Ask a Mexican on Being Mexican-American and Accordions
I was born in los estados unidos, my father Tamaulipas, and my mother is a third-generation Chicana. Being married to a mexicano, we recently vacationed in his hometown of Apatzingan, Michoacán. It was my first time meeting my in-laws and everyone from his colonia. It seems I got the evil staredown and was being asked all kinds of questions to prove my mexicanana-ness from all his primas, tias, and friends. They couldn't wait for me to fuck up a word in Spanish and asked if I cooked, liked banda music, and knew how to make tortillas. I answered that I worked full time, make an okay mole de pollo, like all kinds of music except for banda and that I buy my tortillas from the supermarket.
However, I got the impression it wasn't enough; I felt I am not a real Mexicana to them. After expressing this to my husband, all he could say was that I am not a Mexican, I am a Chicana, and that's different. We are different people, but how different can we really be? Will mexicanos ever see Chicanos as equals? Will I never be seen as an equal by my Mexican in-laws, or will they eventually see that the only difference between us is my mom gave birth to me north of the frontera? It seems there is a thick line drawn between those of us born north and south of the Mexican-American border. I can handle discrimination from gabachos or any other race (shit, I'm used to it by now) but this — this is really unjust. Why do men and women from Mexico seems to consider themselves superior than Chicanos?
Next time some wab gives you grief about not being Mexican enough, just tell them you have the best of both worlds: you're Mexican and American — while they're just . . . Mexicans.
I hear a lot of accordion-heavy music on Spanish-language radio. Do Mexican women go crazy for accordionists like white girls do for guitarists? White women are reverse-attracted to guys who can play the accordion really well — to them, it's the same as guys who can play Dungeons and Dragons really well, at least in the paleface tribe I pow-wow with. Can my musical skills translate into muchos mujeres?
A 40 and an Accordion
Time was when the accordion player was the papi chulo of the Mexican regional music world, but tuba players have usurped the position in the past couple of years for banda music and that horrible-sounding banda-conjunto norteño pendejada. Unfortunately, the instrument's elevated status has led to a rash of tuba thefts from high schools and junior highs by aspiring tuba players who usually target Mexican-heavy schools and therefore screw over youngsters whose band departments can't afford tubas in these Great Recession times. Moral of the story? As the question before, sometimes, the worst enemy of Mexicans are . . . Mexicans. La raza unida and all that jamas shit, cabrones.
Preorder Taco USA! Gentle cabrones: My much-promised Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, will finally hit bookstores April 10, but that doesn't mean you can't already order it (yes, grammar snobs: I just used a double-negative, but Mexican Spanish loves double-negatives the way we do cute second cousins). Place your order with your favorite local bookstore, your finer online retailers, your craftier piratas, but place it: My libro editor has already promised to deport me from the publishing industry if we don't sell enough copies! And stay tuned for book-signing info!
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