How Hard Is It to Be a Hyphenated Mexican?

DEAR MEXICAN: I’m half-Mexican and half-white on my conservative Christian, Republican father’s side. Growing up, I was discouraged from learning Spanish by my father and his family (though mi abuela tried to teach me anyway), so I’m currently having to learn as an adult. My father’s family always tried to impress upon me their specific beliefs on all topics; my grandfather and I have gotten into arguments since I was 8 about his racist attitude toward those of a brown background, and I’m constantly having to remind him that me and mi prima are both half-Mexican (her on her father’s side), even going to the extent of adding Perez to my last name (it’s my mom’s maiden name) and going by Morgan-Perez for the past few years.

I know what I had to deal with growing up, and now with the whole immigration fiasco, my grandfather continues on and on. My little 8-year-old prima is stuck in the middle and is really starting to feel bad about herself because of this—she is torn between loving her grandpa and loving her personal background. How can I help her?

Confused Half-Breeda

DEAR POCHO: If having you and your little cousin as grandkids hasn’t convinced your abuelito that Mexicans are good people, then que se vaya a la chingada. Blood is thicker than water, they say—but it’s not thicker than horchata, so Mexicans ain’t obliged to genuflect before their elders. There’re entire swaths of cousins who didn’t talk to their grandmas for decades because of some perceived slight the abuelas paid on their mom or dad back in the rancho. And, sometimes, the grandma or grandpa in the family was an unrepentant asshole. Respect and honor is very important for Mexicans, but so is common sense, so I’d tell your primita to tell your grandpa to fuck off and be proud of her Mexican part—best thing you can do to shape her young mind.

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DEAR MEXICAN: I’ve read many of the letters people have sent you, and I must say that it seems a little one-sided. I’m a Welshman, trying to get my green card. I spent nine months in La Habra, and in my experience, the friendliest people were the Mexican community. I received better service at Gonzalez Northgate Markets than I did at Walmart. The other customers were friendlier, too. So, my question is: Why do you get so many letters from people who appear to dislike or even hate Mexicans?

Soon-to-Be Immigrant

DEAR TAFFY: I found your letter behind a nopal in my archives, so I’m not sure what year you sent this letter in. What you describe was once true, but it ain’t the case anymore. Time was when the Mexican would get cartloads of nasty letters from losers—but since I always get the last word, they got a can of chile powder thrown on their pride again and again, and word got around. Nowadays, straight-out hate letters are as rare in my mailbox as a Mexican FIFA World Cup championship because the haters know better than to write in, even though we live in a historically bad time for Mexicans in el Norte. I think all good people can take a lesson from my experience: When the haters go for you, don’t ignore them—fight back with humor, stats and DESMADRE, and they’ll scatter away like the cucarachas they are.

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