spilling the beans

On my first visit to Los Angeles, I heard something that would stick with me for a long time:
Mexicans are the Puerto Ricans of LA.

Growing up, this whole P.C. Latino thing didn't exist in my neighborhood. There were the black people, the white people and the loud-ass-Puerto-Ricans (Jamaicans/all West Indians are also in this category).

Puerto Rican teenage girls wore jeans so tight my mother always alluded to the idea that they were bound to induce yeast infections. These jeans were known as Puerto-Rican tight.

They also had feet so small that buying Air Jordans was completely affordable because they'd never grew out of children sizes. If there feet were in the range of adult sizes they still bought them too small and walked Puerto-Rican-pigeon toed (unlike the natural pigeon toed walk).

They still gelled down their "baby hair," long into adulthood and definitely definitely wore brown lipliner with like pink/white lipstick.

These were just facts. I didn't make them up, these things are what I saw with my very own child-eyes and overheard with my very own child-ears.

They were an "other." A group of people that I didn't know anything about, beyond this inner-city, outsider-view of their lives. When an opportunity arrived for me to finally interact with groups of Puerto Rican girls in high school (my elementary and junior high schools were predominately white, as was I at the time), I found out that a lot of them were actually Dominicans and that the two peoples have some sort of long standing rivalry! Debacle!

So I gave up. Not that I was actively in pursuit of hanging with Puerto Ricans, in the first place. They were always hiding in the cubby holes of NY anyway, like Williamsburg or the Bronx. NO ONE ventured to those places... I mean the Bronx is still a deadzone; I can't name more than two neighborhoods there and they are both white ones (Riverdale and...).

Where am I going with this you ask? You see, Puerto Ricans remain as much of a mystery to me, as is group numero dos: Mexicanos.

Waiting for the buses late at night here in Los Angeles is sometimes a huge safety toss-up. I've often found myself suddenly understanding the mind of a hitchhiker: You can be on the street with crazies, or in a car with a crazy or two. Last night, in three separate locations, I was offered a ride back to my home, all of which I turned down... but it got me thinking. If the offers were made by young white Americans, would I have said yes?

Save for my thoughts of the Firefly Family, I would probably hop in. Chances are white kids living in Echo Park are not a part of a secret alliance of serial killers. But, alas, these ride-offers where not made by 20-something white kids on their way to/from Echo Park, they were DUN-DUN-DUN older Latino males. What the hell do I know about them and where did I learn it?

Well. I know that I've learned about Mexican people in two places: the building on the corner of Beverly Road and East 17th Street, in Brooklyn (where I learned to deal with whistling and cat calls at 12)- and movies. So, I googled a few things, the first of which was "Depictions of Mexicans in Film." Three out of the top ten results were about that Brad Pitt movie. The other articles touched on the negative portrayals of Mexican-Americans in films as the gangster-plaid-shirt-Vatos we all know (and fear). I Googled just "Mexicans," and this image popped up, supporting the aforementioned stereotypes.

image source: serious customs.

Immigrants and Gangsters. That's all they get. Oh and landscapers, thanks for all the gangs and gardeners Mexico! What the fuck is that Bullshit?? So we finally got Black people on t.v. Thank God we're using that opportunity so well with all the true magic on BET. So happy that pimping thing is STILL not dead. What happened to BET Nightly news? At least that attempted to educate black families. Where is Teen Summit? That tried to keep kids from joining gangs and having unprotected sex.

Back to Mexicans.

I know that I'm ranting. Please excuse me, but I am genuinely appalled at the state of American media. Throughout the 90s, Mexicans were portrayed as gangsters in any film about Southern L.A. Before that they were lawnmowers, fruit salesmen, pregnant or fucking rats (!!!) with accents that don't exist in real life.

Can we please get some non-whites on t.v. that do everyday things, that aren't some bizarro version of the Cosby family (I'm talking to you George Lopez, and Tyler Perry). Can I see some non-white 20-something that aren't belligerently drunk on a very fake episode of the Real-World? Some of us are not complete animals- okay, Big Wigs in Charge?

Gavin Mcinnes wrote an article called Fuck Single Mothers (figuratively) here. It not amazing, but in it he makes a few valid points; I am going to borrow this quote:
Speaking of which, can you imagine how much TV the children of single mothers watch? It boggles my mind and their kids’ minds at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the TV is constantly on. The adverse effects of this kind of half-assed parenting are pretty evident all over America...
So yeah, please don’t pile on me some anecdotal evidence about your mother raising you all by herself and your turning out just fine. You’re one in a million—or, more accurately, one in a hundred. Although, come to think of it, it’s difficult to quantify the damage 35 hours of TV a week did to you, so maybe you are damaged and the stats just don’t know it yet.

That's me! I thought I was fine! Turns out, I might be racist by way of ignorance. So thank you T.V., movies and magazines for teaching me (jack-shit) about these mystery people. Finding out you are slightly racist doesn't just happen every day. Oh wait. Thankfully most of my friends are white, and properly represented in film, t.v., music, print media, and fashion. I've got you guys all figured out.


And P.S. like that Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, some of those pesky Mexicans are PERUVIAN or GUATEMALAN, so if you're committed to your blind hate, as least get it right.

1 comment:

  1. uhhhhhh

    I love you.

    so just a side note.. I was once retarded drunk in the City with Melody, sorta blacked out a minute and had no idea WHERE I was.. I had no phone, no id, no money.

    Two mexican 20 somethings brought me back to my sister's boyfriends place. I sat between them in my slinky dress, fur coat and high heels.

    Everything was fine.