“I’m a hang with white people.”

sgt. poke from Generation Kill
“From the creator of “The Wire”, HBO brings you “Generation Kill“, the true story of the highly trained Marines of First Recon Battalion; following them through the first 40 days of the Iraq war.”

Above is a photo of Sgt. Tony “Poke” Espera played by Jon Huertas.
First Recon
Age: 30
Rank: Sgt., Assistant Team Leader
Humbee 2 Bravo: Passenger, Front
Hometown: Riverside, CA

I tried finding this clip on YouTube but no luck. In one episode, he’s talking to Evan Wright, writer for Rolling Stone and says,

“Dawg, I was like 13 or 14 hanging around the neighborhood, I grew up in, just east of L.A., we saw some cholos from another hood and we thought we was all hard gang banger wannabees, so we started saying “Fuck off yo, Fuck off” throwing and flashing signs to them and stuff, so they start throwin down on us, kicking our little asses then some of the older dawgs from my hood came out, took and grabbed those fools and took one behind Tasty Freeze and stabbed him up with a screwdriver and killed that cholo. See… generally white people, they don’t drag a dude behind a Tasty Freeze and stab him to death with a screwdriver. So after that day I decided, I’m a hang with white people.”

16 thoughts on ““I’m a hang with white people.”

  1. Am I missing something? What does it mean to be a “hang” with someone? Is that some slang that I don’t know or is that dude just making stuff up?

  2. “I am going to hang out (socialize) with.”
    “I’m going to hang with.”
    “I’m gonna hang with.”
    “I’m gon hang with.”
    “I’ma hang with.”

    This guy is such a liar.

    Click name for a link to the search for “murder by screwdriver”.

  3. this whole thread is kind of weird and confusing. I feel like I’m not quite getting the whole thing, but it seems like there is some racism going on, yes? or am I reading this wrong?

    like, I mean, setting aside the story about the screwdriver (which—is it supposed to be true? is the show fiction? is this a real quote from Rolling Stone? confusing, sorry, I don’t watch TV and am not up on things)–anyway, setting that aside, acording to El Viejo’s posts, there’s apparently something terribly wrong about Latinas/os speaking in ebonics. “I know Ebonics when I hear it”? okay, so what? and? y que? what’s your point? you’re somewhat bothered by Latinas/os taking fashion tips from black culture, but when they start incorporating contemporary black linguistic structures and forms into their speech, now that’s really just too much for you to take? WTF is that?

    also, Viejito: the original quote was “I’ma hang with white people,” not “I’m a hang wif da white folk.” in this context, to answer your question, I think that what you said here and how you said it constitutes neither slang, nor Ebonics, but simply, RACISM.

    lots of Latinas/os mix ebonics with spanish with english with spanglish with whatever, and that cross-cultural linguistic mixing has been going on for generations. so what? that is how language evolves and stays alive and relevant, and how it remains an accurate reflection of our experience of the world. what’s wrong with speaking in ebonics? what’s wrong with speaking in spanglish? what’s wrong with mixing them?

    usually, the people who find a problem with this are those who rightly perceive such practices as a threat to entrenched power structures that rely on the use of language as a weapon of domination and oppression. for these people, the maintenance of a “proper” linguistic order reflects, and contributes to, the maintenance of a “proper” power order (in this case, whites over non-whites, rich over poor, men over women, heterosexual over non-hetero). any use of language that deviates from the normative, “proper” use of language–as established by those in power–reflects a subversion of, and challenge to, that power order.


  4. dang VIEJITO you got me good. my bad. I musta misunderstood. usually I remember to stay in my Place and just erase my totally incoherent, nonsensical, invalid opinions before making them public.

    Ima go watch me some tele now, cuz.

  5. Viejo,

    We need more commenters like you who are willing to pick arguments here but also do not hold grudges. Sadly, in our short history, we’ve had characters who have made the “mistake of viewing [their] opinions as being any more correct [or] valid as the opinions of others.”

    Sigue leyendo, ruco. 😛

  6. dang, not to be redundant, but you got me good again!

    here I thought that wars were started by patronizing folks who condescendingly dismiss others’ opinions — often by characterizing them as rambling stream-of-consciousness diatribes. my bad.

    but seriously, all sarcasm aside, I am genuinely curious about this concept of validity and opinions. a simple example: are George Bush et al’s opinion that some people do not have the same full value as human beings, and therefore can be killed, bombed, exploited, enslaved, ignored, erased, in order to benefit others–is that opinion “valid”? and people who agree with, say, Bush’s policies and agenda–are their opinions to be taken seriously as “valid” opinions? are some opinions not only invalid in terms of their relationship to truth, but actually dangerous, because they are misinformed and shaped around illusions and lies? I mean, if I sit and watch Fox News all day, my opinion might be that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 attacks, right? how would you characterize that opinion–I mean, using fancy linguistic terms and shit? and, if somebody came at me with an opinion like that, and I called them on it and said No, that opinion is bullshit and is based on lies–well, does that then make me some kind of bad, less enlightened person who feels superior and who holds petty grudges–or somebody concerned with promoting and fomenting social justice and truth? do we have a responsibility to call out these kinds of opinions that function to perpetuate lies and oppression?

    AND: when we gang up to dismiss somebody who calls BS on a misinformed opinion, are we being reactionary and conservative and functioning to help smash any resistance or challenge to systems of oppression? does this sort of discourse mirror the kind of repressive violence we saw the other day in Minneapolis when journalist Amy Goodman was arrested for speaking truth to power? does this sort of discourse of condescending dismissal feed into the same fascist mindset and structure clamping down tighter on us every day?

    just some preguntas, profes, while we can still pose them.

  7. I really like how the young mechistas get all loco over the way somebody else talks. All this critique coming from a bunch of free thinkers, a la verga que hypocritas.

    If the dude wants to say “I’m a gonna hang with white people” why the fuck does anybody care?

    kualyque is the only one calling out the pinche hypocrites.

  8. EL VIEJO I love the “who is more down with the cause” contest. It’s always so refreshingly bitter.

    I hope my above ebonics did not offend your delicate sensibilities.

    Moving all to the actual post. It made me so sick I hesitated commenting on it. It’s always sad when people of color (POC) use a common stereotype of people who share their background to get brownie points from the mainstream. Obviously this guy was trying to be funny, but it is not funny, it’s rather sad.

    I remember a lost soul who once told me with great glee how happy he was to be accepted by the white power skinhead group while he spent some time incarcerated.

    He said this as a badge of honor that he didn’t fit in with his own people, so he had to hang with white people. Not any group of white people, but scary, racist white people, but they let him be their little dog.

    He was happy to be a dog.

    But you know that POC that always talks about how they don’t “fit in” with other POC and gives you little sob stories and writes long posts and traps you into long conversations is always a little bit full of bs.

    The “people make fun of me because of how I talk or what music I listen” conversation.

    I’ll let a 13 year old get away with it, but I’m meeting too many 30 year olds who are still singing this old tired song.

    With every group of people you have to make an effort and you have to ignore a little bit of insanity, but to me these kinds of POC seem to feel that it’s better to give “the mainstream” chance after to chance to disrespect them, than giving a POC that same chance or courtesy. It’s called self-hate or opportunist a**hole.

    It’s not about not fitting in or being scared or any of that. It is about them wanting to hang out with white people, because that’s who they want to hang with. Now if that’s who you are, be that guy, but don’t try to say it’s “your people’s” fault.

    There are a variety of types of people in every ethnic group. You never have to hang out with JUST white people unless you are making a concentrated effort.

    I like having a variety of friends, so when I piss off one group, I can just go to the other…lol…

    If you don’t want to hang out with your people because you don’t that’s your right, but don’t coon up a characteristic of your people to take the responsibility away from you for making your choice. I have to admit though I haven’t seen a person of African descent since Monday 🙂

  9. El Viejo, hurling anonymous insults at Browne doesn’t make you seem smart or brave and certainly does nothing to bolster your arguments. It makes you look like an infant who, unable to express himself, starts throwing sh*t around the room.

    You expressed outrage at the fact that some Latinos speak in black slang and wonder why, pray tell, that would bother anyone.

    Well, maybe because we live in a racist society in which African Americans are systematically discriminated against. This includes attacks on black slang, clothes, and music, etc. (which often set the stage for more concrete, physical attacks).

    Maybe also because Los Angeles is a city with an enormous amount of Black on Brown violence, confusion, suspicion, fear, and hatred.

    Your anti-ebonics rant doesn’t take place in a vacuum.

    And why should anyone care if you were a member of the United Mexican American Students? That doesn’t make your comments any less messed up.

  10. If that’s the worst thing you could pick out of Generation Kill to whine about, you obviously didn’t watch much of it…

    And any feelings that language such as Poke’s was added specifically to stereotype “Mexicans” are totally misplaced.

  11. “Generation Kill” was a great miniseries with a lot of great dialogue. The line I’ll always remember is when a white soldier makes that comment:”Everyone’s shooting Mexicans…even Mexicans.”

  12. “Everyone likes shooting Mexicans… even Mexicans…”

    That series was hilarious. And that screw driver story is probably true, that happened at least once at my school. Flatheads can be used as an improvised weapon, especially if the user puts a little work on the end. Nasty world.

    And you guys are taking it way too seriously and out of context. Those guys talked a lot of shit and told a lot of stories, and hardly any of it meant anything. They used it for entertainment.

    Racism was just that guy’s primary source for philisophical debate and humor.

    Like the the most racist sounding guy in the series was actually always hanging out with Mexicans and black guys that weren’t even in his platoon, despite all his shit talking. That’s all it is. Talking bullshit to pass the time.

  13. Well, i have seen a few interviews with Espera and he would be classified as a “white hispanic” (sub group), as I. Though, for reasons “unknown” , he is never asked about the veracity of this. Nevertheless, he has never voiced any objection to this, so it is likely to be true. This, is not something uncommon, anyways.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *