Why Do Mexican Farm Workers Take a Shit in the Fields?

[¡Ask a Mexican!] And why aren't more Mexis part of the middle class?

DEAR MEXICAN: I live in a tiny, gated neighborhood that I would describe as solidly middle- to upper-middle-class. On each side of me live Vietnamese small-business owners whose kids attend prestigious universities; across the street is a Filipino medical technologist, and four doors down is the Korean engineer. On the next block over is the Sikh Indian family and a family from Nigeria. They are all recent immigrants and, except for the Indians, none of them speaks English fluently. What is conspicuously missing is even one single Mexican immigrant family, with the exception of the rich Mexican nationals from Saltillo—but they only visit on Christmas, Easter and shopping holidays. How come immigrants from south of the border stay stuck on the bottom rungs of the proverbial ladder of success for generations? By contrast, other recent immigrant groups, particularly Asians, are kicking whitey's ass, economically speaking, by the second generation.

Puzzled In San Antonio

DEAR GABACHO: "First of all, the children of immigrants from south of the border make steady intergenerational progress. In other words, each generation is doing better than the one before it in terms of socioeconomic indicators. Duh!" says Jody Agius Vallejo, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Southern California and a scholar who specializes in the study of the Mexican-immigrant y Mexican-American middle class. "Latino immigration is generally a low-skilled, low-wage labor migration; how can you even compare that to your Korean engineer and Filipino med-tech neighbors who migrate to the U.S. with college degrees and who start off in the middle class?" Vallejo also points out that more than a few non-Latino immigrants get resettlement assistance or initially qualify for welfare, "which greatly facilitates their upward mobility."

 

DEAR MEXICAN: Is it true that women migrant workers who work in the fields wear skirts or dresses over their pants so that when they have to use the bathroom in the fields, their private parts will be covered?

Screw Latrinos

DEAR GABACHA: No, but I see what you're getting at. One of the great Know Nothing conspiracies is the fundamentally fecal nature of Mexicans—essentially, that we're shit, and proof is in the periodic E. coli outbreaks that sicken and even kill Americans. They blame the disease on illegals not washing their hands properly or cagando next to tomorrow's grilled asparagus, not bothering to blame the farm owners who push workers to skip bathroom breaks under threat of a lesser wage, or ridiculous regulations that allow farmers to have restrooms as far away as a quarter mile from work sites per Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. Even more telling, incidents of E. coli entering the public have increased in los Estados Unidos even as sanitation standards are higher than ever before, suggesting something other than shitting migrant workers is amiss in our nation's food chain—but why bother with reasoning when it's always easier to blame Mexicans? By the way, the only report the Mexican was able to find on defecating farm workers was in a 1995 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, which showed 15 percent of them did the deed—15 percent too many—but hardly a sea of brown.

 

GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK! Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader is a collection of essays that's a literate chinga tu madre to the heteronormativity that's still endemic in Mexican (and Latino) society. Remember, gentle raza readers: We can't be homophobes and whine about Mexi discrimination in the same breath. Help eradicate H8 by buying this libro.

 
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