¡Ask a Mexican! 

Special Guadalupe Edition

Dear Readers: Bienvenidos to 2007, a year I promise will bring even more Mexicans across our nation's borders! And a bienvenidos to Salt Lake City Weekly, the latest member of the Mexican's family. Note to weak-kneed publishers: If a rag in Utah can run this column, why can't yours? As a token of goodwill to my new Mormon friends, the following questions deal with the One True Faith: the Virgin of Guadalupe!

Dear Mexican: How did the patron saint of México get a name derived from Arabic?

El Moro Judío

Dear Jewish Moor: You're referring to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the brown-skinned apparition of the Virgin Mary whom tradition says appeared before the Aztec peasant Juan Diego in December 1531 just outside modern-day Mexico City. As you correctly noted, Guadalupe's etymological roots spring from Arabic: the name is a mishmash of the Arabic word for valley (wadi) and the Latin lupus (wolf), and was what the Moors called a river in the Extremadura region of Spain. Hernán Cortés and his merry band of murderous Extremadurans venerated a Black Madonna found near their hometown river, so it's no stretch to theorize that any Holy Mother appearing before a bunch of Mexicans on the conquistador's watch would assume the nombre of Guadalupe.

But another school of thought favored by many Mexican and Chicano scholars argues that Guadalupe got her name thanks to Spanish stupidity. They maintain that Spanish clerics misunderstood Juan Diego when he told them la virgen called herself Tlecuauhtlapcupeuh ("She who comes flying from the region of light and music and intones a song, like the eagle of fire" in Nahuatl) and Coatlaxopeuh ("I crushed the serpent with my foot"). The two terms are rough homonyms of Guadalupe, goes the tale, and so the Spaniards assumed Juan Diego meant their goddess and renamed his brown virgin Guadalupe. The problem with this revisionist theory, however, is that it has no basis in historical fact. The German theologian Richard Nebel pointed out in his 1992 study Holy Mary Tonantzin Virgin of Guadalupe: Religious Continuity and Transformation in Mexico, "Until today, no one has found any document from the 16th century in which one can verify the Nahuatl phonetic origins of the word that the Spaniards supposedly thought resembled 'Guadalupe.'" Besides, the idea of an Islamic-derived Guadalupe is better. Imagine how freaked out gabachos will get when they discover that the Empress of the Americas is part Muslim!

Can the December 12 roundups be construed as just your everyday harassment and discrimination against Mexicans by a corrupt government and corporate slave masters hell-bent on intimidation?

Gabacho Blood, Mexican Heart

Dear Gabacho: Sí. America is still chattering about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids last month at six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants that nabbed about 1,300 illegal immigrants. Reactions fell along the same tired lines: anti-immigrant pendejos applauded the government for tearing families apart and messing with our free-market economy, while the amnesty crowd howled at the government for enforcing immigration law. But this Mexican doesn't believe the sweeps signify the start of something sinister, as some Mexican activists fear. Raids are an accepted part of Mexican life in the States: I remember playing a version of hide-and-go-seek as a child that involved someone shouting "¡La migra!" and everyone else scattering. For folks to act surprised that the government dared chase after illegals is arrogant at best, ignorant at worst. I will fault la migra for one thing, though: choosing the feast day of Guadalupe to carry out the beaner busts. Hell, even the Nazis had the decency to not stage Kristallnacht during the Sabbath.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in Columns

  • ¡Ask a Mexican!

    Putting a name to a crazy, mixed-up heritage.
    • Sep 26, 2007
  • ¡Ask a Mexican!

    Ask a Mexican
    • Sep 12, 2007
  • ¡Arriba, Arriba!

    "Speedy González is the most misunderstood Mexican since your gardener."
    • Sep 5, 2007
  • More »

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

  • The Express' November 2018 Endorsement Guide

    We endorse Schaaf, Ezzy Ashcraft, and Butt; along with Fortunato Bas, Thao, Middleton, and Whitaker for Oakland council and Knox White and Oddie for Alameda council.
  • A Guide to Oakland's Ballot Measures

    Six measures on the November ballot include new taxes, tax breaks, changes to existing taxes, worker and tenant protections, and education funding.
  • The Fight Over Rent Control

    Tenants are pushing to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, which strictly limits local rent control. But landlords are spending big to beat Prop. 10.
  • A New Berkeley Council?

    With two longtime councilmembers retiring and two vulnerable newcomers defending their seats, half of the city council could be gone next year.
  • Role Reversals in the Oakland Mayor's Race

    In the Oakland mayor's race, the normally staid Libby Schaaf has come out swinging, while one of her top challengers, the usually brash Cat Brooks, is acting more like a Fortune 500 CEO.

Special Reports

Fall Arts 2018

Our Picks for the Best Events of the Fall Arts Season

The Queer & Trans Issue 2018

Stories about creating safe spaces in the Queer and Trans community.

© 2018 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation