Spicaresque:

A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DENOTATION: LATINOS

One time after having gone home to Miami, my parents decided to take my girlfriend (now wife) and I to eat at this one Mexican place they love in Homestead. Homestead is mostly agricultural so it is predominated by migrant workers, most of whom are Mexican, El Salvadorian, or Honduran. Their restaurants, eateries, and watering holes look nothing like the ones in Miami. Even the franchises are more agricultural as the amount of Arby's per capita are higher in Homestead than they are in Miami. Homestead is like what Miami should have remained: a grover's dust bowl with intermittent flashes of cowboy opulence and rawhide Caucasian women with flax-colored hair and uncomfortable bikinis. I don't even know if Homestead is part of Dade County? It seems that Homestead might share in the jurisdiction of the state and city governments (that municipal gauze) that constitutes the Keys.

We are eating and of course get on the subject of politics, which (because my wife is Chicana and muy social justice like myself)inevitably degenerates into racial politics and/or identity politics. I tell my Dad that I am Latino, like it's some iron-on badge that I have just bought in a five and dime. This is a word that I have learned in grad school and which has taken on much resonance since I have been living in New York. So my father asks whether my cousins kids are Latino. My cousin lives in an affluent suburb of Chicago and has six kids; his wife is Irish-American and Catholic, and has striven to include Spanish as one of the tongues her kids will speak. My father says he is not Latino, but white. And this sets off a whole sequence of events that leads to indigestion and juvenile remonstrances (from both sides). You see, my father and I have never learned to argue; to this day, we do not know how to respectfully disagree.

But in reading Juan Flores and George Yudice's article titled, "Living Borders/Buscando America: Languages of Latin Self-Formation" that appeared in Social Text in 1990, being able to call yourself something, to "deploy" a moniker to describe the thing that you are is a pretty important part of Identity. On page 60 they write that, "Latino affirmation is first of all a fending off of schizophrenia, of that pathological duality born of contending cultural worlds and, perhaps more significantly, of the conflicting pressures toward both exclusion and forced incorporation".

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