BY GUSTAVO ARELLANO
Dear Mexican: My parents were Greeks who legally immigrated to the United States in 1920. When it became harder for Greeks to immigrate, they began to jump ship in New York. My father referred to them as “bananas — fresh off the boat,” but it was mostly an affectionate name. The Greek community took care of them, and my father had an excellent illegal worker in his luncheonette. When Jimmy didn’t show up for work one day, my father was alarmed. Turned out Jimmy was turned in by a Greek woman who was trying to marry off her daughter to him. He went into hiding and ended up in one of the Greek hotels in the Catskills. There were other instances of legal Greeks turning in illegal Greeks not based on any sense of right or wrong, but as retaliation for one thing or other. Do Mexicans do that, too?
— Yes, I Have No Bananas
Dear Griego Gabacho: Do we! Anecdotally, I know wabs who turned in their fellow wabs for reasons as valid as murder and as petty as a broken heart. On a public level, a 2007 Pew Hispanic Center survey state 17 percent of Latinos think illegals “hurt the economy,” meaning they’re one missed mortgage payment from rounding up their cousins. And then there are those brave Mexicans who join the Minutemen or openly oppose illegal immigration, whom many Mexicans revile as Tio Tacos, vendidos and malinchistas. I take a pragmatic stance: they’re the finest brown tools since the bracero program. Primeramente, many xenophobes constantly cite anti-Mexican Mexicans as proof their anti-immigrant rants aren’t racist, a leap in logic anyone not named Lou Dobbs can poke holes through to win debates. More importantly, reviled figures such as Mexican migra agents, disgraced United States attorney general Alberto Gonzales and latinoamericans.org function as agents of assimilation: they show gabachos that not only do Mexicans assimilate, but we can out-gabacho gabachos in being Know Nothing pendejos.
I work at video rental store. I won’t mention the name, but let’s say it sure BUSTS my BLOCK. I noticed that the Mexican customers always ask for Blood In Blood Out, Mi Vida Loca, Selena and Mi Familia. My white customers always ask for the two Kill Bill volumes, The Marine, and A River Runs Through It. As a Mexican, I agree that Blood In Blood Out is a great movie! My white co-workers disagrees, and say Kill Bill is the best movie ever. We have a coworker who is a gabacho raised in a Mexican community who is torn between both movies. Is there a reason why Mexicans love Blood In Blood Out and gabachos love Kill Bill?
— Mexican Movie Man
Dear Wab: I’m disappointed in the Mexicans who BLOCK your days, BUSTER. Don’t they rent American Me? The Mark of Zorro? La Bamba? Anything by Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, or Jean-Claude Van Damme? Mexicans prefer two types of American movies — those starring Mexicans, and those with ultraviolence. Blood In Blood Out (also known as Bound by Honor) blends the best of those genres, a 1993 drama involving the intersecting lives of three Mexican boys connected through gangs, cops and prison rape. It’s not the greatest of movies, but Blood In Blood Out features Mexicans — and like negritos with Madea, wabs love films that depict people who look and live like them. That said, I know many Mexicans who enjoy Kill Bill, but it’s probably not as seared into the Mexican mind as, say, Death Wish or Bloodsport because the mayhem comes via swords, not guns, and the last time Mexicans dealt with rapiers was during the Conquest. As for why gabachos love Kill Bill, why ask me? I’m the Mexican, not the Gabacho. If you want gabacho answers, go hang out with Mitt Romney supporters or something.
Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters will be edited for clarity, cabrones. And include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we’ll make one up for you!
Gustavo Arellano is an investigative reporter on staff at the OC Weekly in Orange County, California. His “¡Ask a Mexican!” column began in 2004 and today is syndicated in 32 publications nationwide. He is also the author of a book by the same name. An extensive interview with Arellano can be found in the EW archives online for Nov. 29, 2007. Arellano can be contacted at TheMexican@AskAMexican.net