Dear Gabacho: Two separate concerns here: the public and private workplace. As a supervisor, you can make your employees hablar English while in front of customers and not risk a discrimination complaint (although I would tell your customers that the Mexicans aren’t whispering about them. Probably discussing Chivas soccer). But ask them to switch off the Univisión for ESPN, and beware of federal precedent. A 2008 consent decree by the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts allowed the Salvation Army to require workers to speak English in front of customers but also allowed foreign-language workers to use their native tongue while on break. You can always play the gabacho card and ask the TV tlatoani to switch the channel out of courtesy. But other than that, you’re caca out of luck. Enjoy Sábado Gigante!
Dear Mexican: It seems like a large number of Mexican-Americans trace their ancestry back to west-central Mexico—Jalisco, Michoacán and nearby. Well, these areas were never controlled by the Aztecs! The Indian blood in people from that part of Mexico comes from Tarascan or other nations. So, how do Mexicans of other-than-Aztec ancestry feel about the constant Aztec symbolism in the national iconography?! —Conozco Demasiado
Dear Know-A-Lot: Gracias for reminding gabachos that Mexican indigenous society isn’t just of Aztec ancestry. That said, we’re so far removed from the initial contact between the Aztecs and Spaniards that most non-Nahua Mexicans don’t give a segunda thought to the subsequent appropriation, integration, and propagation of Aztec imagery. Another history lesson, gabachos: That Mexican flag image of the eagle perched upon a cactus upon a stone in a lake, with a snake gripped in its beak came from the Aztec myth that they were to build Tenochtitlán in the area where they found such an image. Nahuatl loan words in Mexican Spanish? Nearly all that end with the suffix –te—tomate, zopilote, cacahuate, mayate—and hundreds of others. The actual name, Mexico? From Mexica, what the Aztecs actually called themselves. And the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s ultimate symbol? A syncretism of the Spanish black Madonna by the same name and the Aztec goddess Tonantzin. There still is resistance to such ideology among certain indigenous, but the struggles of the Mixtecos and Zapatistas at this point is more against the current ruling class than the direct descendants of Cuauhtémoc at this point.
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, MySpace.com/OCWab, Facebook.com/Garellano, YouTube.com/AskeAMexicano, find him on Twitter, or write via snail mail at: Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433!