By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
My wabby friend wants to be called Spanish instead of Mexican. Thing is, his last name is Navarro. If I remember my UCLA Chicano Studies classes correctly, Navarro is a Basque surname. So my friend is basing his "Spanish" heritage on a group of people who hate Spaniards! I told him this, but he seems oblivious to the Basques and still insists he's of Spanish blood. Who's right? Spaniards aren't the same as Basques, are they? We bet $100 on this. Put thependejoto shame, master.
Dear Wab: Prepare to collect your Benjamin, Buster. Navarro is indeed a Basque apellido. In fact, many common Hispanic apellidos are actually Basque—Gamboa, Aguirre, Salazar, and Garza, to name a few. And you're right to note that the Basques aren't Spanish—ETA, anyone? But take some pity on your wabby friend: those wabs who insist they're Spanish don't realize that the Spanish blood in their veins is the hereditary equivalent of mud. Many of the New World's original Spanish settlers came from provinces (the Basque country, Galicia, Andalusia and the conquistador incubator called Extremadura) or religious minorities (Jews and Muslims) who faced persecution in the Castilian-dominated Kingdom of Spain. Once here, they dropped their cultural heritage in favor of a faux-Spanish identity—not because these oppressed groups suddenly pledged fealty to Madrid but because Torquemada's disciples would subject them to the rack if they didn't. A similar phenomenon occurs with Chicanos: Mexican historians emphasize the country's Aztec heritage so much that newly radicalized Chicanos tend to immerse themselves in the culture of the People of the Sun at the expense of Mexico's other indigenous cultures. So next time some Chicano yaktivist drops his "Spanish" surname in favor of a long, consonant-filled Nahuatl name, tell him he's no better than a conquistador.
Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!