Ask a Mexican

Why Do Mexicans Look Down on Chicanos?

Dear Mexican: I was born in los estados unidos, my father is Tamaulipas and my mother is a third-generation Chicana. Being married to a mexicano, we recently vacationed in his hometown of Apatzingan, Michoacán. It was my first time meeting my in-laws and everyone from his colonia. It seems I got the evil stare-down and was being asked all kinds of questions to prove my mexicanana-ness. They couldn't wait for me to fuck up a word in Spanish and asked if I cooked, liked banda music and knew how to make tortillas. I answered that I work full time, make an OK mole de pollo, like all kinds of music except for banda and that I buy my tortillas from the supermarket.

I got the impression it wasn't enough. After expressing this to my husband, all he could say was that I am not a Mexican, I am a Chicana, and that's different. Will I never be seen as an equal by my Mexican in-laws, or will they eventually see that the only difference between us is my mom gave birth to me north of the frontera? I can handle discrimination from gabachos or any other race but this is really unjust. Why do men and women from Mexico seem to consider themselves superior to Chicanos?

—Puzzled Chicana

Dear Pocha: Next time some wab gives you grief about not being Mexican enough, just tell them you have the best of both worlds: You're Mexican AND American — while they're just ... Mexicans.

I hear a lot of accordion-heavy music on Spanish-language radio. Do Mexican women go crazy for accordionists like white girls do for guitarists? Can my musical skills translate into muchos mujeres?

—A 40 and an Accordion

Dear Gabacho: Time was when the accordion player was the papi chulo of the Mexican regional music world, but tuba players have usurped the position in the past couple of years for banda music and that horrible-sounding banda-conjunto norteño pendejada. Unfortunately, the instrument's elevated status has led to a rash of tuba thefts from high schools and junior highs by aspiring tuba players who usually target Mexican-heavy schools and therefore screw over youngsters whose band departments can't afford tubas. Moral of the story? As the question before, sometimes, the worst enemy of Mexicans are ... Mexicans.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano