Opinion: One man’s take on his culture’s stereotypes
¡Ask a Mexican! 05.05.11
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Dear Mexican: Please settle a dispute. I’m an Anglo living and working in Mexico for years, in Culiacán, Sinaloa. My Spanish is passable and I live and function in Spanish. Where I live, there are virtually no other North Americans, other than English teachers at the university. Everyone else that I know is Mexican. In every way, from television and radio to shopping and cooking at home, I live like every other culiche. I like to think of myself as sinaloense, and after all these years, my friends and family are coming to consider me… perhaps not Mexican, but not exactly an extranjero, either. On the other hand, my friend from Colorado was born and raised in Denver. His Spanish is marginal and he lives and works just like every other North American. His grandparents came from Jalisco, however, and he has a Spanish surname. He has visited family in Mexico briefly once since I have known him. In every way he lives as a middle-class gabacho.
I am tired of him making snide comments about how I don’t understand Mexico and Mexicans.
He has never spent any time here – perhaps 20 days in his life. He needs a translator when he visits. He knows next-to-nothing about Mexican history or culture. A lot of what he says seems frankly wrong.
His response is always that I can’t understand the real Mexican culture because I’m Anglo. I reply that those are almost the exact words white racists would use to exclude him from being a “real American.” What’s your opinion? | Culiche Gringo
Dear Gabacho: You know why you’re more Mexican than your pendejo of a pocho pal? Because you’re smart enough to call yourself a culiche, what natives of Culiacán call themselves (although I’m more familiar with culichi, but what do I know – I’m just a pinche zacatecano). You also refer to gabachos as “North Americans,” a literal translation of the Spanish norteamericanos, yet another of our many synonyms for gabachos.
All that said, have sympathy on the pocho. You yourself note you are who you choose to be, and if he wants to practice symbolic ethnicity, despite being less Mexican than a Taco Bell shell, by all means allow him! National identity is as fluid as the Pacific, Culiche, and you are the grand gabacho proof of it. Now, FedEx me some aguachile and chilorio, chingón.