“Don’t Call Me Gringo You F**king Beaner” In C Minor

There’s a time to get angry about racism, and there’s a time to play along

Time To Read: 4 mins | January 12, 2017

Racism seems like a fun topic for a story. It’s definitely not a sensitive issue, especially not since our new orange President started signing executive orders faster than Dolores Umbridge popped out Educational Decrees at Hogwarts. No one has strong feelings about police violence and immigration and radical terrorism.

So yea, let’s definitely do a racism story.

 

{

We were on the sixth round, and slightly pissed off.

We’d only just realized that buying beer in buckets of five would have been more economical than our one-at-a-time approach. Which, in a cruel twist of fate, was probably the beer’s fault.

‘We’ were four strangers sitting outside a karaoke bar in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. There was myself, a Chinese girl who was hitchhiking through Central America, a Mexican tour guide vendor – that’s the guy who offers you a “special price, just for you!” whenever you pass the stalls on the main tourist drags – and a bisexual dance instructor named Pia. I can’t imagine why I remember her name, and not the other two. Odd.

I’d chatted up the Chinese girl earlier in a different bar. She had a guitar bigger than her sitting next to the table, and I asked what she could play. The tiny thing promptly whipped out the instrument and nailed the opening to ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica. I’ve never made a friend faster.

Shortly after, she started a conversation with the Mexican tour guide who’d been sitting nearby. He recommended the karaoke bar down the street, so we migrated, and along the way the dance instructor bummed a cigarette & tagged along.

Such is my social life.

Our rag tag group sat for a few hours swapping stories; where we’d been, what we’d seen – nothing particularly exciting, just a friendly night out. The highlight was my learning the word ‘chingon’, which is a sort of dirty & rude slang term in Mexico that roughly translates to “fucking awesome.” In a sentence, “Mi espanol es chingon!” (My Spanish is fucking awesome!) (Which it’s most certainly not, but you get the point)

It was round about this time, while I was toying with my shiny new word, that a song cued up on the karaoke machine. Immediately the Mexican with us started laughing, looked me in the eye and said, “You’re gunna love this.”

The track starts in Spanish and, despite my bravado, my comprehension is crap. So I’d no idea why my new buddy was cracking up until he informed me that,

{

“It’s a song talking shit at America.”

‘Frijolero’, the track’s name, basically translates to ‘beaner’. The angry but satirical lyrics flip back and forth between Mexican and American points of view – obviously with a heavy lean towards Mexicans — talking about drugs and immigration and, most of all, racism. And this isn’t some random rap track no one’s ever heard of; ‘Frijolero’ won a Latin Grammy in 2003.

You can see the full translated lyrics here, but the kicker is the chorus, which is sung in English:

Don’t call me gringo, you fuckin beaner;

Stay on your side of that goddamn river;

Don’t call me gringo, you beaner.

As I slowly caught on to what was being sung – badly, I might add, by three drunk middle-aged local men — my new friends shared a moment of silent concern. Their eyes watched me carefully, gauging if the strange American with lady hair was upset. Thus I almost told them it was fine and laughed along with the joke.

But that seemed boring, so I instead stood up in mock fury and marched into the bar. I crossed my arms, spread my legs shoulder width, and did my best fake-angry face. When the locals inside realized what was happening, most started cracking up. The karaoke threesome saw me a few moments later and sung the last minute of the song while pointing at me, and now half the bar joined in, laughing all the while.

As the singing ended — much to the delight of everyone with eardrums — there was a brief but raucous applause, followed by silence and expectant eyes. Everyone was still watching me, waiting to see if I’d react.

{

So I did. “AMERICA ES CHINGON!”

Most of the locals laughed. One guy gave me a high-five. But considering this was the eve of Trump’s inauguration, I also received a fair amount of dirty looks.

The tour guide immediately ran in and, wearing tears of joy and embarrassment, dragged me back outside. The Chinese guitarist looked as though she’d witnessed a murder, and Pia would later tell me it was the best thing she’d ever seen.

Such is my social life.

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photo: it reads ‘made in mexico’. fun fact, his girlfriend sitting next to him had a massive mexican flag on her exposed shoulder blade, but after seeing all 6’5″ of him, i decided not to risk a candid of her. on a ferry outside cancun, mexico.

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.
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1 Comment

  1. AJ

    “Our new orange President started signing executive orders faster than Dolores Umbridge popped out Educational Decrees at Hogwarts.” ? I love reading/hearing Harry Potter references. There aren’t enough of them in the world. I don’t know if you’ve seen A Very Potter Musical but now anytime I hear Umbridge’s name I think of Umbridge from that and the references make me laugh all the more.

    Reply

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