Monday, March 4, 2013

I Was Asked To Pick A Side

A few nights ago I was out having coffee and conversing with an Egyptian woman. It was mainly small talk, she had brought her laptop to show me pictures of some of her travels here in the U.S. What really caught my attention though were the pictures of her in Egypt, where she showed up in support of the Egyptian Revolution, what in the U.S. media we came to know as the Arab Spring. She had my attention from that point on, well, she technically had my attention before that, because she is an attractive woman, but she maintained my attention further as she showed me the pictures and explained to me what was occurring. None of her pictures were necessarily exciting shots, it was mostly her standing out in I believe Tahrir Square where she was holding an Egyptian flag in support of the people. She told me how they had to use I believe yeast and some other ingredient to try to reduce the effects of a pepper spray that was being sprayed at their faces by opposers of the revolt. Her excitement came through as she explained this to me and went through the few pictures she had, and told me about her thrill and joy when Mumbarak stepped down. From there we discussed my interests, and somehow we ended up talking about the immigration issue and Arizona. After discussing this, she posed an compelling question to me, something that I personally had never thought about.

She asked, "So if there's a war between America and Mexico, who would you fight for?" In all my years it's not something that ever really crossed my mind. Possibly partially because as a Xicano, I feel that we are in a constant war of ideology with U.S. politics. However it didn't take me long to answer her hypothetical question, and I explained that it would depend on the purpose of the war, or the ideology behind it. Did the U.S. violate some type of international law and is Mexico simply responding by using force because the U.S. is involved in some type of oppressive secret war we don't know about? Or is it that Mexico wants to invade the U.S. to oppress the people here and exploit particular resources?

In other words I couldn't give her a  straight answer. I think she found it amusing that I'm a Mexican born in America, the U.S. She referred to Mexico as "your country," even though I explained I was born and raised in the U.S. I think she found it intriguing that Mexico is right next door to the U.S., yet I didn't respond to her question by saying I would side with Mexico if there were ever a war. She seemed to expect a part of me to be very nationalistic and side with "my country" regardless of the particularities of a war between the 2 countries. But as I explained to her, I couldn't, I needed to understand the purpose, I didn't believe in simply following blindly, for any struggle there seems to be a  purpose and I would need to know the purpose before simply siding with one way or the other. 

It seemed amusing to her that I am a Mexican-American. I think she seemed to believe that I was simply Mexican, there was no hyphen and "American" needed, because ultimately I was Mexican. I was just a Mexican that happened to be born in America. Once I told her my area of study, that of Chicano Studies, she had a befuddled look on her face, and inquired further into what a "Chicano" is. I tried to explain that essentially it was a Mexican-American or Mexican born in the U.S., but that it was also about a particular ideology. I tried to look at things from her perspective, being that she's international, she seemed not to grasp the whole Chicano or Mexican-American thing. For her I seemed to be a Mexican born in America. Hence the question about my loyalties if there were ever a war between the two countries. Nonetheless, it was a question I'm glad she asked, because again, it had never occurred to me, until she posed it.

Later on that evening she echoed to me something I've heard from my friends plenty of times, "You think too much."



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