My family came here from Mexico in the late 50’s. My Abuelita still lives there and I’ve visited her and other relatives back in Mexico numerous times over the years and I’m still in awe of its beauty everytime. Yes, some of Mexico is still quite impoverished and some areas are affluent as well, but it’s all beautiful. Mexican immigration has remained such a hot topic here in the U.S. with the same prejudices and stereotypes still bouncing around in Anglo society. I can think of no one better to dispel these old stereotypes than Gustavo Arellano, the well-known columnist for Orange County Weekly.
Arellano speaks bluntly in a no-nonsense way, addressing the common misconceptions people still have about Mexicans and Mexican/Americans. You know the ones. Four families living in a two-bedroom apartment. We’re all lazy and stop working every afternoon to take siestas. We’re only worthy of being your gardeners, maids and nannies. We’re still referred to as “wet backs” as though every one of us has waded through the river to get here. And the only contributions we’ve made to American culture are tacos and burritos.
Arellano writes his column question and answer style and considers no topic off limits, answering funny, serious and downright hateful questions from readers. Not one for tiptoeing around the subjects of immigration, stereotypes and prejudice, Arellano gives it right back to the ignorant and the curious. One recent reader asked Arellano what is it about the word “illegal” that Mexican immigrants don’t understand. Arellano pointed out that U.S. employers obviously don’t understand the word either.
Currently the Latino population is the largest minority in the U.S. now numbering 37 million, with Mexicans making up two thirds of that number. But no matter how large the Mexican community becomes, how productive and hard-working we are, how much we contribute to society, there are still those who either remain ignorant and/or hateful to our culture and people. Arellano has dedicated his column to defuse bigotry and answers questions with well-researched responses.