Ways to know that you are of Mexican heritage

I have to make this claim right now.  I am NOT degrading my culture, heritage, or my family.  I happen to think that being from a culture as diverse and beautiful is a thing to be proud of.  These are things that make us unique.  We all have common experiences, but we are also set apart by our heritage.

There is something to be said for being proud of who you are.  One of the things in my list below was:

If you've ever had someone tell you, "Hey, I'm Mexican...I can't understand all of those big words." and you nearly kicked their ass for saying that.

I felt this really needed some commentary.  This actually happened to me (I was on a blind date) and it just drove home to me that one of the tragic things about being Mexicano is that sometimes people can buy into the "slacker" image that the popular media portrays us in.  Ignorance or plain stupidity is an individual failing, it is NOT an ethnic thing.

I've included both Chicano links AND Latino links (yes, there IS a difference).  Even though some of the more militant would want to break with the Eurocentric "Latino" slant, there is no denying that we do have mixed heritage regardless of the way the Americas were conquered (rape, pillage, slavery, etc.)  This is a really touchy subject to some...just don't call me a vendido (sell-out). What is more sad is the fact that our ANCESTRAL language (Nahuatl) is difficult to find at best.

One of the sad things is that unfortunately many Chicanos my age are less likely to be fluent in Spanish.  I'M not fluent, and that is to my everlasting regret...it is one of my few sadnesses in life...however, I'm trying to learn and I'm getting better.  Most of my ethnic legacy has come directly from my grandparents, more notably, my grandmother.

My funny, foreign, ethnic ways.....

  • I am mildly amused when people assume that I am fluent in Spanish...I have people come up to me in bookstores and ask me questions "en Espanol" trying to practice for class...

  • Whenever someone says "Ricky Martin", you either love the guy or you hate him.

  • Constantly try to tell people,"Yeah, but Jennifer Lopez is Puerto Rican, not Mexican." and nobody knows the difference.

  • I am slightly irritated when someone asks me..."Oh your last name is (insert Mexican last name)?  You wouldn't by any chance be related to (insert same name)...I know they live in a completely different part of the country...but are you?"

  • You are automatically the designated Spanish translator, even if you've only had three semesters of Spanish.

  • Other Chicanos give you attitude if you don't speak Spanish fluently.

  • Everyone assumes you can make tamales.

  • Everyone assumes you're Catholic.

  • If your family is Catholic, then someone has made the pilgrimage to San Antonio to see the Pope.

  • Everyone assumes you think that Julio Iglesias is the ultimate "Latin Lover" *bleah*

  • Your grandmother used to whip you in K-Mart (or Target, or Wal-Mart, etc.)

  • You know what Sal-Limon is.

  • You loved the Snow Cone truck when you were a kid.

  • You have recently discovered the ingredients to menudo (the soup) and you are appalled.

  • If every once in a while, you lapse into Spanglish...a spanish word for emphasis, sabes?

  • If you are not completely fluent, then you at least know how to swear.

  • Your grandma watches "historias" most notably "Dos mujeres un camino," or way back when "Topacio" was showing.

  • Your grandma can tell you stories of how "We were here first."

  • If you or anyone you know used to be into Menudo (the group).

  • If you or anyone you know thinks that Antonio Banderas is a god.

  • You don't get why Antonio Banderas is with Melanie Griffith.

  • If you resent Mexicans claiming, "No, I'm not MEXICAN, my family is from SPAIN!"

  • If you or any of your friends/family watch "Siempre en Domingo" with frequency.

  • Your grandma swears that wearing copper bracelets really help joint pain.

  • Your grandpa says "gabron" left and right.

  • You like chorizo.

  • You are grossed out by the things your grandparents eat.

  • Your parents and grandparents tell you stories of how they used to have to pick cotton.

  • You actually really like Fanta sodas.

  • You may know what Jarritos are.

  • You love garage sales.

  • You love flea markets even more.

  • For some unexplained reason, you tend to speak louder when you are with other Mexicans (especially family).

  • Your hand gestures become more dramatic when you are in a loud speaking group of Mexicans.

  • Your grandmother has accused you of "making caras."

  • You think any major chain Mexican food restaurant sucks.

  • You always catch yourself saying,"Yeah, but Taco Bell isn't really Mexican food." all the time.

  • If an older member of your family ever scolded you for throwing away an uneaten portion of a tortilla. ("Put it back, somebody will eat it!)

  • You have to show your friends how to properly drink tequila. (first, lick the salt, slam the tequila, THEN bite the lime....but swallow the tequila first)

  • If you drink hard alcohol, then your favorite may be tequilla.

  • If you only drink domestic beer, then you may favor Budweiser.

  • If you drink imported beer, then you may fancy Tecate.

  • All your friends of different ethnic backgrounds assume your favorite beer is Corona.

  • At least your soap operas have a definite ending.

  • You feel like you are cheating if you make tacos with taco shells purchased from the store.  Hell, you need to make them on your own!

  • You cheer whenever a Chicano does well in sports.

  • You feel like you are cheating if you buy a tortilla mix where all you do is add water.  You need to make it from scratch!

  • You actually know the words to "la cucaracha."

  • You or someone you know owns a portrait of Selena.

  • Your dad claims he used to be a "cholo" or a "pachuco."

  • Latin hip-hop doesn't sound so bad to you.

  • You know who Lil Suzy is.

  • You can rap along to "Back to the Hotel."

  • In grade school, one of your classmates' main goal in life was to be a lowrider.

  • You and your Mexican friends judge Mexican food restaurants by how good the beans are.

  • You also judge Mexican restaurants by the rice.

  • Your dream car may be a 1956 Chevy or you may dream of someday restoring that old Impala.

  • If you are a girl, then you hot-iron curl your bangs and spray them stiff and you must choose the darkest lipstick available.

  • If you are a girl, then you may have that gold red peroxided hair that Chicano men just seem to love.

  • When looking for a doctor, you kinda look for Latino last names.

  • If you are taking Spanish in school/college, you get a lot of flak.

  • If you take Spanish, you are under the MISTAKEN impression that it will be an "easy A."

  • A quincenera is the ultimate event of the season.

  • If a distant relative of yours has a funeral/wedding/anniversary, you MUST attend. No excuses are acceptable.

  • Your grandmother knows EVERYONE..no matter if they just moved into town, she knows their family...so that's all that counts.

  • When you eat beans and rice, your tortilla is your utensil...throw out that fork and knife!

  • You just ain't ethnic without at least ONE Santana CD. (or LP, Cassette, 8-track, blah blah blah)

My final one: and I think this one may be unique to me...my grandmother actually owned a huge picture of "The Last Supper."  Now that in itself may not be unusual...it is the fact that it was a velvet wall-size picture that makes it so.  I tried in vain to get it when she retired it three years ago (she now has a 4D "Last Supper" clock in its place)...but my pesky prima beat me to it....damn.

My Hall of Shame:

When Culture Clash came to Dallas, they had a skit that had a huge poster of some guy with a beret in the background.  Me and a friend of mine, although we were Chicanas, we had no clue who he was even though it seemed like a vital thing to know for the skit.  Well, we asked the guy that came with us (he was an Anglo-Saxon WASP-ish guy) and HE knew.  It was Che Guevara.  WE didn't know, but the Anglo guy knew.  My bad.  That is my moment in my hall of shame.

Here are some really cool links...check them out.

Teatro Dallas
Mexican-Not Latino-Not Hispanic
My Turn - Robert Paul Reyes
POCHO Productions' Virtual Varrio
MesoAmerican Archaeology WWW page
The Aztec Calendar
Chorizo Links
LatinoLink News
Electric Mercado
Crearte on the Web
Chicano Murals in Tucson
Azteca- Results of Ethnicity Survey
Latino Ethnic Attitude Survey
UK Latino
The Lords of the Earth
Ancient Mesoamerican Writing

If you want to e-mail me to complain, affirm, to tell me you want to kick my ass...whatever...have at it.

No, I know fingers too.Back to Russia!