Off the MAP
Daniel Hernandez woke up one day and thought himself a Prince. As a writer, he wondered how he could convince the world of this brilliant revelation. Why, write an article, of course! But it needed a socially relevant twist. Then he remembered that not only is he a Prince, but he is also Mexican-American. Hence the birth of the MAP [“¡Mas Suave!,” April 13–19].
What is a MAP? Hernandez dedicated page after page to this mythical creature in the L.A. Weekly. MAP shout-outs in his article include Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, actor Mario Lopez, singer Ritchie Valens and boxer Oscar de la Hoya. The writer salutes men with whom he aspires to share Princehood. Apart from this criterion, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what constitutes a MAP.
As a Mexican American Queen (MAQ), I am here to read between the lines and bring some clarity to this nebulous creature. Hernandez’s MAPs are men who still use the “H” word (Hispanic), are blissfully assimilated to American culture, use their cultural capital (or Mexican background) to pull at heartstrings and get ahead without necessarily giving back to the communities they come from, and belong to the High-spanic economic upper crust.
Who they are not reveals just as much. Consider who is banished from the kingdom: day laborers, undocumented citizens, actual lowriders and mechanics, dark-skinned Mexican-Americans, and that iconic lazy Mexican who proverbially leans against a cactus to nap.
Hernandez’s article can be read as an innocent and humorous exercise playing on a Mexican-American type that decorates the covers of Hispanic and Ciudad magazines. Funny, until it becomes evident that his definition is all-around elitist. If his point is to construct a new stereotype, one that is “positive” and authored by a Mexican-American himself, then congratulations to Prince Hernandez for reproducing the gringo model of dealing with people of color through simplistic lenses. Positive or negative, I don’t appreciate new stereotypes to qualify the men of my culture.
Readers of this article will inevitably be standing at a party or sipping mojitos at a bar and attempt to describe a MAP in their own language. Let’s hope in the process more racist and classist attitudes are not perpetuated. Just imagine: “I’m dating a MAP, not a wetback!” Or, “A MAP is the opposite of a lazy Mexican.” Get my drift? We can’t control what people will do with our images, words and inventions, so as writers and artists it’s safer to be responsible.
I loved Daniel Hernandez’s article on the MAPs. Having worked as an assistant city attorney for more than 30 years before retiring last May, I know most of the individuals highlighted. Huizar and his Princeton ties was hilarious. Tony Castro did a similar article in the ’80s about the Golden Palominos. Castro described how Alatorre, Torres, Polanco and others conspired to keep Gloria Molina and other Latinas from sharing the Latino political power. One thing that did slip by in “Milestones in MAP History” was his citing 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia and not mentioning Joe Kapp (Cal and the Minnesota Vikings) or Jim Plunkett (Stanford, the Patriots and the Raiders). Lots of history. Thanks!
Near the Boiling Point
Ben Ehrenreich’s story “The Minuteman’s Tale” [April 20–26] seemed very one-sided. I agree that Jim Gilchrist is not an articulate speaker. Since he’s not a professional organizer, I am sure he has made his share of mistakes. The bias that I picked up from Ehrenreich’s article is the typical downplaying of the underlying discontent that is fomenting in our society. Many people are fed up with runaway illegal immigration and all its negative impacts. Health care, jails, prisons, schools are all being severely affected. Whether Ben wants to recognize this or not, a day of reckoning is coming. Many Americans are fed up with representatives who don’t represent the voters. I was just glad someone finally spoke up for the common man. But it’s okay that one of the few voices of the silent majority is silenced. Without an outlet to speak their views, the pressure to clean house in government just might be at a boiling point by the time the election comes around.