Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Mexicality FAQ


I am an American
of Mexican descent.

My family didn’t come
to this country,
this country came to us;
we were your hosts.

“No, actually,
the Native Americans
were here first.”

Well, we were
the product of
Spanish conquistadores
conquistadoring
the indigenous peoples.

“So, you’re actually European?”

Ask President Obama
since he’s half White,
which parent he claims?

“But you don’t look
Mexican.”

Thanks,
is that supposed to be
a compliment?

“Great, you can be
our translator!”

No, I only know about
50 words of Spanish,
and while that may qualify
you as being bilingual,
it brands me as
pathetic traitor to my culture
by Mexicans
from Mexico.

“So, were your parents
born here?”

Where, planet Earth?
Yes, specifically
in California and Colorado.

“So, do you celebrate
Cinco de Mayo?”

No, because I’m not
Mexican,
see first question.

“I admire Mexican culture
because they are
so family-oriented.”

Yes, we all come
from families,
and many of us practice
responsible birth control,
and haven’t brought
any children
into this world,
like myself and my brothers
Danny and Paul,
all three of us
college-educated
by the way.

“So you’re probably
for illegal immigration,
or some kind of amnesty.”

Sure,
but to be fair,
make it
retroactive to 1492.

“Why are you
so angry
about your Mexicality?”

I’m sorry,
I’m just tired.

Time for me to curl up
against a lone smooth cactus,
pull the brim of my sombrero
down over my eyes,
and take my siesta.

[This poem was inspired by the Cinco de Mayo display for Corona beer found in my local Southern California grocery story-pictured above.  If you weren't lucky enough to be born Mexican, here's your chance!  Posted for #OpenLinkNight @ dversepoets.com - my favorite site for poets!]

49 comments:

  1. haha...so good...it can be tiring i guess as i think it's always the same questions...curl up
    against a lone smooth cactus for siesta...sounds wonderful..made me smile

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    1. I'm sure every ethnicity has their stereotypes to battle, but this was my personal cross. To me, the image above verges on racism.

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  2. ha. i would not mind a siesta regardless the cultural implications...smiles...some interesting touches on stereotypes in this....

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    1. I'm with you there! Siestas all around! Thanks!

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  3. How true, we are all humans and part of the human planet as one.
    Great poem, with the tickle of humor to prove the point. thank you

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    1. Thank you for seeing the humor in it.

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  4. This.Is. AWESOME. :)

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    1. Thanks, de, though this is hardly poetry: I have been asked every one of these questions in all seriousness. :)

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  5. Actually, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico. My grandfather was Mexican, my husband's parents were both born in Mexico, and came to the U.S. legally (all jumping through of hoops included). They even went on to become American citizens (not an easy thing - not sure most "Americans" could pass the test). But I've heard it all. It's crazy the way people are so quick to put others into little stereo-typed boxes. Great poem. :) And by the way, I speak great restaurant Spanish, lol, because, well, priorities of course...it's important to know how to order the best food on the planet.

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    1. My Grandma Trini became citizen in 1955, but I'm not so sure about my Grandpa Juan (good thing he's dead).

      Yes, I go to Taco Bell and order in Spanish. Makes the food taste less papery. Thanks.

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  6. When I taught second grade we had so much fun celebrating Cinco de Mayo... probably more so than actual Mexicans. Great ending.

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    1. Thanks Laurie, and I think it's fine to teach about different holidays, but I really dislike how Cinco De Mayo is just another excuse to swill beer.

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  7. Ah siesta I do like that...a siesta from questions too...why can't we just all live in peace on this planet without all the questions... cool poem!

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    1. Si, I agree. If I am more race-conscious than most, it's only because it was pointed out to me by my White schoolmates. There weren't too many non-Whites when I was growing up in my neighborhood, and this is where I learned about marginality. It partly explains my two college degrees in sociology, though. :) Thanks.

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  8. Absolutely love this shredding to bits all the little stereotypes that go along with the ideas of Latino culture. And all of us can go back to our roots, whatever they are, and maybe reflect a bit about the prejudice our ancestors faced. Pure irony.

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    1. Of course, I love hearing the stereotypes that other cultures have that I don't know about. Fascinating. Thanks, this was the tame version, BTW.

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  9. Very engaging poetry. I have to laugh after reading your comment above....the tame version. Some day, maybe you'll post the un-tame version???

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    1. Thanks, Jane. Nah, the untamed version has less finesse, more vitriol.

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  10. Pretty sly Mosk...i really like "sure to be fair make it retroactive to 1492" Lots of stereotyping going with most of us..and that last stanza clinches it. Great write!

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  11. We don't have too many Mexicans here in Canada but I enjoyed the cultural stereotyping of people ~ I know some Spanish words from learning it till high school but never did used it ~ Enjoyed the conversation Mosk ~

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    1. Thanks, my friend. Now how's this for a cultural stereotype: do you eat lots of back bacon, drink beer and wear toques, eh? :)

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  12. I come from a family comprised of some of the worst bigots you'll ever encounter as well as Mexican immigrants who are in the process of gaining American citizenship. Let me tell you, when the factions convene (which isn't, obviously, too often) the dynamics can be hysterical. Your conversational poem contains many of the stereotypical comments I've heard over the years. Great conversation starter!

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    1. Thanks, Kim. I know you grew up in SoCal so you get to hear all kinds of stereotypes for all kinds of groups. Also, some of the most prejudiced people against Mexicans are other Mexicans! Que lastima!

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  13. I do like the opening lines. is it wrong that I found humor in your addressing of stereotypes? I don't know, but either way you definitely earned that siesta.

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    1. Thanks so much, more than anything I want to entertain.

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  14. Buddah, los Mexicanos somos gente genial y hermosa. Yo dice. Que Buen poesia. Cinco de Mayo es un grande fiesta aqui en Puebla, porque es la historia de ciudad. Viva Mexico! Mi corazon por siempre!

    Pamela
    btw, my Spanish stinks as I use English all day long in classes and at home.

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    1. No, your espanol es muy bueno! And that's about all the Spanish I can muster, y gracias, querida Pam.

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  15. This is really good, Mosk. So true that many people make false assumptions. I think you gave great answers. This reminded me of my daughter (Korean by birth) who married an army man and lived on base for a while. Lots of the soldiers there had Korean wives, but these wives SPOKE Korean as they met their husbands in Korea. They would see my daughter and immediately start talking to her in Korean, but she did not know the language. They just assumed her history was the same as theirs. For a while it was thought that her husband would have an opportunity to do army duty in Korea and she'd go along, but I think she knew as well that this would be awkward because of the assumptions the Koreans there would make when they saw her. You really canNOT judge by exterior or ethnicity. By the way, her husband is American of Mexican heritage. They have children, and they jokingly say they are of Kexican heritage. Sorry about the ramble.

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    1. No. I loved the ramble, and Iknow your daughter knows exactly what I go through. Thanks.

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  16. Amazing capture of a conversation we often aren't privy too, let alone given the opportunity to ponder. We are all so naive in our look back. Limited. Some more than others. I loved the quiet frustration, and have to wonder how you did it.

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    1. Thanks, quiet frustration is my middle name. Actually, it's Patrick.

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  17. always so . . .
    real!
    What a great political/ethnical/comical look at life

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    1. Thanks, that's why I call myself a documentarian.

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  18. Ha, a great response to awful stereotypes. The form you chose works especially well. And you are far more patient than I would be. :)

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    1. Thanks, to quote EC "I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused."

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  19. Assumptions, people always assume. You know what they say about assuming, makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me." We have friends of Mexican heritage and I have learned much from them. I enjoyed your take and appropriately blunt answers to such inappropriately blunt questions. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you , I always say when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of u and umption. Gets a laugh 50% of the time.

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  20. Ai, mi hermano. God, this was funny but not funny at all. People are so f-ing rude about race, and the truth is, I am descended from undocumented immigrants, from "illegals." My dad's family invaded on the Mayflower.

    When I lived in Puerto Rico, I got a taste of what it's like to be looked upon as an "other," even though it was just a norteamericana. I suggest ALL EuroAmericans try it. Humbling, and it made me try harder to learn the language, something I'll always use in everyday life, something for which I'll always be thankful.

    Hope there's lime in that Corona, Brudda from annuda muddah!

    Love, Ameleh

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    1. Thanks Ameleh,

      And I didn't include the time I was with my White girlfriend in Maryland at Christmastime when two drunk citizens there wished me a Happy Beaner Christmas. I've stayed in SoCal every Xmas since.

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  21. My girlfriend from England married a guy and took his name (Soares). She visited Mexico and when crossing back to California where they lived, she encountered a visa problem. They held her, while the husband sorted things out, but she was quite indignant to hear the immigration staff speculating whether she spoke English. She fiercely informed them that she not only spoke English, she was English! Even worse, she found many Californians would pronounce her name as sores...

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    1. And now you know why I never visit Mexico - the last thing I need is to get stopped at the border. Nope, I is an All-American Mexican-American! What's the difference between someone being English and British?

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  22. I thought this was funny, and that it says a lot about stereotypes and privilege. I think that it would make a good teaching tool.

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    1. Thanks, so much - I've been called a tool often, but this is the first time someone's prefaced it with "Teaching".

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  23. This poem hits home for me brother. Excellent social commentary as per your custom.
    Salud hermano,
    Mark Butkus

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  24. wonderful volley between assumptions and reality.

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    1. Thanks, but remember it isn't Reality, it's just reality.

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  25. Playful and cutting at the same time. Sad but true? It reminds me a cartoon I saw growing up, not Gary Larson... maybe someone from the New Yorker... anyway the dad was stuffing his kid's head with all kinds of funny ideas, and the kid's head looked like a bulging sack ready to explode. What does my Tai Chi teacher say? Time to empty our cups and free ourselves of preconceived notions.

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