On Punctuality, Pochos, and Learning English

How can I get Mexicans to arrive to a meeting on time?
Punctual Pete

Tell them you're offering green cards on a first-come, first-served basis. And then diles a gabachos to eliminate the concept of arriving "fashionably late" the way they did the Polish joke.

I was reading through the glossary in your ¡Ask a Mexican! book and I came upon the word pocho, an Americanized Mexican. To me, it suggests some sort of essential Mexican-ness that I find to be disturbing. There is a similar ethic in the black community. The term "Uncle Tom" comes to mind. It is used as the ultimate humiliation to a black person and I wonder if pocho has the same weight to it? Being a person who has never fit into the ideal of anything, I sympathize with anyone else finds themselves on the outside. The pressure to relate to everyone else in your gene pool is ridiculous. In my experience, it often comes from the most mentally and economically impoverished, hence the term "ghetto pass." The pressure is so great in the black community that black professors regularly use the words ain't and folk, as if to prove their blackness. I suspect that there is a class component in the Mexican community also. What say you, wise Mexican?
Alma on Ice

The idea of ethnic or national purity of course isn't limited to Mexicans, and I'm with you in ridiculing anyone who subscribes to such pinche notions. In the Mexican case vis-à-vis the negrito community example, differences exist. Pocho doesn't necessarily signify a betrayal of the Mexican community to shuck and jive for the gabachos like Uncle Tom does for blacks; it just means the dilution of Mexican cultural and linguistic features in someone of Mexican descent (the term comes from an alternate meaning for pocho — rotting fruit — but not even the Royal Academy of Spanish has a clue about the word's etymological origins). The most immediate corollary to Uncle Tom in Spanish is Tío Tomás or Tío Taco, but both are pochismos (pocho sayings) with little usage in Mexico, where the slur for a sellout is malinchista, referring to Cortes' Indian translator, or a vendido. As you imply, the only Mexicans who care whether someone is Mexican enough are insecure twits who aren't Mexican enough, and some of the most notorious examples come from Chicano Studies professors (but not all of you, o noble researchers of everything wab!) and Carlos Mencia. Oh, and immigrant elders, but their angst is excused — that's the American immigrant experience, after all.

Why can't Mexicans seem to learn and use English like most other immigrants elsewhere around the country?
Fucking Mexicans

Consult page 21 of my ¡Ask a Mexican! libro, then go ask New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez about his family. Hopefully, he'll aim a spiral at your huevos.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano