Love the Beans, Hate the Beaner

Love the Beans, Hate the Beaner

One of the greatest stories I ever worked on involved neo-Nazis and burritos.

A couple of years back, I put four white supremacists in prison. They had made the mistake of going into the Slater Slums of Huntington Beach, the city’s traditional barrio, to kill a random Mexican. They got as far as stabbing a man before the Slater Slums smackdown began: The community came out from their apartments and kicked the shit out of the KKKlowns—a beatdown of wonderful, ironic proportions. Not a single Mexican was arrested; the Candy Ass Gang, as we called them, went away for years, convicted on hate crimes.

I discovered that the crime was premeditated, announced on a white-power Internet radio show just weeks before. But I also discovered that the attackers loved Mexican food: A bunch of pictures a source forwarded to me showed the pendejos in various states of devouring burritos and tacos from Del Taco, the Mexican fast-food chain that’s known for being better than that Taco Bell mierda.

Race traitors? Hardly. Just following American policy: Hate the Mexican, love the Mexican food, assault the Mexican, get your ass handed to you by Mexicans. This has been America’s experience with Mexicans, a cycle of justice that must be remembered when considering what’s happening to this country right now in the wake of SB 1070 and its many copycats. Those Know-Nothing politicians, judges, and voters who pass law after law trying to stop Mexicans from asserting themselves in this country are like King Canute commanding the tide to stop: The game is already over. We beat you with our Mexican food long ago, and we’re going to beat you on SB 1070 as well.

Although the dinner table may seem an unlikely battleground, you’ve got to know your history, kids. Food is one of the first things a conquering group demonizes when trying to repress a smaller group. The Spaniards tried to wean the Aztecs off tortillas and onto bread, to no avail. During the Mexican-American War, urban legend had it that animals wouldn’t eat the corpses of fallen Mexican soldiers due to the high chile content in the decaying flesh.

Similar knocks against Mexican food can be heard to this day in the lurid tourist tales of “Montezuma’s Revenge” and in the many food-based ethnic slurs still in circulation: beaner, greaser, pepper belly, taco bender, roach coach, and so many more. “Aside from diet,” the acclaimed borderlands scholar Américo Paredes wrote in 1978, “no other aspect of Mexican culture seems to have caught the fancy of the Anglo coiner of derogatory terms for Mexicans.”

But that’s all an undercurrent in the larger story of Mexican food’s conquest of this country to the tune of billions of dollars: tacos, tequila, hot sauce, chili, Chipotle, Rick Bayless, and so much more. If America had truly been successful in its anti-Mexican campaigns over the past 150 years, it would have eradicated our cuisine a la the dishes of all the Native American tribes we exiled to permanent ethnic curiosity. It’s not as though politicians haven’t been down this road before: Dudley Do-Rights have long tried to ban street vendors, taco trucks, cottage-food industries, and other Mexican culinary traditions from suburbs and cities alike, only to see the common American repudiate them again and again.

And that’s what’s going to happen with SB 1070. It will go down as did California’s Proposition 187, which sought to make all government workers migra agents but later was declared unconstitutional. It’ll fail like the mass deportations of Operation Wetback in the 1950s and those that occurred during the Great Depression—government mandates that Mexicans and the Americans who hire them quickly ignored. It’ll fall like Los Angeles—once one of the most gabacho big cities in the United States, now run by a hell of a lot of Mexicans and their obsequious gabacho counterparts.

Hell, even Tom Tancredo loves Mexican food. The notorious anti-Mexican former Colorado congressman debated me about assimilation in Denver during the fall of 2010. And what did we eat before the philosophical fisticuffs? Tamales.

America: If Tom Tancredo, who did his damnedest to stop Mexicans from coming into this country and left a failed legacy on that front, admitted defeat with each bite of a millennia-old meal, then so will you. Don’t worry: We’ll be nice. And we’ll make sure to add an extra shot of tequila to your frozen margarita when the courts, either now or in a decade or two, realize that SB 1070 is the Plessy v. Ferguson of the 21st century, and overturn this pendejada. In the meantime, keep stuffing your face with tacos!

Gustavo Arellano is editor-in-chief of OC Weekly and the author of the syndicated “Ask a Mexican” column. His latest book is Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

File photo/Sound Publishing
Ban on single-use plastic bags in WA begins Oct. 1

Shoppers will have the choice to pay for a reusable plastic or recycled paper bag.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

file photo
Housing and finance insiders call for subsidized housing families can own, instead of rent

Advocates say increasing homeownership will strengthen the community, build intergenerational wealth

Map of proposed landfill expansion sites (screenshot from King County website)
Waste management expert knocks county’s plan to expand landfill

The waste management advocate said the decision to expand seems pre-determined despite assessment.

file photo
State employees including first responders sue state over vaccine mandate

The lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 90 plaintiffs claims Inslee’s order is unconstitutional.

Pixabay photo
Union carpenters to go on strike, expected to impact Eastside Microsoft projects

Members authorized strike after rejecting AGC offer for the fourth time.

file photo
The state’s hospitals face “unprecedented collapse” amid COVID uptick warn healthcare unions

Union spokeperson says understaffing was a problem even before the pandemic.

Gov. Jay Inslee talks about schools reopening during a past news conference. (Screenshot courtesy of TVW)
Masks required at big outdoor events; vaccine mandates expanded

Governor’s mask order takes effect Sept. 13.

Pixabay image
King County is looking for community members to help oversee law enforcement accountability

Community Advisory Committee for Law Enforcement Oversight is in need of applicants.

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
Why burning our trash may not be as bad as it sounds

Understanding waste-to-energy’s financial and environmental impact in King County.

People hold up signs in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations during a Rally for Medical Freedom on Aug. 25 in Buckley. Photo by Alex Bruell/Sound Publishing
State workers get incentive to comply with vaccine mandate

An agreement between the state and their union also provides for some leeway in meeting the deadline.