Ask a Mexican on Racial Identification and Tortilla Shovels

I am a mocha-skinned woman with long, curly hair and dark-brown eyes. Puerto Ricans always ask if I am Puerto Rican, Dominicans just come and start speaking Spanish, Cubans ask if my abuelita made good arroz con leche, but Mexicans know I'm black. What gives?
La Morena

The countries you mentioned (along with Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras and other Latin American países) have significant Afro-Latino communities of various gradations of skin tone and a general acceptance of said people. Mexico, however, likes to pretend that our Afro-Mexicans are limited to Veracruz and Guerrero. If only! But because our population of negritos is tiny compared to other Latin American countries, and because skin tone continues to matter in Mexico, Mexicans can never just accept a black person as just a person—they identify them by different synonyms for "black," whether moreno (from moro, or Moor), prieto, (from apretar, to tighten), azabache (black amber, from Arabic), and the good ol' diminutive negrito — or negrita, in your case. But as I've argued before, this isn't a type of racism on the level of how Americans treated African-American in the Jim Crow days, as Know-Nothings would have you believe. For one, we didn't systematically lynch our negritos — that would've been the Chinese during the Mexican Revolution.

My husband is a Chicano, and his parents are from Mexico. Why do Mexicans eat tortillas with every meal? My husband eats it with anything you put in front of him. I also noticed he uses his tortilla as an eating utensil. Do Mexicans purposely teach their children to not use forks and spoons? Do all Mexicans use tortillas as little shovels? I guess even when they're eating, they're working.
The Tortilla Shoveler's Wife

I'll wax more poetic about tortillas in my coming book about the history of Mexican food in the United States (out May 2012, cabrones: start saving those pesos!), but the short answer is simple: Cucharas y tenedores are fine, but few pleasures are better than tearing off a piece of a tortilla, grasping it with your fingers, and using it to shovel down food. Tortillas have been part of Mexican culture for thousands of years, the one constant throughout our turbulent millennia. They're nutritious, utilitarian, and don't need washing. Only Jesus is more perfect — and why do you think He likes to show His face on tortillas?

Good Mexican of the Week: More like a town. Consider the following letter:

Last fall, Flagstaff's Museum of Northern Arizona hosted the seventh annual Celebraciones de la Gente, partnering with the local organization Nuestras Raíces, which is based around the historic Hispanic families of Flagstaff. The weekend focused on the celebration of Día de los Muertos, but included music, dance, art, and even formal presentations:  Zarco Guerrero on the artist Lalo Guerrero, and discussions by Carlos Velez-Ibanez (director of the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University), and Miguel Vasquez (anthropology professor at Northern Arizona University). I particularly enjoyed the ofrendas set up around the museum courtyard by Flagstaff families. These were attended by family members (often three generations) who answered questions and told their family histories — a wonderful opportunity to learn some history and culture not from professors or books, but from our neighbors.

So . . . a shout-out to our Museum of Northern Arizona, and only somewhat less directly to our little town of Flagstaff. It ain't utopia here, but we're really doing pretty well as a pocket of sanity in a state sporting the meanest gun-slinging sheriff in America, a governor dumber than Palin, and a state Legislature bent on taking us down the road to madness.


One Old, Straight, White Man that Still Thinks We're all in This Together

Gracias for the reminder that sane people do live in Arizona, because between Arpayaso, Brewer, and Russell Pearce, your state is a couple of beans short of a burrito. I would also add that the Flagstaff City Council voted to oppose SB 1070. Book a vacation up there, folks, and people who are interested in the Museum of Northern Arizona can visit them online at musnaz.org.

 
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11 comments
Terry6890
Terry6890

Jan Brewer rocks! She is the BEST governor ever! The first one to stand up to the illegal alien threat. Illegal aliens are invading America and MUST be stopped at all costs. THEY are a blight to society. It is long past the time that Americans say"NO MORE!" and begin to take America back. While many may feel that it is hopeless because "it's just the way things are", Please think about our founding fathers: WHERE would WE be today if they had just accepted things "because that is the way they are"? Change comes when people get fed up. I am fed up. DEPORT ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS! SIMPLE! America we need to act soon before this threat gets any worse. I urge ALL Americans to stand up and say GO HOME! WE DON'T WANT YOU HERE!

Terry6890
Terry6890

Joe Arpaio is an American hero. We need more like him. Go SB 1070! With any luck soon ALL states will adopt similar legislation.

Terry6890
Terry6890

WHY would I want to ask a mexican anything? THEY don't even know the meaning of the word illegal. Funny how they all cry racist but turn out to be the monst racist of all. I would like to hear one valid reason WHY America should reward illegal alien trash with amnesty for breaking our laws and coming here illegally? JUST ONE? How about this. Why should every single American citizen be punished when they commit a crime yet illegal aliens given amnesty? Are they above the law? NO> DEPORT EVERY SINGLE ILLEGAL ALIEN! Now I have asked a mexicant my questions. 5 to 1 they either don't answer them or 10 to 1 their answer is a lie. Ask a mexican has to be the lamest article in print. I don't believe any of your lies.

anonymous
anonymous

also, because you "don't have to clean tortillas!?!??!?" im sorry, but that is just some bullshit. my mom, and all of my aunts, are the cleanist ladies on earth. they clean their houses even when there is nothing to clean! just saying.

anonymous
anonymous

so to the "Tortilla Shoveler's Wife". i have better table manners than ALL OF MY CAUCASIAN/WHITE FRIENDS. So just for you're information, we are taught better than most people are how to use our forks and spoons. I am full mexican, and took offense to your entire question and name title....p.s. I DON'T use a tortilla as a utensil, and even if I did, doesn't mean I don't know how to use a fork and spoon....ignorant.

Earthdayaz
Earthdayaz

The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. The members of which became the first Republican Party. Is this the Know Nothings you're talking about. They were against the Germans and Irish Catholics though weren't they?

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Not like the "Jim Crow" laws indeed. Actually, in Mexico, the discrimination against people "not in the Latino mainstream" is much, much worse.

It's true, the continuation of slavery conditions through the Jim Crow laws ain't got nothing on the Spanish and their underlings (the mestizo population who were apt to emphasize their "Spanish" heritage). If you count the bodies, numbers of slaves, poor conditions for indigenous and working people, Mexico's governing bodies injustices against minorities since the Europeansarrived (read here: Spanish) outpaces the experience of injustices in the Norte Americana against minorities by leaps and bounds. In fact, the drug and slave trade in Mexico has more victims today than at any time during the "slave trade" or subsequent "Jim Crow" periods in the U.S. History.

Specifically, the lack of involvement of the Mexican government in improving protection and access to justice for migrants creates a "climate of impunity" (per Amnesty International) for all migrants, especially women and children. Check out thier report here:

http://alzatuvoz.org/migrantes...

Hhhalley
Hhhalley

You forgot to mention that fat, dark and mixed race "full bodied girls or mamas" are also called Mulatas as in horses mixed with donkeys -Mules. And I am hispanic, but your comments are disgusting even to me.

Bob
Bob

The real question is Who Gives a Darn. We wouldn`t be reading this Trash about their Skin Tone, Hair and their using Tortillias as spoons had they stayed in their respective countries instead of fleeing to America by the Millions without giving a hang about the Tremendous Negative effect their Presence has had on America. Many of them are honest Hard Working People but their willingness to work HERE so cheap has driven wages so low that of course Americans won`t do the jobs. Americans can`t work those jobs because we don`t live twenty people to a two bedroom house, therefore we are unable to pool our combined wages to pay the bills. We owe these Tortillia Eatin Grape Picking Parasites Nothing.

Some
Some

Really? no class system in Mexico? No mestisos? No Indios? No negritos? No chinos? No gabachos? Love the history rewrite. Keep it up. No they may not have wasted time with laws. They just masacred indios and mestisos (Half spanish and half native American). And they still are! Funny "part of Mexican culture for thousands of years" . There weren't mexicans a thousand years ago. Aztecs, mayans, etc. But no mexicans. Mexicans are a mixture of spanish, european, and indegenous people.

linkiss
linkiss

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