Sunday, June 29, 2008

When Gringos Attack – Part Two

I just love reading forum posts about living in Mexico. Actually, I rarely read them anymore because the majority of those doing the posting, mostly Americans, whose total knowledge of Mexico could fill a thimble, so frustrates me that I gave up following the threads. My wife reads them then forwards to me those she thinks I can use for Blog fodder. She sent me a doozy today.

Americans really don't get it. As the forum posters sit in front of their computer screens reading and engaging in the never-ending battle of trying to debate the Gringolandians' invasion (infection?) of Mexico through the written word, the collective reasoning power of these potential Gringolandians can't seem to make the very small leap of logic in this discussion that is required to get the point of it all.

The Gringolandian versus the True Expatriate War of Words is this: Why do Americans come to Mexico and never learn Spanish, thus creating a self-imposed barrier to the culture? Why do they create Gringo Enclaves, Gringolandias, when learning the language would open the door to the Mexican culture, thus making enclaves superfluous? Wouldn't learning Spanish solve this problem and make the creation of Gringo Gulches, Golden Coasts, Golden Corridors, and Gringolandias totally unnecessary?

In the five years I've been writing about expat issues and following these posts, the collective lot of them can only come up with this:

"So why is it okay for millions of Chinese, Cubans, Italians, Germans, Mexican, Guatamatecos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Middle Easterners to come to the U.S., set up their enclaves where they speak their own language, observe their own cultural history, eat the same food, establish businesses that cater to each other all the while preserving a piece of their homeland in their new land...but you seem to be saying it's NOT okay for Americans going to Mexico to do that." – A Forum Poster

Is this not the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Manifest Destiny at its best?

Let me just say that the person who wrote this does not get it at all.

The ethnic groups the person mentioned created enclaves not because they want to preserve their own cultural identity. They have created and continue to create enclaves on American soil because they never were, never are, nor never will be accepted into the Anglo-Saxon mindset.

When we lived in America, we attended a Methodist Mexican church in the inner city. Most of the congregants may have been illegals. We taught some of the English. Most, if not all, of them came to America in absolute desperation to earn a better living. They were, unfortunately, convinced by the coyotes that sold them on the idea, that there was a Promised Land waiting for them in America.

Some of these guys worked 20 hours a day and slept on floors at night. Every moment of their time was spent in trying to earn enough money to send back home to their starving families. Just when would they have had time or the money to take English classes?

The reasons they flee to the U.S. are not the same as Americans who move to Mexico. Mexicans move to America to survive. Americans move to Mexico, at least traditionally, so they can exploit the cheaper real estate, cheaper cost of just about everything, and continue to live their pampered lifestyles.

Don't miss this point in the Push and Pull factors of this aspect of Human Migration.

The vast majority of Americans who near retirement age want to preserve the lifestyles to which they've grown accustomed. They want their two cars, two or three TVs, three computers, four bedrooms, three or four bathrooms, a maid and gardener. In other words, they want to live like the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. They are lured down here on the Concept, Hype, or Idea of Mexico, which promotes the idea they can live better on less and have a life of the rich and famous. They come running based on the propaganda that all of Mexico has been so Americanized that they can live a life of luxurious pleasure having the Mexicans wait on them hand and foot.

Mexicans move to America for survival. They don’t live like they did in Mexico. In most of the cases we've seen, they live a lot worse.

Most of the Mexicans we knew could not afford to take English as a Second Language classes. They told us they wanted to take classes, but there was no money available for such an expense. Instead, they had to come to those of us who taught English for free as a ministry.

All of the Americans we know in Mexico could most certainly afford to take Spanish classes, but they don't. They don't because it's too hard, too boring, too inconvenient, too whatever. So, that's why they form enclaves and set about transforming the ancient Mexican cities (San Miguel de Allende, for one) into Disneyland versions of what the Americans want Mexico to be to them.

Ethnic groups had to form their enclaves in America because they had to. The Anglos didn't welcome them. And even then, enclaves didn't always provide a measure of safety from the Anglo-Saxons who hated anyone who was something other than white and Protestant.

The reason there is now a population of German Mennonites and Quakers in Mexico, not to mention the generations of Chinese-Mexicans, is because the Anglos chased them out of America time and time again into Mexico where they found true freedom to be who they wanted to be. They stayed.

So, the Life in Mexico forum poster, whom I quoted at the beginning in this article, just doesn't get it at all!

I don't think the Gringolandians ever will.

Mexicans have to form enclaves in America because they aren't welcome in American society.

Americans do not form enclaves because they have to. They do it because they want to. They refuse to do the one thing that would guarantee assimilation—Learn Spanish!

No comments: