[Marxism] Re.: Flaco?

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Sun Feb 8 12:51:29 MST 2004

Ola, Paul,
¡Ay, primo!
(as I might happily shout if I was a Dominicano, even though the called
needn't be a genuine blood relative):

Funny story about your corpulent cousin.  I, too, have lived in Latin
America, and have relatives, currently, who are Latino/a.  When I first
moved to Manhattan my first friends were all Latinos (we shared a
certain status).  My first acquaintance was on the job site with a
Puerto Rican guy called "Yooniore" an English approximation of how they
pronounced "Junior".  He introduced me to Chucho, a Colombian guy from
whom I rented a room on the Upper West Side.  That was back before the
Best Side really went to the gentry (as in "went to the dogs", yes, I
consciously make that allusion--after realizing its similarity--it seems
quite apt). In the neighborhood corner store there was a Venezuelan guy
everybody called Chino, although he had an Afro, and didn't appear
particularly Asian to me, and typically wore dungarees (as guys from
that neighborhood called blue jeans).

As per:
"...it's a question of ethnocentrism ... derision."

Try, as I must, I still don't see how I personally can get out from
under any such charges of subjectivity in this arena, enmeshed and
imbedded as I am in some kind of social and cultural view from my own
cultural and social location.  I do my best to diminish chauvinism in
myself, however, and in others.  I hope I am not too insensitive in my
efforts.  For example, some might (as has happened to me) advise that
chauvinism is a precious cultural element in a particular identity and
therefore sacrosanct.  I have heard a similar argument from postmodern
multiculturalists (as opposed to the Marxist variety) put forward to
defend clitorectomies, a practice I insist is nasty and repressive
despite the counter-insistence that it’s a cultural tradition, a
distinctive heritage, and a powerful rite of passage eagerly anticipated
by all those involved.  I’ve also heard it argued that in a realm of
free speech we must welcome and celebrate even those insular entities
sworn to abolish all liberties for others, e.g., Nazi storm troopers.
It may seem to you that I have swerved off on a tangent, as I freely
admit I am prone to do, especially when I give free reign to my creative
impulses (oops!), but I think a creative reader would discern --in what
I have written above-- a spread of relative ethnocentricities from the
fairly benign to the most malicious.

P.S.: Where did you live in Chile?  I stayed in a small fishing village
called Las Cruces. At this time of year the population explodes,
families trooping in caravans to the beach with coolers, soccer balls,
blankets, and big umbrellas, youths singing and carousing into the wee
hours, Carabiñeros zooming around on dirt bikes.  In the off season the
place is quiet except for the sounds of the wind like from an old
Spaghetti Western, a door creaking somewhere on rusty hinges, the stores
all boarded up except for one or two that serve the few locals,
wrecked-looking feral dogs sniffing around, tails between their legs.  I
was "El Gringo".

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