In Spanish Harlem, they looked at me and asked: ‘What are you?’

I remember the first time I thought I might not be White.

I was about 8 years old, in my elementary school’s cafeteria. We had been learning about heritage in class that day, and everyone in my Michigan hometown, it seemed, had ancestors who came from Denmark or Holland. They were all blonde-haired and blue-eyed. I remember a classmate turned around and looked at me and said, “What are you?” “I’m a kid,” I answered, confused. “Just like you.”

“No,” was the reply. “I mean, what are you? Are you Italian? Indian?”

I was confused. “I’m an American,” I said, proudly. I knew my mom’s family went back in this country a long time, and had fought in the Revolutionary War. Why would I be Italian?

As I grew older, I became hyper-aware of my dark hair and dark eyes. Everyone in town—and in my family, it seemed—was tall, blonde, and blue- or green-eyed. They all had little ski-jump noses. My nose was big, round, and wide.

But my dad was a tall blonde Dutchman, and my mom always checked “White” or “Caucasian” on my school forms, and—why would I question my parents?—so I grew up White.

Except for the many, many times, White people did not accept me.

It gnawed at me, the question I received more and more the older I got: “What are you?”

By high school, I knew I wanted to go someplace where I didn’t stand out because of my features. Someplace where people looked like me. I chose New York City, where I instinctively knew there were people who looked like me, and where, I thought, no one would ask, “What are you?”

Mas…In Spanish Harlem, they looked at me and asked: ‘What are you?’

La Santa Cecilia y Rebel Cats: ‘Soy Mexico-Americano’ (video y lyrics)

POCHO faves La Santa Cecilia (Marisoul on vocals) team up with Mexican rockabilly band Rebel Cats on a new, live version of Soy Mexican-Americano. The video was shot at Be Bops, a 1950s-style American diner in Mexico City. If there was a washboard in addition to the cajon, we’d call this zydeco.

Here’s Los Cenzontles’ version of the song, which is on heavy rotation at POCHO World Headquarters in East Los:

Mas…La Santa Cecilia y Rebel Cats: ‘Soy Mexico-Americano’ (video y lyrics)

Donald Trump, John Lewis and MLK Day (video, toon, photo)

In 1991, Public Enemy‘s epic By the Time I Get to Arizona spotlighted the Hate State of Arizona’s failure to implement the Martin Luther King Day national holiday.

Contrast and compare with PEE-OTUS Donald Trump’s weekend Twitter attack on civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, draw the necessary conclusions, and prepare to take appropriate action:

Mas…Donald Trump, John Lewis and MLK Day (video, toon, photo)

John F. Kennedy in Houston and Dallas, TX November 21-22, 1963


Tina Adame couldn’t stop smiling hours after meeting President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy.

The First Couple surprised Mexican American guests at a LULAC gala in Houston, and Tina went over every detail to anyone who listened the next morning at the engineering firm where she worked.

The president spoke about the importance of Hispanics in the country, she said. Then, Jackie addressed the crowd in Spanish. “It was magical,” Tina recalled.

Her boss, a Kennedy critic, overheard her talking about the visit to co-workers. “So, you got close to the president?” he asked. “Did you shoot him?”

Mas…John F. Kennedy in Houston and Dallas, TX November 21-22, 1963

I didn’t know I was a poor Mexican until the day I started junior high

salomon_y_carmenWhen you grow up in a segregated community and poor, often times, you’re not aware of your ethnicity and class status. Growing up in tight-knit Mexican communities, from Tijuana, Mexico, to East Los Angeles, I didn’t realize that I was Mexican and poor until my first day of junior high school.

As part of federal integration programs, I — along with classmates from Murchison Elementary School in East Los Angeles — was bused to Mt. Gleason Jr. High School in Sunland-Tujunga. Nervous about leaving the notorious Ramona Gardens housing project or Big Hazard projects for a strange place, I braced myself for the unknown.

Mas…I didn’t know I was a poor Mexican until the day I started junior high

@SaraChicaD gets her Cinco de Mayo ¡Grito! on (videos)

gritoscreencapIt’s time again for Cinco de Mayo, the holiday whose popularity no one really understands, except for the beer companies.

But now you can celebrate by getting your Grito on with the ¡Grito! app. Get it here.

What is the ¡Grito! app? It’s an app a native Texan and lover of her Mexican heritage Kathryn Gonzales made in order to celebrate — not mock — the culture of Gritos.

The app lets you play gritos at appropriate times, teaches about the history of gritos, and even lets you create your own. Here’s one I made for everyday usage:

Mas…@SaraChicaD gets her Cinco de Mayo ¡Grito! on (videos)

A funny thing happened on the way to ‘Bordertown’

BordertownBarracudaEPNHola. I’m Lalo Alcaraz. You might know me.

I have been a Chicano political cartoonist forever. I know, I know, it’s God’s work, you’re welcome. Now, all of a sudden I’m a primetime TV writer and producer. Huh? Yes, the last two years in my life have been a super WTF. With ten percent LOL. #facepalm

Like it or not, I am now part of a historic pop culture moment: the first season of the first animated primetime TV show featuring a large cast of Mexican and Mexican-American characters: Bordertown.

Mas…A funny thing happened on the way to ‘Bordertown’

Clip y Save: Fall screenings of ‘Bordertown,’ maybe near you *UPDATED

bordertownIf you follow POCHO Jefe-in-Chief Lalo Alcaraz and me, POCHO Associate Naranjero Gustavo Arellano, you know that we’ve been shamelessly promoting the upcoming FOX animated cartoon, Bordertown.

In case you’re just some random Googler who stumbled across this page, here’s the synopsis: BORDERTOWN satirizes life on the U.S.-Mexico border — la migra, changing demographics, religion, the drug war, and so much more.

Yeah, part of it is shameless self-promotion — I’m a consultant, while Lalo is a staff writer. But we’re doing it because we truly do believe this series is the Great Brown Hope: the network program that will finally show raza in all our hilarious, proud, chingón glory and that will become a ratings smash that’ll allow the beginning of #televisionreconquista.

Mas…Clip y Save: Fall screenings of ‘Bordertown,’ maybe near you *UPDATED

Bienvenidos a Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aztlan (photos)

zootsuitsDuring the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Minneapolis last weekend I decided to take a break and visit East Lake Street.

That’s the heart of the city’s Mexican and Somali immigrant communities. I had tacos at Taqueria Los Ocampo then strolled down East Lake and discovered scenes one might find in East Los Angeles, Houston’s Northside or Albuquerque’s South Valley.

The murals were a reflection of a people who came north…way north.

I like these photos especially:

Mas…Bienvenidos a Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aztlan (photos)

Two drivers stop, get out, and confront anti-immigration H8RZ (video)

twodriversHooray! We found a new video upload from the same white winger who gleefully shared the dancing Raza 1 Racists 0 video.

This new upload features the irony-impaired videographer and his know-nothing posse out on the streets waving American flags and ranting about “illegals.” Then two different guys drive by and stop their trucks, get out, and confront the H8RZ. [Adult language, F-bomb.]

Mas…Two drivers stop, get out, and confront anti-immigration H8RZ (video)

Memorial Day: In 1918, this Latino war hero swam until he died

barkleyHe was only 19 when he died in 1918, a kid who would become America’s first Latino Medal of Honor Recipient.

His posthumous Medal of Honor for heroism came in 1919, but his acknowledgement as a Latino had to wait until 1989.

Wikipedia explains:

David Bennes Barkley was born March 31, 1899 in Laredo in Webb County in south Texas, to Josef and the former Antonia Cantú.

He grew up with his Mexican-American mother. He enlisted in the Army when the United States entered what was then known as the Great War.

He used his Anglo father’s name to avoid being segregated into a non-combat unit.

Mas…Memorial Day: In 1918, this Latino war hero swam until he died