February 1, 2011

No Need for Insults

Becoming a mother has given me new perspective on what it means to give life.  On this first day of February, month of my birth, I reflect on the things in my life I owe gratitude to for my existence, namely my mother (thanks Mom!) and my father (thanks Dad!) but also all my ancestors that have come before me and the natural world that supports US ALL.

Mexico, of course, makes this list by being my home for the last four years...and by tempting me with her beauty, mystery, warm welcome, and paradoxes ever since I began traveling here many years ago.  As much as I complain about things that I dislike here, it would be a false statement to say these problems do not exist in any other country, and I don't want anyone to think I consider Mexico to be singular in its possession of environmental, social, or safety issues.  Nor do I want anyone to think that because I wish certain things in Mexico to improve, that I would EVER put her down wrongly.

I recently viewed 3 British fellows from Top Gear, apparently a BBC show, making fun of Mexicans for many things that are not even true, and I was deeply insulted by their aggression & ignorance.  In light of this blatant racism, I felt like responding.  But I can't really defend Mexico technically until I am a citizen, which, incidentally, is in the works!  But I'd wager I have a little more insight than the average American- as do most expats residing here.

The speakers (if you can call them that) refer to outdated stereotypes about Mexican work ethic, cars, clothing, food.  I will respond one by one, not so much because I want to talk to a-holes like these, and especially not because I have friends like them who need to hear it, but in case you, the reader, happen to have family members, friends, or acquaintances in need of cultural education and want some things to say.  Also to remind you to be careful & not let these stereotypes get perpetuated.   I don't have time to back up all my comments with statistics, maybe later. 

Work ethic. They insinuate that Mexicans are lazy: I've never seen anyone so hard working as the Mexicans in my husband's family, himself-who never wants to ask for help, my father-in-law, who at 74 can outrun any of his nieces and nephews and who's never taken a day off in his life except when he got prostate surgery, and my mother-in-law, who carried and bore 14 children continues to, after a debilitating stroke, caretake anyone who crosses her path in any given day.  The list goes on.  People who hold down three jobs before considering crossing the northern border.  10% of Mexicans emigrate to the U.S. to put food on their families' table.  That means giving up the warmth of your home and moving thousands of miles away to work.  If that isn't hardworking, I don't know what is.  Just ask any of the employers hiring Mexicans up in the U.S. that make up the backbone of the backbreaking economy.

Cars.  Similar to work ethic, maybe if they weren't busy BUILDING so many foreign-brand cars in Mexican factories, they'd have more time to develop their own brands. But who cares?

Clothing.  They make reference to a sarape and sombrero. Come on guys- this isn't the 20's, get a clue.  Most Mexicans I know are obsessed about fashion unless they are farmers, and I can't keep up with them.

Food. Tomatoes, guavas, avocados, papayas, vanilla, CHOCOLATE, CORN, peanuts, amaranth, and many more native food plants. Chiles en Nogada. Chipotles. Nopales.  Chilaquiles. Huitlacoche. Pollo en Mole. Enchiladas. Sopes. Tortillas. Gorditas. Carnitas.  Y mucho mas platillos ricos.  All from Mexico! Need I say more?

So, thank you Mexico, for all your good points.  And when I'm complaining about things that I wish were different here, I'll be extra careful to make sure I don't hurt your feelings in the meantime.  because there's no need for put-downs.


Your comments are welcome!