Sunday, October 13, 2013

Representations and Assumptions of the Mexican/Xicano on a Cal State Campus

You would think that going to college I would notice how people viewed me, not as in Xicano X, but me as a minority, an ethnicity. I've thought about it more over the years, and I tend to maybe overanalyze the situations. For example as an undergrad I took some kind of computer art class, and as the only Mexican in the class (sometimes it felt like I was the only one on campus), the professor told me that I should consider tutoring him in Spanish, because he and his wife liked taking trips down to Mexico, and he sure loved his Mexican food. I think that even after Thanksgiving break, he came over to me and started talking about the great tamales and tacos he had eaten. It was like thanks man, glad you liked our food, now can you do something about all the xenophobia and nativism? Thanks man, appreciate it.

Then there was a time when me and a couple of friends took a weight lifting class, and we suddenly became "The Three Amigos" according to a white guy in a wheel chair. Lucky for him that tv show Ironside wasn't around back then. You know being brownies, and speaking Mexican pretty much doomed us to the label of the "The Three Amigos" that semester, but at least it was better than the Three EStooges.

My personal favorite was when a Christian fellow (don't ask me if he was Born Again or some other denomination, because I would not fucking know) approached me and started making small talk as I was walking through campus. It was my final year, and it was a sunny day from what I remember,  I was minding my own business, when he said, "Hey, how's it going man?" I was taken aback a bit, because white people don't usually approach me to make small talk, but I thought maybe he was just being friendly and upon answering him, he'd go on about his business. I nodded like a gent, and politely replied, "Good."

"So what's your name," he asked.


"Thats cool, my name is Religious Twat."

I nod.

"What are you majoring in, X?"


"You got big plans this weekend X? You going to party?"

Come on man, we went to a fucken party school, how I could I not party this weekend? Nonetheless, I just kinda half shrugged and nodded. As if yes I intended to party, but I wasn't sure if the fates would allow it.

"Do you do drugs, X?"

I raised my eyebrow, and said "I used to."

"So you just drink now?"

I nod.

"I liked to party too, man. I used to be a heavy drug user. I was headed down the wrong path, but eventually I started going to church, and it changed my life."

By this point I was trying to keep my pace walking through campus so I could get to my apartment, but it was difficult to do as he shared his story of redemption.

He continued, "I go to this Christian church, man. You should come check it out one of these weekends. There's nothing like devoting some of your time to the Lord . . . blah blah religious gobble-dee-gook blah blah fire and brimstone blah blah blah smite blahbitty blah forgiveness."

I just stood there a bit perplexed and annoyed, wondering why the fuck this was happening. I then thought, if there is a God, he is maybe trying to play a cruel joke on me. He's probably up there laughing his ass off at me, saying to himself, "Toma buey! How's that for a great beginning to your weekend of partying?! You fuckwit! Bwahahahaha!!"

The Religious guy finished his diatribe, and then told me about his church. "Here's a card for our church, man. You should come by when you get chance, man."

We shook hands and he was off to save other souls he came across, and I was off to continue perpetuating my soul's damnation as a result of the dark beer me and my friends would consume. Because there's nothing like a long weekend of the consumption to remind your soul's liver who's in charge.

I didn't think much of the encounter with the Christian guy, until recently. I was thinking, watiaminute, did that fucker actually approach me, because I'm a Mexican? Did I look like a thug or drug addict? Or was it just that I was Mexican and he assumed, "Hey, all Mexicans or at least the ones that look like this guy with their ball cap on backwards, must be druggos that need to be saved by the lord."

That's where the over-analysis came in, but how could I not think that? I was just walking through campus, it was pretty dead that day cause it was Friday afternoon, but still, if there were some white students walking through campus would he have approached them? Maybe if one them had a baseball cap on backwards? This was the same campus where due to my Mexicaness I was regaled with stories about the delicious tacos and tamales eaten while on vacation in Mexico by the professor, as well as the place where I became one of "The Three Amigos"--weren't those fuckers white or birds? At least with the professor I can say that maybe he was trying to make me feel welcome or comfortable in the class, since I was the only minority in there, and I didn't mind hearing him talk about his culinary adventures south of the border, but still, I wasn't noticed by him until the middle of the semester. This was also the same school, where a friend of mine had pointed out a white student, wearing a t-shirt that had a cartoonish drawing of a stereotypical Mexican, wearing a sombrero, large mustache, beer/tequila bottle, mariachi type outfit, etc., squatting behind a cactus, pants pulled down around his ankles, and the caption above read, "Shit happens." Therefore it's difficult for me not to think that the encounter with Religious Twat didn't have something to do with my being Mexican, and preconceived assumptions he had about us.

Maybe that's my punishment for my sacrilege--I'm destined to roam the earth deconstructing and analyzing, then overanalyzing every encounter I have with an Anglo person, wondering if something they said, asked, or commented, had to do with my Mexicaness. That might make a good tv series. Okay, maybe not, maybe just a bunch of short webisodes.


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