¡Ask A Mexican! for Jul 16, 2009
One man's take on his culture's stereotypes
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Dear Gabacho: Tell them you’re offering green cards on a first-come, first-serve basis. And then diles a gabachos to eliminate the concept of arriving “fashionably late” the way they did the Polish joke.I was reading through the glossary in your ¡Ask a Mexican! book and I came upon the word pocho, an Americanized Mexican. To me, it suggests some sort of essential Mexican-ness that I find disturbing. There is a similar ethic in the black community. The term “Uncle Tom” comes to mind, used as the ultimate humiliation to a black person. I wonder if pocho has the same weight? The pressure to relate to everyone else in your gene pool is ridiculous. In my experience, it often comes from the most mentally and economically impoverished, hence the term “ghetto pass.” The pressure is so great in the black community that black professors regularly use the words “ain’t” and “folk” to prove their blackness. I suspect that there’s a class component in the Mexican community also. What say you, wise Mexican? – Alma on Ice
Dear Negrito: The idea of ethnic or national purity isn’t limited to Mexicans. I’m with you in ridiculing anyone who subscribes to such pinche notions. In the Mexican case vis-à-vis the negrito community, differences exist. Pocho doesn’t necessarily signify a betrayal of the Mexican community to shuck and jive for the gabachos like Uncle Tom does for blacks; it just means the dilution of Mexican cultural and linguistic features in someone of Mexican descent (the term comes from an alternate meaning for pocho – rotting fruit). The most immediate corollary to Uncle Tom in Spanish is Tío Tomás or Tío Taco, but both are pochismos (pocho sayings) with little usage in Mexico, where the slur for a sellout is malinchista, referring to Cortes’ Indian translator, or a vendido. As you imply, the only Mexicans who care whether someone is Mexican enough are insecure twits who aren’t Mexican enough, and some of the most notorious examples come from Chicano Studies professors (but not all of you, o noble researchers of everything wab!) and Carlos Mencia. Oh, and immigrant elders, but their angst is excused – that’s the American immigrant experience, after all.