Mexamerica: a new Book That Could Explain why Cinco de Mayo is not Purely Mexican and not Purely American

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By: Adriana Ruggiero
Image: Shutterstock
Version en español, aquí.

Even though in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in a very low-key manner, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is seen as THE day to celebrate Mexican food, culture, and traditions. Of course, it’s also a great excuse to enjoy some Mexican drinks.

However, some argue that it’s more an American marketing strategy than a real Mexican tradition. But, could this day be seen more as a Mexican-American tradition? Or should I say, a Mexamerican tradition?

In any case, I think that with the significant population of Mexican descent living in the US, it makes sense to celebrate Mexican culture, just as Saint Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate Irish culture. That’s why I interviewed Journalist and Author Fey Berman on her new book “Mexamerica.”

Fey, a Mexican who has lived in New York City for over 30 years, identify herself as Mexamerican. Just as described on her website, the book “Mexamérica” “reveals that the Mexican-American community, the longest and largest diaspora on the planet, is a diverse and multifaceted community, no longer purely Mexican and not purely American.” And those are the ones building a new culture in the US, the “Mexamerican” culture.

Fey explains that Mexamericans are impacting America in a very positive way in multiple areas. But she also points out that because of the emergency around the part of this group that is undocumented, the accomplishments and achievements of the entire group tend to fade out in the news and the national conversation about people of Mexican origin.

She also adds that this situation somehow also extends to all Latinos in the US, and for that reason, she hopes her book will become an empowerment tool not only for “Mexamericans” but all Latinos in the US.


Watch the interview:


Read the interview:

Adriana: I’m here today with Fey Berman. Fey is a journalist and also a writer.

“Mexican American” or “Meximericana”? You are going to have to help me out with that term!

Fey: “Mexamerican”

Adriana: What do you call yourself?

Fey: Well just like we say “African American”, eh … I thought it sounded better to me “Mexamerican.”

Adriana: And that is precisely where I would like to start. That will be my first question. But first, I would like to mention to all the people who are going to be watching this interview, that it is about this book that you just published, which is the one we have on your screen. This book is about a rising culture. In fact, we can see that the cover has an egg with the American and the Mexican flags. So, what does “Mexamerica” mean?

Fey: The idea is that for a long time, people from Mexico would come and go. That situation is over. Most of the people of Mexican origin were born in the United States. From the immigrant group, more than half are legal residents. So, this “Mexamerica” is comprised by people who live and have deep roots in the US, and also have connections not only in this country but also in Mexico and some even globally. And we do not talk about this group, because there is not an emergency around them.

Adriana: Who are they? What are the characteristics of “Mexamericans”?

Fey: Well, the thing is that people who have been in Chicago or Los Angeles for 20 or 30 years, that have emigrated and are in contact with other minority groups, who have been here for so long, and are adapting to this society, to the “American way of life”: can no longer be considered just Mexicans who live in the “gringo” territory.

We are 37 million people that include scientists, businessmen, artists, academics…

Adriana: What would be the difference between the terms “Mexamerican” and “Chicanos”?

Fey: The term “Chicano” was used for a while. It refers to a political movement within a specific time. In fact, many of the Chicano studies programs are changing now to the term “Latino” or “Latinx,” because “Chicano” is also very local. That situation is different now. I mean, we’re not just only in California. We are in Missouri, Long Island, Utah…

Adriana: There are three very important references on the back cover of your book, but there is one that grabbed my attention, by Jorge Ramos. He says that “this is a book of discovery that allows us to see everything that Trump and his rhetoric want to hide.” I would like to ask you: Is this is a controversial book?

Fey: I do not think it’s a controversial book … I think it’s a book that reveals these people, a reality that is quite obvious, but that we do not usually talk about because we are very focused on the situation of the undocumented.

Adriana: And why do all Latinos, or “Mexamericans”, need to read your book?

Fey: Well, for now, you can buy it on Amazon, and it’s also on Ebook. And I think it’s an important book because it refutes this caricature that we’re here only to steal jobs and that we do not have an education. And the impact generated, by us becoming more empowered, would be very important. Not only for the US, but also for Mexico and even for the rest of Latin America.

 

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