Dear Mexican: I’m surprised by the choice of the word “amnesty” by those who would demonize immigration reform, especially in the South. Doesn’t the modern well-being of many Southerners derive in some way from their ancestors’ having sworn to amnesty oaths, both before and after the Civil War? Isn’t it being disingenuous to make the “but-my-family-immigrated-legally” argument when your great-great-great-grandparents got amnesty for their own federal faux pas? —Gringo del Sur
Dear Southern Gabacho: Modern-day Know Nothing retellings of American immigration history are disingenuous like Guatemalans are slow, Gringo, but I’m more interested in these Dixie oaths. Gabachos received amnesty in this country before? You mean to tell me we pardoned a bunch of traitorous, backwards, racist pendejos for their federal crimes? And the Union did not perish, but instead became stronger? See, America? There’s hope in giving amnesty to Mexicans after all! Yeah, we’ll probably continue to stupidly worship the flag of a defeated country, be an economic drag on everyone else for a good generation, stereotype negritos, and worship our heritage a bit much, and the idiots among us will secretly try to secede from the States from time to time, but we’ll eventually join the fabric of this land—and at least we won’t create something as ridiculous as the Confederate Memorial Carving. Nah, we celebrate our heroes on cereal boxes—and if you don’t know what I’m talking about and don’t want to know, readers, please don’t try to find the César Chávez cornflakes box on Google . . .
I recently heard that casino-building projects done by many of the tribes in Washington State require a certain percentage of Native American labor with no restrictions on tribe. I was told that they had a difficulty meeting their quota, so I wondered who counts as a Native American? Why are Mexican-Americans born on both sides of the border not recognized as Native Americans in the same way that the Apache or Blackfoot are? How do Mexicans with indigenous roots feel about this? —Curious White Seattleite
Dear Gabacho: This is ¡Ask a Mexican!, not ¡Ask Black Elk!, so I’ll leave it to my native hermanos to determine who belongs to their respective tribes and why. The case of borderland tribes like the Yaqui and Apache is especially hard to untangle—not only did their historical homelands not have to cross the border, the border crossed them thrice. But the U.S. Census doesn’t have a box to check for those people born in Mexico who possess or identify with an indigenous Mexican group, because the U.S. Census is a crock of mierda with racial classifications no doubt created by a pencil pusher who had too much tequila the night before. That said, there are enough indigenous Mexicans in the United States to begin rethinking this—demographers estimate there are over 100,000 Mixtecs and Zapotecs (Indians from the state of Oaxaca) in the United States, and they freely acknowledge it’s probably a severe undercount due to these people being ostracized by both gabachos and Mexicans. And this isn’t counting the many Chicano yaktivists who think taking on an Aztec name and hanging the calendar stone on their bedroom wall classifies them as a direct descendant of Cuauhtémoc.
REMEMBER, READERS: Start asking me questions on my YouTube channel, youtube.com/askamexicano. The bigger the sombrero, the better!
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, myspace.com/ocwab, facebook.com/garellano, or youtube.com/askamexicano, find him on Twitter, or write via snail mail at: Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433!