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alex .

Jul 22, 2003, 4:48 PM

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the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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I'm thinking that its alot easier for me to deal with discrimination in MX than it is for my wife to deal with it in the US. It seems more subtle to me in MX, other than the famous "gringo tax" which is pretty obvious. If people make fun of me, heck, I wouldn't even know it half the time. My wife hasn't experienced anything real nasty yet, thank goodness. The irony is that nearly all of the difficulties that she encounters are from Americans of Mexican decent. That really gets her riled up: "mis propios raices, increible"(my own roots, incredible), especially when they refuse to speak Spanish to her after she has heard them speak it with their coworkers!
Alex



raferguson


Jul 22, 2003, 8:04 PM

Post #2 of 9 (1452 views)

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Re: [alex .] the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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A friend of ours works as an outreach worker for a local school district. She is a Hispanic from Arizona, not sure how many generations in the USA. She speaks good Spanish.

One time she was working with a Mexican lady (recent immigrant), and the lady asked her where she was from. She said Arizona. The lady then asked her "Por que esta ayudandonos?" (Why are you helping us?). My friend was shocked by her question, but understood it later.

Apparently the US Hispanics have a pattern of not helping the immigrants. However, the immigrants tend to help each other.


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


jennifer rose

Jul 22, 2003, 8:24 PM

Post #3 of 9 (1448 views)

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Re: [alex .] the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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It's always a matter of who's been there the longest. The Jewish establishment in the US didn't much cotton to those uncultured Jews from eastern Europe. The second generation of any group is sometimes embarrassed by the foibles of greenhorns and rubes. Even among foreigners who live in Mexico, there is a pecking order. Those with tenure do sometimes disdain newcomers.

I wouldn't call it discrimination. It's just part of the immigrant experience everywhere.


Marlene


Jul 22, 2003, 10:36 PM

Post #4 of 9 (1437 views)

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Re: [raferguson] the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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This whole thing puzzles me a great deal. Since living in Mexico, I have come across situations where children of Mexican heritage were not allowed to learn or speak Spanish while being raised in the USA. A sad situation I encountered recently was when a teenager raised in California was suddenly sent back to Mexico by her parents to live with her sister. I was called into the school office (where I was involved with the English Program) and asked if I could help her in any way. I asked what the problem was when I saw the girl in tears. The Director told me that she needed help with her Math and could I help. I was more than a tad confused at that because Math was being taught in Spanish and she was obviously Mexican. I assured the Director that I was terrible at Math in English, never mind Spanish. Through her tears the girl said "I can't undertand my teacher, I don't understand Spanish" (with an American accent). Still confused I said "but you are Mexican". She told me that she had NEVER LEARNED SPANISH, it was forbidden in her home and she had been told that if they spoke English they would be treated better in the USA. Her parents (and I believe her as well) were born here in Mexico and I am sure they really thought they were doing the right thing. My heart went out to her. She was treated like a complete outcast at this private school, because she couldn't communicate with her classmates. They were much more helpful with the foreign exchange students, who looked obviously foreign with blonde hair and light skin.

I have also come to know some of my Mexican husband's relatives who have lived in the US for as long they can remember. They can't write letters or emails in Spanish, only English. They are completely immersed in the US culture to the point of not knowing much of their roots in Mexico, or maybe not wanting to, not sure. Why is this?


alex .

Jul 23, 2003, 7:59 AM

Post #5 of 9 (1404 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] she doesn't call it discrimination either

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She calls it "pura tontería".
Alex


Carron

Jul 23, 2003, 8:26 AM

Post #6 of 9 (1403 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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You are right about the length of stay. My family has been in Mexico for five years now. My older daughter is married to a Mexican and my younger one thinks she IS a Mexican. Both, of course, picked up Spanish in a flash and speak without a trace of American accent while my husband and I still struggle.

We are now living in a border town that is a very popular weekend destination for high school and college kids from Texas. (Translation: underage drinking!) When my daughters go to the tourist area to shop or disco, they always come home complaining about all those "cute little white girls who think they are so cool". I have given up reminding them that they, too, are white girls. They just no longer think so.

And I confess that my husband and I sometimes go to an open air cafe on the tourist strip on a Saturday afternoon to watch the gringos. Better than going to a zoo. They are always lost, standing on corners looking out of place, and worst of all they dress so inappropriately. Many wear practically nothing, especially the girls and women, in contrast to the well dressed Mexican shop owners who courteously wait on them. Many are extremely loud and not a few are hung over and vomiting on the street. But, then, catering to these tourists is obviously why the shop owners can afford to dress well, right.

And then we remember when we didn't speak a word of Spanish, Mexico was the most exotic tourist destination we could imagine, and a thrill of fear as much as excitement accompanied us on our first visits to this country almost 30 years ago. I'm sure some ex-pats had their chuckles at our expense, also.


juan david


Jul 23, 2003, 3:26 PM

Post #7 of 9 (1369 views)

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Re: [alex .] the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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What a great thread! This topic of discrimination is about the smallish everyday kind rather than the violent kind. It's true that you experience it everywhere you go in the world, whether you go as a tourist. worker or resident. I (fortunately) spent many years living and working in a bunch of countries and remember having a blinding glimpse of the obvious on a flight home one evening. It seems that every country/culture believes that they have got it right in their culture/politics/priorities/social system/etc etc. The Norwegians can talk with pride about why they have a better balance than the Swedes and vice versa.

My point of reference is Canada. This summer we have had many discussions about medicare. Nobody wants to give it up no matter how disfunctionally it works. Canadians seem to think that other countries do a worse job on health care. Beats me why you have to wait 3-6 months for an MRI, or leave the country to pay to have it done! But we are certain we have a better system than our cousins to the south.

Maybe every culture/country needs to hold a set of beliefs close to their hearts in order to preserve a feeling that they are maybe just a bit/lot better/smarter than the rest of the world. So, this level of "discrimination" may really not be such a bad thing and be a subject of interest as opposed to losing any sleep over. Living in Mexico and experiencing occasional discrimiation is peanuts for us. Any Mexican/English/Taiwanese family living in Canada will experience the same...maybe more.
" let sleeping dogs lie"


raferguson


Jul 23, 2003, 4:14 PM

Post #8 of 9 (1365 views)

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Re: [Mazatleca] the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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The issue of the children of immigrants speaking their parents language vs. the language of the country that they are living in is a permanent one. Some parents believe that it is best for the child to fully assimilate, even to the extent that the child does not speak the language of the parents. Other parents believe that bilingualism is more advantageous or just have a desire for their children to hold onto their own culture. I feel that both choices are valid, and ultimately reflective of the values of the parents. It is really a shame that the parents of that girl made a choice that turned out badly for her. Obviously, they had intended for her to remain in the USA.

My hispanic friends from Arizona did not teach their own children Spanish, although now they wish that they had. Another lady who is very proud of being Hispanic and bilingual told me that her son absolutely refuses to speak Spanish. One time a Mexican came to the door looking for her husband, and she had to laugh when she heard her son speak Spanish to the Mexican, since he had no alternative.

I heard a report on public radio about a student working on their doctorate in Miami, and studying language usage in Miami. What she found was that the kids who were fully bilingual, when they were with other bilingual kids, preferred to speak English. She concluded that if there was not a steady flow of new immigrants, that Spanish would go extinct in Miami!

The desire to assimilate is very powerful, it is a variation on the need to conform to society. Sometimes it is a class thing, that the recent immigrants are the poor, while the people who have been here longer have more money and status.

Do you ever watch the ads on Spanish language TV promoting "Ingles Sin Barreras" or some other program for learning English? If the ads were on english language television they would be accused of blatant racism. The basic idea is that unless you speak English, you will always be just a menial laborer, treated badly by everyone. If you learn English, you will get an office, nice clothes, and beautiful secretaries. They are really comical.

I, too, think that this is a great thread.


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Carron

Jul 24, 2003, 4:34 PM

Post #9 of 9 (1333 views)

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Re: [raferguson] the tired topic of discrimination, here vs there

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I agree this is interesting, and your mention of Miama Spanish reminds me of my eldest daughter's experience. About 18 years ago in Dallas she met and married a young man who came from a large Puerto Rican family. Even though many of them had lived in Florida for years, Spanish was still the language spoken at home.

Soon after marriage, she and her husband moved into a Cuban/PuertoRican section of Miami, where her mother-in-law owned a retirement condo. During the first weeks she was there, before she got a job outside the home, she was in the apartment alone a good part of each day. She was terrified to answer the phone because all the callers spoke Spanish and she did not know a word of it. What saved her was that the only person in the entire condo complex who spoke English was the elderly white janitor!

I was so thrilled when I brought her here to Acuña on a tourist visit (about 10 years ago) and she charmed the shop keepers by speaking lovely Spanish and proudly announcing that "mi esposo es puerto ricano". My grandchildren are also bi-lingual.
 
 
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