News flash: There's a lot more than Mexico south of the border
CHICAGO -- So many Mexicos, so little time!
I have no idea who created it, but there's a handy little chart of "all the Mexicos" rocketing across the internet. It's a humorous clapback at the recent folly in which an onscreen chyron on Fox News said that President Trump was cutting aid to "3 Mexican Countries."
Some genius mocked up the graphic showing the Mexican flag labeled as "Mexico" and the flag of Peru labeled "Mexico with Llamas," the flag of Brazil as "Portuguese Mexico," the flag of Venezuela as "Comunist [sic] Mexico" and the flag of Bolivia as "Mexico Without Sea."
Identifying, in part, with my dad's homeland of "Irrelevant Mexico" (Ecuador), my own reaction echoed that of countless non-Mexican Hispanics who rolled their eyes and/or belly laughed at the Freudian slip of whoever wrote the chyron. They seemed to channel the disinterest of countless white Americans when it comes to any non-Mexican country they're confronted with.
It's good to laugh at such stupidities because otherwise you'd have to cry -- and you'd be right to.
The lack of understanding most Americans have about our neighbors to the south is merely stunning under the best of circumstances and adds insult to injury under the worst.
Even as many of us were enjoying the privilege of lightheartedly tweeting about whether we're from "Narrow Mexico" (Chile) or "Tiny White Mexico" (Uruguay), several news outlets were circulating the story about the elderly white Anaheim, California, man who went on a racist rant against the owner of a restaurant, screaming "That's bull----! It says it in Mexican. We're not in Mexico, we're in America ... This is America. Not Spanish."
The man, who also threatened to call immigration officials, was upset about ... wait for it ... a Mexican restaurant's taco sign. Yes, in southern California.
Stories like these are in danger of becoming of the dog-bites-man variety: too commonplace to bother reporting on.
To be sure, these sorts of misconceptions -- that if you "look" Mexican, you must be in the country illegally; that "Spanish" is the correct way to describe our neighbors to the south; and that "Mexican" is the accurate way to refer to the Spanish language -- have been around forever.