My Hispanic Side

It’s strange how a culture soaks into your bones. Yo estoy Hispanico. I am Hispanic, at least to some degree; and despite my Mum being from England and my Dad from Iowa (and a mix of Amish German-Swiss and Irish). How might this be? Well, it is partly an accident of birth and partly a choice. You see, I was born in a small farm town with a lot of Mexican folks who worked the fields and did other labor. The Bracero Program (imported labor) and all that.

But more importantly, significantly by choice. You see, as a kid I had a Best Friend who was an American Mexican. Born in the same town where I was born, so as American as me. But his family all spoke Spanish at home. He was Spanish American and I was English American as we both had First Generation American Mothers. My Mum did not have an American Citizenship until I was about 12. Prior to that, she had to renew her Green Card from time to time. To some extent I was less American than he was, as both his parents had been here longer than my Mum. (But my Dad was here longer…)

In any case, I spent a lot of time at his house watching things like Sabado Gigante (Giant Saturday – a variety and comedy show) and Zoro in Spanish. He spent time at my house learning to drink English Tea and finding out that dinner was not always served with Hot Sauce…

In the end, you have this English American White Guy who really likes Mexican food and loves Salsa Verde and this Mexican Guy who drinks tea with his pinky out and speaks an odd partly Queens English accented English.

But somewhere along the way I absorbed a fair amount of Hispanic culture. Not just making Tamales y Tacos in the kitchen with his Sister Margarita and Mama Celerina, but also the music and the attitudes about life. As a side note, one of my Sisters was an exchange student to Mexico City for a school year; so it isn’t just me ;-0

As a consequence of this (and of 6 years of Spanish in school from 5th Grade through 8th and then 2 more years in High School) I basically grew up 1/2 in the Mexican / Spanish world and language and 1/2 in the American / English / UK culture.

So at the end of the day, I tend to watch some number of Spanish Music Videos, I tend to sometimes watch Spanish shows and movies. I have a fondness for Mexican Food (that has also now branched out to include Puerto Rican, Cuban, and El Salvadorean food too…). And I love to surprise clerks in various stores when it is clear they are English As A Second language folks by suddenly swapping to Spanish ;-)

What can I say… A Big White Kid towering over shorter Mexican American kids knows he is not one of them; but I also know I am “of them” in a way. Yet the first time I felt “different” was when I was about 12 and a “cousin” ran into Miguel’s house and said “La Trucke Verde! INSe!” The Green Truck of the Imigration and Naturalization Service was coming. Miguel and several “cousins” headed out the back door (He was to lead them, knowing the neighborhood…). I got up to go with them, and Mama Celerina said “Miguel Grande! What you doing? YOU don’t need to run!” (See, her son was Miguel. I was Big Mike – Miguel Grande. His cousin was “Little Mike” Miguel pequeño… ) And suddenly I “was different”…

So I sat in the living room and gave the INS my best “Nobody here but us White Kid Gringos” pitch… I can still pull up the memory of their puzzled faces at “what is this incredibly white kid doing here?” look…

So that’s why you get these songs…. The English sort of version is just flat to me. Yes, it is Enrique Iglesias (a bi-lingual cross over guy), but just lacking in… something….

And yes, I’ve posted these songs before…

Here’s the same song and video in Spanish (but it isn’t my favorite, that’s at the end…)

Then there’s this version, live in a bar, that just leaves me wanting the original… It is just a lot more lame, made more so by the women in the bar singing the Spanish words (yes, I lip read in 2 languages…) while Enrique is saying the English…

The words in the first one are more or less the same meaning (turn on captions), but the emotional hook is just not as strong as in the original Spanish… even if half the song is in Spanish from Gente de Zona (the big Black Guy and his crew)… Plus, the English voicing is just not quite the same as the Spanish. Yes “Con Tigo” or “with you” carries over as does “Dance with you” and “live with you”… but somehow it is more dead than in Spanish. The third one is even less interesting as it is missing the dancers and context of the original. But it does have another English version of the words.

But, by far, my favorite is The Original. Minus Enrique Iglesias and PLUS a whole lot of “Local Talent” doing the dancing and such. It is just such a clean “We Can Do This” that it shines.

And yes, I know this is likely a duplicate of a posting from many years ago… but wine was involved and I’m watching these videos again, so…


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to My Hispanic Side

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Just for grins… I can’t imagine why some White Guy would want to embrace Hispanic culture and norms… /sarc;

  2. jim2 says:

    We North of the border were influenced by the English more, South of the border, by the Spanish. Both sides married/mated with the aboriginal inhabitants, so there are hybrids on both sides. Both like Texas a lot ;) Just about all of us like Mexican food and the offshoots like Southwestern, etc.

    We have more in common than we have differences.

    That said, I’m for legal immigration only. If Mexico weren’t so corrupt (not ignoring our own corruption), things would be better between us.

  3. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Some of us have been reading here a long time and certainly do recognize this post as a ‘rerun’.

    But you’ve picked up new readers who are not going to go back and read everything you have ever posted, so it doesn’t hurt a thing to do some repeat posts that introduce yourself to these new readers.

    Long-timers who caught the original posts can skim or skip the reruns or just enjoy them again. (Hey, we watch some movies more than once, don’t we?) But newer readers here should be given the same opportunity we had to get to know a bit about your background.

    And some of us are getting older and a bit forgetful, so if you write something that….
    … wait… what was I going to write about? ;o)

  4. bob sykes says:

    If your mom is from England (like my father’s parents), an DNA test might turn up some “iberian” ancestry, which is really Celtic. It happened to me.

  5. John Hultquist says:

    I’m fond of Linda Ronstadt
    Unfortunately, she experiences a medical condition (progressive supranuclear palsy) that ruined her voice.

  6. The True Nolan says:

    Best version of “Hotel California”? Gipsy Kings:

    @jim2: “That said, I’m for legal immigration only. ”

    I agree. What we have at present is the worse combination of governmental welfare and open borders. Either one, BY ITSELF, is not too bad — but the combination of both is deadly, fiscally and culturally. I like the US. And I like Mexico. I am all in favor of free trade and cultural exchanges on an organic, individual, or family basis. But I do not want a governmentally pushed blending of unchecked immigration to the US, no more than I would approve of moving 100 million Chinese into Mexico and wiping out Mexican culture.

    I prefer a world that has a Sweden that is Swedish, a Germany that reflects German culture, a Mexico that mirrors Mexican morals and beliefs, and a US that reflects our mixed but mostly European heritage. Most farmers know the danger of crop monoculture. When it works, it is efficient — but when it breaks, it breaks catastrophically, and all at once. The existence of differing cultures, governments, and people, is a safeguard for humanity. If one nation or culture goes full NAZI, the rest of the world can respond, but if all of humanity if one vast global culture, and that single culture goes to hell, then there are no safeguards.

    Viva Mexico! And long live all the rest of us as well.

  7. cdquarles says:

    Celts and Gaels and Gauls, oh my. ;p says the “American mutt” that has bits from lots of different places.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Bob Sykes:

    At one time I was enamored of the “wide spread” nature of my ancestry… English, Irish, German, and further back, Vikings to England,… then I worked out where each group came from. Turns out it is just a few miles each side of the English Channel.

    The Irish are the furthest away, being from the Atlantic side of the Island. The English bit were from near Liverpool. The ones I had thought were furthest away, the Amish from Switzerland… actually started out in Holland back when it was considered a kind of Germany part, and migrated to Switzerland first, then headed over to the USA. There’s reportedly a very small fraction of French in there, but nobody would say much about it. (something like 1/16…) Most likely because they just lost track at that small a fraction as it is 4 generations back. Then Vikings via Denmark are not that far away, and near the Angles & Saxons origin point.

    So now I mostly just admire the fact that all these people were really so close to each other along a coastal area. “They’ve Met”… Which makes another kind of sense too, as on Mum’s side of the family there were at least 3 generations of Merchant Marine Sailors floating around the place. One Uncle on a run to Australia liked it so much he stayed… so I’ve got some number of Australian cousins, 2nd cousins, 3 cousins, etc… An Aunt ended up on the east coast of Canada too. Dad’s side is less prone to wander with a large contingent in Iowa. But even there, one uncle went to Oregon, Dad to California, and some others spread out around the country.

    Oddly, Florida Friend has ancestry going back to Virginia at the start of the USA. My “Smith” name was traced back to a guy who worked iron and got off a boat in Virginia (before that, no clue other than genetics) in the 1700’s. So it turns out both our ancestors likely also met each other as horses needed shoes and so his ancestor likely went to my ancestor to get his horse shod. Virginia in the early 1700s not having a lot of port cities and all… Then a couple of generations later, we met in California…

    In Spanish history, you find odd bits like a General or two with Irish names. Seems that the Irish and the Iberian Celts had a lot of folks just move back and forth between the two lands. Irish oral history says it was founded by a Mil de Espania – Soldier or Spain… who saw the island from the coast of Spain and took a big boat of friends over…

    The wiki tends to Poo Poo the idea and claims it was all just made up. I’m more inclined to think it is some embellished version of real events (like, maybe Ireland was seen from a boat, not shore…). That “modern” historians, several generations and hundreds of years removed from the events, think they didn’t happen; just seems to me less useful that asking “what did people just a little time removed from events record?”.

    Míl Espáine

    In Irish origin myths, Míl Espáine or Míl Espáne (later Latinized as Milesius; also Miled/Miledh) is the mythical ancestor of the final inhabitants of Ireland, the “sons of Míl” or Milesians, who represent the vast majority of the Irish Gaels. His father was Bile, son of Breogan. Modern historians believe he is a creation of medieval Irish Christian writers.

    Name and origin

    Mark Williams characterises the name Míl Espáine as an “etymological figment” translated from the Latin mīles Hispaniae, meaning “soldier of Hispania (Spain)”, attested in a passage (§ 13) in the 9th-century pseudo-historical work Historia Brittonum (“The History of the Britons”) by Nennius.

    As A.G. van Hamel has suggested, the status of Iberia as the land of origin can be traced back to Isidore of Seville, who in the introduction to his history of the Goths, Vandals and Suebi had elevated Iberia/Hispania to the “mother of all races”. Another likely reason the Irish were said to come from Iberia was the mistaken belief that Hibernia, the Latin name of Ireland, came from Iberia/Hiberia. A further explanation may lie in the mistake made by some classical geographers in locating Ireland closely opposite Iberia. For instance, the Lebar Gabála (§ 100) recounts that from Bregon’s Tower, the Milesian Íth was able to see right across the sea to Ireland. In Galician history, that tower is the Torre de Hercules in A Coruña, Galicia.

    The fact is that for generations the folks in Ireland and Spain fairly freely traded folks back and forth. The fishermen and other sailors / traders had regular runs back and forth, and as late as the 1800’s you find folks with Irish names in the Spanish military.

    For example:

    O’Donnell (1769 – 17 May 1834)
    O’Donojú (1762 – 8 October 1821)
    (General) Zaragoza (First Siege of) – PoW O’Donojú was appointed minister of war by the Cortes of Cádiz.
    O’Neill (8 January 1736 – 9 December 1814)
    O’Neylle (1765 – 24 February 1809)

    Enrique José O’Donnell y Anatar, conde de La Bisbal or (English: Henry Joseph O’Donnell) (1769 – 17 May 1834) was a Spanish general of Irish descent who fought in the Peninsular War.

    O’Donnell was born in San Sebastián, a descendant of the Irish noble dynasty of O’Donnell of Tyrconnell who left Ireland after the Battle of the Boyne, A member of the branch of the family that settled in Austria, General Karl O’Donnell Count of Tyronnel (1715–1771), held important commands during the Seven Years’ War. His father was Joseph O’Donnell y O’Donnell (1722–1787), Colonel of the Spanish Infantry Regiment of Ireland, Lieutenant General of the Spanish Army, and his mother was Mariana de Anethan y Mareshal, of Luxemburg.

    So because of all the gene flow back and forth between Ireland and Spain (both formal with names and, um, “informal sailors”… ) any genetic test that claims you can be pegged to one or the other is kind of silly. Europe has been a giant genetic melting pot for centuries before the USA came along. The Roman Empire alone had large groups of folks moved all over the place, from armies to slaves and more… they put the Jews in Spain as a way to quiet down the Jewish part of the empire… See:

    Hispania came under Roman control with the fall of Carthage after the Second Punic War (218–202 BCE). Exactly how soon after this time Jews made their way onto the scene is a matter of speculation. It is within the realm of possibility that they went there under the Romans as free men to take advantage of its rich resources and build enterprises there. These early arrivals would have been joined by those who had been enslaved by the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, and dispersed to the extreme west during the period of the Jewish-Roman War, and especially after the defeat of Judea in 70. The Jewish historian, Josephus, confirms that as early as 90 CE there was already a Jewish diaspora in Europe, made-up of the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Thus, he writes in his Antiquities:

    “ …there are but two tribes in Asia (Turkey) and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now and are an immense multitude.”

    One questionable estimate places the number carried off to Spain at 80,000. Subsequent immigrations came into the area along both the northern African and southern European sides of the Mediterranean.

    Among the earliest records which may refer specifically to Jews in Spain during the Roman period is Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Many have taken Paul’s intention to go to Spain to minister the gospel to indicate the presence of Jewish communities there,[35] as well as Herod’s banishment to Spain by Caesar in 39 (Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 2.9.6). So too, the Mishna implied that there was a Jewish community in Spain, and that there was communication with the Jewish community in Israel.

    And it wasn’t just Jews that the Romans moved around…

    So I probably could get some gene test done, but it is the interpretation of it that is very problematic. Even if it says I’m R1b Y chromosome (highly likely), that only says where the male side came from; and ignores all their wives over the generations. You could be a Black African and have an R1b Y chromosome if 10,000 years ago some Celt male visited Africa and left that gene behind. All the rest of the genes being Black African after that many generations. (There is genetic evidence for a Central Asian origine of agriculture that spread South & West through North Africa, along with a history of Redheads and Blue Eyes – including some Egyptian Pharoes… all about 10,000 to 3,000 years ago.)

    R1b in Africa?

    Surprisingly, the R1b haplogroup is found in some black African tribes at high frequency. This is the case of the Hausa tribe of Sudan. The tribe reached 40.6% in a study of 32 samples, according to American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
    I was going to say the same, but you beat me to it. Specifically, the African subclade of R1b (V88) was probably the first to diverge. European R1b (M269) is closer with the Central Asian clade (M73) than the African one. It’s also pretty moot to associate R1b-V88 with any ethnolinguistic group, since the split certainly predates the formation of any known language families, including Afro-Asiatic.

    It’s certainly interesting that this was some kind of migration back to Africa (because R1b certainly originated in Asia, either in Central Asia or the Middle East), though.

    So given that people have been wandering the planet and leaving their genes behind for tens of thousands of years, I find the whole “Ancestry via genetic testing” thing a bit silly. IF you test with the R1b gene, they tend to say “Oh, you are Celtic or Irish”, because the strongest present density is there; but look at a map of distribution and you see it is present all over in some density.

    The whole Ancestry DNA thing can tell you that you are some percent Celt just because the gene pattern has some similarity to Celts; even if you are from Turkey or Central Asia (or parts of Africa…). Why? Because genes flow around the population of the planet even as the cultures, languages, and nationalities come and go. Any given gene can move through a population because it is in some way a benefit. There’s a cranial bone gene found in something like 1/3 of the population. It came from the Neanderthals… yet we are not 1/3 Neanderthal.

    That’s one of the strangest things I learned about genetics. It is that individual GENES move around the planet, even if the population of people does not… It just takes a lot of generations…

  9. The True Nolan says:

    @EM: “as late as the 1800’s you find folks with Irish names in the Spanish military”

    Not just the Irish, and often on either side depending on who was paying better. My wife once edited a biography of a Scottish military man, General Gregor MacGregor, who fought alongside Simon Bolivar in South America. He afterwards came to Florida to overthrow the Spanish, and established a VERY short lived Republic of the Floridas in the far NE corner of Florida at Amelia Island. At the time, the last thing the US wanted was to get dragged into a war with the Spanish, so President Monroe sent a US warship to Amelia Island to put down the revolution and hand things (peacefully!) back to Spain. Things went downhill from there… As Wiki says:

    “He captured Amelia Island in 1817 under a mandate from revolutionary agents to conquer Florida from the Spanish, and there proclaimed a short-lived “Republic of the Floridas”. He then oversaw two calamitous operations in New Granada during 1819 that each ended with his abandoning British volunteer troops under his command. On his return to Britain in 1821, MacGregor claimed that King George Frederic Augustus of the Mosquito Coast in the Gulf of Honduras had created him Cazique of Poyais, which he described as a developed colony with a community of British settlers. When the British press reported on MacGregor’s deception following the return of fewer than 50 survivors in late 1823, some of his victims leaped to his defence, insisting that the general had been let down by those whom he had put in charge of the emigration party. A French court tried MacGregor and three others for fraud in 1826 after he attempted a variation on the scheme there, but convicted only one of his associates. Acquitted, MacGregor attempted lesser Poyais schemes in London over the next decade. In 1838, he moved to Venezuela, where he was welcomed back as a hero. He died in Caracas in 1845, aged 58, and was buried with full military honours in Caracas Cathedral.”

    Ah, well. A happy ending at least!

  10. Ossqss says:

    Still the most popular, by a long shot>.

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