¡Ask A Mexican! for Sep 11, 2008
One man's take on his culture's stereotypes
Thursday, September 11, 2008
In answering a pregunta a couple of weeks ago about pachucos, I was penedejo and thus forgot to explain the word’s origins. Thankfully, many of ustedes aren’t tontos like me and wrote in with etymological theories. Below are the two most accepted by linguists:Hey, ese: I liked your explanation about pachucos. One correction, however: they’re called pachucos because the vatos in East Los originated from a neighborhood in El Paso that was primarily populated by folks who had emigrated from Pachuca, Hidalgo. Those vatos were the first ones to begin la moda that ultimately became the zoot suit. Otherwise, keep it going, bro, I’m glad you’re doing your thing. –Sacra Memo I appreciated your explanation of the word pachuco to Still Terrified in East LA, noting that it is derived from our reference to our beloved city of El Paso. In East LA, our gente would say, “Vamos pa’ El Chuco (Let’s go to El Paso),” and correctly so on your part, the word pachuco was born. Here in El Paso, we still speak caló on a daily basis– the real deal, not new, made-up stuff, ¡y si ya sabanas paraque cobijas! I do want to mention that you omitted Lalo Guerrero in your reference to the pachucismo that our youth in those days embraced. Lalo Guerrero is often called the Original Chicano and he owned a nightclub in East Los Angeles that was all the rage for pachucos and their rucas and their music. –Chuco Suave
Now, onto a question:Dear Mexican: Why, despite the richest of Spanish colonial, Mexican-era heritages and histories in California, is Orange County so seriously lacking in public awareness and presentation of that history? Sure, we have a few streets named after mis primos– Yorbas, Avilas, etc.– but where are the park statues of vaqueros y mujeres, the replica carettas, the public PA systems blaring “This Land Was Our Land” in Spanish? Is the current crop of Caucasians too cheap or red in the neck to pony up a few pesos to honor the real first citizens of the county? –A Long-Time Californio
Dear Readers: I swear I didn’t pay this guy to ask this question. To make it relevant to ustedes outside Orange County, I’ll limit my discussion to Mendez v. Westminster, a 1946 case that desegregated schools in California for Mexicans and served as precedent to the more-famous Brown v. Board of Education. This is a landmark in American civil rights, an important part of the American experience, yet for decades, the only history book that mentioned it was Carey McWilliams’ 1949 North From Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States. In Orange County lat year, original plaintiff Sylvia Mendez asked to be included in Huntington Beach’s Fourth of July parade (the largest west of the Mississippi) but was rejected because organizers said she didn’t provide enough entertainment! The contributions of wabs to our national tapestry are traditionally neglected outside of conquistadors and Manifest Destiny for the same reason why other subaltern histories get short shrift: any examination forces gabachos to deal with the actions of their ancestors. Know Nothings argue ethnic studies lead to the Balkanization of America, a false dichotomy that never acknowledges that disciplines like Chicano studies would’ve never emerged if previous generations of gabacho instructors did their damn job.