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
Dear Mexican: I am a lifelong resident of Arizona and have worked side-by-side with illegals for 25 years as a bloquero. In all that time, I have never known ONE of them to be an aspiring American. In fact, their loyalties remain with their home states, they listen to mariachi and cumbia, and their trucks sport lots of Mexican-flag stickers. Most of all, they have kept our wages below the national average—just ask any construction worker. That’s supposed to be okay? Because they work dirt-cheap with no benefits? Wouldn’t opening the borders be a further reduction in quality of life for us American citizens who work beside these vatos? If I want to live in the Third World, I’ll move to Mexico.
Dear Gabacho: Y’know, that’s been the same argument used against immigrant laborers since Samuel Gompers was agitating to keep “Mongolians” from reaching our Pacific shores and railing about hordes of southeast Europeans destroying the gains his American Federation of Labor made for the U.S.’s workingman. “The workers of America have felt most keenly the pernicious results of the establishment of foreign standards of work, wages and conduct in American industries and commerce,” the union pioneer wrote in a 1916 issue of the American Federationist. “Foreign standards of wages do not permit American standards of life. Foreign labor has driven American workers out of many trades, callings and communities, and the influence of those lower standards has permeated widely”—wait a minute, how did Glenn Beck manage to sneak himself back in time? The great irony, of course, is that immigrant labor is the most bountiful spigot in the modern-day labor movement—and always has been. Simply put, Timmy: American workers need cheap labor, legal or not, to spur them into class consciousness and better their lot—or do you think Old Man Rockefeller simply allowed the eight-hour workday to happen out of the goodness of his raisin heart? Oh, and your concerns about your unassimilated colleagues? Again, Gompers: “Of course the children of immigrants go to school, and after a few years, they become Americanized. But how about the grown-up persons, the adults? Who makes an effort to Americanize them? The labor organization.” Instead of whining about non-assimilating illegals, maybe you should help them become Americans? If you don’t, then you have no right to chillar.
Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans always seem to have four different ATM cards and use every one of them when visiting the machine, despite the fact there are seven people backed up in line behind them?
All the Merrier
Dear ATM: Just getting ready for the weekend, amigo! One fund to feed the family; otra to wire money back to the motherland; a couple of bucks for booze; and the largest pot to use for padrino purposes at multiple weddings, baptisms, first communions, confirmations and quinceañeras—pinche fecund Mexican loins . . .
Dear Mexican: I tried to do an article search on the words paisano and paisa. I heard conflicting definitions from two different Mexican co-workers that the words mean “homeboy” or “wetback.” I was wondering if this is the equivalent to the N-word for Latinos?
Thinking Out Loud
Dear Gabacho: The N-word . . . you mean naco? Paisano literally means “countryman” but has a secondary definition referring to country folk (both paisano and peasant ultimately share the same etymological madre: the Latin pagus, country or rural district). Combine the two meanings, and you have a synonym for “buddy,” as one of your co-workers accurately noted. But big mouths long ago warped the rural sentido to turn it into paisa, slang for a wab—in other words, a paisa is a Mexican redneck, an FOB . . . a wab! Does it carry the same weight as nigger? No, that would be gabacho—but don’t tell gabachos that!
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, youtube.com/askamexicano or myspace.com/ocwab. Or write to him at: Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433. Find him on Facebook and Twitter!