!Ask a Mexican!

No streets in Mexico


Dear Mexican,
What is it with Mexicans and jaywalking? I work in SanTana, and from my office (high atop a building in downtown) I see countless daily near-disasters involving Mexicans and fast-moving cars. What gives? No crosswalks in Mexico?
Run, Don't Walk

Dear Gabacho,
Try no streets. Although the number of urban Mexicans immigrating to el Norte is on the rise—Tulane University sociologist Elizabeth Fussell estimated in her 2004 paper "Sources of Mexico's Migration Stream: Rural, Urban, and Border Migrants to the United States" that 61 percent of Mexican immigrants in 2000 came from cities with populations of at least 15,000—most streets in Mexico still lack such amenities as stoplights, stop signs or even lanes. Mexicans learn to navigate these mean calles from a young age and keep this mentality upon sneaking into the United States, where they find everything so orderly, so preplanned, so . . . lame. We ignored the jagged fence, deserts and Minutemen that separate the United States from Mexico—what makes you think we're going to obey a pinche "Yield" sign?

Why is it that many (I won't say most) Mexicans don't bother to become U.S. citizens, buy homes and get educated? So many things are offered here, and I don't see Mexicans take the time to better themselves. I see other ethnic groups like the Asians and Cubans go a lot further to establish themselves in this country. I think its the "cangrejo theory," myself.
Curious Michoacano Mexican

Illustration by Mark Dancey
Illustration by Mark Dancey

Dear Wab,
You're referring to the "crab theory," a train of thought popular amongst Chicano scholars that posits Mexicans act like crabs in a vat by pulling back the brave few who seek a better life. The stats seem to prove it: a 2003 study by the Urban Institute showed only 34 percent of eligible Mexicans naturalized during 2001; by comparison, 67 percent of eligible Asians and 58 percent of other Latin American immigrants became citizens that year.

But there isn't a cultural explanation to the phenomenon, Michoacano Mexican. Most of the Mexicans in my life came to this country illegally, became legal due to marrying citizens or the 1986 amnesty, bought their homes and learned just enough English to vote for Loretta Sanchez every two years. I know Mexicans who still aren't citizens but nevertheless own businesses, homes and trucks large enough to cart a brass banda down Bristol Street. The fact that they left the land of their ancestors for a country that despises them is proof enough the Mexicans here are those brave few who escaped the stagflating masses. Compare that with the gabacho citizens of this country, who get fat and watch Dancing With the Starsas Mexicans reconquistan the land.

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at garellano@ocweekly.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym,por favor, or we'll make one up for you!

 
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