Playing With Politics

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Archive for the ‘Third Generation Series’ Category

Confessions of a Third Generation Latino: Dreaming California

Posted by Roobs on June 23, 2010

This is the final post in my series “Confessions of a Third Generation Latino”

Throughout much of this series of posts has been a common theme that i would hope is fairly obvious.  That is, the struggle between myself as a third-generation Mexican finding comfort and brotherhood amongst other generation of Mexicans and Latinos in general.

Because of how i grew up and the socio-economic status of my family, i never truly felt accepted by my fellow Latinos and, therefore, have never truly felt comfortable in situations when i am immersed in that culture.  This was never a question of whether one view is objectively correct over the other; whether or not i represent the better or worse half of American society mixing with Latino culture.  If anything, i would argue that i am far from the ideal.  Generally speaking, i am a Mexican who is, by and large, not that Mexican.  I don’t speak Spanish and don’t really engage in any of the traditional customs of Mexican culture.  I have a decent, though not great, understanding of Mexican history but also love the history and exploration of Mexican cuisine.  So who am I? Is it somehow appropriate that when I’m with a group of more “traditional” Mexicans that when i say “i’m third generation”, they give a collective “oh” as if it is somehow self-explanatory?  Where are we to go from here?

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Confessions of a Third Generation Latino: Common Space

Posted by Roobs on June 15, 2010

This is the fifth and second-to-last post in my series.  The last post focused on my time in college.  This post transitions my views into the real world.

Common Space

While still at Cal, I tried to spend my last years studying and preparing for my graduation but i still found myself involved in the struggle between my identity as a Latino but struggle to find a place where other Latinos would also accept me as part of their community.  But I didn’t feel as alone as i once had.

After reading so far into this blog, you may feel as if i beleive their are only two faces of the Latino community.  Those in my position and those not.  However, this would ignore the many shades in between.

Both while at Cal and after graduating, i was working for a law firm in a nearby city.  The supervisor there was a very attractive older Mexican woman who, like me, was third generation.  However, unlike me (and for whatever reason) she had gone a route that i very well could have myself.  Her attitude towards the Latino community was actually one of annoyance and disdain.  She felt that with her education and skill-set that she had actually surpassed what being Mexican was all about.

It’s interesting to think about because in order for her to feel as she did, she accepted the basic premise of “being Mexican” that i heartedly deny.  This is that there is a specific way to “be Mexican”: That Mexicans are low skill, low salary earning people with little hope of potential. Any advancement by a Mexican was not actually an improvement of he or she as a Mexican but, instead, a disregard of their Mexican self in place of a White-American self.

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Confessions of a Third Generation Latino: Walking Through Ivory

Posted by Roobs on June 8, 2010

This is the 4th post in a series.  For my previous post, click here.  This post focuses on my time away from the Central Valley while i attended college and my evolving outlook towards my place in the Latino community.

Walking Through Ivory

Before i left for college, my father passed away.  It was in the summer before the start of my senior year at Redwood High when he finally succumbed to liver cancer.  My father left a large imprint on my life, especially on my views of who I am in relation to being Latino and I still wish today that he had lived long enough to hear me come out as a gay young man .  My father grew up on a farm outside of Visalia and hated it.  He left home to pursue a career that made him equally a target to the more fundamental characteristics of local Mexicans.  But he beleived that he didn’t have to be anything for anyone except himself and his family.  Perhaps it was something that he developed later on in life; further along than the stage of life i am in now.  But perhaps it too began in college and at one of the same universities I would soon enter.

Redwood High, has about 2,000 students every year and more than half of that population is Latino.  Unfortunately, district wide, Visalia has a 1/3 drop-out rate in grades 9-12.  In my high school class a lot of those who made it to graduation did initially take off to college.  A good number of them attend the local community college: College of the Sequoias.  I haven’t found any data on this specifically but anecdotally, a good number of those students who leave for college usually return to Visalia before completing a 4-year degree.  Many of those who do leave home attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO).  The joke around most high school campuses in Visalia is that SLO is a lot like Visalia except near water.  I did not attend SLO.

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Confessions of a Third Generation Latino: Community

Posted by Roobs on June 3, 2010

This is the third post in my series.  This post focuses on my time in middle and high school.  Compared to my previous post, this post explores my self-realization of my place in the Mexican community in Visalia and how i addressed it at the time.

Community

The last post in this series was meant primarily to set the foundation of what happens next.  I was a young Mexican kid who, in all fairness, wasn’t that Mexican.  I became more acutely aware of this fact when i left Royal Oaks Elementary and entered middle school and high school.

The teasing continued througout this time and it did bother me to a good extent.  But where i once knew not why i was the target of such ridicule, now i had reasoned why.  I wasn’t Mexican enough for the rest of the community living in Visalia.

The Mexican community in Visalia and, arguably throughout the Central Valley, are rather fundamental about what it means to be Mexican.  As i mentioned before, the Latino population largely settled in the North Side ghetto and lived below or near the poverty line.  The parents of other Mexican kids i interacted with were mostly Catholic and conservative and held more blue-collar and labor-intensive occupations than my parents did.  They also held a much more skeptical view of their white neighbors, and not necessarily without good cause.

The Central Valley is not a bastion of liberal ideals as San Francisco would be or even as moderate as Los Angeles might be.  The Central Valley is politically and culturally very conservative.   They voted heavily in favor of Proposition 8 and if polled today, would probably support Arizona’s new immigration law with similar numbers.  That being said, the Mexican community responds by behaving similar towards other as well as their own.

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Confessions of a Third-Generation Latino: Royal Oaks

Posted by Roobs on June 3, 2010

This is the second post in a series.  This post focuses on the early development of my personal life in the town of Visalia, CA.  It describes my parents and the experiences in elementary school that will have an impact on my outlook and experiences in the coming years.

Royal Oaks

I grew up in the Southern portion of California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Californians in general usually call it the “Central Valley” but hose that live there just call it “the Valley”.  This gets a little confusing when i visit Southern California because “the Valley” to them refers to the San Fernando Valley.  Oh well.  Mine’s bigger.

The city i grew up in is called Visalia (pictured above), which is located about 40-minutes south of Fresno.  When i was born, Visalia had a population of around 60,000.  Today, the population has doubled to around  125,000.

Visalia is old.  Settled in 1852, It’s the oldest town between Los Angeles and Stockton and is the county seat of Tulare County, named one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country.  Over 36% of the population identifiy as Latino and the vast majority of them live below the poverty line.  Many of the Latino’s in Visalia settle in an area known as “North Side”.  It is named so for being north of the 198-Freeway that runs through the center of town.  North Side is a ghetto in both senses of the word.  It is a ghetto in that it is a place where people of similar background settle.  It is where you can find the small Mexican shops and grocers.  But it is also a ghetto because it is arguably the most run down area of the city.  Here is where most of the crime occurs, where the local gangs hangout, and where most of the police spend their time.  I didn’t grow up here.

As i implied, this is not a typical tale of rising from the streets by the pull of my bootstraps and making it in the world.  No, im sorry to say that I was born on the other side of the freeway.  The neighborhood i grew up in is known as “Royal Oaks”.  Already it sounds pretentious but i assure you the name is more pretentious than the neighborhood itself.

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Confessions of a Third Generation Latino

Posted by Roobs on June 2, 2010

This is the first post in a series entitled “Confessions of a Third-Generation Latino” to document and discuss my socio-cultural experiences growing up  Latino in California.  Be sure to check back for new posts.


Introduction

There are many stories out there about living as a Latino in America.  Whether that be here in California or elsewhere, I am glad to say that the stories of the Latino community are beginning to be brought out into the open.  Like these others, for some time i have wanted to write about my experiences growing up as a Mexican in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  However, I didn’t want to write because i wanted to add my name to their discussions.  Instead, i wanted to create a new discussion.

Many of the stories told are often the ones of the first generation Latino who came to America directly from south of the border, whether that be Mexico, Guatamala, El Salvador or wherever, or of those who are born of those who just recently came.  And while in no way do I diminish the validity and value of these stories, i wanted to tell a different story of the Latino who was already here and well established:  The Third-Generation.

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