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1 Burnside Ethnic Studies- Latin American

Ask a Mexican

by

Ask a Mexican Cover

ISBN13: 9781416540021
ISBN10: 1416540024
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

DEAR MEXICAN: WHAT IS ¡ASK A MEXICAN?

Questions and answers about our spiciest Americans. I explore the clichés of lowriders, busboys, and housekeepers; drunks and scoundrels; heroes and celebrities; and most important, millions upon millions of law-abiding, patriotic American citizens and their illegal-immigrant cousins who represent some $600 billion in economic power.

WHY SHOULD I READ ¡ASK A MEXICAN?

At 37 million strong (or 13 percent of the U.S. population), Latinos have become America's largest minority — and beaners make up some two-thirds of that number. I confront the bogeymen of racism, xenophobia, and ignorance prompted by such demographic changes through answering questions put to me by readers of my ¡ Ask a Mexican column in California's OC Weekly, I challenge you to find a more entertaining way to immerse yourself in Mexican culture that doesn't involve a taco-and-enchilada combo.

OKAY, WHY DO MEXICANS PARK THEIR CARS ON THE FRONT LAWN?

Where do you want us to park them? The garage we rent out to a family of five? The backyard where we put up our recently immigrated cousins in tool-shack-cum-homes? The street with the red curbs recently approved by city planners? The driveway covered with construction materials for the latest expansion of la casa? The nearby school parking lot frequented by cholos on the prowl for a new radio? The lawn is the only spot Mexicans can park their cars without fear of break-ins, drunken crashes, or an unfortunate keying. Besides, what do you think protects us from drive-bys? The cops?

Review:

"In Arellano's popular Orange County Weekly column 'Ask a Mexican!' now widely syndicated and gathered in this acerbic volume, he answers serious, curious, and sometimes hateful but mostly irreverent questions about Mexicans. This book compiles what are presumably the best question-and-answer exchanges over the past two years, under topics including language, sex, immigration and food. Arellano wittily defuses bigotry and mocks stereotypes with his often well-researched replies. To the inquiry on the authenticity of flour vs. corn tortillas, he explains that the Spaniards created the former. 'Why do Mexicans wear their clothes when swimming?' is a recurring question among Arellano's readers; his answer: good manners. In response to the vitriolic 'What is it about the word illegal that Mexicans don't understand,' he points out that U.S. employers don't understand the word either. The author's relentless irony and reclamation of derogatory terms (e.g., 'wab,' the Orange County version of wetback) is not for the faint of heart, but this approach is a welcome reprieve from common tiptoeing around the fraught subjects of race relations and immigration." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

An irreverent, hilarious, and informative look at Mexican-American culture is taken by a rising star in the alternative media, as well as a new kid on the block in such mainstream venues as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Today, and The Colbert Report.

About the Author

I'm Gustavo Arellano. I was born in Anaheim, California, to a tomato canner and an illegal immigrant. My "¡Ask a Mexican!" column won the 2006 Association of Alternative Newsweeklies award for the best column in a largecirculation weekly. I'm a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times and have appeared on Today, Nightline, NPR's On the Media, The Situation with Tucker Carlson, and The Colbert Report. I also mow lawns for $15–$10 if I get a water break. For more information visit www.askamexican.net.

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Pulikom, July 25, 2010 (view all comments by Pulikom)
This author is one of the most bigoted writers I've ever encountered. For Anglos unacquainted with Chicano slang, much of his racism towards whites may escape notice, so I suggest you use a Chicano slang dictionary or Google as you go. For some reason, a great many Mexicans seem to think Anglos ("white boys") have a racist attitude towards them, missing the fact that Hispanics are considered Caucasian. I don't know what Mexicans ascribe the distaste Cubans in general feel towards them, as it's kind of hard to work the race card in that case. Pretty much all of the large groups of different NATIONALITIES from different countries have experienced various forms of hostility, but none of those in the past came for the welfare, free healthcare, and food stamps--not to mention the $11000+/year it costs in property taxes to educate each of their excessively large families (evolved to survive the lousy hygiene and high alcoholism rate that contributes to the high infant mortality and shorter life span in Mexico, which they will grace the US with unless there are unforeseen milagros).

Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans have come in vast illegal numbers, so there is definitely a stronger resentment towards illegal Mexicans--diffused towards all Mexicans. Few working-class citizens can afford their property taxes at present and schools are closing all over the place, but the justifiable resentment against the economic burdens is twisted by this author into being 'racism', denying its legitimacy and also denying the free discussion of ideas that is the basis of democracy. But Arellano brings the same contempt for democracy that had kept one party in power (in a supposedly democratic Mexico)--PRI--for over 60 years. He uses the polemics of bullying and ridicule, thinly disquised as humor. Arellano attempts to redefine realistic concerns over the ability of a population already strained to provide adequate healthcare and employment for its own citizenry as 'racism' in a manipulative con job--not that he's alone in it. He just thinks we 'gabachos' (pejorative term used by Chicanos for ignorant non-Hispanics) are too stupid to miss that 'subtlety'--one that can be used to great advantage in a culture deeply ashamed of its former treatment of Afro-Americans and Native Americans. Rather than poke fun at racists, unfortunately, he is a finely honed example of one.

As far as healthcare goes, I worked for over 20 years within the industry, and at least a third of the patients I reviewed had illegal SSNs while the funding for boomers is circling the drain--idealistic students be prepared to care for your parents at home for pretty serious health conditions. We are currently denying care to Medicare patients who paid the tax for this while illegals are getting massive amounts of free care and their advocates complain that there isn't sufficient funding for drug rehabs for illegals. Enter Arellano to insult us as 'racist pendejos' with impunity. If you have half a brain, reading his misrepresentation of statistics while referring to himself as a 'legitimate researcher' will make you reconsider your political affiliation--mine had previously leaned towards liberal. (It's leaning towards ex-pat at present.) For instance, he states: "Like that oft-repeated lie that immigrants are more prone to crime than citizens? Debunked by most every legitimate researcher, including this one". Notice he doesn't distinguish between immigrant, who may or may not be a citizen, and citizen. Had he said 'illegal immigrants' he wouldn't be able to fortify his anti-American countrymen, as those here illegally have by definition committed a crime. And, the research indicated that while first generation 'immigrants' are at a par with their neighbors re crime, as they keep a low profile--the crime statistics shoot up dramatically for their progeny in next generation, far surpassing that of other citizens. He doesn't mention this, although 'legitimate researchers' follow through on the stats. I've had several grad courses in statistics, have done PAID research and know the tricks that are used to draw inaccurate conclusions. In this case the public impression re increased crime is justified by the stats, but Arellano just twists away with the glib assurance that the audience he addresses is too stupid to analyze his statements. His audience, including Anglos, seem to accept these statements at face value, directing their hostility towards persons who are only asking that immigrants are processed legally, are restrained from committing identity theft, and that our government restricts the flow to a point that the economic system and taxpayers are able to provide for their own families and don't collapse from the burden.

Regarding his simplistic misinformation re crime statistics: even common sense would indicate that the mass of persons crossing illegally from a country as crime-ridden as Mexico is not self-selecting for the most law-abiding members, and, since statistics do bear out that there is a significantly higher crime rate in Mexico than the US, even if the illegals were not tilted towards the criminal end, a representative cross-section would increase crime in the US. Mexico's administration long ago gave up any hope of managing this population and has been only too happy to facilitate moving it farther north, whence Calderon's aggressive stance against Arizona. The penalties for illegal entry into Mexico have been so severe that Calderon has been hastily reducing them before the US public decides that it take the same approach to Mexican violators as Mexico would to US illegals.

To better understand his preoccupaton with race, check out the degree of racism exhibited in the slaughter of their Indian population, ongoing in Chiapas especially, and you'll see why writers like Arellano are so quick to point a racist finger. The racism in Mexico against Indians and those of African heritage is far greater than ever expressed for decades in the US. There is ongoing mass slaughter, and, rather than working to improve conditions that are actually killing people in Mexico, this 'crusader' chooses to misrepresent himself as a liberating activist. Knowing the degree of hatred and condescension Mexcians themselves exhibit towards Indians, they bridle at the slightest hint that the same attitude might be directed at themselves. Cultural anthropologists, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic, have thoroughly documented the prevalence of racism in Mexico relating to the degree of European blood--highest being preferred, and the antagonism towards 'Europeans' Arellano and his followers exhibit is a classic example of 'the shoe being on the other foot', especially since they used the shoe in an especially harsh manner.

If I didn't find Palin so repulsive, seeing his hatred of 'whites' and the underground views of Mexicans. legal or not, that it represents, would be enough to make me consider the Tea Party before Mexicans actually accomplish the coming 'Aztlan-American' war he refers to and anxiously awaits.

All in all, if you've spent time in Mexico, speak the language, and once had deep affection for the country, reacting to Arellano's hostile insults, unjustified accusations, and their implications, will not only not broaden your perspective, it will likely cause a paradigm shift.
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delimeza, June 26, 2008 (view all comments by delimeza)
I read your book and i loved it! When my son saw me reading it and asked me about it, he wanted one also. We went looking for one and couldn't get ahold of another so I had to give him mine. Then one of his teachers saw him reading it and wanted one also, so he ended up giving it to him for a Christmas gift.
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(1 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
moon, June 27, 2007 (view all comments by moon)
The title is better than the book....well, the book is okay, funny and duly offensive but never REALLY funny. The author should have pushed the line just a little more!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416540021
Author:
Arellano, Gustavo
Publisher:
Scribner
Subject:
Mexico
Subject:
Form - Essays
Subject:
Mexicans
Subject:
Ethnic Studies - Hispanic American Studies
Subject:
Mexico Social life and customs.
Subject:
Mexicans -- United States.
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20070501
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 12.32 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Latin American

Ask a Mexican Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9781416540021 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In Arellano's popular Orange County Weekly column 'Ask a Mexican!' now widely syndicated and gathered in this acerbic volume, he answers serious, curious, and sometimes hateful but mostly irreverent questions about Mexicans. This book compiles what are presumably the best question-and-answer exchanges over the past two years, under topics including language, sex, immigration and food. Arellano wittily defuses bigotry and mocks stereotypes with his often well-researched replies. To the inquiry on the authenticity of flour vs. corn tortillas, he explains that the Spaniards created the former. 'Why do Mexicans wear their clothes when swimming?' is a recurring question among Arellano's readers; his answer: good manners. In response to the vitriolic 'What is it about the word illegal that Mexicans don't understand,' he points out that U.S. employers don't understand the word either. The author's relentless irony and reclamation of derogatory terms (e.g., 'wab,' the Orange County version of wetback) is not for the faint of heart, but this approach is a welcome reprieve from common tiptoeing around the fraught subjects of race relations and immigration." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , An irreverent, hilarious, and informative look at Mexican-American culture is taken by a rising star in the alternative media, as well as a new kid on the block in such mainstream venues as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Today, and The Colbert Report.
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