Don’t call me a ‘Mexican,’ America! Also, I’m not a ‘Latino’

by Comic Saenz on March 24, 2014 in Cultura

HispanosAgaintsLatinoTermIt’s a phenomenon older than the United Estates of America. We’ve named it Looking Down On More Recent Immigrants Syndrome:

Last week three latter-day Looking Down Syndrome sightings lit up our screen, INSISTENT MESSAGES from people who want you to know THEY ARE DEFINITELY NOT THOSE OTHER PEOPLE OVER THERE — those Mexicans and/or Latinos.

First was a snail mail letter (photo) to POCHO amigo Russ Contreras, from a previously-unknown-to-us organization called Hispanics Against Latino Term (HALT). They have a two-chile logo.

Señor HALTero is “Against [being called] Latino” because, first of all, his roots are in New Mexico, and he’s not from “Latin America” (because it doesn’t exist — I mean where is the flag of this “Latin America”? The capital city? Doh!)

His people, he wants you to know, came to what is now New Mexico from Spain when this expanse of North America was New Spain — there was no “Mexico,” old or new, then.

He didn’t mention swarthiness and stupidity.

Numero dos was KNBC-TV (Los Angeles) tech reporter Mekahlo Medina, who isn’t “Mexican, not that there’s anything wrong with that”:


The screen capture (above) is from a page that is no longer found on the NBC Los Angeles website — we found a cached version.

Medina has the same beef as the HALT guy:

…I’m nationally “American” and culturally “New Mexican.”

Not a Mexican newly here to the United States.

A “New Mexican” from the state of New Mexico. I have the gold flag with the red zia symbol on my desk to prove it. My family has been there since the 1700s.

I’m not dissing Mexicans. Their culture is rich and great.

It’s just their culture, not mine….

Finally comes this column from J.C. Cortez, Managing Editor of the Borger News-Herald in Borger, TX:


Cortez writes:

I am not Mexican.

I was not born in Mexico. Yes, my father was, but I am 100% American. No Mexican-American, no Hispanic-American, no Chicano – whatever that is – just American. And maybe Texan. I have no real ties to the country of Mexico. In fact, if I went to live there I would be an illegal immigrant. I don’t even speak Spanish.

Most of all, I am not Latino.

Whatever it means to be “Latino,” I am not it. I don’t really fit into any of the neat stereotypes that are laid out for brown people.

What is the purpose of a label like that to an individual? It helps politicians plan strategies and it helps advertising companies manipulate demographics, but what does it really matter to you if you are “white” or “black” or anything else?

These labels are for separating, confining, and controlling. They don’t mean anything beyond drawing lines between people.

While these writers all make valid points, why do you think they are emerging from the shadows to proclaim their non-Mexican-ness now?

  • Are they merely making a reasoned argument that arbitrary labels can be misleading?
  • Or are they scared of having their “white privilege” diluted by the burgeoning demographic power of those swarthy, stupid Mexicans?


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Author Comic Saenz is descended from those noisy, uncouth, dirty, Yiddish-speaking, garlic-smelling Polish and Russian Jews who need to clean up their acts. Some of his best friends are Mexicans.]





Theodore R. Borrego March 24, 2014 at 7:39 AM

My father’s folks came to Santa Fe, in what is now New Mexico in the 1730s, later moved to Colorado, while it was still a province of Mexico. Mom was a blue-eyed, blond haired German descended lady from Kansas. I’ve always identified more with Dad’s side of the family, but really, we have been proud citizens of the United States since about 1848. I”m proud of my heritage and my ancestry – but I’ve never thought of myself as Mexican or Latino. Probably medio-Hispanic, if that kind of a critter exists.

Carol Noriega March 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM

I identify as Mexican and have very little ties to Mexico. I was born in San Antonio. My parents were born in Texas also. I never had a sense of “otherness” until college where everyone asked where I was from. “No really, but where are you FROM? I also identify as Tejana, pocha, Latina. I’m brown and proud and never feel like I am Anglo or white (racially).

Al Rex April 5, 2014 at 11:09 AM

“No really, but where are you FROM? I also identify as Tejana, pocha, Latina. I’m brown and proud and never feel like I am Anglo or white (racially).

I guarantee you that you’re not a “Latina” because Latina is not a Race and is not an Ethnicity. Latino/Latina is only a language. The language spoken by the Romans, ancient Italians, who imposed it upon the Spaniards and upon all those colonized by them and Latino/Latina doesn’t have anything to do with speaking Spanish or being Mestizo/a.

You also make a point of not feeling like an Anglo or White but you very much like living and enjoying our Great White civilization with all the benefits, the Welfare, the Section 8. food stamps and freedom isn’t it?

Adam Diaz March 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM

I think people have the right to identify themselves however they choose. We become so tribal in the way we associate others that we take it personally when someone doesn’t identify with us. Believe me, Mexicans in Mexico generally don’t consider Mexican Americans Mexican. And doesn’t that also suck? People should feel free to self identify or not identify at all.

And not that it matters, but I identify as a Latino and Mexican American. No problem with others who don’t.

Javier March 24, 2014 at 1:58 PM

My parents were both born in Michoacán, Mexico. They came to the United States in the early 80’s and I was born in Los Angeles in 1986. If I were to actually define myself, I guess it would be an American Hispanic of Mexican descent.

Sure, discrimination against Hispanics would most likely decrease a lot if eventually in the census and in society there is no separation of “Hispanic” and “non-white Hispanic”, which mirrors what Irish and Italian immigrants went through when they first came over in terms of facing discrimination first and eventually just blending in to being simply white. However can the Hispanic population get there in the U.S.? And is the goal really to “whiteout” and disassociate ourselves from other Hispanics. I rather embrace the wide diversity that is represented in this Hispanic community.

Rosanna March 24, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Ok we get this all the time in New Mexico. The descendants of the first spanish speaking explorers/colonists of what is now New Mexico want to be recognized as distinct from the more recien llegados.Me,I’m coyote. 1/2 Mexican. Mom is from Juarez where that side of my family has been since before Pancho Villa. She married a grey eyed anglo from east Texas and they had my brother and I. So I consider myself latina, chicana, hispanic etc. Y ya. Por eso me gusta POCHO.COM. Por todos los chistes que tengan que muestran como vivimos con un pie en cada lado del rio. I will point out to all those “Spanish” descendents of colonial era their ancestors came from/through Mexico to get to what is now New Mexico. Granted, a few hundred years has changed language and culture from colonial times to modern Mexico. Those differences should be celebrated and not be sources of contention.

Carolina March 25, 2014 at 12:34 AM

I was born in Mexico and have lived in Texas the majority of my life. Both my parents were born in Mexico as well. I identify as Mexican. But people almost never guess I am Mexican. I’ve gotten German, Jewish, and most common, white.

In an ethics class my professor asked where I was born/came from, and I told him what I wrote above, and he was quick to say, ” oh you’re a Chicana.”

Someone above said we should choose what we want to be labeled and I truly believe that.
I’m Mexican and that’s that.

esther March 26, 2014 at 7:37 AM

referring sinor

Katie March 26, 2014 at 8:50 AM

My dad was born in Mexico and my mom in McAllen. I was born In Houston, I studied there. I live in DC and I consider myself a chicana. No one in America (continent) speak latin as their mother language. So there’s nothing latin there. That’s the reason why lot’s of people do not like that term. I assure you that any person from central and south america that is called a latin, will specify you his country of birth or descent, not only Mexicans. Assuming that you live in the US, you could be called a North American, but I guess you’ll always note you’re from the US and not Mexico nor Canada. Also why does it matter where you were born or live? What’s wrong on preserving your roots? You seem to have issues with mexicans or people with mexican descent. Its better to spread out love or else keep your mouth shut. If not you give the impression of having xenophobia.

fEsther_S March 26, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Among the bolillos, Mescan or Latina. Among my fellow salsa dancing Latino brothers and sisters, I’m Mescan or Tejanita. This is the point where they immediately turn their noses up at me because although I absolutely LOVE salsa, I love cumbia and ranchera even more.

Herrumbroso Filero March 26, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Manitos [plebe de Nuevo Mejico] get on these kicks all of the time.

One, the Nuevo bandera was created by Anglo anthropologist Henry Mera in 1920. The flag supposedly represents Nuevo as a blend of indigenous and “Spanish” culture. the Zia sun symbol an expropriated image the Zia sun symbol. The Zias have from time to time complained that the state never asked them for permission to use the symbol. The flag uses yellow and red to represent “Spain.” The Spanish flag, using red and yellow, was not officially adopted until 1843. New Mexico was not part of Spain at that time since in 1821 it formally became part of Mexico after the War of Independence. Manitos became Mexican citizens in 1821. The same was true for the Nineteen Pueblos see: !
Manitos became US citizens after the Mexican and American War Primera intervención estadounidense en México or Guerra del 47. It wasn’t the Spanish and American War which took place in 1898 – a war in which a significant number of Manitos fought on the side of the Americanos. Manitos served under Teddy Roosevelt as “rough riders.” I note much of the above because those claiming to be “Spanish” in Nuevo have, at best, a tangential cultural relationship to Spain.

However, most if not all of Manito culture is largely Mexican and heavily influenced by Northern Mexican culture. It is not “Spanish.” Let’s take food — Manitos are not exactly eating Magdalenas y cafe con leche for breakfast or tapas at night…instead you’ll find huevos rancheros, tamales, menudo, posole, etc. The latter is typically “Spanish” and the former is typically Manito….or should I say traditionally Manito…perhaps the eating in an Anglo fashion is more el estilo Manito. Last — when you look at the “lineage” of Manitos ….invariably their mitochondrial es puro Indio and the Y gene is usually some Euro variant — the same is true of most Mejicanos.

So…..are Manitos Mexicans …..culturally and gene wise ….most definitely yes….

Herrumbroso Filero March 26, 2014 at 11:44 AM

I forgot to add — mi padre y abuelito were Manitos [as in they are currently planted and not breathing] — if you [assuming you’re not an Anglo] asked them — what are you they’d say …. Pues somos Mejicanos … if you were an Anglo they’d say “We’re New Mexicans” which was a polite way of saying: “WE WERE HERE BEFORE YOU PINCHE SO DON’T FORGET IT….AND THE HERE MEANS WE HAVE SPANISH AND INDIGENOUS ROOTS…..”

I’m a half Manito…..the other and better half is Tapatío or more accurately tapatiotl.

D Hernandez April 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM

I’m what they would call ‘Chicano’, but a Californio also. My family has been cruising around the US from Mexico since the war of 1812, they came in 1810 from our records that we have. They moved from Mexico west, to the East to immigrate to the United States. We’ve had family fight in every major conflict since the war of 1812, including the Civil War where my great great great granpda fought with the Louisiana Tigers, and the other side fought in a Northern unit from Massachusetts. I look more Mestizo than white, but I am PROUD that I was able to serve my country in my skin and the United States is my country. I live near the border in California, I go to TJ a lot and sometimes to Baja or much deeper before it got bad, and trust me, Mexico’s Mexicans are MUCH MUCH different than me, and honestly don’t like Mexican-AMERICANS. I don’t see anything wrong by saying ‘Mexican-American’ or chicano, we call Italians , Italian Americans, there’s German-Americans, and Irish Americans. But we are ALL serving the US with pride(most of us) and anybody who’s a second generation American with no family in Mexico, but still thinks they are more ‘Mexican’ , should REALLY go visit Mexico and tell them that you live in the US, just see their faces , their expressions.

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