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Race Designations

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By Corrine Ardoin - Posted on 09 May 2007

I wanted to thank everyone, Paula, Emilie, Robert, and Esperanza for the
tremendous help you have given me regarding this sensitive issue of race
classifications in Mexico and, as you pointed out, in America, as well. We
see this sadly all over the world.

People ask me if I am Hispanic and I say, I'm an American of mostly Mexican
and German ancestry. Since I have been doing genealogy, I have been
thinking, well, my Mexican ancestors were of Spanish ancestry, so maybe I
should start saying that, which gets me back to being "Hispanic." Yet,
there could be some French, some indigenous mixture there, so it just
doesn't work to get down to classifying ourselves or others anymore. I
could say I am of European ancestry, but that still excludes all
possiblities. That's what they have been finding out in the census taking,
that people are no longer simply white, black, brown, yellow, green, or
purple, but a blending of races. When it comes down to it, what is the
purpose of this kind of accounting anymore?

My mother was born in Guadalajara, spoke Spanish, and she grew up with her
family in Los Angeles. The story is told a million times over, family
members one by one immigrating to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution and
then staying here. My mother's mother only spoke Spanish, grew up and went
to college in Guadalajara, but worked in LA in the garment industry as a
factory worker until retirement. My mother's father was born and raised in
Chihuahua and El Paso. He was a musician, like his father, worked as a film
extra in silent movies, but eventually became a clothing salesman for Victor
Clothing Company in downtown LA until his retirement. I used to see him on
their television commercials in the 1960's. He had changed his name from
Jesus to Fred. My grandmother's aunt owned a shoe store on the plaza right
by the Cathedral in Guadalajara, lived a well-to-do lifestyle and had
servants. Her store was burned down during the Revolution, so she
immigrated to the U.S. She worked all the rest of her life for the Diamond
Laundry Company in LA. Why didn't the women do as well in this country as
their own? I know that they lived in fear of getting sent back to Mexico,
they isolated themselves, they did not want to stand out or make waves, make
a fuss, and they all had a great deal of pride.

I married a man of French and English ancestry and live far away from my
family now. The Mexican influence of my upbringing has worn off quite a
bit, I have found out. At a Mexican restaurant last Mother's Day, we had
brunch with my mother and my brother and his wife, who is Mexican. He asked
me if I had tried any of this particular dessert they had there. I said I
didn't know what that was. He looked at me and asked, "You don't know?
What kind of Mexican are you?!" So, you can get it from all directions, put
down for being too dark, too light, too Mexican, not Mexican enough, for
speaking Spanish, for not knowing Spanish, etc. etc. Enough said.
Thank-you, all!

Corrine Ardoin
American Heinz 57

An excellent message, and so true! Thanks for posting, Corrine! Marge
V:) also a Heinz 57! :)

On May 9, 2007, at 11:39 AM, Corrine Ardoin wrote:

> I wanted to thank everyone, Paula, Emilie, Robert, and Esperanza for
> the
> tremendous help you have given me regarding this sensitive issue of
> race
> classifications in Mexico and, as you pointed out, in America, as
> well. We
> see this sadly all over the world.
>
> People ask me if I am Hispanic and I say, I'm an American of mostly
> Mexican
> and German ancestry. Since I have been doing genealogy, I have been
> thinking, well, my Mexican ancestors were of Spanish ancestry, so
> maybe I
> should start saying that, which gets me back to being "Hispanic." Yet,
> there could be some French, some indigenous mixture there, so it just
> doesn't work to get down to classifying ourselves or others anymore. I
> could say I am of European ancestry, but that still excludes all
> possiblities. That's what they have been finding out in the census
> taking,
> that people are no longer simply white, black, brown, yellow, green, or
> purple, but a blending of races. When it comes down to it, what is the
> purpose of this kind of accounting anymore?
>
> My mother was born in Guadalajara, spoke Spanish, and she grew up with
> her
> family in Los Angeles. The story is told a million times over, family
> members one by one immigrating to the U.S. during the Mexican
> Revolution and
> then staying here. My mother's mother only spoke Spanish, grew up and
> went
> to college in Guadalajara, but worked in LA in the garment industry as
> a
> factory worker until retirement. My mother's father was born and
> raised in
> Chihuahua and El Paso. He was a musician, like his father, worked as
> a film
> extra in silent movies, but eventually became a clothing salesman for
> Victor
> Clothing Company in downtown LA until his retirement. I used to see
> him on
> their television commercials in the 1960's. He had changed his name
> from
> Jesus to Fred. My grandmother's aunt owned a shoe store on the plaza
> right
> by the Cathedral in Guadalajara, lived a well-to-do lifestyle and had
> servants. Her store was burned down during the Revolution, so she
> immigrated to the U.S. She worked all the rest of her life for the
> Diamond
> Laundry Company in LA. Why didn't the women do as well in this
> country as
> their own? I know that they lived in fear of getting sent back to
> Mexico,
> they isolated themselves, they did not want to stand out or make
> waves, make
> a fuss, and they all had a great deal of pride.
>
> I married a man of French and English ancestry and live far away from
> my
> family now. The Mexican influence of my upbringing has worn off quite
> a
> bit, I have found out. At a Mexican restaurant last Mother's Day, we
> had
> brunch with my mother and my brother and his wife, who is Mexican. He
> asked
> me if I had tried any of this particular dessert they had there. I
> said I
> didn't know what that was. He looked at me and asked, "You don't know?
> What kind of Mexican are you?!" So, you can get it from all
> directions, put
> down for being too dark, too light, too Mexican, not Mexican enough,
> for
> speaking Spanish, for not knowing Spanish, etc. etc. Enough said.
> Thank-you, all!
>
> Corrine Ardoin
> American Heinz 57

Some years back on business trip to Mexicali, the man, a succesful business man, who was touring the group at the cocktail hour asked: Why is it that in the United States everyone is hyphenated? Mexican-American, German-American, Afro-American, etc. I felt that his question was genuine and his curiosity was authentic which provoked his question.

A few of us tried to explain why this occurs - that it was about politics, allocation of funds, a distribution of tax revenues by politicians in order to prove that each community was getting its fair share and finally,and that it was an effort to preserve or to claim our roots and culture in the melting pot that the United States is. This man's physical facial attributes and surname was of chinese origin. Upon hearing the various explanations, he seemed puzzled and when asked to explain his reaction to the explanations he said. "I am Mexican. I never been to China and I am not Chinese-Mexican. But I am glad to know and take lots of interest in my ancestry and curious of where I come from". I liked his comment.
All of us in "Nuestros Ranchos" are like the Mexican man from Mexicali curious and interested in our ancestry. It is the reason why we endeavor in our genealogy, right?

We are enriched by the diversity of our background, life experience and by the man or woman we marry. Since that time in Mexicali, I go about with my keen curiosity and love to discover where I came from with a sense of who I am - not as a Mexican or an American or as some hyphenated identity but with a sense for universality of who I am, shaped, formed and influenced by the people I come across. I continue on my search for where I came from because it is important to know.

If you haven't, I would suggest one day you get to hear the song "No Soy De Aqui, Ni Soy de Aya" by Facundo Cabral, an Argentinian singer as it sings to what brings people together and who they are and shuns by its intent anything that separates.

For me, to discover who I am and where I come from is not about being Mexican from Nochistlan but about where I started from. Its good to know.

Enrique Legaspi

Corrine Ardoin wrote:
I wanted to thank everyone, Paula, Emilie, Robert, and Esperanza for the
tremendous help you have given me regarding this sensitive issue of race
classifications in Mexico and, as you pointed out, in America, as well. We
see this sadly all over the world.

People ask me if I am Hispanic and I say, I'm an American of mostly Mexican
and German ancestry. Since I have been doing genealogy, I have been
thinking, well, my Mexican ancestors were of Spanish ancestry, so maybe I
should start saying that, which gets me back to being "Hispanic." Yet,
there could be some French, some indigenous mixture there, so it just
doesn't work to get down to classifying ourselves or others anymore. I
could say I am of European ancestry, but that still excludes all
possiblities. That's what they have been finding out in the census taking,
that people are no longer simply white, black, brown, yellow, green, or
purple, but a blending of races. When it comes down to it, what is the
purpose of this kind of accounting anymore?

My mother was born in Guadalajara, spoke Spanish, and she grew up with her
family in Los Angeles. The story is told a million times over, family
members one by one immigrating to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution and
then staying here. My mother's mother only spoke Spanish, grew up and went
to college in Guadalajara, but worked in LA in the garment industry as a
factory worker until retirement. My mother's father was born and raised in
Chihuahua and El Paso. He was a musician, like his father, worked as a film
extra in silent movies, but eventually became a clothing salesman for Victor
Clothing Company in downtown LA until his retirement. I used to see him on
their television commercials in the 1960's. He had changed his name from
Jesus to Fred. My grandmother's aunt owned a shoe store on the plaza right
by the Cathedral in Guadalajara, lived a well-to-do lifestyle and had
servants. Her store was burned down during the Revolution, so she
immigrated to the U.S. She worked all the rest of her life for the Diamond
Laundry Company in LA. Why didn't the women do as well in this country as
their own? I know that they lived in fear of getting sent back to Mexico,
they isolated themselves, they did not want to stand out or make waves, make
a fuss, and they all had a great deal of pride.

I married a man of French and English ancestry and live far away from my
family now. The Mexican influence of my upbringing has worn off quite a
bit, I have found out. At a Mexican restaurant last Mother's Day, we had
brunch with my mother and my brother and his wife, who is Mexican. He asked
me if I had tried any of this particular dessert they had there. I said I
didn't know what that was. He looked at me and asked, "You don't know?
What kind of Mexican are you?!" So, you can get it from all directions, put
down for being too dark, too light, too Mexican, not Mexican enough, for
speaking Spanish, for not knowing Spanish, etc. etc. Enough said.
Thank-you, all!

Corrine Ardoin
American Heinz 57

Another excellent response. Thank you for sending this. Marge:)

On May 9, 2007, at 11:43 PM, enrique legaspi wrote:

> Some years back on business trip to Mexicali, the man, a succesful
> business man, who was touring the group at the cocktail hour asked:
> Why is it that in the United States everyone is hyphenated?
> Mexican-American, German-American, Afro-American, etc. I felt that
> his question was genuine and his curiosity was authentic which
> provoked his question.
>
> A few of us tried to explain why this occurs - that it was about
> politics, allocation of funds, a distribution of tax revenues by
> politicians in order to prove that each community was getting its fair
> share and finally,and that it was an effort to preserve or to claim
> our roots and culture in the melting pot that the United States is.
> This man's physical facial attributes and surname was of chinese
> origin. Upon hearing the various explanations, he seemed puzzled and
> when asked to explain his reaction to the explanations he said. "I am
> Mexican. I never been to China and I am not Chinese-Mexican. But I am
> glad to know and take lots of interest in my ancestry and curious of
> where I come from". I liked his comment.
> All of us in "Nuestros Ranchos" are like the Mexican man from
> Mexicali curious and interested in our ancestry. It is the reason why
> we endeavor in our genealogy, right?
>
> We are enriched by the diversity of our background, life experience
> and by the man or woman we marry. Since that time in Mexicali, I go
> about with my keen curiosity and love to discover where I came from
> with a sense of who I am - not as a Mexican or an American or as some
> hyphenated identity but with a sense for universality of who I am,
> shaped, formed and influenced by the people I come across. I continue
> on my search for where I came from because it is important to know.
>
> If you haven't, I would suggest one day you get to hear the song "No
> Soy De Aqui, Ni Soy de Aya" by Facundo Cabral, an Argentinian singer
> as it sings to what brings people together and who they are and shuns
> by its intent anything that separates.
>
> For me, to discover who I am and where I come from is not about
> being Mexican from Nochistlan but about where I started from. Its good
> to know.
>
> Enrique Legaspi
>
>
>
> Corrine Ardoin wrote:
> I wanted to thank everyone, Paula, Emilie, Robert, and Esperanza for
> the
> tremendous help you have given me regarding this sensitive issue of
> race
> classifications in Mexico and, as you pointed out, in America, as
> well. We
> see this sadly all over the world.
>
> People ask me if I am Hispanic and I say, I'm an American of mostly
> Mexican
> and German ancestry. Since I have been doing genealogy, I have been
> thinking, well, my Mexican ancestors were of Spanish ancestry, so
> maybe I
> should start saying that, which gets me back to being "Hispanic." Yet,
> there could be some French, some indigenous mixture there, so it just
> doesn't work to get down to classifying ourselves or others anymore. I
> could say I am of European ancestry, but that still excludes all
> possiblities. That's what they have been finding out in the census
> taking,
> that people are no longer simply white, black, brown, yellow, green, or
> purple, but a blending of races. When it comes down to it, what is the
> purpose of this kind of accounting anymore?
>
> My mother was born in Guadalajara, spoke Spanish, and she grew up with
> her
> family in Los Angeles. The story is told a million times over, family
> members one by one immigrating to the U.S. during the Mexican
> Revolution and
> then staying here. My mother's mother only spoke Spanish, grew up and
> went
> to college in Guadalajara, but worked in LA in the garment industry as
> a
> factory worker until retirement. My mother's father was born and
> raised in
> Chihuahua and El Paso. He was a musician, like his father, worked as a
> film
> extra in silent movies, but eventually became a clothing salesman for
> Victor
> Clothing Company in downtown LA until his retirement. I used to see
> him on
> their television commercials in the 1960's. He had changed his name
> from
> Jesus to Fred. My grandmother's aunt owned a shoe store on the plaza
> right
> by the Cathedral in Guadalajara, lived a well-to-do lifestyle and had
> servants. Her store was burned down during the Revolution, so she
> immigrated to the U.S. She worked all the rest of her life for the
> Diamond
> Laundry Company in LA. Why didn't the women do as well in this country
> as
> their own? I know that they lived in fear of getting sent back to
> Mexico,
> they isolated themselves, they did not want to stand out or make
> waves, make
> a fuss, and they all had a great deal of pride.
>
> I married a man of French and English ancestry and live far away from
> my
> family now. The Mexican influence of my upbringing has worn off quite a
> bit, I have found out. At a Mexican restaurant last Mother's Day, we
> had
> brunch with my mother and my brother and his wife, who is Mexican. He
> asked
> me if I had tried any of this particular dessert they had there. I
> said I
> didn't know what that was. He looked at me and asked, "You don't know?
> What kind of Mexican are you?!" So, you can get it from all
> directions, put
> down for being too dark, too light, too Mexican, not Mexican enough,
> for
> speaking Spanish, for not knowing Spanish, etc. etc. Enough said.
> Thank-you, all!
>
> Corrine Ardoin
> American Heinz 57

I lived several years in the USA and for me the racial designations used there were rather confusing.
Most of my black friends back in the USA were African, but not American; they were born and raised in Nigeria, Kenia, etc.
Same with my Asian friends in the USA, they were fom China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, not American at all.
As a Mexican, the one I foud really silly (por no decir estúpido) was Mexican-American. Here in Mexico we learn that America is one continent (not two; North and South America). So, any citizen from any country of the continent is an American (Canadians, Cubans, Brazilians, Hondureños, etc.). So, pretty much ALL Mexicans are Americans (unless you happened to be born in Europe or so, but have Mexican citizenship). So, the term Mexican-American is just redundant.
As for referring to people from the USA, I never call them American, but "citizens from the United States" or, in Spanish, "Estadounidenses", unless I'm trying to make a distinction among them and Europeans, Africans, etc. I also have heard the term "Unitarios" (Unitarians, from the UNITED States).
By the way, my favorite football team is Mexico's Club América, their logo is a ball (the kind of ball you play with your feet, as the name of the sport indicates) with a map of the American Continent. What they call football in the USA we call American Football (as opposed to the European Football of Soccer, so no problem there with the term American) and I root for the Chicago Bears, although they kind of sucked last Superbowl. Go Bears! Go Illini! ¡¡¡¡Viva América!!!!! ;P
Regards,
VN

Victoriano:

The appropriation of an entire continent's name by the United States of America was likely not coincidental... given the philosophy of manifest destiny, etc. this fit quite well. Given that it has been appropriated and generally accepted, its use in the term "Mexican-American" within the United States does not seem to strange but when deconstructed like you did, I do see how it is redundant.

As Enrique mentioned, the need to define this subgroup of Americans or Usonians, as Frank Lloyd Wright would prefer, is derivative of commitments made under the Treaty of Guadalupe and the Census Bureau's susequent attempt to count and catalog people of Mexican decent living in the United States who might be subject to these commitments.

The other terms used such as "Chicano" are very politically laden and therefore not equivalent.

By the way, neither soccer nor American football is European in the true sense unless you consider Great Britain part of the European continent. Both sports are derivative from English sports, American football from a variety of English football now referred to as rugby and "futbol soccer" from another form of English football.

Hi Arturo,
I guess the way we divide continents has more to do with geography, history and culture than with geology. I remember learning in school that Europe and Asia formed the Eaurasian continent, and if you even add Africa it was the Eurasianafrican continent. So, I do consider the British and Irish islands as part of Europe (even Iceland), and Cuba and Caribbean islands as part of America. I even learned about a whole continent made just of islands (Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, etc.).
Even not all the citizens of the USA would de truly geographically American, mainly all Hawaiians.
As for American Football, I know it is derived from Rugby and Football Soccer; however the sport the way we know it is American, it was developed at Yale University in New England (Go Bulldogs!!!), even though some people form Harvard may not agree.
Going back to racial designations, I also have issues with the term Native American as used in the USA, since it seems to me it only refers to tribes form the USA, excluding the rest of the continent. I reckon I once described myself as part White Hispanic and part Native American (I have no problem with the tem Indian) in a USA census form, and in the section of “Tribe” I just wrote “Mexican” since I don’t know from which of the many local Indian tribes I descend (chances are, from many different ones). Now thanks to DNA testing I know I’m not just part White and part American Indian, but also part Jew, part Middle Eastern-Mediterranean, and who knows what else. It is hard to describe your race when you are the product of centuries if not millennia of race mixing.
I am a citizen of Mexico, not a citizen of the USA, and I am very proud of being Mexican, and of being American, and again I think the term Mexican-American is as redundant as Kenian-Afican, Chinese-Asian or Italian-European.
I would tell all so-called Mexican-Americans, you ARE 100% AMERICAN, don’t feel excluded, don’t let them take away your American heritage, your ancestors have been in this American Continent for over 10 thousand years. All Mexicans are Americans, and you are TWICE American if you were born in the USA. By the way, I am thrice Mexican, since I was born in Mexico City and raised in the State of Mexico (before some governor changed our name from Mexican to Mexiquenses).
Just my two cents ;)
VN

Victoriano:

Thank you for humoring my commentary and giving me some more food for thought.

Your last comment made me remeber one time when I was walking down the street with a friend of mine speaking Spanish and someone walking by stopped to hear us speak and then told us (I don't know if he was being sincere or trying to be sarcastic) "Welcome to America!"

My immediate reaction was to retort, "What do you mean welcome to America? Our ancestors have been here for 30,000 years... long before your European ancestors came to this continent." I don't know what came over me, but the man was a bit shocked and embarrased and then I felt bad about having reacted that way.

I think you might actually be four-times over Mexican if you are indeed descendant of the Mexica tribe... 1. Mexica-Mexican, 2. Chilango-Mexican, 3. Mexiquense-Mexican and 4. Mexican-Mexican.

not to confuse the issue or to kick a dead horse . . . pelotas in Europe (futball) did not bounce until they added bladders made with Mexican ulli (rubber) . . .many people of the time were so facinated with the added movement as compared to their hides stuffed with annimal hair that the king had to put a moritrium in place so that the townspeople would go back to work . .

victorianonavarro wrote:
I lived several years in the USA and for me the racial designations used there were rather confusing.
Most of my black friends back in the USA were African, but not American; they were born and raised in Nigeria, Kenia, etc.
Same with my Asian friends in the USA, they were fom China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, not American at all.
As a Mexican, the one I foud really silly (por no decir estúpido) was Mexican-American. Here in Mexico we learn that America is one continent (not two; North and South America). So, any citizen from any country of the continent is an American (Canadians, Cubans, Brazilians, Hondureños, etc.). So, pretty much ALL Mexicans are Americans (unless you happened to be born in Europe or so, but have Mexican citizenship). So, the term Mexican-American is just redundant.
As for referring to people from the USA, I never call them American, but "citizens from the United States" or, in Spanish, "Estadounidenses", unless I'm trying to make a distinction among them and Europeans, Africans, etc. I also have heard the term "Unitarios" (Unitarians, from the UNITED States).
By the way, my favorite football team is Mexico's Club América, their logo is a ball (the kind of ball you play with your feet, as the name of the sport indicates) with a map of the American Continent. What they call football in the USA we call American Football (as opposed to the European Football of Soccer, so no problem there with the term American) and I root for the Chicago Bears, although they kind of sucked last Superbowl. Go Bears! Go Illini! ¡¡¡¡Viva América!!!!! ;P
Regards,
VN

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