Richard G. Santos
Internet friend Mimi Lozano told me about Wanda Garcia becoming a monthly columnist for the Corpus Christi Caller. In return, I asked her to tell Ms. Garcia that she will rarely hear from people who agree or like what she writes but will frequently hear from people who disagree and do not like what she writes. My last two columns have been the opposite of what I wrote Ms. Garcia. In fact, people who enjoyed the columns outnumbered those who did not by an eight to one ratio. Those who disagreed did so due primarily for personal reasons or not understanding and not properly reading what I wrote. That is, that the mis-teaching of history, the white and black perspective textbooks and the Black Legend have caused identity problems and in some cases inferiority complexes among some Tejanos and Mexican Americans in South Texas. Moreover, the articles were a direct result of four people I had met, interviewed and exchanged phone calls or email with the last 45 days. Allow me to give you two examples.
Ms. M is a 52 year old Mexican American (third generation from Mexico) who can easily pass for a petite young lady in her early 30’s. She takes pride that her three sons (in mid 20’s to mid 30’s) are usually thought to be her brothers. Although a San Antonio, Texas native, Ms. M currently lives outside the state and identifies herself as a “Latina”. Ms. M said she only dates (and trice married) “Anglos” and not Latinos and especially not “Mexicans”. According to her, Latinos are drug dealers, drug users, drunks, have beer bellies and beat their women. Anglos on the other hand, she said, treat their women like princesses. I asked if she had ever heard of Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, Gacy and other serial killers. She replied she was not and has never been interested in history. However, that is basically not true as she contacted me wanting to know something about her family’s origin. All she knows is that her grand parents migrated from Mexico to a rural community in South Texas. Her parents moved to San Antonio and her mother was active in the Chicano movement of the 70’s and 80’s. Ms. M considers her mother’s activist involvement to have been a waste of time and non-productive. Moreover, she dislikes her hometown saying “San Antonio has become a low life Mexican city”. In fact, the only thing she seems to like about San Antonio are the wide variety of tacos that she cannot get where she lives. Notwithstanding Ms. M’s harsh look on life, we continue to be email long distance friends. I send her selected columns as I see this as peeling an onion one layer at a time.
Mr. R who was the last of the four people I recently met, admitted he has an inferiority complex. He blames the “gringos”, my “invader-American ancestors” (meaning the Spanish colonists of Texas) and the U. S. Judicial system. He refers to me as his enemy and does not understand why I do not feel the same way about him. As he explained it, I am his enemy because my
“invader-ancestors” killed his people and never recognized them as human beings. He erroneously states that both Spanish and U. S. law have declared the Native American as a non-American. He does not know history and hence the last two columns.
When asked about his family background, Mr. R said he is a Coahuiltecan Indian. This is a problem as four of the five people I have met in San Antonio claiming to be Coahuiltecan are third to fifth generation from Mexico. One told me his grand parents moved to the Alamo City from San Luis Potosi. I pointed out the major Native American culture is that area are the Huichols and not the South Texas Coahuiltecans. Two others revealed their grand parents were from central Tamaulipas. As for Mr. R, his grand father was a vaquero at the King Ranch and supposedly left it during the Great Depression of the 1920’s. Without questioning the timeline contradictions, I asked where they had come from or moved to. He did not know their point of origin but did know the family lived in a ranch “outside of Kingsville”. I pointed out to him that IF his grand parents were indeed Native American of that area, they would have been either Karankara or Tamaulipecos but not Coahuiltecan.
In many ways Mr. R reminds me of the hundreds of students and non-students I have met these last 40 years who have no idea as to the origin of their families but have concluded they do not want to be seen or considered as Mexican American, Chicanos or Mexican; all of which they consider negative. Hence I have met many who erroneously claim to be Coahuiltecan, Sephardic Jewish., and Canary Islanders (in regard to the founding families of San Antonio, Texas). I have even met wanna-be cousins/relatives who because their last name is Carvajal erroneously assume they are descendants of Nuevo Leon founder Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva or his nephew Luis Rodriguez de Matos, aka Luis de Carvajal el mozo (the younger). The wanna-be cousins react in disbelief when I point out that neither Luis had any children and that the Inquisition burned the last name (Carvajal y de la Cueva) at the stake with only the in-laws with different surnames having survived. This is like many in the Chicano Movement of the 70’s and 80’s moving Aztlan from the Mexican state of Nayarit to Colorado. And to make things more interesting, proclaimed all Chicanos to be of Aztec descent!
On the other hand, is this any different from the Anglos who claim their grand mother was “a Cherokee Indian princess?” First of all, the Cherokees did not have kings, queens, princes or princesses. Second, why not an Arapaho, Delaware, Mohawk, Seminole, Pawnee, etc.? The answer is simple, based on what was and is taught at school, the person identifies with a culture considered to be more positive than their own family background.
ZAVALA COUNTY SENTINEL ………. 14 – 15 September 2011