NRG became so popular with Mexicans? Interested Dance Music Fan

Dear Gabacho: Mexicans love synth-heavy pop dreck — embarrassingly so. Sometimes, great music comes out of this amor — witness grupero groups like Los Barón de Apodaca or Bronco, pop geniuses such as Los Bukis or "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians, the greatest song in human history. But most of the time, it's just terrible. Italo dance and 1970s- and 1980s-era Eurodance falls somewhere in between great and grating, which means Mexicans will dance to it. Hell, Mexicans will dance to anything.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano