Ask a Mexican

Real Latinas and Mexicans Up North

Dear Mexican,

I'm in college and I'm taking a class called Latina Pop Culture. I thought it would be educational and informative about the rich Latino/a culture, and I was eager to learn. But the moment I entered the class, it was evident that I, as a white girl, would have to be on the defensive. All we've discussed is how my "Anglo" culture has oppressed Latina women and stereotyped them as curvy and tempestuous, and how media whitewashes them. There are many Latina girls in the class and they all say something different, and the white girls seem terrified and continue to be apologetic for no good reason. These Latina girls hate that they're stereotyped as sexy, and they and the professor keep telling us "Anglos" everything we're doing wrong in portraying Latinas in the media. Okay. I see what's wrong. So what's right? What is the real Latina? I would assume they're as different and unique individually as anyone else, but as a collective whole, how do they want to be portrayed? I'm getting mixed signals. Several of the Latina girls have denounced Shakira and Jennifer Lopez as sellouts, claiming they dyed their hair to look more white. But the girls who said this all have their hair dyed with blond streaks. Another girl said Salma Hayek was a sellout because she's played stereotyped roles and is over-sexualized. The girl who said this dresses in tight clothes every day.

I don't understand. I thought those women were icons. And furthermore, how can they feel oppressed in a state whose population is predominantly Hispanic? Mexicans aren't going to be a minority much longer, and I wasn't taught to discriminate, so who's oppressing who? And what, oh diós mío, WHAT is a real Latina?

Gringa in Mañanaland

Dear Gabacha,

A real Latina hates — gabachas first, then each other and finally themselves. But that's what Chicano Studies is for: to decolonize their mind so the only hate left is for self-victimizing gabachas like yourself.

Dear Mexican,

Throughout most of my life, I called the state of Wisconsin my home. It was a plethora of cows and German people, and just as cold as everyone throughout the rest of the country would expect. However, upon my later years I chose to move to an apartment in Milwaukee on Lincoln Avenue and 29th Street. Within this area, I found I was one of the few white people in the neighborhood, as most of the location was full of Mexicans and others from the Latin American community. This was mainly down Lincoln and a few other streets. The thought is that most Mexican people prefer the warmer climates, and yet I can remember my old neighborhood with Mexican people flourishing. I pride myself in knowing that each person has a choice to use free will, so I'm sure most just preferred cooler weather. However, is there something I'm missing in all this? Is there another deeper meaning behind all this?

Schlitz'in it Up

Dear Gabacho,

How did you not know Mexicans were in Milwaukee? There was already a barrio there by the 1920s, on the South Side. And while the population got decimated by the repatriation movement of the Great Depression, milwauqueños have had enough of a presence ever since that the Brewers not only once wore jerseys deeming themselves Los Cervezeros, but a chorizo is a permanent participant in their legendary Sausage Race. Now THAT'S Reconquista!

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano