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Friday, November 25, 2005

Yesterday morning, I went with my parents and my sister to the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston. Houston is a fairly international city--and when I say 'international' I of course mean 'Hispanic.' And when I say 'Hispanic' I of course mean 'Mexican.' I've always known this, but this year I was surprised at how . . . "international" everything was. There were giant Mexican flags, Mariachi music, lowriders, and brown faces all over the crowd. It would be dishonest of me to say that the experience didn't trigger a little paranoia or concern about the demographic makeup of Texas and the United States in the next twenty years.

And here's where I take a brief pause and say this: I'm dating a Mexican girl. See? Not a racist.

So why, if I'm not really a racist, would I care about the amount of Mexicans in Texas/the US, and their impact on the political, pop, and everyday culture? Mexican culture is different. I don't know for sure that when the Hispanic population outweighs the White population in Texas in 2025 that they will have the same political concerns as I do, or that they won't make every radio station in Houston a Tejano one. And that makes me nervous.

But the real source of my nervousness is a style of thinking that most people aware of this situation also use--consciously or subconsciously--but do not and will not talk about. When White people think of Mexican people, they think: lazy; poor; ignorant; uneducated; fifty in a car; standing out on Shepherd as illegal day laborers; this little chica better have insurance after she just hit me; don't know the meaning of birth control; you're in America, speak American; etc.

So I sat there watching the float of a local Tejano radio station pass by, sweating in the late-November humidity, picturing politicians named 'Pepito' and 'Juanito' and perhaps even 'Miguelito,' and trying to reconcile my strong belief for an open-door immigration policy with the xenophobia that seemed to be overpowering my entire body. I started trying to mentally list the values that I hold dear to me that I thought might be threatened by a growing Mexican population. 'A strong work ethic,' I thought. 'Honesty, the desire to learn independently, love for family and friends . . . ' My thinking was cut off when the Mariachi guy on the float start blaring his trumpet into a microphone.

But then I thought this: I'm not worried about Mexican culture taking over White culture. I'm worried about poverty, ignorance, fifteen-year-old girls having kids, and people without car insurance running into me. I'm interested in and cherish foreign cultures--Mexico's not least of all.

And then finally, as the Mariachi band's float passed on, and the tri-colored (red, white, and green of course), candy-painted lowrider settled back onto all four wheels, the Houston Rockets cheerleaders walked by behind them, all wearing short-shorts, lots of makeup, legs up to their armpits, and hair that looked like they must have been up since 5 a.m. preparing it.

"That's what I'm talking about!" my Dad said. "Whoo!"

"Whoo!" I agreed.

An older Mexican guy stood in front of me with his thirty-seven four children watching the parade. He stuck his index fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly, chuckling after he did so. I'm not sure what he meant by that, but I'm pretty sure that it's the Mexican equivalent of 'Whoo!'


Blogger Ben said...

What's your problem, homes? You don't like chorizo? Eh?

Cause that's not what I heard. ("OOOoooooo!!")

12:46 AM  

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