Ask a Mexican

lived in Spain a few years ago and my roommate, one of my good friends, was Mexican. That is, he IS Mexican. He was
born in Mexico City, lived here in the US for several years and just recently moved back to the DF with his
bride.  When we lived in Spain together, I was constantly embarrassed by the questions he’d get asked about the
differences between Spaniards and Mexicans. Some people, it turns out, were unaware there was much difference. These
people were almost inevitably Americans. And they were the open-minded ones who had come to Spain to study!

Oh, the evenings I spent sitting around a table drinking red wine with my buddy and laughing about how ridiculous we
(that is, Americans) sometimes are. What’s even more ridiculous IMHO is that some of the most culturally illiterate
people in the world live in one of the most culturally rich places in the world: Los Angeles. If you take the one hour
drive down Interstate 5 from LA to Orange County, you will pass communities rich in international cultures.

From Thais to Vietnamese to El Salvadorans to Armenians, LA is a vibrant salad bowl of international cultures. Yet,
most people will never experience these other cultures because they speed from place to place via the freeways, never
once stopping (except maybe for gas) in any of these communities.

Now all of this is to set up my hearty
appreciation for this article
in the LA Times
about a
that’s been running in the OC Weekly called Ask a Mexican. The
columnist, one Gustavo Arellano (pictured), takes on the local prejudice and ignorance (both abundant in Orange
County) with sharp wit and gut-wrenching humor. To wit: when one writer asked "Why do Mexicans call white
people gringos?", he fired back:

"Mexicans do not call gringos gringos. Only gringos call gringos
gringos. Mexicans call gringos gabachos."

And when asked to explain why Mexicans to sell oranges at
freeway off ramps, he snapped:

"What do you want them to sell — Steinways? According to Dolores,
who sells oranges off the 91 Freeway/Euclid onramp, in Anaheim, she can earn almost $100 per week hawking the fruit.
That averages out to more than $5,000 a year — and since it’s the underground economy, she doesn’t pay

I was tempted to write and ask the difference between Spaniards and Mexicans just to see what
kind of a response I’d get, but it being Orange County, my guess is someone already did.