Thursday, June 4, 2009

A word to new visitors

This Blog seems to be getting a lot of attention because of a link posted on the NY Times blog by Matt Gross in a article he wrote about me and other travellers, ("bums" as some of the commenters on there would say). I've been getting a lot of positive feedback from people which I truly appreciate, and some negativity, which I completely understand. One commenter on the article accused me of being insensitive and even racist in some of my posts about Mexico and Mexican people. That I would like to respond to.
First of all, new visitors here should know that up until now this blog was pretty much only read by people that know me (my hit count is up 253.33% since yesterday) and know my sense of humor, which is ruthless and sometimes offends. People who know me and read this blog also come with the pre-knowledge that despite my sometimes harsh tone, I am filled with love and deep respect for virtually every culture and people that I have had the honor to be the guest of. If I make flippant offensive remarks they are almost always based in the affection and wonderment I have for people and the strange world they have made.
As for what I said specifically about Mexican people that offended at least one person was about how eating Chicharrons while watching a passion play couldn't "be any more Mexican". If that commenter had read on he would have also read something I wrote earlier about "the quitoxic mix of sentimentality and irony that Mexicans have for their own culture", which is a feeling that I sort of share, as much as you can as an outsider. One thing that impressed me over and over while travelling in Mexico was the Mexican people's self-awareness and sense of humor about themselves and "Mexicaness". While I know that it is sort of inappropriate for a gabacho to make these kind of jokes, while in Mexico I was so entrenched with my Mexican friends that I started to joke around just like them about the culture that they loved/hated and typified.
That being said I don't think there is or should be anything wrong with being stereotypically and proudly Mexican. Now that I'm back in the States I miss those folks and their loud, funny, ancient, sacred and profane culture the way I sometimes miss Americans and their big stupid trucks, big egos, big food and arrogance when I am away for too long. There is something funny and adorable about all peoples and cultures, and I would expect that a Mexican would be one of the first laughing at others and themselves.
There is a way you can joke about a people and place only when you have gotten to know it well and fallen a bit in love. Although these jokes can sometimes sound mean or offensive to some, I would say the truly offensive thing would be to never get to know those cultures at all.


  1. Hi there Emerson!

    Came to your blog through NY Times and funny that the first post I read is about negativity of people who are ignorant. I came to read lots of rude comments in other sites this week and most of them in a particular news web site in Brazil, that has been reporting about the tragic accident involving the Air France flight to Paris. As a Brazilian and having many friends from different cultures, I think it's appalling the small mind and ignorance of some people. They sure have the right to express their opinions, but they should be more conscious about what and how they write.

    Have said that, I just wanted to say that I am enjoying your blog so far and will keep reading on!

    Take care!


  2. that is a great response. glad you wrote that. i just came upon your blog after reading matt gross' blog post also. hope you have a good trip next winter!

  3. well said, brothaman. congrats on the huge spike in your blog attendance - your writing really deserves to be read and enjoyed (not to mention your music) so i'm gald you've been able to reach a wider audience!