by Gustavo Arellano
Dear Mexican: I hear that at the last Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors hearing about redistricting, some lady accused Supervisor Gloria Molina of Reconquista. What is that — and what on earth is going on over there? I don’t get what all the fuss is about. The U.S. Census says that Latinos make up half of the county’s population — it seems only fair that Latinos should have a chance to elect whoever they want to at least two seats on the Board rather than getting split up all over the County. What gives?
— The Revenge of Roybal
Dear Wab: First, some ‘splaining is needed for the rest of America. Molina is the lioness of Latino politics in Southern California, having served as a state assemblywoman, Los Angeles councilwoman AND county supervisor in her nearly 30 years in public office. That’s a great legacy on its own, but Molina has recently courted controversy for proposing to change the supervisorial district lines (as done every decade) of Los Angeles County so that two districts fall in Latino-majority areas, the thinking being such shuffling will ensure two Latinos on the Board of Supervisors. Redistricting to empower or dilute a particular ethnic voting bloc, of course, is as American an effort as the fast-food taco, and about as appetizing, and it’s something that los Estados Unidos is currently experiencing anew given the demographic changes that the Reconquista created. No surprise that there’s a backlash — but it happened with negritos, happened with chinitos, and even with micks, Jews, and goombahs, so us wabs can’t whine that we’re getting uniquely demonized in this instance. All that said, the Know Nothings opposed to such efforts should also look toward history—negritos, chinitos, micks, Jews, and goombahs became as inept and corrupt in running America as gabachos, so Mexicans in power have nowhere to go but arriba.
Every time I ride my bike through the barrio in a city, the same question comes to my mind. Why do so many Mexican business owners sit huge stereo speakers outside their stores and play music at a volume that guarantees I’d never go in?
— Aspirin Fan
Dear Gabacho: That’s all your local barrio businesses use to promote themselves? No guys dressed in Shrek costumes, no creepy clowns giving out balloons? No sign waver broiling in the sun, chica caliente in a skirt as high as her top is low handing out flyers, or Mexican flags waving? Or maybe a truck left out on the street with all the info about the store painted on a truck, or a window sticker on said truck fighting for space among a bull and Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame pissing on la migra? Not all ad campaigns exist on Groupon, Facebook, or even your local Spanish-language radio station, you know, and it’s your loss for not going in and missing out on all the cheaper prices us Mexis and wily gabachos enjoy.
GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK! Ustedes have probably never heard of David A. Sánchez, since former chairs of college mathematics and statistics departments don’t exactly resonate across our tonto land. But the retired profe from the University of New Mexico has just released Don’t Forget the Accent Mark: A Memoir, a brief, beautifully told story of a young man who navigated his ethnicity through the turbulent decades of the Chicano Movement and beyond. Proof that, sometimes, the most effective civil rights heroes wield not a bullhorn but a classroom.