Meaning in a bumper sticker 

Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: What's up with the bull stickers on the truck doors? Is this a secret business, something earned at some unmentionable contest south of the border, or a brotherhood of sorts? I thought about taking Spanish lessons so I could politely ask one of these guys.

— Native Californian Whitey

Dear Gabacho: The bull sticker is no cloak-and-dagger marker. Toros on trucks are just cultural archetypes, a manifestation of Jung's theory that recurring characters, festivals and monuments in society represent a shared memory from its collective unconscious. Americans decorate their lives with such motifs: lawns (reminder of — take your pick — the savannahs of our African roots, English manors or the open prairie from the frontier days), Thanksgiving (ceremony honoring our Puritan forefathers) and the continued popularity of Mickey Mouse (signifies our fascination with the trickster). Likewise, Mexicans consider the bull a reminder of the rancho they left behind, of the life that will never return. Besides, as cultural archetypes go, a bull sticker is one of the best. Consider the attributes of the animal on display: ferocity, virility, protection, horns. It's everything a culture wishes its members could be — and so much better than the silly shamrock or "RSM" city-initials decal on your Scion, no?

Dear Mexican: I've often wondered how Mexicans would react if 25 million piss-poor Chinamen snuck into Mexico and took up residence. Would they be greeted with open arms? Or would they be greeted by armed men? And I'd bet a sack of pesos they wouldn't be given free health care, free schooling and Mexican driver's licenses, either.

— Bicoastal Curious

Dear Gabacha: Damn straight we'd kick those chinos down to Guatemala. In fact, Mexican-on-Chinese violence is one of Mexico's darkest legacies, on par with the Conquest and the donkey show. Mexican government officials used the pandemonium of the Mexican Revolution to discriminate against, evict and sometimes even massacre entire Chinese communities in a strategy known as el movimiento anti-chino. "Leaders of the anti-Chinese movement promulgated a wide array of invidious legislation, including discriminatory labor laws and public health circulars, anti-miscegenation laws, and residential segregation laws," writes UCLA's Dr. Robert Chao Romero, a Yorba Linda-based attorney and the country's leading authority on the Chinese in Mexico.

The Mexican Anti-Chinese Movement was understandable — Chinese immigrants worked hard, built successful businesses, established themselves in civic life and made the natives in their adopted country look like the lazy pendejos they were. So what I'm trying to say, Bicoastal Curious, is that I get why you and so many gabachos hate Mexicans.

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net. Be his fan on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano! If you're puzzled by some of the Mexican's lingo, head to the ¡Ask a Mexican! Glossary at bit.ly/1judthF. We've also found culturally astute definitions in the Urban Dictionary, urbandictionary.com.

  • The bull sticker is no cloak-and-dagger marker.


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