Dear Arizona


By Lalo Alcaraz

Dear Arizona,

I regret to inform you that I have changed my vacation plans for this summer. I will not see you again this summer even though I have enjoyed visiting you in the past. Nor will I be visiting Arizona anytime soon.

I’m sorry, but I will not be celebrating the Fourth of July in Arizona as I have in previous years. I really enjoyed your Independence Day celebration in Phoenix! I was amazed at the diversity of the throngs of people waving American flags and feeling oh so patriotic! As I recall, about 90% of the visitors to the park that day were brown and had black hair and brown eyes. Many of them spoke English, Spanish, and/or Spanglish. We were all there for the common purpose of celebrating the independence from imperialist England. Everyone was thankful to be living in America and no asked or cared if they were citizens (not even the authorities). It was a peaceful and joyous day of celebration. No one cared or even thought about the fact that Arizona was once part of México. Everyone was just celebrating America!

I wonder how your Fourth of July celebration will turn out this year, since I will not be there. How many people do you think will actually show up now? I wonder. I look forward to someday visiting you again. Hasta luego.

Patriotically yours,
David Diego Rodríguez

P.S. I once visited the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Is the London Bridge now a legal resident?

Appearances are deceiving


Chicago, Illinois

I am always amazed when a complete stranger approaches me and immediately speaks to me in Spanish! When I was in Arizona, I was pumping gas and someone asked me for help with the gas pump in Spanish. My sons were surprised that this person knew that I spoke Spanish. This happened again in the mall in Phoenix. A woman approached me to sell me a nail product by greeting me and introducing herself in Spanish. We spoke Spanish during the entire demonstration. My friend was surprised not only that she addressed me in Spanish, but also that I spoke Spanish so well. (After all, I do teach college Spanish!) My non-hispanic friends are shocked to learn that I know Spanish. I suppose that’s the only way I’ll shock anyone.

I’m Mexican!


¡I'm Mexican! ¡Soy mexicano!

The other day I was walking around the Arizona Mills shopping mall in Phoenix and noticed that a teenager with black hair, brown eyes, and a perpetual tan was wearing a T-shirt that said, “I’m Mexican,” on the front. On the back the shirt said, “I’m Mexican / I’m not Latino / I’m not Hispanic.” I wasn’t surprised to see such a message since I have always felt the same way. I mean what am I supposed to call myself? As a teenager, I was even more confused. In grade school, I told everyone that I was Mexican. Then in high school, another Mexican told me about that I was a Chicano. Back then, all the older Mexicans like my parents, aunts, and uncles all thought that Chicanos all belonged to gangs. So I stuck to being Mexican. But now that I’m more mature, I still don’t know what or who I am. No matter what I call myself, someone within earshot will disagree. Lately, I’ve been telling everyone that I’m Mexican. And I’ll keep telling everyone that I’m Mexican until I figure out my identity–whatever it is!

I'm Mexican!

Happy birthday, America!


Phoenix, Arizona

Last night I went to a Fourth of July celebration in Phoenix, Arizona. Most of the spectators were of Mexican descent. There were also a few whites and Native Americans, but most of the people were minorities in this sea of humanity. There were several stages were a variety of current music was played. We sat by a stage that featured two bands that covered American Pop songs. As I listened to the bands, I read a newspaper in Spanish, La Voz. No one criticized me for reading a Spanish-language newspaper. I loved the bands, even the one that covered Metallica. The crowd applauded all the bands equally. People were even dancing in front of the stage, although there was no mosh pit. Some spectators were actually singing along to many songs. This was truly an American event, despite the ethnic appearance of the spectators. Thousands of Americans came out to celebrate America’s birthday. I brought my sons to this celebration to instill the importance of patriotism to the USA. You could feel American pride throughout the crowd. We were all proud to be Americans!

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Estados Unidos!