Tag Archives: American culture

Just a gringa

Well, I’m sad to say that I’ve discovered no matter how much Spanish I speak or books I read about Mexican culture, in the end I’ll still be a gringa. Now I’ll say up front that those are not my husband’s words because if they were, he would be on the couch indefinitely. He has always asked me why I married a Mexican and if I ever wish I married an American. He usually brings up the question after a bad cultural experience, like when his boss for a day at Gastof’s harassed him about our relationship, or when there is an immigration raid somewhere in the country. I take his questions as more of a reflection on his self-esteem when it comes to being a Mexican and it saddens me greatly.

It’s a hard line to walk from my side. I knew where he was from and his situation before our first date so I had already made a conscious decision not to let any of that be a factor in our relationship. I DO care that he is Mexican though, in the way that I want to learn his culture and language and history so I can appreciate where he is from and where his family still lives. I want our future kids to love their Mexican heritage and look forward to visits south of the border. I’ve spent hours studying Spanish and taking classes. I have read many books on Mexican history or on Mexican’s in the US. I really do try to be patient with the cultural differences such as time (that’s the most different).

My disappointing discovery last weekend was that despite all this effort, his family will always consider me a gringa. They would never tell me this but my husband was talking with his brother Gigio about some things and told him I would like to help him and the family. His brother told him that he likes me but he would never let me help because “I can’t understand because I’m an American.” Of course, he said it in Spanish but that was the translation that Mex told me later. The topic in question was something that I pride myself very much on knowing a lot about (as it is my career). My initial reaction was anger which Mex experienced the entire car ride home. Then I was sad. So sad and disappointed. I know it isn’t how Mex feels and I know our relationship is as “race free” as any biracial couple can truly be but I thought I was making more progress with his family. How can they like me if they don’t think I understand them? Even after Mex’s intense immigration process last year.

A week later I’m still sad. Now I’m also confused and worried, not about us but about children. I want them to feel comfortable everywhere and his brother’s comment scares me and makes me feel like they are going to feel like they don’t fit in anywhere. They’re American but not white like their mom. They are Mexican but not really Mexican like their dad. Where do they fit? Will they resent me or him or both of us? Whew…. a lot to worry about when there aren’t even any kids on the horizon. Maybe I should stop for the evening and just enjoy the time at the lake while summer still lasts! Good night from the Gringa.

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Filed under Bicultural and biracial marriage, Family, Marital Issues, Mexican culture, Minnesota vs. Mexico, Minnesotan/American culture

Is there any truth in an infomercial?

I am a firm believer in NOT believing anything I see on an infomercial. Whether it is a super chopping knife or an ab roller or turbo ladder or magical age reversing make-up. I would never buy anything from QVC or by dialing an 800 number I saw on TV. It’s the same reason when someone calls me at the office claiming to be from the Fireman or Police something or other looking for donations I think it’s a scam (which news reports have found it highly likely to be one).

While those commercials are targeted at my wants and needs and are easier to resist by convincing myself they won’t work or I don’t need them, some of those 90-second to 30 minute segments are not so easy to ignore. Instead, I usually turn the channel out of skepticism or pure guilt. I’m thinking of the ones where “for the price of your daily cup of coffee you can make adopt a child” in Africa or Latin America. I have such a strong resistance to being sold something on TV but I never could stop wondering if that money would really make a difference and how much of it would actually reach the child.

Since returning from Mexico this spring I have been reading every book and article I can about the history of Mexico and about the current economic status. The facts about starvation and malnutrition are eye-opening and frightening. Studies estimate that almost 50% of the children in the country are malnourished (and almost as many adults). I’ve heard statistics about malnutrition in other countries but I’ve never really understood how far those effects stretch. There are disturbing pictures of indigenous school children from Mex’s state next to children in private schools in Cuernavaca. The children from rural Morelos (my husband’s state) are visibly shorter and frailer than the middle/upper class children. You can actually see the effects of having not enough food and that disturbed me a lot.

Unlike the US, schools to not provide any food or snacks to the children. When kids show up hungry, with no breakfast they have no energy. They fall asleep in class and don’t learn. If they don’t learn, they are put on the path of only finishing the US equivalent of junior high. In fact, that is all that is required in Mexico which surprised me.

I feel like someday I would like my mission to be finding out a way to make sure every kid that goes to school gets a good breakfast. Maybe by making sure that kids get at least one full meal a day, five days a week, it will give them enough energy to stay awake in class and study. For Mexico to rise in power, technology, and economical status in the world I really believe they need to start out with more focus on education. I tried to figure out the cost to provide each kid with eggs, tortillas, milk, and fruit and guess what it comes out to? The cost of a cup of coffee. I guess I’ve become a believer after all.

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Filed under Mexican culture, Mexico, Minnesotan/American culture