!Ask a Mexican!

'When the Reconquista is complete, Chicago will be . . . well, Chicago to SanTanas New York.'

Dear Mexican,
Why don't Mexicans have enough gratitude for America to learn to speak English? Are they too stupid? Too lazy? What—they can't learn two or three words a day? Is this asking too much?
Took Four Years of Spanish in High School

Dear Gabacho,
The United States government shares your concerns, Took Four Years. Its Dillingham Commission released a 42-volume study on the waves of immigrants that concluded, "The new immigration as a class is far less intelligent than the old. . . . Generally speaking they are actuated in coming by different ideals, for the old immigration came to be a part of the country, while the new, in a large measure, comes with the intention of profiting, in a pecuniary way, by the superior advantages of the new world and then returning to the old country." The Dillingham report went on to fault the new immigrants for their lack of assimilation and English skills, constantly contrasting them with earlier generations of immigrants, and urged clampdowns on immigration. Sound familiar? That's because the Dillingham report appeared in 1911, and the inassimilable masses at the time were eastern and northern Europeans. The Dillingham Commission proves that the time-honored conservative anecdote that earlier generations of immigrants walked off the boats, chopped down their multisyllabic surnames and learned English immediately is bull-pinche-shit. American racism is a carousel—and here we are again.

Is Chicago the best place for Mexican food east of the Mississippi? I live on the South Side, and there are almost as many Mexican joints as McDonald's.
Amante De Burritos

Illustration by Mark Dancey
Illustration by Mark Dancey

Dear Burrito Lover,
I work in SanTana, the capital of Mexico, and I usually sneer when residents of other cities claim their Mexicans do more than just clog up hospitals and public schools. But not only is Chicago the best place for Mexican food east of the Mississippi, it's a nexus of Mexican culture in the United States second only to SanTana. The Windy City is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the country, and the second-largest Mexican consulate serves the Midwest from there. Chi-town spawned Chicano punk icons Los Crudos (whose lead singer, Martin Sorrondeguy, lived for a time in SanTana) and pasito duranguenze, a frenetic banda-Melodica hybrid that's the reggaetón of Mexican regional: wildly popular, incredibly annoying, as addicting as tequila but without the little worm at the end. The country's premier high-end Mexican restaurants, the Rick Bayless-fronted La Frontera and Topolobambo, are located in Chicago, as well as Homaro Cantú, the pocho genius who's wowing foodies worldwide with such exotic dinners as sushi-flavored paper and caesar salad ice cream. And Chicago also sparked the continuing wave of mass Mexican rallies when more than 100,000 people marched for amnesty on March 10. Chicago is proof that not only are Mexicans everywhere nowadays, but that we're forward-looking: when the Reconquista is complete, Chicago will be . . . well, Chicago to SanTana's New York.

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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