How Mexican are you?


As a substitute teacher in public charter schools throughout Los Angeles, I have the honor and pleasure of meeting young students (K-12) – America’s future! – almost everyday. All of the schools I work at are 98% Latino/Raza (except when I get called to work in Inglewood, and rarely do I take the job – too far!).

I’ve worked in East LA, Northeast LA, South Central/LA, Pacoima, Inglewood, Crewnshaw, Korea Town, MacArthur Park and Downtown. The most fun I have and maybe the students have when I’m in the classroom with them is when I introduce myself. First, they have trouble with my name. “Kraus,” I say, “Miss Kraus. It rhymes with mouse and house. If you can say house, you can say Kraus.”

Then it goes into an impromptu Q&A session. “Where are you from, miss?” or “Where are your parents from, miss?” and sometimes just bluntly, “What are you, miss?” Elementary school students don’t care as much as the high school students. I say, “Guess.”

I let the guessing game linger today with the students from East LA/Boyle Heights as they played some Valentin Elizalde and Diego Rivas corridos from their iPods as background music. These were the places they thought I was from.

Guadalajara, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Sonora, La Barca/Jalisco, Las Feas/Guanajuato, Rosarito, Oaxaca, some puebla, Aguascalientes. The last guess was Tijuana.

“Ok, miss,” one guesser said. “You gotta be from Tijuana.”

“Why?” I ask.

“You know, miss. La frontera… all the [white] people from San Diego go to Tijuana y… pues, they come out looking like you.”

I have only lied about my nationality and ethnic identity, and that was in Morocco and France where I said I was Mexican – out of fear. Today, I was tempted to go with Nayarit as my ancestral origin but couldn’t go through with it as I am a terrible liar. When I revealed to the kids my Jewpanese-ness, echoes of “Whoa!” and “What?!” reverberated the classroom.

“Dang, miss,” a guesser said. “You still look guera, though.”


Growing up throughout the San Gabriel Valley in Baldwin Park and Boyle Heights, I was always mistaken for Latina. At Food 4 Less, King Taco, the botanica stores, El Taco Nazo, the post office, and all of the Japanese markets and stores like Marukai, Yaohan/Mitsuwa, Yuki Discount Shop, everywhere. At the bus stop, abuelitas would ask me for the time in Spanish. At King Taco, the cashier would greet me according to the time of day and ask me what I wanted to order in Spanish. I knew enough Spanish to tell abuelita the time and order my “tres tacos de asada con todo y salsa verde aparte, por favor.”

For the longest time, until I left Boyle Heights for college, I resented my mistaken identity, and more so among my Japanese gente. They were haters. In Japanese school (every Saturday for 8 years), my Asian punk/gang classmates would call me and my brother “dirty Mexicans.” This is true. I got into a fight with one of them and shoved the metal-mouthed skinny bastard really hard on the chest. (Too scared to punch people in the face.)

I wanted to be recognized correctly. I wanted it to make sense to my teachers and classmates in Baldwin Park and Boyle Heights that my small Japanese mother was not Chinese nor my babysitter. I wanted it to be a cool and understood thing that there were such people as “hapas” on the mainland.

Then came college. I’d never been around so many Japanese and Japanese Americans at once. It became an unspoken contest, especially among the Japanese Americans to see who was the most Japanese. By my junior year, I just wanted to be the mistaken Latina/Chicana guera again and move home.


How Mexican are you?

31 thoughts on “How Mexican are you?

  1. I’m not that Mexican because all the checkout clerks in my neighborhood speak to me in English until I purposely respond in Spanish, then they throw some furtive, disbelieving glances towards me.

    – “He speaks Spanish???”

    But this is an old story…I haven’t been Mexican enough in a long time. It’s for a whole variety of reason. As a youth I preferred punk to rock en español, I eat soy tacos instead of tacos de carne asada, my Spanish has lost its original Mexican accent, and being an agnostic amongst weekend-Catholics doesn’t help either.

    What’s worse is that at times I’m not Chicano enough. Yet when I venture out of LA my lazy Eastside drawl is called out (for instance in the Bay Area).

  2. I’ve never been Mexican enough mostly cause I’m a born and bred Chicana. My parents listened to R & B and lots of African-American music when I was growing up. The Spanish music we did hear was mostly Salsa/musica tropical, Boleros and other “cool” music in Spanish. I did know a lot of the Mexican standards from hearing them at weddings, parties etc…We never had family to visit in Mexico. For Christmas we’d drive to Echo Park and my uncle’s house in Pico Rivera.

    Growing up people always thought I was something besides Mexican because I was punk and cause I talked “white” (my boyfriend’s East Los accent eventually rubbed off on me.) I remember how shocked my LH neighbor was when I told her my family origins were from Mexico. I think she thought I was from outer space.

    Anyways, now I look like everyone else and people talk to me in Spanish first, which is fine by me! 🙂

    As for the requisite “which state from Mexico are you from?” question, I wrote a little on the topic recently:

  3. i find it ironic that for the better part of my life I was trying to assimilate soo much that I resented being mexican. Now adays that’s a whole different story because I’m proud of who I am, where I’m from and my raza. Being mexican is awesome, no wonder people want to be like us 😛

  4. What a great post Victoria! It’s interesting to read your take on life on the Eastside, with the familiar question of identity looming over. I did a brief stint in college where I figured out who I was, or rather, who I wasn’t, which was quite the ice-cold bucket.

  5. people always think I’m from Oaxaca & call me an “indio”. I dont know if I should see it as a good thing or bad. it’s mostly the light skin & brown haired mexicans who call me this. I think you’re mexican enuff if your parents made you listen to Los Tigres del Norte or Cepillín.

    also, my boss is japanese-american but his wife is chicana. hes always calling me “meng” & speaks good spanish.

  6. Great topic Victoria! I actually think your story is why i prefer the term Chicano more as a state of mind then a definable physical thing, much like I feel about the term Eastlos.

    My wife is hapa, half vietnamese and white, but grew up in Pico-Union and then El Monte. She had all that trouble (sans japanese school), especially in El Monte where the paisano-chicano identity divide was in full force. Her and her sister pass for Latino, but they were both artsy-punk so most of the flack came from the “aye dawg” crowd or chicanas jealous of their boyfriends or whatnot. Her white side is actually part comanche and the features show in her, so I joke that she technically is chicana being from El Monte, having euro-indio blood and having worn lipliner with no lipstick to match the black bra under the white tank top. When she was at UCBerkeley she got a lot of guff from people (mostly girls) in MECHA, but I think that those types find something to one-up everyone over sooner or later, even if she had been a reyes rather than a wolfenden. Just to ensure her chicana badge i had her visit me in county jail when she was 6 months pregnant, walk up the doyer stadium hill while pregnant, have our baby shower while I was on house arrest in El Monte, navigate a stroller thru the alleys and learn the joy of catholic guilt.

    The whole “how brown are you” game is humorous to me, i dont dig oneupsmanship much. When folks start that game it doesnt end, you could be white from bolen parke or a freaken huichol shaman and some star shirt wearin freedom fighter will out-milpa you somehow. I like to show the mi vida loca tats and mention Im from Aliso village just to make jetta drivers squirm a bit, but its never intended as a pissing contest.

    I was never brown enough. My abuela went to Indian school in New Mexico and grampa grew up Yaqui in Arizona, so my familia has been plenty scarred by assimilation. My mom was the lightest, and i was the lightest of my generation, so I was nana’s favorite but also the one they teased and called huero. I was initially spoken to in spanish for my mother tonuge but all but lost it by adolescence, the spanish further blocked by years of “porque no hablas” shame until recently. I was the only kid in the PJs who didnt speak fluently as well. I also got this weird feature from my father (my paisa side I never knew from guadalajara) where I get darker as i get older so it was weird to jump from light skinned kid treated nice by authorities to mexican problem teen perceived as a threat.

    Despite it all I was engrained with an immense sense of cultural pride and responsibility that has never been comprimised. I only wish many other chicanos would experience the genuine pride of raza love, not some “thing” to one-up others about.

    When I was up in the bay area I worked more with the asian service clubs because they got down to business and none of that BS “im browner than you” stuff was as apparent. Id like to see more of that rather than eye rolling amongst conscious chicano, it’d help get more accomplished.

    BTW, I second EC’s “who I wasnt” comment about finding ourselves. It is a hard pill to swallow you are not part of the “american youth” on MTV, history is quite an eye opener in college.

  7. I felt Mexican as a kid. I think it was the symbolic stuff I was involved in. I was in folklorico. I went to Mass in Spanish. I spent more time with my grandparents, spent a few weeks in Zacatecas. As I got older, and especially in college I came to identify more as a Chicana. I realized I was less Mexican. I focused a lot on that border and what separated me from the people on the other side of it. I didn’t come to feel Mexican until ~5 years ago. I took a trip on my own to Mexico. It was just a few weeks, but in that time I felt totally at home in Guanajuato. The feeling struck me as a strange. I rarely saw my family there, but I was quickly embraced.

    Funny thing, it wasn’t until I left Hacienda Heights (lots of Asians there) that people started to see me and ask “what are you?” The questions came from unlikely sources — other Latinos and sometimes Asians. That was weird to me. I was like, can’t you tell? I have el nopal en la frente?!

    When you’ve always seen yourself as one way, it’s a little disconcerting to be told, “no you don’t look Mexican to me, you look more Filipina.”

  8. I am Mexican straight paisa! and what!… as I kid I was not as proud of being Mexican I thought it was better to be light skin or look white. I was ashamed of my parents not speaking English. Now I am ashamed of my self for having been an ignorant kid but I did not know. As i got older i became very proud of my culture and who I am and where my parents came from.
    Most people know I am Mexican, i gotten other things though Indian, Persian, mixed, etc.
    As for the music I did grow up with it and I actually like it.

  9. I was born in Boyle Heights and so to many Mexicans I’m probably a good old fashioned pocho, but the fact I speak pretty darn good Spanish gets me some brownie points on the Mexicano scale.

    I sort of have ethnically hemaphroditic looks, so in different contexts, I’ve been mistaken for being of different ethnicities, including Arabic or Persian. In Tennessee, a confused little black girl called me a “cracker.” There just weren’t a lot of “Mexicans” in her part of that state for her to really have a reference point. All she knew was I wasn’t black.

    But I consider myself Mexican-American. When I was a little kid I felt more Mexican, mostly because I didn’t speak English.

  10. i just participated in a race forum at my university and it was really interesting listening to pacific islander, latino and black high school students talk about this issue within their own communities.

    personally, people in my hood thought i was mixed (black and mexican). my hair is curly and my name is ivette (generally a black name where i come from) and my english is for the most part unaccented. plus my best friend is biracial so i guess everyone else figured i was too. i do sometimes get the white/latina mix question, just ’cause i’m light but i am quick to point out that i am mexican and guatemalan. not 50% mexican and 50% guatemalan either…

    i think i’ll become the norm in the future as more Latinos intermarry other Latinos from different nationalities

  11. I always had this contest with my brother, but it was a bit different — it involved eating chiles jalapeños, and obviously, the one who ate the most was more Mexican. Sometimes I was more Mexican and other times he was more Mexican. It all depended on the jalapeño that I picked. =)

  12. Wouldn’t put too much stock in the jalapeno eating contest. My father is white as a ghost, and can eat a habenero whole.

  13. Great story Victoria

    i am a pocho, a mexican american and orgulloso de mi herencia mexicana.
    I do dislike it when someone que parece que tiene el nopal en la frente no sabe espanol.

    I think it is very important for the parents and grandparents and extended family to talk to the young ones en espanol.

    I am sure glad que yo hablo espanol.
    Sure i wont be a court translator or even a spanish tour guide at universal studios but no me hacen menso, i can defend myself.
    I now know that the correct word for “especial” is “oferta”.

    Anyways hay que echarle ganas!

    Remember this is the only country in the world that provides the opportunity to realize your dreams.

    The USA is made up of immigrants from the polish and irish to our gente latina.

    Right now with this down economy there is work.

    It is all up to the individual and their ego and pride.

  14. Coincidentally, I got a job today at a high school in Inglewood. Upon introducing myself to the students in all six 12th grade English classes at this roughly 75% Black and 25% Latino school, some students (mostly the Latinos) asked me where I was from. I told them East LA. The Latinos tripped out. “What?! Miss, I go shopping there at Mercadito!” Then the questions.

    “But miss… what was your last name again?”

    I tell them.

    “But you’re Mexican, right miss?”

    We played the guessing game. The winner would get a pack of Oreos. Students asked where my parents were from. They asked if and why I knew Spanish and to prove that I knew Spanish, to speak for them.

    “Tres tacos de asada con todo y salsa verde aparte, por favor.”

    They asked what my favorite food was.

    “Empanadas, tortas, Armenian/Mediterranean food, pad thai, spaghetti, sushi, tacos and burritos depending where, pho, soul, and Chinese, depending.”

    One student made a list of all the regions/countries/states/cities she and her classmates thought my parents could possibly be from. This is their list, grammar errors and all.

    Tepa/Jalisco, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Mexican and White, El Salvador, Honduras, Central America, Chile y White, Cuba!, Uruguay, Paraguay, German, Italian, Swetish, Jalisco, White, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Spanish, Polish, Indonesian, Indian, Russian, Jewish, Austria, Munich, Berlin, Tailand, Hamburga, Canadian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Yugoslavia, Chechoslovakia, English, Australian, Ethiopian, Lebanese.

    Interlude I.
    I have friends from college who are Nikkei Latinos. Mexicans and Peruvians whose ancestry is rooted in Japan and each sport Japanese middle and last names and were born and raised in D.F., Monterey and Lima. Kouichi and Monica especially are more Mexican than any Chican@ or Poch@ I know in the U.S.

    Interlude II.
    At the end of the day, does it really matter? What happened to “Somos humanos”?

  15. Nice post Victoria, but I must take exception to one of your comments,

    “Interlude I.
    I have friends from college who are Nikkei Latinos. Mexicans and Peruvians whose ancestry is rooted in Japan and each sport Japanese middle and last names and were born and raised in D.F., Monterey and Lima. Kouichi and Monica especially are more Mexican than any Chican@ or Poch@ I know in the U.S.”

    Lets think about that statement for a minute, I know I am, being a Mexican American aka Chicano or Pocho.
    I don’t know your friends personally but I will ask respectfully, has any bourgeoisie Mexicano from the middle or upper class of Mexico that you know of, ever had any idea of the humiliation and suffering for being a Mexican or Chicano or Pocho like we Chicano’s or Pocho’s as you refer to them, have suffered here in the USA? Have any of those “Mexicano’s” you mention ever been beaten till they dropped by the LAPD for an offense like “Mexican back talking “?
    Have they ever been imprisoned for years in places like Folsom or San Quentin or Soledad for possession of half a joint of grifa, or parole violation for being in their own neighborhood, or suspicion of gang activity, or just being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and being a Chicano?
    Have they ever been subjected to schools that only want to teach auto shop, home economics (cooking and cleaning house) for the girls, a steady diet of Dick and Jane literature even in high school, and a totally discriminatory and negative reaction by any non Mexican American school administrator towards a desire for higher education by a Chicano kid?
    Have they ever been subjected to complete political and judicial subjugation, blatant housing and job discrimination, all because they were Mexican Americans?
    Have they ever had their children denied proper medical care and told to wait in the back of the line because they were Chicanos in a majority white hospital?
    I could go on and on but I think you get the picture, I know plenty of Mexicano’s who were born privileged and have no idea whatsoever about what it is to be castigated, abused, scorned, discriminated, and separated due to being of Mexican heritage.
    Chose you words carefully Victoria, before disparaging others.

  16. Donquixote,
    I have both bourgeois/upper/middle class and poor Mexican-born Mexican and Mexican-American friends who have experienced humiliation for various reasons. Most of them have not confined themselves to identifying with solely their negative experiences in Mexico and/or in the U.S. If they have, it’s a shame and it’s sad. One can only blame the system so much until one realizes that everything, including how one experiences things, is ultimately his/her responsibility.

    Sorry for hitting a sore spot and my inconsiderate choice of words. It was not my intention to disparage anyone; on the contrary, I wanted to point out that one doesn’t have to “look” traditionally Mexican to be Mexican. Here, I use the term Chican@ (Poch@ not so much) as do those who use them nowadays – as terms of identity, pride, and just fun mostly, like some of my peers and a lot of the Latino high school students I encounter.

  17. I’m a gay-guatemex-jew

    1)gay (yes I will consider it a race, because i refer to my fellow LGBT sistas’ as ‘my people)

    2) Dad is from Guatemala + Mom is from Puebla, Mexico = Guatemex

    3) My grandfather on my dad’s side fled Yugoslavia during the Nazi regime…


  18. No Victoria, when I brought to your attention your not to subtle backhanded gaffe (bourgeoise upper middle class Mexicans being more Mexican than any Chicano or Pocho in the US), and trying to compare life experiences of a working class Mexican American as opposed to an upper or upper middle class Mexican citizen, I was only trying to point out the obvious error in your statement. I just thought you needed an adjustment in the historical facts of what really constitutes the life experiences and ethnic impact on people who may be connected because of a geographical location, in this case the country of Mexico, but a universe apart in terms of economics, race and ethnicity, opportunities afforded, expectations, education, and the effect of discrimination and racism on one population (the working class Mexican American and Mexican immigrant), as opposed to the more privileged and entitled bourgeoisie segment of Mexico and Latin America.
    And Victoria, I certainly do not wallow in self pity or reside solely in the negative aspects of my Chicano upbringing, although it was a time in our history when discrimination was rampant and legal, but I also not one of those bourgeoisie Mexicans either, who live in some suburban Valhalla, either here in the US or especially in Mexico, and live lives based on denial, class separation,(except for titillating excursions into the barrios), and historical amnesia.

    And I’m not sure what your point or destination is when you go to the old “stop blaming the system” refrain of the ruling class’s. If a system is based on racism, class-ism, elitism, and economic dominance by a ruling oligarchy, as is the case not only here in the USA but even more so in Mexico, Peru, and most of Latin America, then it is every persons duty and obligation to scream this out loud over and over again until that system ceases to exist.

  19. Don Quixote I think your comments are important ones. Being sheltered from some aspect of being a person of color does put you at an advantage in some ways, but its puts you at a real disadvantage in other ways.

    When I was little truly not thinking that oppression was really real. Up through college I think I thought that if you worked hard everyone could do whatever they wanted. I guess in college they should have put a little asterisk of you can do whatever you want as long as it helps the capitalist system and adds to the oppression of other people.

    The oppression of people by the system is very, very real. It’s not a negative mindset. It is an institutional effort by the larger culture to keep their foot on other people’s neck. And pretending like it’s not happening and being positive about it will do nothing to help most people.

    You may be able to help yourself if you have a certain kind of personality (I would say strong, but I think that puts a value on it that’s not fair, I would say I have a very robotic personality that I can put up with alot to get an end goal and I don’t know if that’s a positive, but I would probably sacrifice my first born child for an A back in the day when I was in school or to win a contest or an election) but the individually thing that is pushed down the throats of the working class of America is a lie. It does not help people be successful. You need other people helping you to be successful. You need a network. A strong network.

    Time and time again you see in history how rich people work together. The priviliged work together. You can’t do something to one of them without all of them coming out and screaming bloody murder. Look at the recent past of the Bush regime. That was based on team work.

    To me people of color regardless of their class will never be able to true build something of substance that will last to help our kids and the next generations without making sure that the most literally oppressed of us has rights.

    I see too many times where one person of color makes it through a maze, but owing to no support they are the only one who makes it out. They aren’t able to help their kids or their grandkids, because of too much of this focus on individual. Why can’t people of color who are middle class and colllege educated keep that legacy going. I have lots of friends who parents went to college, but for some reason they couldn’t get out or even if they did they couldn’t get jobs that could actually change things. And I think because the system is set up with this lie that once you make it, you get the prize of being an individual that has no responsiblity to other people, but only working class and people of color are fed that crap and believe it. And I include white people in working class, because lots of almost poor white people believe in the pull yourself up by the boot straps and they are often living in a one room studio in Lancaster. That has always boggled my mind.

    I learned just riding the bus how unfair this world is. I learned through working in education and in the behavior field that their is such an instiutional class and race barrier in certain things that its going to take more than just one person winning the gold.

    I remember sitting in class and being the only person like me in class and not struggling in college. I remember being in jobs where I was the only person who looked like me that was a profession. I remember because of that I could never really help anyone who was working class or black or Latino, because I had no support from other people and everyone else was so closed minded and racist and classist that they felt I should just be happy that I was there that I shouldn’t worry about those “other” people, because I wasn’t “really black” anyway.

    I remember wishing that the few other people of color in my field would stop being so paranoid about not ever wanting to be that person who talked about race too much. I remember other people of color going out of their way to talk about how people who looked just like them were lazy and didn’t try hard and talking about how crappy their neighborhood’s were.

    It was just classist bullshit. It was horrible. It was a nightmare.

    I remember being very alone, because while to some I am not like the “other” people I’m not really like “them” either.

    I really wish middle class people of color would try harder to help and not be so afraid of every freaking every thing. Too many middle class people of color are too afraid to be offensive once that have their stupid piece of paper or some stupid good job.


  20. I had to come back and try to help out.

    I am a pocho, a mexican american.

    I am also a gay dude and im partially sighted.
    I am a minority(partially sighted), within a minority(gay), within a minority(latino)

    Everyone “suffers and struggles” maybe not in the same ways but we all do. Doesnt matter if your a just arrived immigrant from mexico or a 5th generation mexican american.
    My point is we all have free will and the ability to make decisions and choices.
    I recognize our past struggles and suffering by our gente here in the USA.
    But one has to say- Lets not live in the past, live in the present but sure dont forget the past.
    I dont like victims or people that say “poor me”.

    I have sympathy and compassion up to a point.

    Hey shit happens!

    It can be difficult but not impossible.

    You can choose to be Victorious or be Defeated.

    I choose Victory. We need to unite as people.

    In the end there is a solution to everything except death 🙂

  21. Victoria, only people I see blaming the system and passing responsibility today are on Wall Street. Telling minorities to stop blaming the system is so 2007. After all, they were right.

  22. Good points Browne and it’s obvious your not a person to be bullshitted with by old tired cliches about the non existence of class and ethnic discrimination spouted by the High Brahman ruling class’s and their petite bourgeoisie mouthpieces.
    The misleading propaganda that we are all equal and start out on the same playing field with the same referees is a sham and meant to defuse the frustration and anger of the working class.
    The sooner one sees this as the bullshit it is the better off they will be. It took me years to finally see the truth and to clean the cloudy film from my eyes. Reality is sometimes painful but in the end the cognizance that a real and deceitful ruling class exists and will try to protect it’s own selfish economic class interests at all cost’s is obvious. This realization, and seeing and understanding how this system works is freedom from manipulation and thought control.
    Class-ism, racism, war, prisons and the judicial system, so called illegal immigration, education, sexism, and the task of feeding your family and hustling a buck are all important facets of this system.
    Important to propping up this corrupt class system are the mantra’s and cliches given and used by it’s apologists . Some examples are, “pull yourself up by the bootstraps, don’t be a victim try to get ahead, they don’t think like us we are different, they don’t value life like we do, don’t complain, pray, God is on our side, it’s all up to the individual, they don’t place any value on education, there is no poverty in my country those people just prefer to remain ignorant, we are special”.
    I recently had a conversation with the wife of a friend.
    She is from a wealthy Chilango (Mexico DF), family of industrialist’s. We were discussing the waves of immigration from Mexico to the USA, and with a straight face she told me that there was no reason for these people to immigrate because Mexico had every opportunity available to every citizen to “better themselves”. She continued on and stated that there was no class-ism, racism, or real poverty in Mexico except for Indio’s who relished their poor existence and made it a choice to live in those circumstances. According to this delusional upper class Mexicana, Mexico was better off having these people immigrate to the USA because they were the basura of Mexico anyway.
    This is a common theme of the upper class of Latin America and I have heard similar statements of denial and delusion from people from Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and El Salvador.
    The truth shall set you free.

  23. Talk about a downer.

    Victoria, your piece was great reading and witty. We have all been told we look like something we are not. People always think I am Armenian. Come on, tell me Saddam Hussein doesn’t look like he could be our Mexican tio. We all share the traits of various cultures, thats was makes us great.

    I am as Mexican as Chente, Tequilla and COATLICUE the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars. Que viva Mexico!

  24. this is a very interesting discussion .

    I myself am a third generation Mexican-american, but I’m from Chicago so the whole Mexican situation is much different here. I don’t fit into any “mexican” category. I don’t know where I fit in. I really have no interest in Mexican culture, but I really cant fit in with white people. My situation is like that song from Sly and the Family stone. “Dont call me nigga whitey, don’t call me whitey nigga”. That feeling is decribes the way I feel. I feel discriminated by my own culture, I really don’t belong anywhere.

    We are “La Raza Cosmica”. I barley realized what that term even means. Basically it means that Latinos are a conglomeration of all the worlds cultures: indian/Asian(traveled through Bering strait),European,and African.

    I too have been asked on numerous occasions about my ethnicity. Personally, I feel it can sometimes be a little rude to openly ask someone.

    Some people have asked me if I’m Chilean, part Italian, or even Lebanese. really weird. judging from the way I speak, people sometimes assume that I come from a biracial home.

    My family is kind of weird. Some are very fair skinned with brown hair and others are very brown and have black hair. The problem is that most mexicans emphasize more on their european roots because indian features have been frowned upon.

    The fact is that we are all Americans. My Spanish is crap, if I ever travel outside of Chicago, they’ll consider me an American, and I’m fine with that.

    I’m no more special than anyone else, I dont take too mcuh pride in myself.

    Appearances only mean so much.

  25. well you know, as the saying goes………….


  26. Al Desmadre, All- the (SOMEWHERE ABOVE) post on this topic is not by Vince who has been posting on this site, usually in the Lost Eateries dept, I am from ELA, not Chicago!! I hope the other Vince would adjust his screen name so we don’t get mixed up, I’m from ELA, NOT CHICAGOOOO!!!!

  27. GREAT post! I laughed so hard when you said Jewpanese, because my girlfriend is half Jewish (ironically, her mother’s last name is also Krauss), but her last name is Nakamura. Even though I AM THE CHICANA, other Latin@s always speak to HER in Spanish, assuming I am the white girl!! QUE PASA???!!!! People here in NYC have NO CLUE what the hell I am talking about when I tell them I’m NOT Puerto Rican, I’m Chicana….I miss LA!

  28. DQ-I believe the wealthy industrialist from Mexico DF has a reality problem, the only thing Mexico ever gave us was a one way trip to the United States. Sure we have our cultura, our abuelas, but really what did MEXICO ever give it’s people but a third world lifestyle, sure not all Mexico is like that,my paternal grandfather is from Mexico City, why did he join the army in ww2 to gain his citizenship?? Because Mexico is a third world country!!It’s sad that a lot of people blame Mexico, and their filthy way of raising pigs for the swine flu epidemic, Mexico isn’t the only one to blame, people of other nationalities are filthy also! Did anyone notice Mexico’s medal count in the past Olympics? Not much to be proud of there (sportswise) I’m sure if there were opportunities at home in Mexico he would not have had to go through all that. DUH! -Vince from ELA, not the other Vince, from Chicago who posted here also.

  29. Who remembers the saying from the 70’s in East LA?

  30. i dont think im mexican enough . i grew up around gringos untill i was around 7 years old . but now people are saying im trying to be or want to be black . im like . NO I DONT! after i moved we moved to a place in ohio with alot of black people .sometimes i catch myself talking like a black person . i hate it . i dont ate black people i just want to be a mexican . people call me white because im kind of light – skinned . i say im not white and im not black .and they say then what are you . i tell them and they say well your white because latin peolpe are

  31. I’m as Mexican as they come on the inside though on the exterior, I sometimes get mistaken for an Asian ethnicity. I look really indigenous and my short height does not help but this has never been a problem of mistaken identity. That was, until I started venturing outside of “da hood” and into more diverse locations such as college or just other more populous places. It’s interesting that I never really bothered to embrace my heritage until I started seeing the outside world. I never really get mistaken by other Latinos (they can clearly spot the nopal on my forehead) but I feel that other people have a harder time distinguishing what I am. I once had a native Taiwanese woman ask me if I was Japanese or some other Asian ethnicity. And as this keeps happening, I start to have similar feelings as you (the author). I don’t have problem with people saying I look Asian but I want to be recognized as Mexican (with that hidden spice of Guatemalan).

    So how Mexican am I? Full blooded according to my other fellow Mexicans. To the rest, I’m one or the other. I’ll get either side of the fence but a clear side nonetheless.

    Great article by the way. Wish it were a bit longer.

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