"Because I am the only official version of what being Chicano is, I say Mexican-American is the politically correct middle ground between Hispanic and Chicano.... All those names made it confusing for me growing up. I lived in an all-black neighborhood, followed by an all-white one, and other kids always called me Mexican in both Neighborhoods.
It never bothered me until one day I thought to myself 'Hey wait a minute, I'm not Mexican.' I've never been to Mexico and I don't speak Spanish... Maybe I was 'Mexican-ish,', just like some people were 'Jew-ish'"
- Cheech Marin, a Chicano comedian, in his article "What is a Chicano?"
Mexican vs. Mexican American
American media often fails to distinguish between what is Mexican and what is Mexican American. When important aspects of Chicano culture are passed off as Mexican, it marginalizes Chicanos because they are seen as foreign when really Chicanos are just as much a part of American history as the Revolutionary War. Additionally, the media helps perpetuate stereotypes that are harmful to both Mexican Americans and Mexican Immigrants alike. Below are some examples of humor that makes fun of Mexicans. As you navigate through this section, notice your reaction. If you laughed, why was the joke funny? If you didn't, why wasn't the joke funny? Ultimately, consider how humor affects racial stereotypes: how does one draw a line between what is funny and what is offensive?
1. What do you call two Mexicans playing basketball against each other?
Juan on Juan
2. What's a Mexican's favorite sport?
Cheech Marin's "What is a Chicano?" is a humorous story on how Marin came to define himself as Chicano. He uses humor to highlight the complexity of Chicano identity but also the ignorance of others.
In this clip from Family Guy, "Calling the Housekeeper", Consuela is the family's housekeeper. She's portrayed as slow minded and not capable of understanding English properly because she doesn't understand the number Peter is giving her properly. Throughout the show, Consuela has a number of hilarious escapades, from kidnapping Stewie to meeting her husband on the border on Valentine's Day. For the most part, Seth MacFarlane uses Consuela to expose stereotypes about Mexican immigrants. Consuela is portrayed as one of the good guys: she's hilarious, powerful, and always manages to get what she wants in the end. However, at the same time, Consuela perpetuates negative stereotypes about Mexicans immigrants. Her son is in prison, she doesn't speak English, she tries to kidnap Stewie and she ultimately doesn't understand the Griffin's way of life. While comedy may serve to make people think about stereotypes that they hold against others, it also proves that stereotypes exist. To most Americans, Consuela is hilarious, showing that most Americans hold the stereotype that Mexican immigrants wouldn't be able understand English or would have sons in prison. Additionally, Consuela is a representation of a Mexican immigrant, not of a Mexican American. Family Guy has no recurring representation of Chicanos, Latinos, or Mexican Americans. This might not normally be a problem, as Family Guy takes place in Rhode Island where there isn't a significant Mexican American population. However, by only representing a Mexican immigrant, Americans are lead to believe that the stereotypes that apply to Mexican immigrants apply to Mexican Americans as well. In other words, everyone of Mexican heritage is associated with being a Mexican immigrant even if they don't speak any Spanish. Therefore, since American media only portrays Mexican immigrants not Mexican Americans, Mexican Americans become even more marginalized in Anglo American society.