Hard-shell tacos? All Mexicans being called José García? Mexicans always wear sombreros? Eating breakfast burritos and other food that causes stomach aches?
Today, we’re talking about the 5 most annoying things Americans do, say, and think about Mexicans that are wrong and make us… mad!
The question is: Are you doing these things too?
I’m Paulisima from Spring Spanish, and here’s my first pet peeve:
1. No, I don’t know your maid
To be fair, this one has happened only when I’m in the US, and it goes like this:
Paulísima, ¿de dónde eres?
(Paulísima, where are you from?)
De México; de Cancún para ser exactos.
(From Mexico, from Cancún to be precise.)
¡México! ¡Amo México! La trabajadora de mi casa es mexicana. Se llama Rosa, Rosa Hernández. ¿La conoces?
(Mexico! I love Mexico! My domestic worker is Mexican too. Her name is Rosa, Rosa Hernández. Do you know her?)
Let’s see… There are 127 million Mexicans. Mexico has a huge territory (granted, not as big as the US, but still), I don’t know Rosa Hernández. Sorry!
This has happened to me more times than I can remember. I’m not saying it comes from a bad place. Actually, I believe this kind of behavior stems from the very humane need to connect with others, even if such connection is far-fetched and really highly unlikely.
Bueno, bueno, resulta que Hernández es uno de los apellidos más comunes en México. Siete millones lo tienen, así que es probable que sí conozca a una Rosa Hernández; tal vez no tu Rosa Hernández, pero a lo mejor sí a alguna Rosa Hernández. (Alright, alright, it turns out that Hernández is actually one of the most common Mexican last names. 7 million people have it. So, chances are I do know a Rosa Hernández; perhaps not your Rosa Hernández, but perhaps a Rosa Hernández).
2. Moctezuma is not revengeful
Seguramente has escuchado hablar de “La venganza de Moctezuma” (Surely, you’ve heard about Moctezuma’s revenge), una enfermedad que, al parecer, acosa a los turistas que se atreven a probar la comida mexicana (a disease that seems to attack tourists who dare to try Mexican food).
I’m not saying that it’s not real, alright? I’m not denying your experience and the trauma your tummy endured after a night of tacos… but sometimes, it bothers me that Americans automatically assume that their stomach ache is because our food is unsanitary.
Taking into consideration that most people’s holiday involve drinking cervezas, tequila or margaritas (beers, tequila or margaritas) starting early in the morning, perhaps there are OTHER reasons for your upset stomach?!? It’s not that our food is unsanitary! Perhaps you didn’t wash your hands!
Just to be safe, mi gente: follow this advice, the one I grew up with. Y tengo que decir que, para mí, todo lo que voy a decir suena a sentido común (And I have to say that everything I’m about to say sounds like common sense to me), but then I realized that not everybody grew up in Cancún, in a time when there were literal cholera outbreaks:
- No coman frutas o verduras frescas en la calle (Don’t eat fresh fruits or veggies in the streets)… Y esto puede ser muy difícil porque todo el mundo sabe que la fruta y la verdura en México es la mejor del mundo (And this can be very hard because everyone knows that Mexican fruits and vegetables are the best in the world). It’s best if you buy it and peel it yourself!
- Pide tus bebidas sin hielo. No confíes en el hielo. (Order your drinks without ice. Don’t trust the ice.) Unless you’re in a proper establishment, hold it on the ice.
- Lávate bien las manos. (Wash your hands well.) It shouldn’t take a pandemic to be reminded that soap is an incredibly powerful ally against all kinds of pathogens, right!?!?
3. Repeat after me: estadounidense
Estadounidense or estadunidense, both work.
Even I have gotten in trouble for saying the word American to describe… Americans! Even here on YouTube!
The thing is that, in Spanish, the word for somebody whose nationality is not americano but estadounidense or estadunidense (United Statatians?). For me and millions of other Latin Americans, this, this is America.
América es la palabra que utilizamos para referirnos a todo el continente. (America is the word we use to describe the whole continent.)
So, if you’re speaking Spanish, please don’t say “Soy americano” or “Soy americana” (Literally: I’m from the American continent OR I’m from the Americas).
Instead, say: Soy estadounidense (I am US American) or soy estadunidense, without the O.
Oh! And since we’re on the topic. I’ve noticed that, when prompted to say where they are from, Americans tend to reply with their city of origin, not their country. You ask everyone in the whole world where they’re from and you get “Germany, France, Kenya, Australia”, but you ask an American and they go like:
¿De dónde eres?
(Where are you from?)
De Colorado or de Sacramento or de San Antonio.
(From Colorado, from Sacramento or from San Antonio.)
Like, am I supposed to know all of these places? Please don’t get mad at me for pointing these things out! Actually, do the opposite of getting mad: go ahead and like this video!
4. People are not props
Please don’t take pictures using people as props and then share them on your social media! This is so cringe worthy I can’t even…
No matter how colorful their outfit is! No matter how cute that little chubby child is! People are not props!
Would that person take a picture with you then share it on their social media: look at this cute American I met today? Would they? Then, why would you do it?
I get it, I get it! You’re in another country, you’re enjoying how great and amazing our country is, and you want to make friends with the locals. All of that is fantastic! You can take pictures of, and with, locals!
But ask them:
- Disculpe, ¿me puedo tomar una foto con usted? (Excuse me! May I take a picture with you?)
- Disculpe, ¿le puedo tomar una foto? (Excuse me! May I take a picture of you?)
But be mindful of your intentions. Why do you want this photo? As a memento of your amazing Mexican adventure? Is it for your eyes only? Go ahead!
Do you want it to share and show how exotic you find us? Or how “unique” that child is? Or to show your generosity interacting with the less privileged? That is what is uncool!
5. Yes, I Iook Mexican!
¡Pero pareces asiática! ¿Eres mexicana de verdad? (But you look Asian! Are you really Mexican?)
I have heard these phrases many times in my life. I don’t blame you. If you were to believe, let’s say, American media, all Mexicans work in construction, are in a gang, or work as house servers.
If you were to believe Mexican media, all Mexicans are blonde, thin, and rich! The reality is that Mexicans come in all colors! We’re as diverse as it gets! And I know that the vast majority of people know this. So, please, don’t ask Mexicans why they don’t fit in the idea that you have in your head about how a Mexican is supposed to look like!
Speaking about Mexican clichés: I have some for you that are… actually true (at least most of the time), like being late and some others you might or might not have heard about yet…