Archive | Latinidad RSS feed for this section

Jamás Será Vencido

25 Jan
Women's March

Women’s March

Tengo ganas de expresarme pero no sé qué decir. Durante el día de hoy, he sentido rabia, ira, tristeza, y un profundo sentimiento de impotencia. Ya siento que han pasado días desde el Women’s March que asistí en San Francsico el sábado, donde salí sonriendo y con mucha esperanza. Pero hoy, Trump promete construir el muro fronterizo. Pero la noticia no termina ahí.

Según una copia de los planes iniciales de Trump sobre qué hacer con las ciudades santuarias que darán refugio a los inmigrantes indocumentados, se publicará una lista semanal de delitos cometidos por los indocumentados en dichas ciudades. Cuando lo leí en Twitter, mi primer pensamiento fue, “esto provocará una ola de odio”. Cometerán delitos inspirados por esta campaña de odio que viene desde el hombre más poderoso del mundo. Creo que esta lista odiosa es el aspecto mas fea de todo lo que he leído hoy, además del bloqueo de refugiados de países asolados por la guerra, el 35% arancel sobre importaciones mexicanas, y la mentira que votaron miles de millones de “ilegales” que le costaron al pobrecito Trump su voto popular. El término ilegales- un adjetivo para referirse a seres humanos- es ofensivo. Pero suponer que todo voto latino era un voto ilegítimo es sumamente racista. Me molesta que los medios masivos no habla del aspecto racista de esta mentira; lo critican como falso e impreciso, pero no lo ven como parte de la vasta campaña en contra de la comunidad mexicana de Estados Unidos.

Quiero que la esperanza de la marcha femenina se traduce en acciones concretas en las semanas y los meses venideros. Quiero que toda persona decente se declare en contra de este odio. Más que nada, espero que nuestros líderes tanto en California como en Washington reflejen la decencia de su gente. Los latinos están bajo amenaza. Es hora de parar, organizarnos, y manifestarnos. De nuevo.

Advertisements

What does a Mexican look like?

20 Apr

I try to be patient. The new kid at work is young, looks to me like a kindergartner, and has the happy go luck air of a kid happy to have his first real job out of college. I’m nice to him because he, too, is a foreigner in a foreign land. But in his short time at the office, he’s uttered the sentences “Funny, she doesn’t look Mexican”, and “Funny, he doesn’t look Mexican” many times. I usually make a comment like, “Well, I think you’ll find that a Mexican can look like anything”. But sometime I feel like banging my head against the wall. Because I’ve been teaching this lesson my whole life.

It’s true, there is a typical Mexican look. Think brown skin, brown eyes, brown hair. Short stature. Anything that breaks those norms stands out. Even dark-skinned Mexicans who are tall stand out in a crowd. But there are also many Mexicans who offer proof of the internal diversity that many foreigners aren’t aware of. Take a glance at the gallery of famous (and infamous) Mexicans below:

Miguel Osorio Chong:

Osorio Chong

Osorio Chong

The #2 man in the current Cabinet, Osorio Chong, a native of Pachuca, Hidalgo, is the Secretario of Governance, a sort of point man for any hot spots that may arise in Mexican national life. He is of Mexican and Chinese descent.

Carlos Slim:

Carlos Slim

Carlos Slim

Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He is always switching back and forth with Bill Gates as either #1 or#2 wealthiest man in the world. He’s a titan of the business world in both Mexico and abroad. He’s also of Lebanese descent.

Emanuel Lubezki:

Emmanuel_Lubezki

Emmanuel_Lubezki

He has won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for the last two years in a row. He is the preferred cinematographer of director Terence Malick. And Mexican cinematographer Emanuel Lubezki is of Polish Jewish descent.

Giovanni Dos Santos:

One of the best players on the Mexican national team, and a standout on Spanish soccer team Villarreal, young Giovanni Dos Santos is a native of Monterrey, the son of a Mexican mother and Brazilian father.

Giovanni Dos Santos

Giovanni Dos Santos

Luis Miguel:

Luis Miguel

Luis Miguel

Nicknamed El Sol de Mexico, Luis Miguel is an icon of Mexican music. He recently played the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City for two sold out weeks. His storied love life is the stuff of telenovelas. And yet this singer of Mexican songs was born in Puerto Rico to a Spanish father and Italian mother.

Single Hispanic Male Seeks Pocha

1 Sep

I’ve seen it too many times. A guy who likes dating Latinas will meet a girl who has skin the color of cinnamon and big, almond-shaped eyes, with a name like Xochimilco or Lupita, and he’ll be thrilled that he is dating a Latina. And yet. Many Latinas speak weak, virtually non-existent Spanish. They know nothing about their culture, whether it’s the music, the history, the literature, the art, the culture, the customs, the politics. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, I suppose, although I think people should know about their heritage and be proud of it.

But what irks me is that men prefer to date these surface-only Latinas rather than date someone who doesn’t have the name, or the morena, Maria Felix look, but who otherwise feels more Latina through and through than these other girls. Yes, I am not speaking in generalities but rather am speaking about my own experience. I am aware of friends who have set up their male friends who want to meet a single Latina with girls who have dark skin but who don’t speak Spanish. So they look the part, and men who only want someone who fits the bill physically get a “Latina”. Now, no one ever tells me, “Hey, I know a guy who wants to meet a girl who speaks Spanish, has lived in Mexico and knows Mexico and Mexican culture- so I want to introduce you to him”.  I may not meet the superficial criteria that many Latina-philes look for, and sometimes this frustrates me. Then I remind myself that I am really looking for someone who can go beyond the surface to get to know the real me, beyond my white bread name and white skin.

Ser Mexicana en México

24 Aug
Paisaje de Morelos, tomado desde el bus

Paisaje de Morelos, tomado desde el bus

Hace casi un mes tuve un viaje laboral a México D.F. Me quedé por muy poco tiempo, pero creo que la brevedad del viaje plasmó de manera mas clara que nunca lo diferente que es ser mexicana en Estados Unidos y mexicana en México. Acá somos una minoría, y en México simplemente somos mexicanos entre los mexicanos.

Claro, no es tan sencillo. Nunca pasaremos desapercibidos en México los Mexican-Americans. Andamos por la calle como gente de Estados Unidos, nos vestimos como gente de Estados Unidos, nuestras expectativas son distintas. Nuestro sistema digestivo seguramente no es de México (por eso evito tristemente los puestos en la calle). Pero en México uno puede hablar el español, pues, a su modo. Órale. Los mexicanos no son un tema que se discute en la prensa angloparlante con el ceño fruncido. Durante este viaje, me pregunté, así se sienten los judíos al irse a Israel? De una minoría a simplemente uno entre todos los demás, como los demás. Mas parecido que distinto.

Como dije, estar ahí solo por unos días hizo que el contraste fuera mas evidente. Al regresar a Estados Unidos, me encontré con mucha gente no hispana en el aeropuerto. Gente que hablaba en voz muy alta. Corpulencia. No es que estos fenómenos no existen en México (seguramente ésta última sí), pero son marcas definitivas de lo estadounidense. Para mi ir a México es, de alguna forma, como ir a casa.

El (Ciber) Laberinto de la Soledad

22 Aug
Salir del Laberinto, mediante Facebook

Salir del Laberinto, mediante Facebook

Qué diría Octavio Paz de los mexicanos y su relación actual con el internet? Hay estudios oficiales de firmas serias e importantes que confirman esto; por ejemplo, el video abajo que muestra que 30.6 millones mexicanos usan internet. México D.F. es la segunda ciudad de Latinoamérica con mas usuarios que usan Twitter. La mayoría se conecta desde su casa, y en otros estudios que he visto, la gran mayoría lo hace todo a través del celular.

Tengo amigos mexicanos en Facebook, tanto en Estados Unidos como en México, y veo todos los días que su uso de la red social es muy pero muy distinto del mío y de mis amigos de otras culturas. Incluyen todo aspecto de su rutina diaria, sea en fotos, check-ins o nuevas actualizaciones de estado. Actualizar su estado. Cuando veo la frecuencia y entusiasmo con el que mis amigos usan el Facebook, pienso en Octavio Paz y su famoso Laberinto de la Soledad.

Hace años que leo este pronóstico de la condición mexicana, pero la tésis de Paz es que los mexicanos están perdidos dentro de su propia soledad. Si la soledad es una parte imprescindible del ser mexicano, el uso constante de las redes sociales representa un esfuerzo constante de salir de ello. Uno nunca puede hundirse en la soledad cuando uno siempre está conectado.

Truth in Stereotypes

6 Nov
Latino Stereotypes

Latino Stereotypes

A friend who enjoys Project Runway as much as I do, with whom I enjoy discussing the show, recently posted on Facebook about the dearth of gays in the media who don’t conform to the stereotype of being effeminate and delicate and work in fields like hairdressing and fashion design. Though perhaps I should have stayed away from the fray, I, along with other friends, offered up the best examples we could think of to illustrate that not all famous gays conform to the stereotype. As my friend informed us all that the examples we were giving were not good enough- Mitchell from ‘Modern Family’ and all past Project Runway contestants were too gay, apparently- I thought to myself, maybe this effort is futile. Maybe most gay men ARE effeminate, and there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe that’s the reason most portrayals of gay men on television- including reality TV- depict the same kind of gay man, because he is out there. Is this the case with all minorities, ethnic as well as sexual? Are we yearning for the depiction of some minority within a minority?

I’ve previously written (and tweeted) about the preponderance of Latino boxers on TV and film (think “Price of Glory”, “Mi Familia”, and Showtime’s Resurrection Boulevard). While there’s no way to know the prevalence of boxers in each Latino family, it is true that the sport is widely followed and watched, although it seems that many young Latinos are abandoning the sport for MMA fighting. There is a stereotype that Latino families are large, and statistics bear this out. The U.S. Census shows that:  In 2000, 30.6 percent of family households in which a Hispanic person was the householder consisted of five or more people. In contrast, only 11.8 percent of non-Hispanic White family households were this large. So if you are Hispanic and grew up in a small family, yes, you are a minority within a minority.

Why do members of minority groups want to see the rarities- the manly gay men, the Latino cranberry farmers, the Jewish NBA players– represented? It is okay to admit that there is some truth in stereotypes. I also think that what matters is not the representation itself, but who is creating these representations. As long as minorities have a voice at the table, then I think stereotypical images will fade. I don’t care if a Latino boxer is shown on TV or in film, just as long as he (or she- don’t forget “Girlfight”) is drawn as a three-dimensional character. And if our hypothetical Latino cranberry farmer should come to life, I hope that he is also treated as a real person and not some novelty item. Look at the way gays have been portrayed on TV recently. There is Mitchell on “Modern Family”, a tightly -wound lawyer who is married to a former college football linebacker from rural Missouri. And as for Jewish NBA players? Amare Stoudamire claims to be of Jewish descent, and has even traveled to Israel and adopted a Kosher diet. Now THAT’s breaking a stereotype.

Yes, You can be Black and Latino

27 Sep
Judy Reyes

Judy Reyes

This post was actually inspired by a recent rerun of ‘Scrubs’. In it, Carla is frustrated that people think her baby girl is black, when actually, she is half-black, half Latina. This was certainly not the first time I’ve seen this fallacy, but I was surprised to see it come from a black Latina herself. Repeat after me: yes, one can be Black AND Latino, all at the same time.

I blame the frequent terminology mixup to this country’s insistence on simplifying racial categories. I know from personal experience that being mixed can really make people’s heads explode (I’ve found the same is true for being bilingual. “All those languages in one head!”). We like our ethnic categories clear cut in America, so quite often, Latino=Mexican=Spanish. Yes, how often have we heard someone say, “I couldn’t understand them; they were speaking Mexican”. Or the twin to this family of malapropisms, “Look at that family of Spanish people”.

Combine this with the changing nomenclature for Americans who are descended from slaves, and you have some natural confusion as to people like actress Judy Reyes, pictured above. About the whole Americans descended from slaves thing- as ugly terms like negro and colored were left by the wayside of history, two terms cropped up to denote black Americans, black and African-American. Some people perceive the latter to be a nod to political correctness, but I think it is an accurate way to indicate that someone is a descendent of American slaves, since the word Black could refer to Jamaicans, Nigerians, or Brazilians, among others. For that reason, one can be African-American- like Donald Faison, the actor who played Turk on Scrubs, and also Black, while Judy Reyes is Black but not African-American. She is Black and Latina, like Alfonso Ribeiro, Christina Milian, and Rosie Perez. Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. covered this terrain in depth in his PBS series ‘Black in Latin America’.

And just for fun, here are Carla and Turk dancing the tango to the tune “I’m Dominican”.