I have no idea why the argument started or what it was about – it was third or fourth grade, after all. I just remember how it ended: with Lorraine Garcia very pointedly and angrily in my face saying, “You are not Mexican! You don’t look Mexican, your family isn’t Mexican, so stop saying it!”
I was aghast. Of course I’m Mexican! My mom was white as white goes, and I inherited a lot of her phenotypical traits, but, as I always maintained, “Zazueta” ain’t just a fancy name. My dad and his family did look Mexican and, in many ways, acted Mexican. Well, Americanized Mexican, any way.
I spent many a holiday at my aunt’s home surrounded by family as the women cooked in the kitchen and the men messed around in the backyard or gathered to watch the game. The food on the table was always flavorful and spicy, often including mole from my grandmother’s secret recipe (which she would later explain was simply a jar of Dona Maria mixed with a Hershey’s bar). My cousin drove a low rider in the late 70s and early 80s, complete with shag carpeting and a chain steering wheel, a living stereotype pulled directly from a Cheech and Chong movie. Continue reading