¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
Dear Mexican: I’m not Mexican (or from a Spanish-speaking country for that matter), but I get mad when the gabachos in my town say that all Mexican girls do is take drugs and get pregnant, drop out of school and end up on welfare. I know a lot of Mexican women who haven’t done any of these things, who have gone to college and got high-paying jobs. And the thing that bothers me most is when gabacho girls do drugs or get pregnant, no one gets on their case. Everyone is willing to help them, and they’re just referred to as victims of society. Why is it that if a Mexican girl gets pregnant, people just scoff at her and blame her Latino heritage; but if a gabacha girl gets pregnant, people automatically sympathize with her?
—Annoyed with Gabacho Hypocrites
Dear Gabacho: The same reason mentally deranged gabachos who go on murderous sprees get classified as “disturbed,” while mentally deranged brown folks, whether Mexican or Muslim, get their killings attributed to race or religion. Same reason why neo-Nazis get their idiocies dismissed as the mere ramblings of meth heads, while Chicano Studies majors get their discipline savaged as teachings on par with those of Goebbels. Same reason why class divisions in this country don’t exist, while class divisions in Mexico get attributed to our inherent Darwinian tendencies. I know I sound a bit whiny right now—or, rather more so than usual—but you’re right to be annoyed. As I continually argue, culture isn’t the sole determinant to all the pathologies of an ethnic group or even the most important one, which leads me to . . .
I work in the education field and have a serious concern about the performance of Hispanic children in our school district. There seems to be a misguided approach to bring back bilingual education for Hispanic children. The poor performance of these children and other minority groups has been ongoing. The group of children that bucks this trend is Asian students. Now, there are exceptions to this general breakdown but the numbers are undeniable. As I look at the ethnic breakdown at the major universities in California, these numbers are more shocking. As we hear more and more sound bites of how Hispanics/Latinos are the new force, where will they fall in the future? The educated will get better, and the future based on this point will go to the Asians. I want to get you opinion. Just want you to know that I am an American first, but of Hispanic ethnicity.
—Not of the Asian Persuasion
Dear Pocho: Two separate issues here—the virtues versus detriments of bilingual education, and educational achievement of Mexicans vis-à-vis chinitos. I can cite stats that show bilingual education hold down Mexis or create little Einsteins out of them, so will limit my remarks to note that most people who oppose bilingual education tend to lean right (like yourself. Another giveaway? Your insistence on labeling yourself an “American first”—DUH. You’re writing to me in English, aren’t you?). If parents want their chamacos in dual immersion classes, why don’t you let them have that option—you know, that whole parental choice thing. On the issue of chinito superiority—sure, a chingo more of them go onto higher education, but not all of them. The National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Island Research in Education published a 2010 report that found Cambodians, Hmongs, Laotians, and most Pacific Islander groups had the same abysmal college graduation rates as Latinos, rates that lagged far behind other Asian-American groups. But rather than dwell on culture, the report noted that many factors contributed to the low numbers, the same factors that affect Mexican students. I’m not offering excuses—far from it, this Mexican tries to speak at least once a month to high school students about the necessity of finishing la prepa and beyond—but I don’t dwell on the achievement gap, and neither should you. If you care about Mexis and education, do something about it—don’t whine that chinitos are better.
GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK! The obvious choice—Daniel Hernandez, Jr., the brave intern of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who stood by her side while so many others would’ve fled. No other politicizing on my part, other than to note this is a reminder that American heroes come in all forms—and I’ve already said enough.
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!