It's Not Easy Being...Brown.

Last week in the midst of the Spurs-Mavs playoff series, a friendly debate took place on a cousin's facebook status regarding game two. There was a lot of banter back and forth amongst myself and several others. It was all in fun, then, I opened my big mouth. Granted, what I said wasn't meant to be taken offensively, and to my defense only one person (who wasn't even a part of the conversation) took it the wrong way. My comment regarded the high hispanic population the Spurs following contains. I've been a fan of the Mavs for sometime now, and have watched several of their games here in Dallas, and even in San Antonio. The fan make up difference is insane! Well, a comment was made in response of what I said to me, referring to me as a fool and I needed to shutup. In not so many words I was told a few things.

1) I need to look in the mirror. (because somehow I've forgotten my skin color?!)

2) I pretty much disappointed my grandparents who both came from Mexico. (Yeah, I'm college educated, happily married, successful, and a practicing Christian. I'm sure they're rolling in their graves)

3) I'm a bad teacher. (It seems she teaches her students everyone is equal - but later on she mentioned not only are the Spurs the best, but so are Mexicans. Hmm...we're ALL equal in her eyes?)

Now, I have several things I was feeling that could have replied that would've ended the conversation, and quite possibly the relationship, completely, but c'mon, it started with sports! Really? Not worth it so I simply sent a private message apologizing but of course defending my stance in the situation. No reply.

This entry isn't really about this confrontation but it stemmed something in me that I have had an issue with for as long as I can rememeber.

Many people would assume as a Mexican-American in the south I may have encountered some prejudice, and I have, but it's not what one would assume. (Hello, I'm in Texas, there's a lot of us here!) Sure, I was put in ESL in elementary without evening knowing but a handful of words in Spanish (that's a lawsuit nowadays!) but most of the discrimination I have felt came from my own kind.

"What, you don't know Spanish? What kind of Mexican are you?"

"She thinks she's a white girl."

"She must be Catholic, you're Catholic right?"

"Why don't you hang with your own?"

Since I was very young I had to deal with ingorant comments from other Hispanics questioning my authenticity. Abraham Quintanilla said it best in the movie Selena (yes, I went there) when he said
"We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It's exhausting!"
It's so true. While there are Hispanics everywhere in Texas it seems like we have to prove our "Americaness" daily, even moreso with the huge immigration debate. I constanly wonder if when Americans see me if they wonder if I'm like the Mexican's they see on the news, jumping over a fence to just come work, not pay taxes, earn welfare benefits and free medicare whilst sending their American money back to Mexico. At the same time, I can't walk into a Mexican restaurant or market without receieving a dirty look or snide remark when they speak to me in Spanish and I reply in English. Gasp. How dare I?

So how Mexican am I? Let's look at some of the stereotypes and see how many I fit into. Here are just a few of many.

1) Mexican's only eat tacos, tortillas and beans.

* I eat those things, but only cook them every other week or so. I usually just put a steak on the grill or bake some chicken otherwise, but I know all the Mexican dives in the DFW area and West Texas)

2) Mexicans are lazy.

* I worked three jobs while in college. I've worked ever since and pride myself on my work ethic.

3) Mexican women stay at home and take care of their husband and family. Young Mexican women stay in their parent's home until they are married.

* I take care of my husband, I do. I serve him his food, refill his drink, and treat him like a king. I learned that from the model my parents showed me growing up. It's something I pride myself on. I moved out of my parent's home during my freshman year of college and lived on my own independently until I got married and became a servant :)

4) Mexicans have a ton of kids.

* I have over 20 aunts and uncles combined (not including their spouses) so yes, some Mexicans do have plenty of kids. I have none, but Octomom and Kate have close to 20 combined themselves.

5) The man runs the house and is jealous by nature.

* My husband runs certain aspects, but for the most part it is a democracy. He isn't an ounce jealous. Sometimes I wished he was.

6) Mexican's have chihuahuas.

* I have dachshunds. Does that make me German?

At the same token, those are just stereotypes non-Mexicans have placed on my unique predicament. By their standards and stereotypes I'm "okay" and not like "the others." But to fellow Mexican Americans I'm a disgrace because I'm not fluent in Spanish, I left my mother's home to have my own place which only scandalous women do and I'm not Catholic (you'd be surprised how much flack I've gotten for that!)

So how to I handle it? I laugh.

Yes, I like to make fun of myself. How boring would life be without laughter? I make jokes based on stereotypes, I play the "race card" to be funny quite often. I see nothing wrong with it, George Lopez does it. Do you not agree George Lopez is awesome?

I can be proud to be both. I am an American, with Mexican descent. I love taking the best qualities each culture has to offer and becoming almost a hybrid, super-person. I have to include my southern hospitality and the fact my region alone calls for inclusion of a completely different set of qualities as well.

I love the American go-getter attitude; take initiative, be all you can be. Combine that with the hardworking mentality my Mexican heritage has instilled in me, keeps me a succesful and productive person. I love my independence my husband and I gained when we moved away from our home town, not very common in my family or Mexican culture, but we return for every holiday and them some. We wouldn't miss those opportunities for the world. Family is always first, love them or not. I love to shake my hips to some merengue, salsa and tejano but I love when my husband (attempts) to spin me during a country two-step (I kind of have two left feet, thus the word attempt, very un-Mexican of me I know) I believe in equal rights for all races and that the battle against discrimination should never stop, but I also feel we need to protect our borders and improve our immigration policies.

Sometimes I feel like I have two choices, A or B. Be American, or be Mexican. Mexican-American doesn't even seem like a choice sometimes. In the end what it comes down to is me just being me. I can pretend to be more "Mexican" than I really am, then I'm just a fake. I choose choice D, none of the above. I choose authenticity. I choose to be me, whatever that is, but I shall embrace it. We all have flaws, but me being American or Mexican are not some of them.

*These photos were taken on two seperate occasions and locations, San Antonio and Tye, Texas.


andrea said...

Omigosh! I felt like I wrote this entry myself, just substitute "Texas" for "Oregon" and you got it. However, I do speak Spanish, but that would not have come about had we not moved to Mexico and back (long story).

Being myself is pretty much the only conclusion I can draw as well. I want to be as authentic to my true self as I can be whether or not I fit in to "their" stereotypes.

Here here!

Picosita said...

That's how I felt about your post! We should collaborate and write a book ;)

andrea said...

Sounds good! Grab one girl from each state and go... =D

Picosita said...

it's a plan!

David said...

since moving back to the valley, i feel like the whitest mexican ever. haha. it's crazy. even in my line of work, if I don't throw in a valley/tex-mex accent into my speech, I'm looked at totally different. Which is difficult cuz i talk like a white dude from California. hahaha.