Opinion: One man’s take on his culture’s stereotypes
¡Ask a Mexican!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Dear Mexican: I live in a Northeastern city, and a game I play with myself during the cold, wintry months is counting how many Mexicans I see without a heavy coat or appropriate outer-garment. Believe me, I’m not prejudiced, but I’d like to know: Why do so many Mexicans prefer to brave the elements in just a long-sleeved shirt or a sweater? (Is it a cultural thing, like “I don’t need no stinkin’ coat?”) --Black Urban Gringo.
Dear BUG: See, you think you’re not prejudiced, but then you threw in that allusion to the notorious quote used by my tío, Alfonso Bedoya, in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre involving badges. Now, why would a good negrito do that? You won’t find the Mexican quoting Stepin Fetchit, although I did steal my beautiful grin from the darkies of yore because gabachos demand consistency in their racial caricatures. But, yes: Mexicans don’t need no stinkin’ coat. Besides, it’s not like the Mexis that unwittingly constitute your game are prancing around desnudos – as you noted, they’ll at least have some layers against the elements.
Why is it Americans think Mexicans are all short? I’ve been around various communities of Mexicans in California and in Mexico, and I see a wide variety of height. I’m 30 years old and 5 feet, 10.5 inches, and my little brother, who’s 16, is 6 feet and growing! Could this be a recent phenomenon of all the shorter Mexican nationals coming from Oaxaca and other regions near Guatemala? Because we all know chapines are the shortest in Central America! --A Tall Mexican, Standing Proud!
Dear Wab: I hate to break it to you – gabachos think we’re short because, statistically speaking, we are. The Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics released a 2008 study titled, “Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2003 – 2006” that found Mexicans are substantially shorter than their gabacho y negrito peers. The average height in the survey for Mexican males over 20 was 5’7”, a full two inches shorter than the ebony and ivory. Mexican women were 5’2”, also about two inches shorter than their sisters from other misters.