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B is Not for Beaner

Written by Monse Arce

Americans love to call Mexicans “beaner.” They love to tell us to go back across the border. They love to call us dirty and tell us to stay on our side of the river. You know what though? They also love our food. They love our alcohol. They love having us clean their house when it gets messy and they love having us mow their lawn, it’s cheap isn’t it? They love to epitomize my culture with alcohol, spicy food, “sombreros,” and the likes. They don’t like to hear about our problems. They don’t like to hear about the people being kidnapped or murdered. I won’t try to glamorize Mexico and say we don’t have our problems. We do. But so does every place in the world.Many Americans think of Mexico and they think of a small town in the middle of the desert where all the men walk around in “ponchos” and have the stereotypical beards and “sombrero,” while the women walk around with sandals and a donkey, and to them, the rest of Mexico is just vacationing sites, like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. But it is so much more than that. Mexico is indeed small, rural towns. And yes, Mexico is beautiful vacationing sites like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. But what many Americans don’t seem to realize, don’t care to realize, is that Mexico is vast cities like Mexico City where despite the size of the land, people have managed to flourish and prosper. It’s an entire country with a rich culture. It’s an accepting society, where social and health issues like respect for women and safe sex aren’t treated as jokes or subjects to avoid. Again, I won’t sit here and glamorize Mexico as a place where all troubles cease to exist, because such a place doesn’t exist. Anywhere. However, I’m more than irritated at the ignorance of the American people. I once saw an instagram post by a girl who was visiting Guanajuato and the caption of her picture appalled me. I had never felt so insulted and embarrassed in my life. “Is this really what Americans think of Mexico?” I thought to myself. It was as follows,

“Hola Guanajuato. Thank f*ck our hotel is really nice so I don’t feel like I’m in a third world country… Took f*cking 4 hours to get here and no one speaks English”

You can imagine my fury as I, a proud Mexican read this and realized this comment was a reflection of the American people’s view of Mexico. I was upset for a number of reasons. Why was this person visiting Mexico if she felt so negatively about it? And how selfish and ignorant was it to expect people to speak English? People don’t visit the U.S. expecting someone to speak their language. That’s not how it works when you’re a tourist, a guest, in another country. I, for one, am sick of the way Mexico and its people are treated and perceived by Americans. It’s nothing but ignorance.

Despite being born in Mexico, I have lived the majority of my life in the United States, only visiting Mexico for a month during my summer vacations. This has allowed me to see exactly how Mexicans are seen and portrayed by many Americans. I’ve had to endure countless forms of racist comments, immigration jokes, the word “beaner” and other derogatory terms. Granted, rarely were they aimed at me, as I don’t fit the stereotype for what Americans believe a Mexican looks, but that’s exactly my point. I’m Mexican too, does that not make me a beaner? Aparently not. Apparently I was safe from the racist comments, from the derogatory names. All because of this ignorance. Mexico is a country full of just as much ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity as the U.S. We have Korean-Mexicans, indigenous Mexicans, Lebanese-Mexicans, Jewish Mexicans, and almost anything else one could think of. Racism is never okay, and this has always hit close to home. For a long time, I was almost ahamed of being Mexican. I didn’t like speaking Spanish in public, I didn’t like identifying as Mexican. Why not? Why would I be ashamed of showing people who I am, the U.S. is a “melting pot,” isn’t it? Wrong. It’s not a melting pot anymore. It’s a melting pot for those who are of Irish, German, French descent. It’s a melting pot for those who are “ideal” for the U.S. Being Mexican is treated as such a negative thing. To many, the word “Mexican” has come to be synonymous with word like “dirty, “gross,” “illegal,” and more. The only time we aren’t seen as dirty is when they fetishisize Mexican women. Mexicans are dirty, they say…. except for Salma Hayek, she’s hot and they’d love to have a woman like her. We’re not so dirty when they eat our food. They love our food. We’re not dirty when they are getting drunk during spring break on our beaches because they can drink at 18 in Mexico, but not in the U.S. I’m not saying Americans should not visit Mexico. At all. Mexico holds the fondest part of my heart and I encourage everyone to visit. I have no problem with that whatsoever. What I do have a problem with though, is when those same people who say all the Mexicans need to “get out” of “their country,” want to visit Mexico. Or when the same people who refer to us as “beaners” want to vacation in Cancun. Where is the respect? Do these people think they can simultaneously slander my country and my people while getting to enjoy it at the same time? How are you going to demean us every day of your life and then appreciate it when it’s convenient for you? I will never understand. In a way, I feel lucky to have been in the U.S to see these things happening so that now I can share them with those I know in Mexico, as they do not have to deal with those comments. However, knowing the Mexican people and how proud of our heritage most of us are I know I will be met with the same amount of disgust I originally felt. I love Mexico more than anything, it’s where I grew up, where my family, my culture, my future is. I know Mexico. Americans do not. I’m tired of people thinking their comments are necessary, I’m tired of them thinking they are entitled to those comments. They are not. They are entitled to nothing when it comes to Mexico and it’s about time we are respected like the humanswe are. This custom of degrading Mexico needs to stop. Americans make fun, degrade, insult Mexico and its people. But they want to be beneficiaries of our products and food and land. And they are desensitized to our struggles. I once saw a group of my peers at school huddled around a phone where they were watching a video of the cartel decapitating someone. It was gruesome. I didn’t watch it, but they told me what it was, theyasked me if I wanted to see it. I was horrified. And what’s more, they found it funny. Pray tell, what is funny at all about watching someone die at the hands of the cartel? Do they really care that little about Mexicans that seeing that did not make them feel terrible, but instead, entertained? Some may say I am resentful towards Americans. That may be so. Do I not have the right?

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