Sunday, February 25, 2007

As an Asian person, would I be considered a gabacho?

From: ¡Ask a Mexican! The Tucson Weekly

As an Asian person, would I be considered a gabacho? Or do I fall into the yellow bucket labeled chinito, even though I'm not Chinese?

OC Asian

Dear Chino: Like Americans assume all Latinos are Mexican, Mexicans think all Asians are chinos--Chinese. When I used to go out with a Vietnamese woman, my aunts would speak highly of mi chinita bonita--my cute little Chinese ruca. When I'd point out she was actually Vietnamese, mis tías would think about it for a bit and respond, "¡Que chinita bonita!"

But just because a Mexican calls you a chino doesn't necessarily mean we think you're Chinese, OC Asian. "Chino," like so many of our swear words, has multiple negative meanings. In the colonial days, a chino was the offspring of a half-Indian/half-black and an Indian. This association with race also transformed chino into a synonym for "servant" and "curly." The term "barrio chino" (Chinatown) also became a euphemism for a town's red-light district. And a popular schoolyard refrain that all Mexican kiddies eventually chant at their Asian classmates is "Chino, chino, japones: come caca y no me des" ("Chinese, Chinese, Japanese: Eat shit and don't give me any").

So why the Mexican chino-hate? After all, Chinese were the Mexicans of the world before there even was a Mexico, migrating to Latin America a couple of decades after the fall of Tenochtitlán. And our most famous native dress, the billowy, colorful costume worn by baile folklórico dancers known as a china poblana, was supposedly first worn by a 17th-century Mexican-Chinese woman. Bigotry is bigotry, though, and since Mexico's Asian population is still small and overwhelmingly Chinese, we lump Asians into the chino category--it makes the racism easier, you know?

2 comments:

Tom DeLay said...

Yes, because you spelled it wrong.
Usted gavacho.

el jubilado said...

Except that B and V are inter-changeable in Mexico ... even in schools. I've tried to make the correction. No serve!

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