Stuff White People Don’t Like

1 04 2008

menudo1.jpg

Those who know me personally know that I don’t wear my ethnicity on my sleeve. Regardless of my actual appearance, I speak English without the typical hint of a Spanish accent. Even in the context of California in the 21st century, this is enough to throw off even the most culturally astute person. “Do you speak Spanish?” is a typical question I get from people who are meeting me for the first time. I have thus gotten used to being able to assert my bi-culturalness in the face of the doubts of first impressions. Indeed, in spite of a cultural snobbery that I have been very careful in cultivating, the barrio kid comes out in very inopportune moments. (AG once had to explain to me at a table what a “charger” was.) And in spite of having been able to maneuveur through white society quite well, there are still things I don’t get, and things that I know that, in order to like or understand them, you just have to be Mexican.

Here are three that I have found so far:

 1. Mexican music: White people are incapable of liking Mexican music. While it is not uncommon to see some white kid from the suburbs bumping some rap music from his car, or a bunch of college co-eds going out salsa dancing, you will never see a bunch of white people dancing the quebradita or blasting the latest Intocable hit (complete with accordion and yells at opportune moments) from their phat ride. That is because Mexican music (banda, norteña, etc.) is really just Spanish country music pumped up on bad taste-steroids. I give you exhibit A:


Notice that no white person would ever take music like this seriously. It’s not that it is aesthetically inferior per se. Some of it can be quite lyrical, clever, and catchy. But if you didn’t grow up with it, it is cheesy to say the least. My father, the stereotypical tejano, hates this music. On his side, I am a fifth generation American, and I know that this stuff is almost embarrassing as an artform. But for some reason, even though I know I shouldn’t, I still listen to it. So I have concluded that it must be something genetic: only Mexicans are vaccinated against the lameness radiation that this music emanates. This is useful to keep in mind if you ever want to get rid of a group of white people. Have you ever seen a group of white people in a kitchen or construction site where Mexican music is being played? If they go by, it’s in a real hurry, as if they were fleeing a fire or a decaying dead body. So there is no doubt about it. White people will listen to some Celia Cruz or Tito Puente. It might even get them some much needed coolness points. But they are staying away from the Vicente Fernandez or Ramon Ayala. Neta.

2. Eating certain animals or parts of an animal (this excludes certain ethic groups and the South): One of the most Mexican events I have attended in recent memory was my cousin’s wedding. Like all the upstanding members of my family, he found himself a good Mexican girl to marry. Their wedding had the holy trinity of Mexican-American music at it: mariachis, a banda, and a DJ playing hip-hop music. But guess what the main course was? Birria. That’s right, goat meat. And it was really good. But would white people serve goat meat at a wedding? Probably not.

And of course, there are parts of an animal that white people just won’t eat. I had a friend from Guadalajara who told me that if you want any parts of the animal that white people wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole in your taco (tongue, brains, eyeball, etc.) you have to get to the Mexican taco stand early or you’ll be out of luck. At my house, the typical strong dish of a Sunday brunch (my my….”brunch”. That sounds so white) is menudo, which, for the less than culinary literate, is a spicy stew made with hominy and tripe. It’s spicy. It’s slimy. It’s chewy. And it’s really good at curing a hangover. But I don’t know if a white person could eat it. I didn’t like it growing up, and while I can scarf down a bowl now without much effort, I have to admit that it is an acquired taste.

3. Too many people in a house/car: We have all heard the jokes about Mexicans being piled in twenty to a car in a subcompact. The problem with this stereotype is that it’s absolutely true. White people have a sense of “enough is enough”. Mexicans don’t know how to say “no”. They can defy space, they can stretch resources, they can fit one more person in a closet, no problem….

Growing up living in my grandmother’s house, it seemed like every week a new “relative” showed up. “It’s your uncle,” was the typical introduction, which in my family of 73 distant aunts and uncles on one side alone, was sort of like saying, “he’s a carbon-based life form” or “he’s a biped”. They would always come, stay for a while, and move on. It took me some time as a youth to realize that white people would not board nor ask to be boarded by relatives that had not seen them in ten years. White people just aren’t like that.

It’s not that white people are less charitable. It’s just that they would prefer charity from a distance in the comfort of their own semi-empty homes. If someone you haven’t seen in a long time shows up to bunk down with you, you might ask some basic questions that never occur to Mexicans to ask such as, “Are you sure you have no other place to stay?”, “Can you pay me rent?” or “Are you a pervert/ axe murderer/ going to steal all my stuff while I’m sleeping?” Maybe Mexicans just have a protective force field that protects them from such misfortunes.  If we do, I at least didn’t get the memo. To this day, I think the greatest luxury in life is using a bathroom that I don’t have to share with eight other nearly perfect strangers.

Other minor things also come to mind:

1. Having a grandmother that kind of creeps you out with her scary religious art that gave you nightmares as a child and her strange remedies that border on witchcraft.

2. Having verbal quirks when you speak English such as saying, “I know, hah?” and “Estoooooopid!”

3. Having friends/relatives who are in jail or in a gang, etc.

…but that can be for another day.

I’ll start posting serious stuff again tomorrow. Sorry for wasting your time.

(See also More Ethnic Observations)


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39 responses

14 07 2012
EZT

I’m from L.A and can relate to everything in your post, especially the revolving door of random relatives that show up all the time from who knows where. Everyone seemed to be my uncle when I was younger and my cousin “es tu primo” now that im older.

Fun times!

2 01 2011
Jon White

I am what you racistly would term “white” to the core (ancestry traceable to before 1066 in England) and I have/like items in all you listed. Go figure, “Estoooooopido!”

5 11 2010
whitevato

Hey, I am white and I LOVE menudo!!!! I am from Texas though, so maybe I live too close to Mexico to count towards most white peoople who would never touch the stuff.

6 10 2010
Bernard Brandt

Ah, go blow chunks of menudo.

I’m not playing the game of what white people do or do not do.
If I tried that level of BS with just about any other ethnic group, I’d most probably be hanged in effigy (Effigy, NY, that is). If you have your fun by taunting the tigers, fine by me. Just be careful they don’t get out of the tiger-pit or the zoo. I’ve heard it can be more than a bit of a problem, as it was for the locos bobos who did that up in the San Francisco Zoo. I hear that one of them survived.

As regards what I do, living in what my church secretary (who lives up the hill) calls cholo-land in good old blue collar San Pedro, I find that the Spanish I speak helps me to get along just fine, thank you.

And whether it is the part of my ancestry which enjoyed “humble pie”, which was a baked pie of various innards, or the part that haled from Alsase-Lorraine (whether French or German) which dug and still digs on what politely is called ‘organ meats’ among the WASPs, or the part of the family that hales from the reservation and digs on roast rattlesnake, grasshopper, or ants, let’s just say that my culinary tradition was not limited to Fannie Farmer or St. Julia Child (how’s that for a canonization?) Menudo, tripa, lengua, pastor, or whatever, bring it! Especially if you’re paying.

You know, you write really well, and have a really cool perspective. I like your weblog fine, thank you. Just don’t blow it by persisting in first approximation characterizations, okay?

6 09 2010
Anonymous

white they think they are white but they are fucking yellow

28 05 2010
JoAnn St. Catherine

Laughed and enjoyed this post. As the anglo wife to the oldest son in a Mexican-American family in Texas for the last 30 years, I have been assimilated (like the Borg). 🙂 And I like it. 🙂

18 04 2010
26 12 2009
Just Passing By

I am precisely the sort of White Person ™ that you describe, and I am as comfortable being myself as I hope you are being yourself.

Pax.

JPB

15 11 2009
BootLegHooch

I’m a 57 yo white guy and I’ll wager $100.00 that my menudo is better than yours. Someone from California can’t know real menudo. It is likely that sometime in the future, my menudo will be found to be a cure for AIDS.

GKG in TX

25 09 2009
Blacksheep & The Lake

esaelp,stnemmocdabx☆※★

23 08 2009
Erik

I think the writer should refer to “Southern Californian Middle Class Whites”. I’m an Appalachian and we eat anything and everything. We have huge families with many coming and going. We have a million pictures of Jesus around our homes. We don’t hug, it’s considered rude and violates boundaries.

Class, region, culture and ethnicity make a huge difference in the European Diaspora even in America. BTW There’s no such thing as a “White America”.

8 06 2009
Arturo Vasquez

I guess. I didn’t take that picture.

8 06 2009
emily

Hi, I would like to use the menudo pic for my facebook group, “menudo is delicious and I love it.” Is this ok? Thanks so much for your consideration!

emily

1 06 2009
Aaron Taylor

Sorry about that anonymous commentor. I just can’t understand someone wanting to make everyone in the world exactly alike. As for the ‘scary right wing “christians”‘, I’m more afraid of the scary left-wing ‘christians’. They’re the ones who want everyone to be exactly the same. They’re also the ones with no sense of humour.

15 05 2009
markfelps

As a very white white guy, I’ve eaten and enjoyed menudo, and love Mexican music. That may be because I’m from Texas and you hear it in every little Tex-Mex joint, but how can you not love a music that so joyfully welcomes accordion into the mix.

6 04 2009
Aharon

I’m technically a good old-fashioned hillbilly who hides it well, but evrything you mentioned from the music and menudo to grandma’s witchcraft are all things that everyone in my family love. Of course, I grew up in a small midwestern urban area that is a crazy mix of Appalachian, Mexican and African-American gumbo. I still appreciate the humor!

16 03 2009
Daria

The English eat tripe and the Scots eat some really awful stuff too (haggis). But the English are far worse – they eat blood pudding and blood sausage, which makes my head woozy. My English mother brought her weird food with her to Canada and I still haven’t recovered from it.

12 03 2009
cade

thats funny! even though i dont have it on my ipod, i do actually like some banda. whenever i hear valentine elizalde, i stop, and have myself a listen. heck, i even get down with some of that baile durrangense while i listen! its fun! and everyone should give it a try!
but i must admit, menudo is GROSS! come to think of it, none of my mexican friends like it either. so i wouldnt say its a white people thing per-say.
as for that guy bitching about that “generalizations” crap. EVERYONE KNOWS IT DOESNT APPLY TO ALL!!! general, doenst mean 100% it just means most. so generally, YES. the author is correct about we white folk. allthough he knows just as well as anyone else, that there are exceptions out there, and plenty of them.

1 03 2009
Anonymous

Hyper identification with culture is dangerous, limiting, and pathetic. Who cares what your precious “culture” is. Just another way to feel superior or inferior and thus cultivate a chip on the shoulder. Another way to separate from others. More tribal bullshit.. We already are one race, the human race. To think any other way at this point in our evolution is intellectually lazy and self serving. Eventually, if we survive, we’ll all be sort of tan colored vegetarians who speak spanish or chinese. That is IF we survive. Religyous wars (scary right wing “christians” and radical muslims) will finish us off before then so I guess we shouldn’t worry about it.. But all this African American this and Mexican American that and Irish this — it’s all just precious, self serving, infantile garbage. Grow up, examine your own value system based on what YOU are, not grandma or your primo or a place on the earth or some accordion music or a certain type of chili pepper.. I could give a rats ass if you like menudo or not. Is that really important? Poor people don’t waste any part of the animal. That is true in India, Mexico, Ireland, anywhere.. You didn’t invent this way of surviving.. The whole world is yours, why not identify yourself with ALL of it ?

31 12 2008
Visibilium

White people don’t like Halloween, either. By White, I mean Russian, of course.

30 12 2008
mary

totally know where you are coming from! down to the scary religious pictures and the endless relatives. in fact, i am making my own menudo for the first time as i miss eating it on new year’s eve.

30 12 2008
TamraR

Good article, but not too accurate. You are confusing mainstream American with white. Haggis is made of tripe stuffed with organ meats, and it’s a favourite Scottish dish. My scottish grandmother also made head cheese and blood sausage, while the British love kidney pie. French cooking abounds with organ meats (including brains), and many other “white” cultures have common recipes using the organ meats you insist white people would not eat (or, more strangely, that white people “could” not eat). I’m Canadian (some people in our country even enjoy Prairie Oysters, which are cow testes), and I adore mexican food, art, and music. We even celebrate Halloween by making sugar skulls! Sure, many later generation Americans and Canadians are squeamish about organ meats, but by the same token, many won’t touch a raw chicken. That’s a factor of our processed food diet which obscures the source of most foods. It’s hard to make an argument that colour has anything to do with it.

7 12 2008
Ryan

After having been born and raised in San Antonio, TX and witnessing the intercultural marriages that have occurred, a lot of things that are deemed “latino” or “tex-mex” are considered normal. There are so many Mexican Food Restaurants to choose from that each person has their own idea of what Authentic Mexican Food should taste like. I myself have come to appreciate Menudo with onions and lemon. It takes the edge of “la cruda” on Sunday Morning. But one of my favorites are enmoladas; chicken enchiladas with mole. The face of San Antonio is constantly changing. Let’s see what’ll happen to it in another 20 years. That city, as well as the rest of South Texas may use Spanish as its primary language like Southern Quebec to French. There is still some cultural resistance among white people there, but then there is so much about Latino South Texas that is so much appreciated by white folk that if you took it away, the white folk would feel culture shock. That happened to me when I moved from TX to CO. The Mexican Food is never the same in CO.

22 11 2008
giusi

I don’t know whether you consider Italian people as “white people” or not, but just in order for you to know, I am Italian, definitely white skinned, and I love entrails, beef tongue, tripe, and menudo. Generalizations are always wrong, included the generalization that generalizations are always wrong 😉

1 10 2008
Karla G

Wow. That’s all I can say.
I so DO NOT AGREE with your thoughts
but oh well. I do not find Ranchera, Banda, etc, music
bad at all. I am Mexican American and I am Damn PROUD
to be Mexican.
I wear it on my sleeve every damn day because that is just
how proud I am. I Love my parents, family and culture.
I LOVE Mexico lindo y querido.
I do not hide my roots, I express them every day

It is so sad how ignorant people are… *rolls eyes*

9 05 2008
Well, I guess this is kinda cool… « Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity

[…] said in this post that Mexican music wasn’t cool. Well, I think Maná is kinda […]

6 04 2008
Baca

The New Mexicans are especially class conscious and have distinctions and nuances of distinctions of class and race.

6 04 2008
M.J. Ernst-Sandoval

I hate to point this out, but a lot of these points also vary by class too. My grandmother would never make menudo. That was for “los pobres”. Being very middle class we had posole. As well, we never ate goat meat. It was always beef or lamb (and fish on Fridays).

I can relate to the multitudes of relatives, however. Living in Southern California, we had may relatives come visit from New Mexico–so much so that I grew up with the impression that I was related to well over half of that state. Then we would go to New Mexico every summer and have to stop to see each and every one of these relatives. Thus, I can probably name most of the ranches in the northeastern part of the state…

4 04 2008
sam

I think by “white” you really mean “Anglo” as in WASP, that specific group of upper class people whose descent is mainly English with a little bit of Irish and Scots, ( but not the actual Celtic culture of those two), thrown in.

I’m in Montreal now and have become quite aware of “Anglo” culture and its difference from Quebecois-French.

There’s a large contingent of Latinos here on the island, nearly 75K. I’ve found a couple of authentic taquerias as well as a few Latino grocery stores. The “Mexican” restaurants are still too “Anglo” serving the usual “American” Tex-Mex and not any real regional fare but that’s changing with the influx of immigrants.

I remember my step-grandmother’s menudo. The best. My step-father tried making it and failed miserably.

I once tried an Irish version of menudo. The cooks failed. Too rubbery.

3 04 2008
Conrad

most ethnic and older people eat more interesting things

it is a modern and US thing and not white per se

2 04 2008
diane

LOL–I thought of Haggis, too. If you think tripe is disgusting….

Diane, whose Sicilian-American dad eats all sorts of disgusting stuff

2 04 2008
The Scylding

Heh. But “white people” is a difficult concept – at one time, Mexicans were White by US standards. Also, have you had Haggis? White Americans seems to be a better description. Which reminds me of a funny but true story: A white, Afrikaans boy emigrated with his parents from South Africa to the US. Going to university, he entered a competition for a scholarship, and won. Then, when the people met him / saw a photo, he was denied the scholarship. You see, it was for African-Americans. His argument was that he was born in Africa, spoke a language that developed in Africa, (and his ancestors had lived there for hunderds of years), but now he is in the US, so he is an African – American!

Racial obsession is so stupid…..

1 04 2008
White Boy

I like La Puerta Negra.
I think it is Tigres Del Norte.

I also like tacos de lengua and tacos de sesos lampreados. But not all the time.
Don’t actually like Menudo and tripe.

I do love Latin women. The big eyed Mexican girls especially Jalisco.
I also like the Puerto Rican and Cuban girls and their dancing.

1 04 2008
jacobus

You’re pretty much right. But there are some of us gringos listen to los tigres del norte on saturday morning while getting a bowl of menudo. We probably have to have grown up somewhere where there is a long history of Mexican/Spanish cultural influences and in a community with plenty of Mexicans. We are a tiny minority though, esp among the college est. Their idea of Mexican culture is having margaritas and guacamole on cinco de mayo.

1 04 2008
Levi

I haven’t really heard any mexican music, besides that stuff that is basically country. I found it repulsive, but maybe because it reminded me of country.

Another thing White people don’t like:

Other white people.

1 04 2008
Sean Roberts

Cumbia Caliente Forever! One thing about Mexican music that I find interesting is how it seems to cross all generational boundries.

Actually, white people do eat goat… it has been served at several BBQ’s I’ve attended and I like it quite a bit.

1 04 2008
FrGregACCA

For what it’s worth, I absolutely LOVE beef tongue. Some of my best culinary memories involve eating same at a couple of Jewish delis in Milwaukee. Also, the Mexican music you mention is probably roughly analogous to certain genres of what used to be called Country Western. But in general, I get the point.

1 04 2008
Patrick

Mmm, menudo. Would you believe I liked it on the first try?

1 04 2008
Steven W

I’m pretty sure I had a grandma who bordered on witchcraft too…

but I’m from the South!

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