Ask a Mexican

Spanish Lesson

Dear Mexican: What's with Mexican-Americans who live in New Mexico claiming they're Spanish and not Mexican? Many actually get angry and combative if you ask them if they're Mexican. But if you look at them, they look more Indian than Spanish! Why have so many developed a deep-seated embarrassment of who they are? Why are many so ashamed of their heritage? — Albuquerque Amigo

Why are Mexicans in California proud of their Mexican roots but in New Mexico they're ashamed? — Hispano Hottie

Why do people in New Mexico (many of them my relatives) believe that they're Spanish and deny that the area used to belong to Mexico? — Bill Richardson for Presidente

Dear Readers: Ever since ¡Ask a Mexican! first appeared in Albuquerque's Weekly Alibi, readers of that muy bueno paper continue to swamp my mailbox with this question; it now ranks behind only "Why do Mexicans swim with their clothes on?" as the most-asked pregunta in ¡Ask a Mexican! history. The easy response is that New Mexicans are simply smarter than other wabs because no one in their right mind should ever claim Mexican heritage. Besides, Mexico's claim to New Mexico — to the entire Southwest United States, for that matter — is as tenuous as the peso's value. Mexico ruled the Land of Enchantment from 1812 until 1848, a chronological fart between the much-longer reigns of the Spaniards (212 years), gabachos (158 years), and Native Americans (eternal). Mexico's lazy mestizos never made much effort to populate New Mexico, so many longtime New Mexicans can honestly claim a Mexican-free background. But those so-called Hispanos are delusional: Even if a Hispano can proclaim his family clean of Mexicans, many Hispanos intermingled with gabachos or Indians (consult Ramón A. Guttiérez's controversial 1991 study When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846). And even if a Hispano has no Mesoamerican blood whatsoever, his Spanish ancestors were the mutts of Iberia — Jews, Arabs, bastard sons, and other miscreants who fled the Inquisition for the northernmost border of New Spain. The Hispanic experience in America, whether you're Mexican, Hispano, or even Guatemalan, is one of impurity, so Hispanos should stop with their Spanish superiority complex — they're no better than Mexicans.

Why do Mexicans hang CDs from their car's rear-view mirrors? — Poor Use of That Album

Dear PUTO: Any number of reasons. Mexicans love religious tchotchkes — seven separate religious icons guard my car, from a rosary to a St. Jude prayer card to a statue of the Santo Niño de Atocha (venerated in New Mexico and Zacatecas) — so the CD you see dangling might just be a Virgin of Guadalupe mini-hubcap. Mexicans also like pretty, shiny things — dig all the gold jewelry we hang from our earlobes and necks, our spinning rims, and Three Flowers-brilliantined hair. Or Mexicans might hang CDs in an effort to stymie radar guns, a long-disproved urban legend that proves only that Mexicans don't see the Discover Channel show Mythbusters, which devoted a 2004 episode to debunking that popular belief. But to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a CD is just a CD. Maybe the offending Mexican wants the world to know about his favorite album but can't fit a sticker on the car because all those pinche bull decals, Calvin-pissing-on-something logos, Mexican flags, and "¡Viva México, Cabrones!" license-plate holders get in the way.

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at [email protected]. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano