¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
Dear Mexican: I grant you a magic wand; now, tell me how do we right the wrongs of Sam Houston and Manifest Destiny? Is it to correct his legacy and call out the crimes and recognize the victims? Or should the land be given back? What is it, my fellow American?
Dear Gabacho: A chicken in every olla and a gabacha in every bedroom—KIDDING. The United States stealing Aztlán remains a grievous wound with Mexicans, but it’s not as huge an issue for run-of-the-mill Mexis as Know Nothings or Aztlanistas want you to believe. Sure, we take pleasure in seeing the American Southwest revert back to Mexico demographically—but we acknowledge it as God’s karmic humor (kind of like seeing Brits eating curry, or a black man in the White House) instead of studied revanchism. The theft of our territory remains more a kick to the huevos than outright castration—it stunted Mexico’s growth and still aches, but didn’t condemn us to Guatemala levels. All this said, I think a full accounting of Mexican-American relations during the era of Manifest Destiny in the history books would placate most Aztlanistas. The Mexican would also love it if the American government offered restitution to the many Tejanos, Californios and New Mexican Hispanos that had their family properties stolen outright by rapacious settlers and the courts (just talk to the Berreyesas of Northern California, who had many of the males in their clan murdered with no prosecution of their gabacho killers). As for returning the conquered territories back to Mexico? There’s a reason us Mexicans left Mexico, you know…
I was born in Ciudad Juarez and moved to the Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C. area when I was really young. I grew up going to museums and I love it. Came back to the Juarez-El Paso area. I have two kids and I love taking them to museums, plays, art galleries—anything art-related. My question is: How come some, if not most, Mexicans are not into going to museums, galleries, plays, opera—you know, stuff like that? I’ve met educated, uneducated, rich and poor Mexicans, and they all seem to not like those kinds of things. I’ve gotten reactions from fellow Mexis who see my kids getting excited about going to an art gallery or a museum as a treat for something. If you have an answer, for my mental sanity please let me know. Yes, we’re nerds—whatever—but I feel it’s necessary for kids, my Mexican kids, to know about galleries and museums, among other things. What do you think?
—Loca for Lichtenstein
Dear Nerdy Wabette: The American Associations of Museums cited in its 2010 study, “Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums” a National Endowment for the Arts’ Survey of Public Participation in the Arts that figured only 8.6 percent of visitors to galleries were “Hispanic,” and only 14.5 percent of “Hispanics” were regular patrons of the arts. It doesn’t really offer an explanation for the low numbers, other than mumbling about “historic discrimination” and also noting that higher education and income levels accounts for higher museum participation across all races and ethnicities. I’d lean toward the latter explicación, but it’s not a full answer: I know more than a few working-class Mexis who know their Riveras and Duchamps, just like I know “Hispanics” who couldn’t tell you the difference between a Picasso and a Pica Limón wrapper.
GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK! Speaking of museums and Mexicans, an obvious pick: the National Museum of Mexican Art, located in Chicago’s Pilsen barrio and telltale proof Mexis won’t ignore the arts if they have ready access to them. It’s not all about high-falutin‘ arte, either: they help sponsor Radio Arte, the nation’s finest experiment in youth-produced, NPR-quality radio reports on Latino USA. Find out more at www.nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org.
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Should the United States Return the Southwest to Mexico?
And why don’t more Mexicans go to museums?