Ojo: The "Cholo Word Of The Day" is simply for fun. This is not an academic exercise, therefore I do not spend much time checking for espelling or grammatical errors. Most of the words are not only used by "cholos," but by many people in S. Texas - and their usage can vary. c/s

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Lunch at Aranda's

I've been to Aranda's two times in the last 4 days. It's a small restaurant that serves typical Mexican plates, many type of delicious tortas, and of course tortillas. I asked the man behind the register if it was a franchise, because I've seen chingos of these, and he told me there are a bunch, but they are all family owned. In Houston primarily, Austin, and Dallas.

Aranda's is also a fantastic place to talk. On both occassions I visted with friends for a very long time. We talked about immigration, education, the war, and other things. I told my friend about a young Mexican American girl at my brother's office. They have a tax business next door and I walked in to get some water. I saw the 19 year old girl fighting to stay awake as she did her homework. It was College Math. I don't know what that means, but she told me she was doing "patterns and stuff." I didn't ask more questions about that because I would have had to fake a heart attack if she would have asked me for help.

I asked her where she was going to school: ACC (Austin Community College). I asked her what she was studying: I want to be a para-legal or on t.v.

(notice the use of the word "really" in the following conversation)
Me: Really, I used to to be a t.v. reporter.
Her: really? Wow.
Me: Not really. Lots of work. Lots of dumb people. Little pay.
Her: Oh. It's like journalism right?
Me: Yea, hey, why don't you become a lawyer, like this guy (I point in the direction of my brother's office).
Her: No, I can't. That's too hard. You have to have brains.
Me: Well, you just have to apply yourself. You have to study.
Her: It's like being a doctor. It's so much school.
Me: Not really, but you do have to study. You should do it.
Her: (smile, wishing I would get the hell out of there)
Me: ok, good luck.
Her: Adios.

I felt helpless, because although this conversation didn't reveal it as much as I would want to, she doesn't realize she CAN go to law school or do whatever the hell she wants to do. She CAN pay for school and she CAN get a 4 year degree.

She's not going to believe she can because some pelado tells her. She already thinks I'm a privilidged kid, because she sees my walking around the office and because my brother is a lawyer. I don't really feel it's appropriate for me to sit down with every person and tell them that I was probably in the same or worse situation than them when I was a kid (but I had good parents).

I told my friend I didn't know how to encourage these kids (and people in general) how to go to college. Do I have to fill out an application for them and show them school plans? Financial aid forms? I can't. I won't. I just can't. I'm trying to do that for some close friends and it's draining. What do we do?

How do I tell her that an associate's degree is good, but that she should get her college degree. I just don't know.

Then we started talking about immigrants and Mexican Americans. My friend and I are pretty liberal, but we realized we kept ragging on Chicanos. We no longer come up with excuses as to why raza is sitting around at 1pm drinking beer in front of their houses instead of working. Granted this is a very small portion, but back in the day, she and I would have probably made excuses for them. We would have said something like: "they're a product of their environment. they went to shitty schools, they can't get good jobs, let them be. we should be helping them, not criticizing them."

No more. We figure if immigrants, who speak no English, have no history here, have no rights and often no family, can get jobs and work hard, why can't the rest of the raza. Now, it's not fair. I'm singling out Chicanos, but maybe that's because it hits close to home. Man, if we all worked as hard as immigrants do - wow, chingado. She went on to tell me that "I never watch this show," but the other day I saw Newlyweds (w/ Jessica Simpson). The husand apparently hired landscapers to do some work. They were Americans (I think mostly white and black). It seems that after 4 hours Nick, the husband, was pissed off because the crew hadn't done caca. The MTV show kept showing cut-a-ways of them smoking and screwing around. The next day the dude hired a crew with a "spanish surname" and when the guys showed up, they were all raza. My friend says you could tell they were recent immigrants. She said that the show made it a point to illustrate how happy Nick was with their job. They showed them working en chingas and not stopping for breaks or complaining about the heat. The job was excellent. Wow, interesting point to make on MTV.

Anyway, those are just a couple of the we talked about at Arandas.

15 Comments:

Blogger Xolo said...

You need to keep talking to people and telling them about the opportunities that exist. Most people won't listen, but one or two will. You never know which are the one's who will listen, so you need to keep trying. You may also plant seeds in people's minds: they may just start to think, "Well, maybe I can."

As to those that are lazy - there are gente floja and gente con ganas everywhere. We tend to see those that don't work. I think there is a generational problem as well. Immigrant parents work hard because that is the only way they know how to get by. They then try to give their kids all the stuff they never had, so they learn to get by with not really working. This also happens with people from everywhere.

Needless to say, keep telling people what they CAN do. There are too many people around telling them what the CAN'T do or not saying anything at all.

Paz.

4:27 PM

 
Blogger La Brown Girl said...

I know what you mean about the kids and college. I was like that too. Pero ahora, I'm a few months from graduation. Now, I'm having the same problem with my niece. I don't know what to do.

I saw that episode of Newlyweds. You know what's interesting too, on that Extreme Home Makeover, I've noticed that a lot of the vatos that work for the construction companies are Latinos. Andan como hormigas.

Oh yeah, and as far as Arrandas is concerned, the only good one in good 'ole H-town is the original one. I don't remember which one it is. My co-worker went there on Friday and it didn't do her body good.

6:52 PM

 
Blogger Aleksu said...

I agree, no matter how insane it may seem, use any opportunity you have to tell those kids you run into to go for it.

Even if they do not graduate at the end, their sense of worth and self steem will be with them for the rest of their lives.

Here were I live, the Raza keeps working, no matter how long ago they arrived to the USA, meaning, even the grandkids are known for their excellent work ethics.

10:28 PM

 
Blogger Cracked Chancla said...

I think its hard to measure how much impact you have when you mentor or counsel a young person about going to college. Do not underestimate your efforts. Every little bit counts. Remember that its not just you telling them that so every little bit from different people will eventually add up. And perhaps it it just ONLY you and you are the person that makes the difference. I know it can be draining, and in working with young kids for a few years now I have to tell you that its so rewarding when you get a glimpse of the results and realize that your efforts are bearing fruit.

6:33 AM

 
Blogger Manda said...

I definitely agree that you need to keep talking to people about the opportunities out there. My Mom and I were on the same exact subject yesterday. It doesn't matter where you come from, what kind of background or whatever. It all depends on the drive that that certain person has. I mean, there are a lot of people out there that are spoiled rotten, rich, and have all the resources right in front of them...and they just don't have the drive to go to college and work hard. But, you've always got to realize that there are some of the same kids coming out of the same type of background, and they do end up as hard workers.

I mean, I have a couple of friends that have come from the poorest of childhoods, and are now living the life because of their hard work and determination. Their Drive. But, I also have friends that have come from bad childhoods, and they carry all their baggage with them...poor me, and the world owes me something, so can I have a handout? You know?

The only thing you can do, though is just keep inspiring people, and letting them know that they are worth something. You never know..you just might be the one person that kicks them into gear. Encouragement is something we all need from time to time..

11:10 AM

 
Blogger Manda said...

I definitely agree that you need to keep talking to people about the opportunities out there. My Mom and I were on the same exact subject yesterday. It doesn't matter where you come from, what kind of background or whatever. It all depends on the drive that that certain person has. I mean, there are a lot of people out there that are spoiled rotten, rich, and have all the resources right in front of them...and they just don't have the drive to go to college and work hard. But, you've always got to realize that there are some of the same kids coming out of the same type of background, and they do end up as hard workers.

I mean, I have a couple of friends that have come from the poorest of childhoods, and are now living the life because of their hard work and determination. Their Drive. But, I also have friends that have come from bad childhoods, and they carry all their baggage with them...poor me, and the world owes me something, so can I have a handout? You know?

The only thing you can do, though is just keep inspiring people, and letting them know that they are worth something. You never know..you just might be the one person that kicks them into gear. Encouragement is something we all need from time to time..

11:10 AM

 
Blogger Lucio said...

So Chicanos/Pochos/etc. don't apply themselves? Is what you're saying? Perhaps the staunch Republican argument has oozed into your brain a bit – don’t you think? "Applying yourself" is not going to get you hired, that’s not always enough. Opportunities for work, to create change, and live are there - although scarce. True, undocumented workers work harder and get paid less than anyone in this country. Take a wild guess of who gets paid the least in this country? Mexican women: our mothers, sisters, aunts, etc. You don't think that's a systematic problem? As for Chicanos/Pochos - we can't settle for shit jobs. I have no problem with nepotism, because lord knows if given the opportunity to hire my family... shit, I'd be calling my Tio Tatis right now. It's a lot more complicated than one "applying themselves." I just have a problem when the scales are completely unbalanced.
As far as school goes... you don't think Chicanos/Pochos apply to Harvard, USC, Yale, and Berkeley? Of course, but since the 'removal' of affirmative action acceptance practices... Latino acceptance rates to non-state/private/ivy league colleges have dropped by ridiculous proportions - is this not a systematic problem? By the way, what's wrong with going to community college?
Institutional systems are skewed to benefit rich, white males - true, people of color fall through the cracks and "make it," but those are exceptions to the rule of power. Once you start making that argument, you might as well change your name to Chad, buy an SUV, move to the suburbs, and vote Republican.
C/S

12:08 PM

 
Blogger La Brown Girl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:56 PM

 
Blogger La Brown Girl said...

I know DT can talk for himself, but I don't think that's what DT was talking about Lucio. Some people do seem to give up...I was one of them. I went to community college for two years and yeah, I was put down by "the man" because they didn't want to give me diddly squat for my good grades and junk. Even now, I work a lot and I'm in debt, but I have applied myself despite living in a state where Bush was dictator before he tried to take over the world. Yeah, there are other obstacles, but you know what, I have a ton of classmates that are illegal immigrants who are going to college and on the verge of graduation.

4:58 PM

 
Blogger Diana said...

Hey DT dont feel bad or get angry, theres still chicanos/as, Latinos, Hispanics, out there who do listen to other plps advice...I do. I grew up being poor, in the valley, and now look at me...my family is still not the best one in the crop...they may have made mistakes, but im a result of their mistakes. Im the first one to graduate with honors, have done concurrent enrollment in college and have been accepted to a university after plp thouhgt i wouldnt make it...and maybe i wont, but at least i now that i did the best that i could have ever tried in my life. Why? cuz there was once a person somewhere along the way that told me that I could make it, that and the fact that I wont let stereotypical plp get what they want.

8:49 PM

 
Blogger dr.v (Not a narcotic Pez dispenser) said...

i think it is important to encourage them whenever possible. Sometimes, sharing our stories can serve as an example. Yes, being a doctor takes alot of studying (i know from my own experience), but it's not impossible. And if u really want to be a doctor, go for it, u won't regret it, u just have to "work" at it like other things in life.

10:23 PM

 
Blogger cindylu said...

Man... I have so much to write on this. I know I could write a paper or a book on it, just with the knowledge I have right now on educational attainment of Chicanas/os and Latinas/os. I hate that in California only 4 in every 100 Latino students who begin high school will earn a BA.

I guess the main thing is not to tell that young woman anything. I know I have the tendency to think I know what she needs to do and what she should study and dedicate her life to. Perhaps, you should just ask her those critical questions that will get her to think about what she really wants to get out of her life and education. I'm not saying you or I cannot add anything of value, because we have knowledge and some expertise to add to the discussion, but we just need to make sure our youth are empowered and know that the opportunities exist.

3:06 PM

 
Blogger Daily Texican said...

Wow. Great comments everyone.

Lucio thanks for sharing your opinins as well. Let me try to answer you, because I think you're preaching to the choir.
I'm not saying that Raza doesn't apply themselves. I'm just saying some people from all backgrounds don't apply themselves (but I guess I focus on Raza because I know them the best and I'm part of that group).

I understand we shouldn't settle for shit jobs, but we also should settle for not working. How many Mexicans in Mexico do you know sit around and wait for the government to help?

I agree. We need more Raza at elite universities. We do apply and we don't get in. Yup, there's a problem.

Oh yea, and I do have a Republican friend whose name is Chad!

5:32 PM

 
Blogger HispanicPundit said...

Great post D.T.

I couldn't agree with you more. Since I am one of the oldest of my cousins, I am currently going through the same problem with my cousins. I keep telling them that they need to get a bachelors degree, that they should study this or that. But they get too caught up in a job that pays above average NOW, that they end up sacrificing a career that pays above average TOMORROW. And the ones that do look ahead, pick things that have limited growth. For example, a cousin of mine wants to go into air conditioning, or elevator repair.

I think alot of it has to do with our parents, and the standards they set. If your parents, like my parents and my cousins parents, are mechanics, or work in other hard labor, than it doesn't seem like a bad thing to follow in their footsteps. Afterall, if they turned out ok, we should be ok too. Atleast that is the mentality.

In addition, I do agree that we tend to greatly undervalue ourselves. I know I thought that I would get C's and D's when I entered college. I used to think that if you went to college, or whatever, you must be a genius. It came as quite a surprise to find out I was an A student.

I'd like to add something to what you said though. I am of the opinion that we greatly undervalue ourselves, not just in general majors, but specifically in Math majors. I believe STRONGLY that us Mexicans, and probably most other latinos, have a strong inclination towards everything math related (God bless the Aztecs!!!). I know that is certainly the case with me, and I have witnessed this time and time again with other Mexicans. So I don't really recommend my friends to go into Law, or even doctors, those majors require alot of writing and given our bilingual background, they will add an extra layer of difficulty to our studies(although I still think we can overcome it, my only point here is to contrast it to the sciences). But this is not the case in the sciences. I firmly believe that if more of us went into the sciences, the majors that many people think are the hardest, we will find it very fullfilling and almost easy. Like Asians, we seem to be wired towards math majors.

My sister, for example, is thirteen years old and has a very easy time in math. She said it is her easiest course work, and when I have tutored her on advanced topics, she catches on much faster than college kids I tutored. Over dinner once I asked her what she wanted to be and she said a lawyer, and I asked her why a lawyer when she loves and is so good at math. She didn't know, she was just going off of what the teachers and students in the class were encouraging. So I made it my goal to open her eyes to the beauty and variety of science/math majors.

I think we have lost alot of Albert Einsteins and Stephen Hawkings to other majors and careers simply because we didn't have enough faith in ourselves, and didn't reach for the top. I am trying as hard as I can to change this, for my sister, and everybody else that I know.

On a side note, you mention that you are "pretty liberal", yet I have been reading your blog for sometime now, and can't find anything particularly liberal in your posts. I am curious, what would you say makes you liberal?

12:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fijate que my friends and I had the EXACT SAME conversation one day at lunch about the Newlyweds show. LOL! I thought we were the only ones who caught that!

I once ate at an Aranda's in Houston... It was okay, although my mom could have just made what we had at home...

I read somewhere that your grandma is from El Refugio, Queretaro.

My parents and grandparents are from there too. Have you been there? I love that place. Who is your grandmother? I wonder if my family knows her... Everyone there seems to know each other.

That's something.

9:19 PM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home