idenity

salvadorlitvakI’m pretty sure I was the only redhead at the NYU Latino Law Students Association Gala in the spring of 1990. The food was delicious, my date looked stunning, and I was glad I had jumped on the opportunity when I received the LALSA invitation.

My journey to that moment began 25 years earlier. I was born in Santiago, Chile in 1965: a third generation Chilean on my father’s side (whose people came from Odessa), and first generation on my mother’s side, who arrived when she was 12 from Hungary.

We left Chile in 1970 after the election of socialist president Salvador Allende. For Mom, socialism was close enough to the Soviet regime she’d fled in Hungary.

I started kindergarten at P.S. 81 in the Bronx. With a curly mop of flaming red hair and speaking only Spanish, I immediately embarked on a lifelong career of not fitting in. I learned English fast, but I still felt like an outsider. I got into X-Men comics because I identified with the mutants.

[Mas…]


Good news for gueros! One easy trick can prove you’re Mexicano, not a culero. [For audio, click on the icon in the top left of the image.]

PREVIOUSLY ON LOOKING MEXICAN: [Mas…]

Many drivers feel compelled to hang eclectic things from their rear view mirrors as a personal statement of identity, like a moniker or family crest. They painstakingly choose a little symbol that transforms their mass-produced faceless production vehicle into an expression of self.

In any discussion of how Latinos choose to label themselves, maybe researchers should check out someone’s ride before they fill out a questionnaire.

Back in the day and several years before my time, it was vogue to hang fuzzy dice from your rear view mirror, indicating you considered yourself a wild rebellious playboy gambler and wanted everyone to know. [Mas…]

Who, exactly, IS a pocho?

by newstaco on January 5, 2012 in Cultura

Pocho used to be defined by what it wasn’t. But that was a long time ago.

Pocho, by my reckoning, used to be one thing but now it’s another. To be a pocho used to mean that you weren’t a legitimate Latino – and I use the word Latino in a very broad sense (I understand the whole Latinos-don’t-speak-Latin thing, but I use the term for a more utilitarian reason: it suits my purpose). [Mas…]