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Ask a Mexican!

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Dear Mexican: There are less than 3 percent Latinos in the St. Louis area, and less than 4 percent of St. Louisans are immigrants. This is very, very, low, and it actually makes St. Louis look pretty bad. Why does everyone here feel like they have a say in the illegal immigration discussion?

—Gaga for Gibson

Dear Gabacho: It gets worse than what you wrote. Out of the 25 biggest metropolitan areas in the United States, St. Louis is the only one with a Latino population than five percent—and the latest info from the American Community Survey clocks in the Gateway City at a whopping 2.9 percent. I could fit more Mexicans in the cab of my '79 Ford Ranger than there are in St. Louis. The easy answer is to presume that the city is muy racist, but it's also home to the largest Bosnian Serb population in the world outside of the Balkans—and most are Muslims. But it's easier than that: St. Louis is just a bit over four hours away from Chicago, the ciudad with the second-largest Mexican community in the United States after Chicago, a community with roots that go back nearly 125 years. Nothing against the Lou, but why would Mexicans stay in the Jalostotitlán of the Midwest when they can move to the Jerez?

Why is it that people in this country seem to thing that randomly sprinkling accent marks over something makes it Spanish, rather than realizing that an accent mark marks an accent?  Right after reading your column, my eyes fell on an ad for a restaurant serving "authentic Mexican food," including "mole."  ¿Qué cosa?  Sounds like a cross between comida poblana and a bull fight!

—Diacritical Diana

Dear Gabacho: You know what's the weirdest thing about this phenomenon? How gabachos will put a tilde over "habanero" to incorrectly turn it into "habañero" yet always neglect the tilde in "jalapeño" and turn it into "jalapeno." And then when they pronounce their mistakes! "Habañero" in an American accento to the Mexican ear sounds like someone who likes restrooms, while "jalapeno" sounds like someone who likes to pull pitos. But it's not a surprise that gabachos do such butchering—according to English, only French is worthy of proper diacritics, while the rest of the world's language can go jala pene.

I'm from Bent, New Mexico (no kidding, and no pun intended), and my dilemma lies in my own idea for a performance piece. To simultaneously transcend all cultural AND sexual borders, I will be in blackface, lip-synching (flawlessly) a rather vocally challenging Sarah Vaughan song, draped in my evening gown consisting of nothing more than the Mexican flag itself. (And plastic, gold high-heels, of course). As political correctness goes, I understand that it's oka for a black person to perform in blackface, but is it OK for this brown "mexicana hombre" to go so far? And garbed in the Mexican flag? Will I be offending or enlightening?

—Pina (insert "tilde") Culera

Dear Pochx: Do it in the American flag, and Hollywood will give you an overall deal—just ask Carlos Mencia.

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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