Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mexico: StoriesMexico: Stories by Josh Barkan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Going into this book, I already had some low expectations. But coming out of it, I recognized that it was hella problematic. One of the warning signs on this book is simply the title, “Mexico”. We know that there is no way a writer, especially a not ownvoices writer can capture the whole variety of a country or city as a whole.

**Disclaimer: I am not of the Mexican ethnicity, I don’t claim to be an expert on this type of representation. This is also not an attack on the author in any way, but on the representation that was presented.**

The way that Mexico City was portrayed was narrow and stereotypical, because all it focused on in every story is crime, gang members, henchmen, drug dealer, etc.(there were derogatory slurs used like “gringo”, “naco”, etc.)

“There are occasional bullets, of course, which most of you “gringos” read about in the papers. I put the word gringos in quotation marks because I know better than to make that kind of slur, but the honest truth is that the way we think about you guys to the north.”

(You know better not to use them, yet you’re admitting us that the “we” are racist.)

“I was shocked when my brother said, ‘Georgie did it’ Georgie was a black boy who lived down the street. ‘Georgie took ‘em. I didn’t do nothin.’ And I didn’t do nothing either. I watched, I observed. I saw him make his racist accusation… As I grew up, I saw the same thing over and over.”

(This character literally admits to doing nothing about it, until he’s like over the age of fifty and then he thinks that one good deed will redeem him.)

There was nothing good, nothing wonderful about the city itself to balance out this constant negative emphasis. To be frank, I think that this book perpetuated negative stereotypes about Mexicans, and that’s harmful and hurtful that minority that might be reading it. In every single story there was a drug cartel highlighted or mentioned, but why and to what end?

Also on the negative representation of women was really harmful, because they were portrayed as victims throughout. There was also only one story that actually featured a woman as the main narrator, which is disappointing because that’s not painting a diverse picture of what Mexico City looks like.

Honestly, we don’t need a story with all white- American characters that have privilege and move to Mexico City with their various professions to live out their life. We don’t need to see yet again another white foreigner/immigrant coming into a country different than his origin of birth and being confused or only selectively seeing the “dark side” of things in the city.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for giving me a copy in exchange of my honest review**

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