¡Ask A Mexican! for May 13, 2010
One man's take on his culture's stereotypes
Thursday, May 13, 2010
SPECIAL ANTI-MEXICAN SLUR EDITION
Dear Readers: I was supposed to deliver this column for Cinco de Drinko, but Arizona’s reprehensible S.B. 1070 bill had to rear its ugly head. Big shout-outs, though, to the Phoenix Suns for coming out en masse against the resolution, and the city of Tucson for suing its home state.
The issue before us: regional anti-Mexican slurs. Below are some of the better ones in alphabetical order, the region where it originates, and its etymology, if any.
Brazer: Chicago. Shortened version of bracero (“fieldworker”) a term most famously known in the United States under the auspices of the Bracero Program. This agreement between America and Mexico, lasting from 1942 through 1964, officially brought cheap Mexican labor into the United States. Made famous in Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street.
Bully: Inland Empire, California. Refers to the bull decals wabs put on trucks.
Cheddar: Denver. An Anglicized shortening of ‘chero, itself an elided way of saying ranchero (“farmer”).
Chicali: Coachella Valley, California. A shortened version of Mexicali, the Mexican city two hours away.
Chook: I received this word from readers across the border region spanning New Mexico to McAllen, Texas. Short for pachuco, a slur against Mexican youth during the 1940s that was eventually appropriated by them and turned into the iconic zoot suit-wearing chuco suave.
Chopa/Chopita: The former spans California’s Wine Country, from Sonoma to Napa; the latter the Bay Area.
Fronchis: El Paso, Texas. An abbreviation derived from “Frontera Chihuahua,” the legend printed on license plates for cars in the Mexican state of Chihuahau.
Jagger: California’s Central Valley. One theory says it’s a badly mispronounced version of llegar (“to come”), and refers to recently arrived wabs.
Paisa: American prisons. Short for paisano (“countryman”), this is actually a widespread slur but has a distinct definition in our prison system, referring to inmates born in Mexico to differentiate them from the Mexican cons born in the United States (“raza”).
Wab: Orange County, California. No known etymology – theories range from it being an acronym for “went across border” to deriving from the classic anti-Italian slur, “wop.”