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Dear Mexican: I know Mexicans and pochos can be black, white, Asian, or indios, but I just got my Census form. Figured you'd be the best person to ask about question #9: race. I know I'm not white, (I've been pulled over too many times for BS reasons), I'm not black (I haven't been beaten by the chota like my black amigos), I'm not Asian (I sucked at math and have a perfect driving record), and I'm not Native American (I don't have long hair or a dreamcatcher). The Census allows me to identify as a Hispanic of Mexican ancestry, but not my race. Instead, I get to make up my own race. Any suggestions? —Viva La Raza
Dear Wab: I haven't heard so much unnecessary whining from Mexicans about an issue since Carlos Men-steal-ia decided to call himself a beaner. Primer point: Since when are we supposed to take the U.S. Census' racial classification seriously? This is the same clump of the government caca pie that has spent a good century trying to determine exactly what Mexicans are—"white" one decade, of "Hispanic" origin the other, maybe "masters of Aztlán" soon. We've proven a clusterfuck for the government because, well, that's what Mexicans are to this country—a grand, glorious, tequila-soaked chingazo to American racial taxonomies, and anything we can do to further destroy racial classifications in this country is bueno. Government can't decide what we are? Good. All this said, the ninth question in the Census—despite its rigid caste classifications—does allow you to decide what race you are (the Mexican picked "CHINGÓN" as his raza, and urges the rest of ustedes to do the same) if you don't like thinking of yourself as a gabacho, negrito, indio, or all the different chinitos they list. But stop the grand existential dilemma and teeth-gnashing over the imperfect Census, banda: Do we really expect anything right to come out of Washington regarding Mexicans and public policy? Been one disaster after another since 1846.
I am a güera from the Midwest who married a chiapaneco. Before that, I never had any problems with the Census. But this year, while filling it out, I got stuck on question #9, which asked me what race my husband is. He says mexicano; I say he's mexicano, too. The 2010 Census, however, says that mexicano is not a race. Who decides that shit? What race is a dark-skinned chiapaneco from el Soconusco? —Confundida con el Censo
Dear Gabacha: From the southernmost region in Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state? Probably Mayan, so he's an Indian—but, wait! No box for Mexican Indians! Gracias for allowing me another excuse to rant about the Census. Honestly, and no matter what Vasconcellos wrote and gabachos believe? "Mexican" is not a race; it's a nationality, and one that even some of its inhabitants won't fully embrace. But how pendejo is it of the Census to allow the various chinito nationalities to classify them as distinct races, but not Latinos? Asia had as much miscegenation going on as Mexis, as much conquests and ethnic conflicts as the Empire of the Sun—yet somehow they constitute distinct, pure razas, and not us? Since when did the Census hire Lou Dobbs to decide racial classifications?
The U.S. Census says Mexicans are white. How can that be? —Born a Baboso
Dear Gabacho: The U.S. Census doesn't say any such thing. It allows us to be white if we want—and why not? Someone has to shore up the numbers and prestige for that declining raza in this country. . . .