Ask a Mexican!

Dear Mexican: I live in a Northeastern city, and I play a game with myself during the cold, wintry months: counting how many Mexicans I see without a heavy coat or an appropriate outer-garment. Believe me, I'm not prejudiced (I, too, am a minority, and this game is lightweight compared to some of the games I play involving my own race), but I'd like to know: Why do so many Mexicans prefer to brave the elements in just a long-sleeved shirt or a sweater? (Is it a cultural thing, like "I don't need no stinkin' coat?")

Black Urban Gringo.

Dear BUG: See, you think you're not prejudiced, but then you threw in that allusion to the notorious quote used by my tío, Alfonso Bedoya, in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre involving badges. Now, why would a good negrito do that? You won't find the Mexican quoting Stepin Fetchit or Mantan Moreland, although I did steal my beautiful grin from the darkies of yore, because gabachos demand consistency in their racial caricatures.

But, yes: Mexicans don't need no stinkin' coat. Large-scale Mexican immigration to the frozen Northeast and upper Midwest is a relatively recent phenomenon; like not flushing our soiled toilet paper and distrusting tap water, buying the various layers of clothing needed to properly weather a snowstorm is a custom most icebacks still need to learn. It's not like the Mexis who unwittingly constitute your game are prancing around desnudos—as you noted, they'll at least have some layers against the elements.

Besides, we're cut from a different stock, BUG: Ours is a raza where North Face jackets or Burberry coats are the least of our concerns. After all, what's a snow flurry when President Obama has yet to make any push for amnesty, or when the bigoted, corrupt shade of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has now spread across Arizona?

Why is it that Americans think Mexicans are all short? I've been around various communities of Mexicans in California and in Mexico, and I see a wide variety of height, from short to tall. I'm 30 years old, and 5 feet, 10.5 inches tall; my little brother, who's 16, is 6 feet and growing! Could this be a recent phenomenon of all the shorter Mexican nationals coming from Oaxaca and other regions near Guatemala? Because we all know chapines are the shortest in Central America! Also, can you explain the science behind why some cultures/ethnicities vary in height? Apparently, the Dutch in the Netherlands are among the tallest people in the world!

A Tall Mexican, Standing Proud!

Dear Wab: Gracias for taking a swipe at Guatemalans for me! But I hate to break it to you—gabachos think we're short because, statistically speaking, we are.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics released a 2008 study titled, "Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2003-2006" that found Mexicans are substantially shorter than their gabacho y negrito peers. The average height in the survey for Mexican males older than 20 was 5 foot 7, a full 2 inches shorter than the ebony and ivory. Mexican women were 5 foot 2, also about 2 inches shorter than their sisters from other misters.

But, like the example you gave from your brother, heights are a'changing. The average height for wab men between 20 and 39 was 5 feet, 7.2 inches—1.1 inches taller than hombres 60 and older.

I'm not a geneticist, but good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will always add a couple of pulgadas to any raza. Hear that, Guatemalans? There's still hope to trump your enano status—not that there's anything wrong with that, por supuesto ...

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