08.19.2019

After El Paso shooting, Mexican Americans can no longer be ambivalent minority

After El Paso shooting, Mexican Americans can no longer be ambivalent minority (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

For many Mexican Americans, it’s a poignant scene. In the film “Selena,” Edward James Olmos plays Abraham Quintanilla Sr. — the father of the famous Tejano singer. In the scene, Quintanilla schools his children about the difficulty of belonging to two countries — and neither. 

"We gotta prove to the Mexicans how Mexican we are. And we gotta prove to the Americans how American we are," he says. "We gotta be more Mexican than the Mexicans, and more American than the Americans. Both at the same time. It's exhausting! Nobody knows how tough it is to be a Mexican American.”

It is tough. You have to speak perfect English or Americans think less of you. You also have to speak flawless Spanish or the Mexicans will label you a "pocho" — a watered-down Mexican. No matter what you do, you’re not going to please either side of the cultural divide. 

And, over the past couple weeks, being Mexican American has been tougher than ever before. 

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