Mexican-American Disambiguation – José Olivarez

my parents are Mexican who are not

to be confused with Mexican-Americans

or Chicanos. i am a Chicano from Chicago

which means i am a Mexican-American

with a fancy college degree & a few tattoos.

my parents are Mexican who are not

to be confused with Mexicans still living

in México. those Mexicans call themselves

Mexicanos. white folks at parties call them

pobrecitos. American colleges call them

international students & diverse. my mom

was white in México & my dad was mestizo

& after they crossed the border they became

diverse. & minorities. & ethnic. & exotic.

but my parents call themselves Mexicanos,

who, again, should not be confused for Mexicanos

living in México. those Mexicanos might call

my family gringos, which is the word my family calls

white folks & white folks call my parents interracial.

colleges say put them on a brochure.

my parents say que significa esa palabra.

i point out that all the men in my family

marry lighter skinned women. that’s the Chicano

in me. which means it’s the fancy college degrees

in me, which is also diverse of me. everything in me

is diverse even when i eat American foods

like hamburgers, which to clarify, are American

when a white person eats them & diverse

when my family eats them. so much of America

can be understood like this. my parents were

undocumented when they came to this country

& by undocumented, i mean sin papeles, &

by sin papeles, i mean royally fucked which

should not be confused with the American Dream

though the two are cousins. colleges are not

looking for undocumented diversity. my dad

became a citizen which should not be confused

with keys to the house. we were safe from

deportation, which should not be confused

with walking the plank. though they’re cousins.

i call that sociology, but that’s just the Chicano

in me who should not be confused with the diversity

in me or the Mexicano in me who is constantly fighting

with the upwardly mobile in me who is good friends

with the Mexican-American in me who the colleges

love, but only on brochures, who the government calls


my parents call mijo even when i don’t come home so much.

from Tumblr