When Mexicans Pull The “Eres Gringa” Card.
I met a lovely Mexican woman recently, and for some reason I made the comment that I was from “Pocholandia,” which to me was pretty funny. My parents come from the border, I’ve spent a good chunk of my time running around South Texas and I personally feel that being a “pocha” is the best way to describe my ethnic affiliation. It’s the classic, “Ni de aquí, ni de allá” syndrome.
But she, without skipping a beat, replied to me, “Eres una gringa.” Now, she didn’t say this with disrespect or disdain, just very matter-of- factly, wanting to make sure I wasn’t claiming her turf as my own. I didn’t say anything to her, because it would have been pointless, but I did put it on the Internet, Facebook specifically, where other pochos like myself jumped on with the same message: here we go again.
I find it funny that generations of Latinos in this country have worked hard to create a respectful and integral space for Latinos from other countries to occupy. Yet, when those Latinos come here and have no trouble accessing services in Spanish, or eating in restaurants of their choice, or applying for jobs they desire, there’s no understanding of the decades of work and sacrifices it took to get the country into this shape.
Just a dismissive comment in the vein of, “You’re an American so don’t pretend to be anything else.”
On the one hand, it might be a lot to expect someone from another country to understand the intricacies of our culture. Have they ever gotten the evil eye for speaking Spanish in public in Mexico? Probably not. Do their parents tell them stories of not being allowed into restaurants or school clubs because they were Mexican? Probably not. So, I get that.
I guess the part that bothers me is always the certainty with which people from Mexico (or other Latin American countries for that matter) judge us Latinos here to be inauthentic. How much time have you spent here, how much have you invested in learning the history of Latinos in this country, how many of us do you know that it’s so easy for you to make that judgement?
I’m probably making a mountain out of a mole hill here. None of these things are considerations when these judgements get made. It’s after the fact, when you take time to think about it, that you begin to wonder whether it makes a difference what you’re called. The fact is, ni eres de aquí, ni de allá, and if you’re okay with that, the rest is just arguable semantics.
The next time someone says something like that to me — I’m sure there will be a next time — I’m probably going to stay silent, update Facebook, and replay it in my mind like I did this time. After all, if somebody wants to call me a gringa, that’s totally out of my control.
The part I can control, though, is whether or not it bothers me. And knowing as I do from experience that, any Latin Americans who come here will follow the same pattern my family went through, and that one day, they too will be called gringos by their former countrymen, makes it all seem less, well, bothersome.
Copyright 2012 Sara Inés Calderon
Sara Inés Calderón