Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Pretending To be Mexican: The New Tio Tacos?
Today I read where Central and South Americans in Los Angeles have been pretending to be Mexicans in order to get jobs. First, they need to acquire a Mexican accent, then learn some new words (especially swear words) and last eat Mexican food. They live in fear of being uncovered and potentially losing their jobs. Wow, in my day Mexicans worked hard to pretend they were anglos, but this?? Who would've thunk it? We called them "coconuts" (brown on the outside, but white on the inside), or Tio Tacos. They went so far as to change their names, especially their last names. The classic example is Victoria Carranza, who renamed herself Vicky Carr! One of the best stories I ever heard was from one of my students years back by the name of Ronnie Lopstain. He called himself a Chicano but I had my doubts. One day I confronted him about it, inquiring how he came to get the name, instead of say, Lopez or something. He told me that in fact his father's name was Lopez, but the family moved into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in San Francisco and opened a corner grocery store calling it "Lopez Groceries". When few clients frequented his business, his father decided to change the store's name to "Lopestain Groceries", but in time refined it to Lopstain! Needless to say his business increased tenfold! When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?