Category Archives: racism

Latinos & Gringas Gorditas

White guy #1: You know who likes to go with Mexicans? Fat white girls! It’s always the fat ones who-
Carlos: Hey.
White guy #1: What?
Carlos: Do me a favor.
White guy #1: Yeah?
Carlos: Shut the fuck up. {walks away}
White guy #1: Damn, what the hell’s his problem?
White guy #2: You’re a dumbass. His wife is white.
{awkward silence}
White guy #1: But I wasn’t sayin’ nothin – I just meant it’s like… a stereotype.

A stereotype – and like any stereotype, it’s mostly hurtful bigotry, but with a little truth mixed in – (Sort of like Fruit Punch with 10% real juice.)

“Gringas Gorditas” (Fat white girls), do not disproportionately pair up with Latino men. I can say anecdotally that among the gringas I know who are with Latino men, it’s an even split 50/50 with half being flacas (thin) and the other half being gorditas (chubby or fat.)

I’m one of the gorditas, and I’ve come up against a lot of ignorant assumptions about my marriage. First of all, I did not “settle” for my husband because I couldn’t “get a white guy”. White guys were never on my radar in the first place, maybe due to a childhood crush on Ricky Ricardo – who knows.

Second of all, my husband did not choose me just to get a Greencard, and nor am I a “status symbol” for him.

This stereotype about Latinos and gringas gorditas is doubly damaging because not only does it literally weigh my worth as a woman in pounds, it casts an ugly light on interracial marriage – as if our marriage is somehow less valid.

Here’s some breaking news: Interracial couples fall in love for all the complicated and simple reasons “same race” couples fall in love. In the end, it comes down to attraction – not just physical, (though biologically that can’t much be helped), but spiritual connection, emotional attachment, and shared experiences all play a role.

Now for the 10% juice: Culturally speaking, Latino men are typically more accepting, and even desiring, of a thicker figure on a woman, than are Anglo men. (Source: Study on Race/Ethnicity Body Type Preferences)

(Necessary Disclaimer: That, of course, is a generality that does not apply to all Latino men or all Anglo men. Individual results may vary.)

The real question in my mind is what is the fascination with this stereotype? Why all the scrutiny over my curves and his color? Yes, I’m a gringa gordita and yes, he is Latino – ¿Y qué? (So what?)

“It is not that love is blind. It is that love sees with a painter’s eye, finding the essence that renders all else background.” – Robert Brault

Race & Reality

I just finished reading Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity by Guy P. Harrison.

This was definitely not light, relaxing reading but I’m happy that I pushed through and read it.

Book Description:

“Drawing on a wide variety of evidence – the hard data from fossils and DNA, interviews with the victims of racism, and personal experiences – Harrison dismantles the ‘race’ concept, bolt by bolt. Exposing race as a social illusion and political tool – rather than a biological reality – Harrison forces the reader to consider how they think about ‘other folk.’ Anthropologists have no use for the race concept, and neither should educated citizens.” -Cameron M. Smith, PhD, Department of Anthropology, Portland State University

Even if you already consider yourself educated and enlightened, reading this book will open your eyes in new ways. You won’t be able to look at people, race or society the same ever again. (Remember, we’re talking about race here – not culture. Very different. The craziness I observe in my own household on a daily basis is proof enough to me that cultural differences exist!)

The author argues that we all came out of Africa and we are one human race – that any categories based on hair type, skin color, facial features, etc – are simply man-made… By the time I finished reading this book I felt simultaneously freed…and trapped. I see myself as raceless, but this just isn’t practical in the society we live in.

Imagine renewing my driver’s license at the DMV. I fill out the form, I come to the race boxes – decide to leave them blank because they seem silly and irrelevant. I turn in my form.

“Ma’am, you didn’t check a box for race.”
“I know. I don’t want to. I don’t believe in races.”
“Yes ma’am, that’s real cute, but you have to choose one. I can’t process an incomplete form…”
I sigh, take my pen in hand, and check off a race.
“Hmm… I suppose this one is most accurate…”
I hand the form back to the DMV clerk who looks it over. Her satisfied smile at my compliance soon turns to a frown.
“African-American?!”

So, I don’t think race will be disappearing any time soon – and maybe it would be irresponsible of me to pretend our world doesn’t see these man-made boxes, regardless of what I personally feel. I have two sons who are struggling with their identity, and answering their questions with a cheerful, “Race doesn’t exist”, is not going to help them sort things out.

Just yesterday a classmate approached my older son and said, “Are you Mexican?” … My son, (having picked up on his father’s annoyance at constantly being incorrectly labeled Mexican instead of Latino or Salvadoran), replied with a simple, curt, “No.”

I told him that he should have used the opportunity to educate his classmate, but I wonder if that was fair of me. As a “white” girl amongst other “white” kids, I never had to explain myself. It must get annoying having to patiently tell people “what you are”. It must make one feel very “other”… and that’s never a good feeling, no matter how old you are – but especially in middle school.

The book, Race and Reality, re-printed a “Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage” which I think is empowering, not just for people who are traditionally considered “multi-racial” by today’s society – but for all of us. In the end, there is no pure race. We are all mixed and we are all human.

___

Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage:

I HAVE THE RIGHT…
Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.
Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my physical or ethnic ambiguity.

I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently than how my parents identify me.
To identify myself differently than my brothers and sisters.
To identify myself differently in different situations.

I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To create a vocabulary to communicate about being multiracial or multi-ethnic.
To change my identity over my lifetime -and more than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.

© Maria P. P. Root, PhD

Nachos & Border Amigos

American flags are out in full force this weekend – And thanks to Hurricane Earl passing off the coast, the red, white and blue, snapped proudly in the wind.

While I was taking photos, I noticed the juxtaposition of this flag and a sign that made me smile.

Okay, maybe I’m easily amused, but the way “NACHOS” is written up there, as if there is nothing more American than that, it made me happy.

Actually, if you’re interested to know, nachos have a good story behind them.

From Wikipedia: Nachos originated in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, just over the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, at a restaurant called the Victory Club, owned by Rodolfo De Los Santos. One day in 1943, the wives of ten to twelve U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan in nearby Eagle Pass were in Piedras Negras on a shopping trip, and arrived at the restaurant after it had closed for the day. The maître d’, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, invented a new snack for them with what little he had available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. Anaya cut the tortillas into triangles, added longhorn cheddar cheese, quickly heated them, and added sliced jalapeño peppers. He served the dish, calling it Nacho’s especiales – meaning something like “Nacho’s special dish” in Spanish.

Anaya went on to work at the Moderno Restaurant in Piedras Negras, which still uses the original recipe. He also opened his own restaurant, “Nacho’s Restaurant”, in Piedras Negras. Anaya’s original recipe was printed in the 1954 St. Anne’s Cookbook.

The popularity of the dish swiftly spread throughout Texas. The first known appearance of the word “nachos” in English dates to 1949, from the book A Taste of Texas. Waitress Carmen Rocha is credited with introducing the dish to Los Angeles at El Cholo Mexican restaurant in 1959.

So there you have it. Nachos may not have been invented without some hungry gringas and an ingenious Mexican. You see, gente? This is what can happen when we all try to get along.

The “Mexican” statue: Racist, Tacky or Funny?

I’m not a fan of lawn ornaments in general as they clutter the landscaping, but people around here seem to love yard decorations of all varieties. There’s one house we pass that keeps a melange of stone pigs on their front walk. They even go to the trouble of dressing them up for different holidays, which I have to admit, I find amusing.

Stone pigs aside, I usually don’t pay too much attention to people’s yard decorations, but last night we passed by one that was hard to ignore.

I made my husband go back and drive by again so I could get a photo. Luckily he’s used to such locuras and didn’t even question me. One summer it was my quest to photograph a cow that liked to wade into a little pond, but every time the cow was in there, I didn’t have my camera – and every time I had my camera, the cow was out in the field. One day my husband came home from work saying, “The cow’s in the water! Come on!” I grabbed my camera and we rushed over there and I got my photo.

Anyway, this was not a cow in a pond we stopped to photograph this time. As you can see, it is a man in a sombrero accompanied by a burro. The statues reminded me of the episode of George Lopez, when a neighbor put similar lawn decorations in his yard and they smashed them because they found them offensive.

¿Qué opinas tú?

Are the statues racist, tacky, or funny? Does the intent of the people who put up the statues matter? Does the race of the statue owners change your opinion? What if these statues were in front of a Mexican restaurant rather than in someone’s yard?

Middle School Amor

My oldest son will be 12 years old in a few months, but when it comes to the whole dating scene, he’s been way behind his peers. It seems like all his friends have been dating since Kindergarten, but my son didn’t start showing a mild interest in girls until this year and seemed in no rush to have a girlfriend, which was fine by me!

All that changed last Friday. When he came home from school he said, “I want to tell you something, but you can’t ask me a million questions.” (Don’t you love that?… it’s worse when they say, “…but you can’t get mad.”)

Anyway, he said, “I have a girlfriend.”

I clapped a hand over my mouth to stop the million questions from spilling forth. He stared at me. I took a deep breath and composed myself.

“Oh… that’s cool.” I feigned nonchalance. A minute passed… “Um, so, like… no questions at all?” I said tentatively.

He rolled his eyes… “OKAY, but not too many!”

I selected them carefully.

“What’s her name? …” (Liz.)
“How do you know her?…” (She’s in my classes.)
“What do you like about her?” (She’s nice and smart.)

I backed off and left him alone even though I was dying to know more. Over the weekend he showed me her picture in the year book. I had been wanting to ask him if she was Anglo, Latina, or something else, (He had a crush on a Korean-American girl last year), but I didn’t want him to think that I thought race was important. His father and I don’t care what race he dates or eventually marries, but we are curious to see how much more mixed up our family will become!

When I saw her picture in the year book, it was fairly obvious that she was Anglo, (of course, you never know for sure.) But based on her features, (not so unlike mine – blue eyes and freckles), and her surname, that would be my best guess.

Later that night I reported back to my husband everything I had learned about our son’s first girlfriend. We laid in bed, the house quiet, as we had our nightly chat before falling asleep.

“I wonder what her parents will say,” my husband said aloud.
“About what?” I said.
“When they find out their daughter’s boyfriend has the last name López.”

I hadn’t thought about that. We laid in bed, staring at the darkness for a minute.
“I’m sure it will be fine,” I said.

On Monday, our son came home from school. He closed the door behind him and set his backpack on the floor. “Well, we broke up,” he said.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Oh yeah! I’m not upset about it at all. Whatever,” he said, heading towards the kitchen.
“That’s good… but, what happened?”
“She said that her parents told her she can’t have a boyfriend.”
“But she must have known that. Why did she say ‘yes’ when you asked her on Friday?”
“Good question,” he said shrugging his shoulders as he emptied the cupboards and refrigerator in pursuit of an after-school-snack.

I’m relieved that the question of racism hasn’t entered his thoughts as a possibility. I’m just sad that it’s entered mine.

Lettuce Recall

There is a recall on lettuce due to E-coli contamination.

In other news, the United States has been treating Latinos like second class citizens.

Just sayin’.

(Warning: Video is not politically correct and contains adult language. Don’t watch if you can’t take a joke.)

Boycotting Arizona – What You Need to Know

As a result of the recent Draconian law, SB-1070, passed in Arizona which legalizes racial profiling, there has been a lot of buzz about boycotting the state. But just how does one boycott the state of Arizona?

According to netstate.com, “Arizona’s agricultural output is pretty evenly distributed between crops and livestock. About 47% of Arizona’s agricultural production is in livestock. The other 53% is in crops. In terms of revenue generated, Arizona’s top five agricultural products are cattle and calves, lettuce, dairy products, cotton, and hay.”

These aren’t exactly easy products to boycott since labels don’t always tell us the origin, for example, if I buy a T-shirt, there is no way for me to know where the cotton used to make it originated from.

Arizona also manufactures things such as electronic equipment, but again, which ones?

When trying to think up companies from Arizona, most Americans will come up immediately with Arizona Beverages, the makers of Arizona Iced Tea – but they would be wrong. Fearing this wrong assumption, the New York based company has even put a message up on their website.

There are a lot of famous companies that really are headquartered in Arizona though, such as Fender, P.F. Chang’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Best Western, PetSmart and U-Haul – but it doesn’t make sense to boycott these name brands either since this will hurt more than Arizona. It will hurt the company owners, who may not even be in favor of the new law, and because these companies have locations across the country, it will hurt all their other employees and their families who are already struggling in this economy.

So how can you boycott Arizona?

The most popular method being encouraged is to simply not go there, as “The Grand Canyon” state relies heavily on tourism.

Another method now being circulated targets Arizona’s baseball team, The Diamondbacks. The best reasoning for this particular approach is because the owners of the team are reportedly major donors to the Republicans responsible for the law. Other bonuses include the fact that more than 27% of Major League Baseball players are Latino which has helped to generate a huge Latino fan base. Losing Latinos at their games will be a major financial loss. A protest outside Wrigley Field in Chicago where the Diamondbacks are set to play the Cubs, is already being organized.

Meanwhile, Arizona Governor, Janet Brewer has decided to stick her head in the sand and hope for the best. Her recent statement, “I believe it’s not going to have the kind of economic impact that some people think that it might,” shows a shocking amount of ignorance at very recent history in her own state. In 2008 Arizona cracked down on businesses that were found to have hired undocumented immigrants and their economy suffered as a direct result.


(Video from 2008)

Some businesses have already noticed a decline in customers.

Hector Manrique the owner of Taqueria Guadalajara in Phoenix said, “The streets just went empty. Usually on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’re packed. But this weekend was empty like I’d never seen it before… A lot of people told me they’re afraid to go out…”

And with good reason. The first American Citizen has already been mistakenly arrested, handcuffed, transported by van and detained. Abdon, who did not want to give his surname, was released after his wife arrived with his birth certificate at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Phoenix where he was being detained.

Arizona soon to violate civil rights

What’s going on in Arizona is not the type of immigration reform this country needs.  The soon-to-be Arizona law, which passed the state House last week and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), states that police can arrest anyone on “reasonable suspicion” that they are an illegal immigrant.

This is flat out racial profiling and it’s wrong. So, what if my family decided to go to the Grand Canyon this summer, (which we sure as hell won’t. I’m not stepping foot in Arizona as long as these sorts of laws are being enforced), and let’s say my husband was just walking around like any other tourist. Just based on his skin color, accent and lack of “proof” to the contrary, they could arrest him because they suspect he’s an illegal immigrant? (He’s a U.S. Citizen by the way.) … How can that be allowed to happen anywhere in the United States? If a legal resident or U.S. Citizen is in fact arrested or detained due to this new law, I hope they sue their pantalones off.

Part of me hopes that immigrants, (both documented and undocumented as they both must now survive in a constant state of paranoia), living in Arizona will simply leave the state and move elsewhere. Maybe Arizona thinks that is what they want, but they will soon realize they have shot themselves in the foot as various industries begin to collapse.

A similar law was passed a few years ago in Prince William County, Virginia. A timely documentary called “9500 Liberty” is on limited release right now.  Some time soon it is supposed to premiere on cable television and will also be released on DVD. (In the meantime, watch the trailer below.)

Speak English

The Teabaggers are complete imbeciles. I would laugh at them but it’s just depressing.

First of all, boycotting Mexico will just harm their economy, causing there to be even less jobs available, which will send more undocumented immigrants over the border in search of work. That seems rather counter productive. Second, yes, please, respect our country – Speak English.

Mendez v. Westminster

Here’s an interesting little bit of audio from NPR/StoryCorps,  (America’s largest nonprofit national oral history project):

Sylvia Mendez talks to her sister Sandra Mendez Duran about Mendez v. Westminster, their family’s 1945 lawsuit that won Mexican-American children the right to attend white schools.

Click here to go to NPR/StoryCorps and listen

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