What's the deal with Mexicans and Dickies?
"Ironically, and perhaps predictably," wrote UC Irvine anthropologist James Diego Vigil in his exemplary 1988 study Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern California, the popularity of khaki pants such as Dickies amongst Mexicans "stemmed from public sources—military and penal." After World War II and the Korean War, according to Vigil, our fightin' brown boys returned in their neatly pressed military-issue uniforms to the admiring eyes of their younger siblings. "[Wearing khakis] was the youngsters' way to identify with older brothers and relatives who had been in the armed forces," the professor wrote. BarrioGangsalso mentioned that kids picked up on khaki fashions from older brothers who did a different kind of stint—jail. And then there's the poverty factor: "As with other low-income people who try to stretch their dollars, the cholos have sought to find dependable, comfortable, durable and reasonably priced clothing." Since jail and the military still remain the primary low-income career paths for many Mexicans, it's not surprising that Mexicans continue to wear Dickies. As for our young men's current fascination with pansy-ass white K-Swiss sneakers and the color pink? Blame metrosexuality, the biggest threat to machismo since the two-income household.
Why do my employees who are chúntaros (Mexican immigrants) seem to have a distaste for my employees who are pochos (Mexicans born in the United States) and vice versa? Is there any truth to this perception, or is it all in my deluded Italian-American brain?
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Damn Abruzzese Guineabusiness Owner
You discovered what the Democrats refuse to acknowledge and the Republicans strangely refuse to exploit—the pocho-chúntaro divide. Mexican immigrants ridicule their pochocousins for losing their mexicanidad; Mexican-Americans hate chúntaros because . . . well, they're Mexicans. But intra-ethnic hatred is not exclusively ours. Northern Italians spat on your swarthy forefathers, DAGO, when southern Italian immigration to the United States began in earnest at the turn of the 20th century. Similarly, the established Protestant Irish community of the mid-1800s brawled with the Catholic Irish (as aptly fictionalized in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York), while German Jews shunned their Eastern European juden brethren. The great thing about America is how quickly our tired, huddled masses become snarling, rabid immigrant haters—right, Santa Ana City Council?
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!