¡Ask A Mexican! for Dec 23, 2009
One man's take on his culture's stereotypes
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
SPECIAL NAVIDAD GIFTS EDITIONDear Mexican: Can you recommend a solid, accessible history of California and Arizona so I can learn what really happened when the U.S. gobbled Aztlán? --La Chica Confundida
Dear Wabette: The classic in this genre is Rodolfu Acuña’s Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, but it’s a bit pricey, a problem the legendary profe has told the Mexican he is trying to rectify. For California, I recommend Leonard Pitts’ The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californias, 1846-1890, which examines the tricks and treasons gabachos used in screwing over California’s native Mexicans after the Mexican-American War; Hispanic Arizona, 1536-1856, by James E. Officer offers the same for the Copper State, and is a great chinga tu madre for the Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpayaso fan in your familia. But as much as you and I would like to think otherwise, the rest of this Mexican-obsessed country doesn’t share the same fascination for Arizona, California, or the American Intervention. In all honesty, the only libro people interested in the Mexican Question should buy this holiday season is the one they should already have: Carey McWilliams’ majestic North from Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States. Though it celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, McWilliams’ effort continues to beat any Pew Hispanic Center study, National Council on La Raza press release, or George Lopez monologue in explaining why Mexicans and their descendants en los Estados Unidos act the way they do, and why gabachos hate wabs so. Mixing little-known history with thoughtful analysis and wonderful prose, North from Mexico impresses with every reading, and has spawned a thousand Chicano Studies monographs. More crucially, McWilliams was the first gabacho who cared for Mexicans not for their tithes, cheap labor, fecund wombs or taco specials, but as actual members of the American fabric. Seriously, cabrones: This guy deserves a spot in the Mexican Catholic pantheon along the Santo Niño de Atocha and Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos, and if you don’t have North from Mexico in your library already, you’re no better than a Guatemalan.