Some days I feel like a Latino. Some days I feel Chicano. Some days I feel like a Mexicano. Most days I feel like a Zacatecano, because that’s where my parents are from and that’s what my heritage is. I’m never really a Hispanic, because that’s just not a term that I use. I rarely think of myself as an American, because that’s just so self-evident that it reeks of desperation to identify myself as such.

Gustavo Arellano, editor of O.C. Weekly and the author of the column “Ask a Mexican,“ discussing sometimes confusing and fluid identities.

From ”What is Latino? Defining America’s Ambiguous Ethnicity“ [Huff Post]

Why the Heck Do Latino Reporters on Public Radio Say Their Names That Way?

By Americans, Arellano means mostly whites, but I’m Korean-American, and I’ve wondered the same thing. And so I got Arellano on the line and asked him: Why do you say your name all Mexican?

“It’s the correct way. I mean, heaven forbid, us reporters, want to have our names pronounced correctly,” he answers.

But here’s the thing, I tell Arellano, “I’m Korean-American. My last name is Kim, or that’s the way I pronounce it, but in Korean it would actually be Geem, and if we were even going to go further I should really be signing out: This is Geem Quee-nuh Seuk, right?”

“You should totally do that,” Arellano quips.

“But I’d feel sorta silly,” I share.

“You shouldn’t feel silly,” Arellano counsels. “You see, if anything, you have some ethnic studies courses that you have to take so you’re not going to feel silly about that. And look at all the European language loan words that we have.”

¡Ask a Mexican!

DEAR MEXICAN: Just suppose that all of the southwestern United States had remained in Mexico’s hands. Would the Mexicans have done any better with it than they have with the present confines of Mexico?

Reconquistador Retroactivo

DEAR GABACHO: The gran parlor game! If we turn back the clock and change a couple of things—if Austin, Houston and their fellow invading gabachos actually became Mexican citizens respecting the rule of the land instead of merely pretending to do so, if Mexico hadn’t suffered the theft of its lands and nearly gone bankrupt spending so much money in battling its ravenous neighbor to the north—would Mexico have been better off? The easy answer is —more land in a country generally means more possibilities for development, and California’s 1849 Gold Rush (which truly made the American southwest the mecca it became for Americans) would’ve happened on Mexican soil, meaning Mexico would’ve been the beneficiary of all those prospecting migrants and subsequent worldwide attention. Not having Texas secede from Mexico would’ve also hastened the demise of Antonio López de Santa Anna: Sure, his embarrassing defeat at the manos of the Texans forced him out of office, but he returned again and again. Left unchecked, Santa Anna’s megalomania would’ve inspired a true coup instead of many temporary ones.

With no neocolonial ties left—with no debts to any European powers due to fighting so many wars, with no appropriating of natural resources and lands by American industrialists taking advantage of a weak country, and with the United States itself weaker due to the lack of a southwest and all of its subsequent treasures—Mexico would’ve been in a much stronger position to enter the Industrial Revolution and emerge a better, reformed land. Of course, it’s just a parlor game, just like Arizona Senator John McCain blaming illegal Mexicans for starting devastating forest fires with no hard proof—except ours is responsible and fun, while his is just pendejo.

Chili con carne, now plain ol’ chili, was a harbinger of things to come for Mexican food. It was a Mexican dish, made by Mexicans for Mexicans, but it was whites who made the dish a national sensation, who pushed it far beyond its ancestral lands, who adapted it to their tastes, who created companies for large-scale production, and who ultimately became its largest consumer to the point that the only thing Mexican about it was the mongrelized Spanish in its name. The Mexicans, meanwhile, shrugged their shoulders and continued cooking and eating their own foods, all the while ostracized by Anglos who nevertheless tore through whatever Mexicans put in front of them.

“I hate that word ‘authentic,’” [Mexican culinary guide and cookbook author Marilyn Tausend] admits. “Anything out of your kitchen is authentic!”

She also has issues with the fact that non-Mexicans get most of the acclaim for Mexican cookery in the United States. Tausend is currently writing a cookbook with Ricardo Muñoz, a Mexico City-based chef who has emerged as one of the country’s premier chroniclers and practitioners of regional Mexican recipes.

“Ricardo, he’s finally going to get his due,” Tausend says. “But there’s others - Patricia Quintana is one - there hasn’t been enough talking about their food, and I think it’s unfortunate. When [British-born Mexican cooking author Diana Kennedy] says, 'My Mexico,’ I say, 'Come on, you’ve lived there a long time, but?’”

—  Chapter Five of Gustavo Arellano's Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America

ReasonTV Interviews: Gustavo Arellano

Since 2004, Gustavo Arellano has written the wildly popular - and wildly politically incorrect - Ask a Mexican! column in the OC Weekly. In each installment, the California-born Arellano answers reader queries about Mexican-American mores that rarely come up in day-to-day conversation. Recent entries have discussed whether it’s safe to shop for prescription drugs in border towns, why Mexicans eat so many tortillas, and if it’s common for Mexican men to wear necklaces bearing their mothers’ names (it’s not, cautions Arellano, and probably a sign that a particular hombre has a chica south of the border).

The column, Arellano told Reuters, “started off as a joke. It was supposed to be just a satirical take on xenophobia against Mexicans and it just exploded.” The column now appears in about three dozen publications and spawned a 2007 collection (buy it here). The column is remarkable not only for its humor and insight but its willingness to talk frankly about topics that usually stifle even the most-open conversationalists.

In April, Reason’s Nick Gillespie talked with Arellano about U.S. natives’ attitudes toward Mexicans, whether half-Mexican Anthony Quinn’s performance in Zorba the Greek or Jack Black’s Mexican-wrestler turn in Nacho Libre was more offensive, whether Mexicans can or should assimilate, the effect of the drug war on border relations, and much more.
Bachata King Romeo Santos Is the Greatest Latin Lover of Them All
For more than a century, every generation of American women has had their Latin lover, their tanned man that provoked swooning and screaming and spontaneous chonis melting. Flappers had Rudolph Valentino; the Mad Men generation threw woo at Ricardo Montalbán. Ladies of the 1980s went crazy over Julio Iglesias, while their daughters went nuts for Enrique Iglesias and Antonio Banderas. That's a lot of hombre there. Yet the lot of them seem like chavalas when compared to the titan of testosterone that is Romeo Santos--yeah, the pretty boy wearing the cute sweater in the photo above. With that precious earring and pout. None of the other smoldering señores sold out Yankee Stadium two nights in a row, as the 33-year-old did last year. Ninguno of the men re-defined a genre twice in the way of the self-proclaimed King of Bachata. While all Latino superstars have tried to cross over to American tastes, Santos has superstars cross over to him; his last album featured cameos by Nicki Minaj, Drake and even Kevin Hart, all of whom know that the best way to crack into the Latin market is by latching on to Santos.
By Gustavo Arellano
Last Night on #LatinoRebelsRadio: Gustavo Arellano and Chipster Life

In case you missed last night’s fantastic Latino Rebels Radio show, no te preocupes. Catch the podcast below. We started the show with Gustavo Arellano talking Charlie Hebdo. After that, we had @ChipsterLife to discuss Santa Barbara’s “illegals” fail.

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This week on A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio welcomes guest Gustavo Arellano to discus the history of the taco. Gustavo is the author of Tavo USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, an editor at OC weekly, and a contributing editor to the LA Times. Linda and Gustavo discuss the evolution of the meal we now know as the taco, and how the taco differs around the U.S. This show has been sponsored by S. Wallace Edwards & Sons. Thanks to Pamela Royal.


“There’s a time for every taco and a season for every torta.” [12:35]

Gustavo Arellano on A Taste of the Past

Journalism in a Jugular Vein: A lecture by Gustavo Arellano - Reid Campus Center - Night Life Walla Walla

New on Night Life Walla Walla: Journalism in a Jugular Vein: A lecture by Gustavo Arellano - Reid Campus Center -

Journalism in a Jugular Vein: A lecture by Gustavo Arellano - Reid Campus Center

  • Journalism in a Jugular Vein: A lecture by Gustavo Arellano – Reid Campus Center
  • Whitman College
  • Thursday, April 23rd
  • 7:00-8:30pm
  • FREE and open to the public

About the Lecture:

A 2014 study by the Brookings Institution noted that – as a news source – Americans trust The Daily Show more than MSNBC.

With the rise of satirical news both in print and on screen, journalists like Gustavo Arellano have made successful careers out of mocking the powerful, establishing a brand of news reporting buoyed by the public’s taste for satire. Is ironic, humorous, snarky and sarcastic now the best way to get your audience’s attention while covering serious subjects, or are newspapers like Arellano’s OC Weekly, Seattle’s The Stranger and France’s Charlie Hebdo going too far?

Gustavo Arellano is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, author ofOrange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at California State University, Fullerton, and a consulting producer on FOX’s animated show, Bordertown.

He writes “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America’s largest minority.

Gustavo is the recipient of awards ranging from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies to the Los Angeles Press Club President’s Award to an Impacto Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and was recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with a 2008 Spirit Award for his “exceptional vision, creativity, and work ethic.” Gustavo is a lifelong resident of Orange County and is the proud son of two Mexican immigrants, one whom was illegal.

This week's Ask a Mexican! - by Gustavo Arellano - Why the Obsession With Counting Mexicans?


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Tagged: , Ask a Mexican, Gustavo Arellano

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