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¡Ask a Mexican! Big-bellied ‘pocho’ can’t get any respect

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GUSTAVO ARELLANO 

¡Ask a Mexican!

Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014 8:00 pm

Dear Mexican: I’m a second-generation Orange County-raised pocho. Both sides of my family have been civil rights activists since the 1940s. My mother’s family took part in the landmark case Mendez, et al. v. Westminster, et al. in 1946. My father was a Chicano activist in the 1960s and 1970s. From the time I was a child, I had met various figures like Reies López Tijerina, César Chávez, Bert Corona and Emigdio Vasquez. In 1975, my dad took me and my older brother to a demonstration against la migra where we marched to the federal buildings in Santa Ana. As an adult, after graduating with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I have improved my Spanish with classes, books, magazines, television, films and travel to countries de habla española.

Despite my efforts to acculturate myself in Spanish, I am often met with the macho attitude of wabs and pochos apparently because I do not dress or act like them. At 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, I’m not being dissed for appearing to be a wimp. I have gone to gabacho businesses where the wab or pocho cashier has provided courteous service to Anglos and Asians with a smile, referring to them as “sir” and saying, “Thank you.” While being served, I’m treated like a second-class citizen. I have been nearly run off sidewalks by wab pedestrians while walking with my 2-year-old son. A favorite of some wabs is to ask me to speak in English after I have said something in Spanish clearly and grammatically correct. I now live in Los Angeles, where for some reason I get much more respect from African Americans than other Latinos. Is there a seemingly logical reason for this disrespect from wabs and pochos alike?

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