For the uninitiated, Arellano is a staff writer of California's alternative paper OC Weekly and the founder of the outrageously funny column Ask a Mexican. His column, which started almost as a fluke in 2004, has become so popular that it now appears in 31 newspapers across the country with a weekly circulation of almost 2 million. In it, Arellano sets out to answer real readers' questions about what he calls "our spiciest Americans": Is it true Mexicans make tamales for Christmas so their kids can have something to unwrap? What is it about the word "illegal" that Mexicans don't understand? What happened to the head of Pancho Villa?
Arellano, the son of Mexican immigrants, is always at hand to discuss the eternal clichés surrounding the largest Latino minority in the U.S., including lowriders, busboys, housekeepers, heroes and celebrities. Most importantly, though, he is there "to confront the bogeymen of racism, xenophobia and ignorance." And more often than not, he does so in a typical Mexican fashion: using humor to explore and respond to even the most outrageous and sometimes racist questions:
Q: Why do Mexicans always park their cars on the front lawn?
A: "Where do you want us to park them? The garage we rent out to a family of five? The backyard where we put up our recently immigrated cousins? The driveway covered with construction materials for the latest expansion of la casa?
This week I asked Gustavo to send me some of his favorite questions (and answers) and those that shed some light on the type of dialogue he engages with his readers. The questions are funny by themselves, but if you want to read their answer, simply click on each question and that'll take you to the Ask a Mexican archives.
What is it with you Mexicans who want to take back California? Is it that conquistador blood that's driving you?
What do Mexicans think about President Bush's grandfather having a hand in getting the guy who robbed Pancho Villa's head out of jail?
Why don't Mexicans have enough gratitude for America to learn to speak English?
Is Lou Dobbs right when he says that close to 80 hospitals in California have been closed because of the illegals, or is he lying?
If you've read this far, you may be trying to figure out what any of this has to do with Thanksgiving or with the Big Tent -- or even with marketing or advertising. Well, I'm not so sure myself. The whole thing started when I tried to add some cultural insights to my blog and asked Gustavo how Mexicans in the U.S. celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.
His answer: "Same way as Americans -- with too much food!"
¡Happy Thanksgiving pues!
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Read more from Laura daily at Mi Blog Es Tu Blog.