How Mexican Am I, When I wasn’t Born In Mexico.

This weekend I was binge watching reruns of No Reservations and The Layover, shows that Anthony Bourdain use to host.  I was tired of all the scary movies and thrillers and decided I’d watch something different.  I loved Anthony Bourdain, he had a sort of “I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks” kind of attitude and in the back of my mind he was my ideal man.  In any case I was watching an episode of his from the Layover and he said something that got me thinking.  He was talking about how English food really isn’t English anymore because of all the cultural influences that have come about due to all the immigrants that have settled in England.   He mentioned that the national dish is chicken tikka masala.

Now I don’t know if that’s true but, what got me thinking is how Mexican am I since I’m not from Mexico?  Everyone that lives on the border has to think about this at one point in their lives or another.  In another episode he was in Cologne Germany talking to a woman who was born in Cologne but whose parents were Turkish immigrants.  She mentioned that she was born German, but growing up with Turkish born parents she felt more Turkish as a child than German.  Because she was exposed to nothing but Turkish ideals, language, food and traditions at home, then when she went off to university she said she was exposed to everything German.  Anthony Bourdain asked her how she felt about herself now, as an adult.  She answered that she’s German with Turkish ancestry and that’s because, as she explained, now she’s old enough to glean all the positive aspects from both cultures.

So I began to contemplate this myself, exactly how Mexican am I, if I wasn’t born in Mexico?  Well that’s easy, I’m not Mexican because I’m an American of Mexican decent, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know of my Mexican heritage or deny it either.  But it wasn’t always that way because growing up all I ever heard of Mexican’s was that they were lazy, didn’t want to do anything but come to America and take advantage of our benefits and such.  Yes, you heard that right, I grew up hearing this and guess from whom?  My very own parents who were first generation Mexican-Americans.  Now, as I think back I’m ashamed and angry at my parents’ very close-minded and backward, not to mention prejudice way of thinking.  As I got older I began to find that my mom’s parents didn’t speak Spanish to her as a child.  They told her that she had to speak English only, because this was America and she had to speak the way American’s did.  My mom and dad both told me that as kids going to school their teachers would reprimand them if they spoke Spanish in school, going as far as hitting them on the knuckles with a ruler if students spoke Spanish to each other even at lunch or on the playground.

I slowly began to realize how their prejudicial thinking was born, but as adults they perpetuated this thinking and tried to pass it on to their children.  I thought a lot like my parents as a young adult too, but as I began to educate myself about why certain misconceptions came about.  I realized that a lot of what they thought was true, wasn’t true at all.  I explained to my father one day that Mexican’s weren’t lazy, that they were the sole reason produce farmers were made successful.  That Cesar Chavez saw the injustice of how Mexican immigrants were being treated by the produce farmers in California and decided he was going to stand up for their rights.  Because, as I told him, just because they weren’t born here they were human and had civil rights too.

Cesar Chavez Farm Workers
United Farm Workers Union march, Delano California 1970

My dad admired John Wayne (don’t ask me why) and though his film The Alamo was one of the greatest films ever.  That is until I began college and learned that everything I knew of history was wrong, completely wrong.  I told my dad how history painted those that defended the Alamo against all these angry “savage” Mexican’s was wrong.  He asked me how (he was kind of angry because what did I know?  I was only a woman and he was an all knowing man, this was part of his Mexican machismo).  I asked my dad what he knew of the battle of the Alamo and all he could say was that Davy Crockett and James Bowie fought to keep the Alamo from being taken from the Mexican’s.  I asked “Is that ALL you know?” and he looked at me confused, and said “Is there anything else?”  I was to say the least blown away at how movies made up almost all the misinformed education my parents received.  I told him that those savage Mexican’s didn’t believe in slavery and that those defenders of the Alamo wanted to make Texas a slave republic/state, and the Mexican government had outlawed slavery in 1829.  The Mexican government discouraged settlers coming to Texas from bringing slaves with them because slavery was seen as barbaric, imagine that?

Forget the Alamo
Translation, Forget the Alamo, Slavery or Death….

I told my dad that the battle of the Alamo wasn’t about defending (what was legally theirs by the way) the Alamo against savage Mexican’s drunk on power to control or for independence, but because they didn’t want to allow slavery to come to Texas.  My dad sat at the dining room table with his cup of coffee in hand, a look of bewilderment on his face and said “Pues, I didn’t know.”  From that day on, he never watched the John Wayne movie The Alamo again, he told one of my uncles that he thought that movie was wrong, that the facts didn’t add up.

I see a great deal of cultural misinformation that went on and is still perpetuated in my parent’s generation and now I know why.  They were brought up thinking that they were born American’s therefore they should shun their cultural and historical roots, no speaking Spanish, no celebrating where their parent’s came from, no identifying with their Mexican heritage.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents are very proud American’s.  My maternal grandfather served in World War II, and stood for the National Anthem every time it played.  But my parent’s tried to somehow keep themselves and their children from learning their own heritage by denying it. When one becomes an adult, we begin to think for ourselves, find our own answers and figure out what is fact and what is fiction.

For years I would tell people that I was a fifth or sixth generation American, denying my heritage and now I realize that I was being groomed to do so, by the very people who should have known better.  After I began to go to college and realize that my parent’s perception of where exactly we came from was wrong, I began to start to research where my parents came from.  Or should I say where their parents came from.  My mom’s parents indeed were born here in the United States, but my dad’s parents were not, my paternal grandmother was born in Mexico but was of Mennonite/German/Irish decent.  My Granny as we called her, also liked to dress up as Santa Clause for her grandchildren and adapted American traditions with those of her childhood.

Santa Granny
Me and my Santa Granny (my dad’s mom) 1972

Which explains why she was so light skinned, and my paternal grandfather was born in Chihuahua Mexico, and is of Mesoamerican/Mexican (Raramuri) Indian decent and he was very dark skinned.  He was also of German/Visigoth decent, how that came about I have no idea.

German Visigoth Tribe
Ancient Germanic Tribes of Western Europe

So how do I identify?  Well growing up in El Paso, being exposed to all the Chicano/Latino historical changes and I identify with being a Latina of Mexican decent or a Chicana, which some would say is a derogatory description of the Mexican heritage.  But I disagree, because people identify Chicanismo as being cholos who drive low riders and are uneducated gang-bangers who wear flannel shirts (way before the grunge era came about may I add) and bandannas, are mechanics and cholas having tons of kids.  Being tattooed, beer drinking, pot smoking drug addicts. But there is so much more to the history of the Chicano/Latino culture than what one sees on t.v or hears about.

Mexican American Servicemen
Mexican-American Servicemen in World War II

And yes, there are some of these stereotypes that are true, but not all of them are.  Yes, I am first and foremost an American because I was born here, In San Bernardino California.  I was raised in El Paso on the border with Mexico and grew up with a lot of the traditions that my parents tried so hard to suppress, only learning them from friends and their families or older generations of family.   Accepting them as part of my cultural heritage and beginning to realize that acceptance why we need to take into account when we hear of all the immigrants coming here looking for a better life.

Hal Marcus Print
Hal Marcus Four Seasons of El Paso

Also acceptance of where one comes from is important because as the saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  It’s taken a while for my parents to come to terms with their familial history and why they should be proud of it instead of shunning it.  Although prejudice and ignorance comes to light every so often but I’m all too happy to set them straight and remind them they need to stop their one-way thinking.  So I guess if I had to answer the question that Anthony Bourdain asked, I’d say I’m a deep, complex American of Mexican, German, Irish decent that doesn’t identify or hold to only one cultural background.  I am an American of different cultures and proud of that fact!

Sure, I joke about carrying a shank in my purse or that I will stick a pencil in Baby Kermit’s neck to shut her up.  Or that I will defend my child cubs if you mess with them, and I can get as ghetto/barrio on anyone’s ass if they do me or my family wrong.  But that’s not a heritage/cultural thing, that’s purely a Huntress thing!

keep calm Deadpool meme

Until next time remember, chin up, soldier on and watch your back!

The Huntress 915

Published by thehuntress915

My life has been a lot like the movie Bridget Jones Diary (the Hispanic version) constant comedic struggles and life lessons learned by way of personal experience. I've survived divorce and online dating debacles, so tag along for the ride and lets laugh together.

30 thoughts on “How Mexican Am I, When I wasn’t Born In Mexico.

  1. So, I can understand where you’re coming from, but at the same time…perhaps they wanted you to speak english as a better way to fit in and to be successful in life, in America.

    Like it or not, but any person coming to America that doesn’t learn english will always be one step behind. This is not because of racism or a lack of understanding, but rather recognizing that the entire world follows the American dollar. Any successful business person from another country will always speak, read and understand english. It’s not a cultural thing, it’s a business thing.

    Also, Caesar Chavez beat and intimidated Mexicans coming from Mexico to find work in America. Chavez was representing the Mexicans that were already in America and in the event that more Mexicans emigrated to America, those Mexicans were taking work away from the Mexicans that Chavez was representing.

    Also, I would push back in the idea of the truth behind the Alamo, like all wars, land and inches matter. The American dollar won and the Mexican peso lost. Plain and simple. It’s easy to romanticize one side over the other, but all’s fair in love and war.

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    1. I’m not talking about the politicization of what Mexican-American’s did or what they didn’t do. I’m speaking strictly from a personal stand point, that how I grew up and why my roots/family history were suppressed. I’m not going to agree that Cesar Chavez beat and intimidated Mexican’s coming into the US looking for work, I have to know that as a fact for me to actually agree with that.

      Speaking English is indeed an important language to learn, but when you live on the border like I do, people living here already know two or more languages and are accepting of those that are tying to learn and looking for opportunities to make a better life here. Tolerance is key and it seems to be more prevalent on the cities than in other parts of the country.

      I know you don’t like facts but, history does prove that the truth behind the Alamo isn’t just a one sided opinion. It had nothing to do with the dollar and the peso, and even if it was a war, back then Texas was on the verge of being a republic and slavery wasn’t tolerated by the Mexican government, which still had Texas as a region somewhat, it was a matter of being civil to slaves that were seen as property or animals and not human beings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Let me state here once and for all, this post is NOT ABOUT POLITICS! Get that straight! It is about a personal experience of my family/life/childhood. It is about cultural heritage and traditions, it is not about who did what, when and how or even if it was wrong or not. I am making a statement of how I grew up, what my parent’s believed and how I see things now. I don’t need anyone to tell me, teach me, or explain why I should believe what other believe. First off, if your not Latino/Hispanic/Mexican-American you don’t and shouldn’t tell me that I need to believe what you believe. If it’s history then that’s what it is, history. As an American politics is subjective, it’s a free country believe what you want to and free speech is my right as is everyone’s. But I will block your ass if you start to make everything, every comment about MY posts political! End of story!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yes, yes I do. But I despise more is when they turn every single post on other peoples blogs into a political witch hunt about history, heritage, personal experience. Leave your agenda on your blog, if I want to talk about history or politics I’ll post about it and ask for opinions!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting. I was born in your neck of the woods, but my family were considered Oakies in post war California and I had about as much problems as you did, but more in a reverse direction. My family moved to an isolated area along the Colorado-New Mexico border with a huge Mexican/Pueblo Indian demograpic.
    I wanted the bright city lights with its sleek women …
    Chavez spent a lot of time in that area too …
    Interesting observations, chica …

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am a war baby … born in Riverside during the war and lived in Muscoy until the 2nd grade. Then my family moved to New Mexico/Colorado
        Oddly, though most of my family were Texans, I was never in the State until my late thirties when I moved to Houston for a time.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I mainly just consider myself an Earthling.

    Part of my ethnic ancestry is those Americans who came to settle Texas in the 1820s and 1830s when it was Mexico. Probably the people that were the most shafted by the Spanish/French fighting over Texas territory, and later the USA/Mexico were the dozen or so different aboriginal American tribes that lived around Texas.

    I guess I am not as interested as others in defining myself by my ancestry. I don’t like that the Earth has to be divided up politically. I feel like the place is just as much mine to freely roam around as the next guy. But I have no nuclear bombs, so I am limited in what I can do.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. No, as my boys grew I made sure they knew where both their parents came from. As my ex-hubs is first generation American, his family has very strong ties to Mexico still. I tried to make sure that they knew about my grandparents and how the generations evolved. But they also know how my parents thought/think sometimes as well. I’ve spoken both English and Spanish to them growing up so they are bilingual. But they predominantly speak English.
        And I’m pretty sure that on their dad’s side, mainly their paternal grandmothers family has middle eastern lineage, as they get asked all the time if their Muslim. But then again Mexicans/Muslims/Syrians and all other cultures with darker skin look a lot a like.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post…. quite thought provoking. My father was born in England, but with Scottish ancestry. My mother’s parents were Austrian immigrants who came through Ellis Island in the late 20’s. Me? I love strudel, but not haggis. I identify as American but have always felt the beauty of the melting pot. Cultural differences should be welcomed and experienced. Shame that this country seems to be moving away from that ideal… it’s always been our strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was born in Delano, CA. My grandparents lived there, as well as my parents for some time. I loved that little town. My parents complained of all the Mexicans there, but that didn’t bother me. Even though we moved away when I was very small, my grandparents were still there and we went to visit as a family and I even went to visit on a Greyhound bus as a teenager. I learned all about Chavez and what he was doing for the Mexican immigrants. I was born the year he started fighting for farmworkers’ rights. There were many Mexicans in Delano, and my grandmother had Mexican neighbors. They were very nice people but freakin’ white people treated them like shit. My parents weren’t even very compassionate about how they were treated. It made me mad, even as a kid. When I lived in Lodi, CA I went to school with and had a lot of Mexican friends. I loved their compassion for family and heritage.

    Not too long ago, Dad and I did the DNA thing with MyHeritage.com and we discovered we are 27.2% Irish, Scottish, and Welsh / 44.7% North and West European / 11.9 Scandinavian / 12.9 East European and .9% Nigerian. I knew we had English, German and Irish roots but it was great to learn of all the different ethnicities in our family tree. I guess I identify as a “Heinz 57” LOL. My Granny used to say that; we were just a little bit of just about everything…

    My thoughts have been quite the scramble lately. I hope my comment makes sense to you because it did to me. LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How funny that we both called our grandmothers, granny, lol. I get how some people aren’t compassionate, can you imagine when those people are from your very own race/culture? Those were my parents, but they’ve changed their way of thinking somewhat.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hispanic culture and language were predominant before English in the entire southwest U.S. , but native before that, of course. My Spanish is rusty and my Norwegian leaves a lot to be desired, but my northern and eastern European genetics doesn’t make me not appreciate what all cultures bring to the table, literally. I love food from all over the world and am also a fan of Anthony Bourdain. My parents came to the U.S. after leaving war-torn Europe after WW2. I am comfortable there, but this is my home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, there were many cultures here before it was “discovered” or colonized that we overlook because it wasn’t important until another, more important culture thought to “civilize” it. I loved Anthony Bourdain for his no-nonsense approach to food and life.

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  7. It’s really a shame how history gets misrepresented or simply dismissed. You have so much to be proud of, not just in your genetic heritage but in your family. Sure, every family tree has a few nuts, but you’ve also got some strong, interesting, and successful people in your background.
    Something I think about sometimes is that on my father’s side I’m mostly Scottish, descended from people who came over some time in the 1600s, and on my mother’s side I’m Czech, with grandparents who came over in the early 20th century. So is one side of me less “American” than the other? Obviously not. And it would be just as ridiculous to say that someone who’s just come here and is trying to build a life is less “American” or less deserving of the rights I enjoy.
    And a funny thing a Canadian friend pointed out to me: Mexico is part of North America so, strictly speaking, all Mexicans are Americans…as are Guatemalans, Peruvians, Brazilians…
    If I were lucky enough to be like Anthony Bourdain and travel the world and talk to people in different places something I might ask is not just, “What’s your heritage?” but “How do you feel about your heritage?” Because even though we’re part of and connected to a large web of people–and ultimately all connected to each other–the part we play in that web is up to each of us as individuals.
    And I may not get to travel as much as I’d like but I do feel very lucky to live in a place where I regularly meet people from around the world.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I really enjoyed this – it’s given me a lot to think about. One of the things that’s been most eye-opening to me as I’ve gotten older is realizing just how wrong my parents (and grandparents) were about so many things. They’re only human, sure, but when I think of all the negative stereotypes I was taught about other cultures as a kid, it’s mindblowing. That was all stuff I had to unlearn as I became an adult when I realized that they weren’t the authorities on cultural relations. They were actually racist as all hell!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? And we, as kids, don’t question our parents thinking because we trust them to teach us right from wrong. But what do we know what’s right from wrong as little kids? I mean sure, don’t steal, don’t lie and all that jazz but, they (at least my parents did) perpetuated racism within their own culture. Like you, I had to “unlearn” it, and TEACH them that what they believed was wrong.

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  9. Such a magnificent post and perspective, Huntress. I love how you changed pop’s mind about The Alamo! A lot of my machismo friends and family (who happen to support that dumbass you-know-who over in you-know-where) push up John Wayne as a role model and I constantly tell them, “you know those are just acting roles, right?” But, then again, their other hero is Archie Bunker. “Those were the days,” eh?

    I don’t know my full heritage, but some of my family is all about it. We’re really just mutts from the south (Mississippi on the dad’s side, Arkansas on the mom’s) who found their way to California. Or, as my family liked to call it growing up, Mexico North. It wasn’t until much later (see my latest blog for more!) that I realized how deeply racist my family was. It wasn’t until you-know-who won the you-know-what that I realized how deeply racist they still are.

    At any rate, I ramble on. Great post, and thank you for sharing!

    ~ Pastor Tom Pole Saw

    Liked by 2 people

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