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Dear Mexican: I recently saw a picture of you in a newspaper article. I was quite shocked. You appear to have more of a European skin tone. You look more European. However, I guess since your relatives lived in Mexico in the past 200 years, you think of yourself as a Mexican. I guess however, I tend to think Mexican-looking people have more of that native flavor or color. And your last name is actually Basque. So this makes sense…Have a good day, my European/Mexican dude.

Macho Man in New Mexico

Dear Surumato: The town of Arellano, Spain might be in the autonomous Basque Country region of Navarre, but “Arellano” comes from Latin and denotes “farm of Aurelius.” And while one part of my Mexican ancestry came from Europe (a mixture of Portuguese, French, and Sephardic Jews, since “Arellano” is listed in the Inquisition rolls), the other part is Chichimeca ready to chingarte for your chisme.

 

My grandmother died like all people of this world, but there was something fascinating that I was able to discovery after her time. She was born in Mexico, possibly: Vera Cruz. From what I understand, and that may be very little when it comes to American history, it always seems to be a bit cloudy and this cloudy tradition has been passed down from generation to generation of black Americans. During my lifetime, many questions of our past or ancestral history, have been unclear, unlike the Mexican or Asian culture of this great country. I’m American through and through, California-raised so I can easily identify with the Latin culture; I also speak Spanish, which was a prerequisite for survival back in the 70’s. What light can you shed on the mystery of Vera Cruz and its relation to Americans or blacks, period?

Constancia—Not Your Tia Concha

Dear Negrita: The way you spelled Vera Cruz, methinks your abuelita was actually born in the towns by the same names in Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all named after the Gulf Coast city in Mexico. But let’s say she was actually born in Mexico—in that case, you’re connected to one of the proudest black traditions in the Western Hemisphere. Veracruz the state is one of two regions in Mexico with a significant population of Afro-Mexicans (the Costa Chica region spanning the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca is the other). Near Veracruz the city was the first freeman town in the America: San Lorenzo de los Negros, created after a colony of ex-slaves led by Gaspar Yanga successfully fended off conquistadors (a statue of Yanga still stands in Veracruz proper). The famous singer Toña La Negra came from Veracruz, as did the rhythms of son jarocho. Even if your grandmother was born in the U.S., it’s better to say that she’s from Mexico: after all, would you want your heritage to go back to some Podunk Rust belt town?

 

ORDER IT NOW

GRACIAS, READERS! For another great year of letters, tweets, handshakes, and the like. I wish I could tell ustedes I have a new project to shameless self-promote—but I don’t. Just the same DESMADRE we’ve had in this columna for 12 years, all thanks to ustedes. The Mexican is going back to the rancho to spend Navidad, so I’ll be running a Best Of edición next week. Happy holidays—oh, and #fucktrump.

Ask the Mexican at [email protected], be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

 
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  1. “while one part of my Mexican ancestry came from Europe”

    that alone make you unqualified to write this column….the one drop rule.

    • Replies: @Jim bob Lassiter
  2. @interesting

    Aparte de eso interesting, es un pocho de mierda que pretende ser un carnal de verdad.

    • Replies: @interesting
  3. “Arellano es un apellido vasco-navarro oriundo de Euskal Herria, España. Según el filólogo vasco Endika de Mogrovejo, Arellano proviene del euskera y significa “lugar de robles”. Según el filólogo Mikel Belasko, Arellano significa lugar propiedad de un hombre llamado Aurelius*.

    Es necesario aclarar que, como apellido, hay dos vertientes muy diferentes entre sí:
    Arellano de origen toponímico, que corresponde a personas originarias del municipio navarro de Arellano que tomaron su lugar de orígen como nombre familiar (algo muy común en la España medieval), que es a la que se hace mención más arriba. A este caso corresponde la inmensa mayoría de las personas apellidadas Arellano en España, Hispanoamérica, México y los Estados Unidos;

    Arellano de origen hidalgo, que corresponde a los descendientes de la Casa de Arellano, antigua e ilustre familia navarro-castellana de ascendencia real, cuyos miembros desempeñaron un lugar señalado en la historia de España, y figuran profusamente en el Orden de Santiago y en la Orden de Calatrava. Esta casa noble debe su apellido a don Sancho Sanchez, señor de Arellano. Los títulos nobiliarios más importantes de la Casa de Arellano fueron el Señorío de Cameros, el Condado de Aguilar de Inestrillas, la Grandeza de Castilla y el Marquesado de Ramírez de Arellano. De esta familia desciende una pequeña minoría de personas concentradas en España, Chile y Venezuela.

    Por lo tanto, si bien todos los Arellano comparten el mismo origen vasco-navarro, sólo muy pocos descienden del linaje noble castellano-navarro.”

    wikipedia en español.

    *Obvious Misprint of “Valerius” for “Aurelius” corrected.

    Avellana also means hazelnut in Spanish and the toponymic from Basque may actually have been hurritz (hazel) rather than haritz (oak), probably like-named because of the similarity of their nuts/acorns, with Endika de Mogrovejo just rendering “robles”.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  4. Mi soldadera Marina and me were the best thing ever happened in that sorry shithole. Pa que se sepa, pendejito.

    • Replies: @Tirano Banderas
  5. @E. A. Costa

    In other words a nut-job Gallego.

  6. @El Marqués

    Mi cuate Ibarguengoitia acaba de tildarte gallego, Arellanito.

    PD. Rodolfo Fierro está de acuerdo.

  7. Santiago says:

    Ahora ya entiendo la razón de tu estupidez, tenías que ser pate de un khanate. Por eso tanta desinformación y mentiras.

  8. @Jim bob Lassiter

    I see what you’re doing there.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  9. @interesting

    That’s good, because I sure don’t know what I’m doing. Why don’t you tell me what it is?

    • Replies: @interesting
  10. @Jim Bob Lassiter

    well you replied in Spanish so i thought maybe you were “clowning” on me in Spanish like some Spanish speakers have done at parties.

    I’ve asked what’s so funny and the response is “we’re just clowning”………maybe I’m wrong but i don’t speak Spanish so I can’t be sure.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  11. @interesting

    Not clowning around with anybody. (save maybe Arellano) And I’m not the cause of Arellano’s Spanglish either.

    For edification:
    Aparte de eso interesting, es un pocho de mierda que pretende ser un carnal de verdad. =

    Besides that interesting, he’s [Arellano] a shitbird “pocho” that’s trying to pass as a real blood Mexican homie.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocho

  12. Solamente como diversión: Aurelius se arrellanaba en su latifundia en Arellano comiendo avellanas.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  13. @E. A. Costa

    Sí señor y comiendo anacardos para añadir más aliteración.

    • Replies: @E. A. Costa
    , @E. A. Costa
  14. @Jim Bob Lassiter

    Así, marañones. Hay aún un vino hecho de ellos.

  15. @Jim Bob Lassiter

    A propósito, anacardo–del griego ἀνάκαρδος.

    • Replies: @E. A. Costa
  16. There have always been Afro-descendentes in Mexico (Costa Chica region-Guerrero and Oaxaca) but the only difference is that the Mexican government (read lawmakers) now recognize them as part of Mexican ambiente (landscape). For the past 400 years, they remained neglected until recently when they was officailly recognized by said lawmakers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/world/americas/negro-prieto-moreno-a-question-of-identity-for-black-mexicans.html?_r=0

  17. John says: • Website

    Hey, no me chingue, but what’s the answer to the title question? I take “Mexican” very strictly, to mean “holding Mexican citizenship, by birth or naturalization.” But maybe I’m the only person to take it that way.

  18. “Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?”

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Laasiter
  19. @E. A. Costa

    Also incidentally, ἀνάκαρδοs is scientific neo-Greek, not ancient, behind Linnaeus’ Latin anacardium in 1753.

    If an ancient Roman, Aurelius could not snack on cashew, apple or nut, for the simple reason they are native to Brazil.

    Poor fellow! But then again there were the oysters of Marseilles.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  20. @ReadyKilowatt

    Worse than Sears, it’s a Target poncho. Now let me get back to my “wheelin’ and dealin’ “.

  21. @E. A. Costa

    So what are the Greek and Roman analogues of the “latifundia”?

    • Replies: @E. A. Costa
  22. @Jim Bob Lassiter

    One supposes the Roman remains could have been just a villa in the area but that is unlikely. Much more likely the town of Arellano was a Roman latifundium, to which a villa would be attached. No finca, jeje.

    Roman latifundia in the West were economically self-sufficient and through the Medieval period became villages and formed the basis for the feudal system

    That does not mean there was not already a Basque village there when the Romans arrived.

    But one would need a lot more archaeological and textual references than one can find on line to make any determination.

    Not a bad little article on latifundia here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latifundium

    • Replies: @E. A. Costa
    , @E. A. Costa
  23. @E. A. Costa

    The likeliehood that the town was Aurelius’ latifundia hinges on the name. Towns and villages were not named after someone’s farm nearby–”Oh, yeah, Aurelius has a farm outside town there!” It was probably the village itself and was focus of the area.

    Depending on the terrain and what was produced latifundia were of different sizes, some vast and very profitable.

    In Petronius’ Satyricon in the section now known as Trimalchio’s Dinner, Trimalchio boasts that everything at dinner came from his Cumaean estate, which, by one estimate, might have brought him in ten million sesterces a year.

  24. @E. A. Costa

    The Romans also were responsible for developing great estates producing wine for commercial export, first in Spain and then in France. Spain was already famous for its wine in the First Century A.D. and the Roman-developed areas in France like Burgundy and Bordeaux were well known a few hundred years later.

  25. I thought Arellano might derive from “beach dweller”.

  26. When the Berbers entered Spain, headed by an Arab leader, they were invited by the Goths ( whether Visigoths or Ostrogoths) and the winners pushed the various Roman groups north and east so it would makes sense that the surname (Arellano) preceeded 711AD. Nothing strange about that except that the name survived for generation while the more recent (read modern) name Jaime Garcia is found in almost Latin America as is Leroy Jackson saying the latter was never an Englishman, despite the name descriptive but there is a connection albeit thinly visible.

    Since DNA stuff is readily becoming more widespread. the presence of conversos or marranos amongst New Mexico and parts of US Southwest from the Jewish diaspora, we see how hidden origins are easy to spot while tellign a truth that is often not seen.

  27. After prolonged and careful deliberations, I think I have a definitive answer to the Gus The Gallego’s question about Mexican authenticity. So, boys and girls, here goes:

    If you are stupid enough to do this with a PC or a smart phone:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4067074/Chaos-HUNDREDS-attend-Mexican-girl-s-quincea-era-MILLION-people-RSVP-d-father-s-Facebook-invitation.html

    then you just might be an Authentic Mexican.

    • Replies: @Intelligent Dasein
    , @Pepe
  28. Flemur says:

    No.

    “¡Ask Some Guy from Orange County!”

  29. @Jim Bob Lassiter

    She’s pretty. A nubile Mexican girl all gussied up for her quinceanera is one of the few, one of the very few, things I can appreciate that derive from south of the border. Avocados, chilis, and panela cheese pretty much round out that list.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  30. Pepe says:
    @Jim Bob Lassiter

    Rubí is a US citizen, by way of her former wetback Papá.

    Her three brothers and sisters were born in the US. Rubí, born in Mexico, now has her US citizenship.

    The entire town that held the quinceañera, Villa de Guadalupe, SLP, depends on remittances sent from the US:

    http://www.vanguardia.com.mx/articulo/hermanos-de-rubi-paisanos-que-ahorran-3-anos-para-los-xv

  31. Mexican,??? I thought he was some kind of Filipino. What a letdown.

  32. @Intelligent Dasein

    You mean you don’t like the donkey shows?

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