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How To Become Mexicanized

Apr 10, 2008
Is it fair, no, not fair but ethical, to demand of immigrants to America that which we, as Americans, would not demand of ourselves when and if we were to immigrate to another country? Are we being "Double Minded Gringos" to demand certain things, if you will-requirements, of Mexicans for example, when they attempt to move to our country that we wouldn't dare demand of ourselves?

Just what does it mean for an immigrant to the United States to become "Americanized?" Just what do we mean as a people when we say that anyone, Latinos or whomever, who comes to live among us should adopt and adapt our language and culture? What are we saying exactly and why don't we apply the same standards to ourselves when we go to live in Mexico, proclaiming proudly that we are American Expatriates and that we have Mastered the Culture?

One Supreme Court Justice said that Americanization should look like this:

Immigrants should wear "our" clothes, take on "our" manners and customs as their own, and speak "our" language as their normal manner with which to communicate in the American culture.

This Supreme Court Justice went on to say,

" (W)e properly demand of the immigrant even more than this - he must be brought into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations and cooperate with us for their attainment. Only when this has been done will he possess the national consciousness of an American."

I know a great deal of Americans, on both sides of the political spectrum, who would shout a very hearty Amen at what I've just written. And, I find myself in agreement with this description of what to become Americanized means. I actually have no problem with it at all. I also know a great deal of Mexicans, some who have been Border Jumpers, who aspire to the exact premises of that argument of what it means to become an Americanized immigrant. In fact, I could go out on a limb and say that I know of no Mexican who would disagree with that.

But, (and there's always a but, isn't there?) the Americans, those on both sides of the American political landscape, who would shout their agreement with what Justice Brandeis wrote, do not make the same demands of themselves when they move to Mexico. I am, of course, and I shouldn't have to make this disclaimer, not talking about each and every American who has ever (or ever will) expatriated to Mexico. I am not talking about every gringo without exception. But (there's that "but" again), I am talking about the vast majority of American gringos who move here and do not do what America says immigrants should do when expatriating to her shores.

If what the good Justice said could be taken as the essential definition of what it means to expatriate; then are those Americans who are attracted to these Gringo Enclaves like iron to a magnet, expatriates at all?

Where is the evidence of their Mexicanization? Where are these American Gringo's Mexican clothes, Mexican manners, Mexican customs, and most importantly of all where is the primary mechanism through which Mexican Culture is transmitted and absorbed, the language-SPANISH?

Where is it? Where's the evidence of it in their daily existence? Where is the communion and fellowship within the monolingual Mexican barrios, festivals, concerts, and churches??? Where is the evidence that the American Gringos do not have to hunt down, like a rare and invaluable treasure, all the bilingual Mexicans that they use to interface with the rest of the Mexican community in which the Gringos dwell?

That's why I regard the term, Gringo Expat Community, as a complete oxymoron. Why does this term, Gringo Expat Community, have to even exist in anyone's vocabulary if American Gringos applied to themselves the demand our American culture demands of Mexicans when they move to America? If what Justice Brandeis said was true, then why do Americans refer to themselves as part of a Gringo Expat Community, American Sector, Gringo Enclave, Gringo Landia, or whatever? If the Justice's point is that immigrants to America are to become, without exception, Americanized Immigrants by taking on the characteristics he outlined, then should not Americans who move to Mexico, claiming to be "American Expats in Mexico," become so Mexicanized that a designation of "American" would be not just unnecessary but, well, dare I say it, an Oxymoron!

So, what then do we call these Americans?

You tell me!
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