!Ask a Mexican!

Illustration by Mark DancyDear Mexican,

Why do wabs, regardless of age and body size, always have one hand rubbing their bellies under their shirts? Is this something that is inherent in all wabs? Because they all do it, especially the “fresh from the border” ones. I don't get it. I'm apocho, and I've never seen otherpochos do it. Are wabs finger-banging their belly buttons or what? They all look so fucking stupid doing this. Just go to Home Depot and watch them.

Pocho with Albóndigas Grandes

Dear Pocho,

What's with the panzahate? In previous eras, girth was a sign of bounty and promise—I'm thinking Santa Claus, William Howard Taft and the Earth Mother. That's still the case in Mexico: next to a broom-thick mustache and a gray Ford truck, a glorious, well-rounded stomach is our ultimate proof of machismo. A panza's layers of fat fuel our insatiable work ethic; its orbital shape is a testament to the wives we keep in kitchens at home. Gabachos might work out, but taut muscles cannot compete with the centripetal force of a panza. Kids flock to it; crowds stare in jealousy when a magnificent specimen passes by. So when we rub our panzas, we pat the larded treasure that brings us success, popularity and prosperity—recall how Buddhists massage Siddhartha's plump belly for luck. And, in an amazing coincidence, Theravada Buddhists celebrate a mid-July holiday called Khao Pansa, where the faithful live in monasteries for three months and conclude with a gluttonous festival of food—all in the name of expanding that sweet, sweet panza.

Dear Mexican,

Why are Mexican activists aligning themselves with African-Americans at this time? The same race of people the majority of Mexicans refer to aspinche mayates?

Firmly Planted White Guy

Dear Gabacho,

Because they're paying attention to the street. The Christian Science Monitorreported Aug. 11 that Rev. Al Sharpton and the granddaughter of César Chávez formed the Latino N African American Leadership Alliance in the hope that it “will help stop the two groups from undermining one another in competition for public dollars and programs.” Sharpton and Chávez rightfully want to do something about the tension that keeps escalating between Mexicans and African-Americans in Southern California—witness the race riots at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles earlier this year and the furor provoked after Vicente Fox said Mexicans in the United States are “doing the work that not even blacks want to do.”

But you're right, Firmly Planted: perhaps relations between African-Americans and Mexicans would improve if we didn't commonly refer to African-Americans as mayates(beetles). But that's probably the most polite racial slur we use toward blacks, considering many Mexicans also call them “negrito” (little darkie), “llanta” (tire), “sandía” (watermelon), “aguacate” (avocado, after the fruit's gnarled skin), “negro azabache” (wild Negro), “chango” (monkey), “Sorrullo” (after a black character in the cumbia classic “Capullo y Sorrullo”), “Memín Pinguín” (after the black comic-book character who appeared on those offensive stamps that caused such a ruckus earlier this summer), “Cirilo” (after the little black boy in the TV show Carrusel, the Mexican equivalent of the animated series Recess), “Cucurumbé” (after the title character in a famous song by the Mexican Raffi, Cri-Cri) and many, many more. With a Rolodex of racism like that, mayate is as inoffensive as Booker T. Washington.

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at ga*******@oc******.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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