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Traditions of Mexican American Culture

Mexican American culture is very rich, diverse, and interesting.

United States and Mexico coexist for very long time which is why many things had happened between these two great countries in the past.

Some of those things are bad but many of them are good. What is most important for this subject is that all of those things resulted in bringing closer these two cultures.

For example, the outcome of the Mexican American was the Mexican loss of close to two thirds of its territories to the United States. This event had great impact on demographic change of the both countries.

United States demography changed over night and many Mexicans found themselves living in the United States instead in Mexico. This was great cultural shock, not only for Mexicans but for the Americans as well.

Mexican illegal immigration to the United States is another thing that greatly changed (and still is changing) the demography of the United States.

Nowadays there are cities and towns in the south of the United States where the great majority of people are Mexicans. If someone was to place you in the middle of those cities and towns you would most likely think that you are in Mexico and not in the United States.

In other words there are tens of millions of Mexican Americans and millions of illegal Mexican immigrants living in the United States today.

This is the reason why it is important that every American knows the traditions of Mexican American culture. The more we know the better chance we have to understand each others and coexist in peace and prosperity. Remember, ignorance equals stereotypes and fear, which equals hostility and violence.

Mexican American culture is a mixture of American and Mexican culture. This however doesn't mean that it is not unique. In fact, it is very unique and interesting.

Most of Mexicans are Catholics which is why most of Mexican Americans are Catholics. Majority of Mexican Americans celebrate the American holidays as well as the religious and national Mexican holidays.

Mexican Americans are proud to be American but they are also proud of their Mexican origin.

Mexican American food is world famous and people from around the planet enjoy the culinary Mexican American mixture.

Mexican Americans are very active in politics, business, film industry, sports, and so on, and they play an important role in shaping the modern United States.


Famous Mexican American Musicians

Without the Mexican American Musicians the U.S. and the world’s music scene wouldn’t be the same.

American Musicians of Mexican descent are very talented, good looking, passionate and they make this world a better place.

Some of the most famous Mexican American singers, guitarists and musicians in general are: Carlos Santana, Selena, Chris Perez, Joan Baez, Freddy Fender, Linda Ronstadt, Selena Gomez, Kid Cudi, Demi Lovato, Dave Navarro, Sara Paxton, Amanda Perez, Ritchie Valens, Jaci Velasquez, Jasmine Villegas, Alanna Ubach, Melody Thornton, Hope Sandoval, Adan Sanchez, Sam the Sham, Johnny Rodriguez, Lupillo Rivera, Yolanda Perez, Mike Ness, Coco Montoya, Chris Montez, Natalie Mejia, MC Magic, David Hernandez, Aundrea Fimbres, Alejandro Escovedo, Kristinia DeBarge, Paula DeAnda, Vikki Carr, Pepe Aguilar and many others.

Carlos Santana – One of the greatest guitarists of all times

Carlos Santana

If you know what a guitar is than you must know who Carlos Santana (Carlos Augusto Alves Santana) is too.

Carlos Santana is one of the most famous guitarists and musicians in the world. He is also a very imaginative composer, quite unique singer and band-leader who very successfully experiments with blending many different styles of music.

He was born on July 20, 1947 in Autlan de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico but he spent most of his life in the United States where he currently lives.

Rolling Stone named Santana number 15 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003, and he was voted the 90th Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.

Santana won numerous prestige musical awards during his rich and successful career including 10 Grammy Awards, 3 Latin Grammy Awards, and many other.

The street and a public square in his native town of Autlan de Navarro are bearing his name, which is the best reward he could ever hope for (as he said many times).

Selena – The Queen of Tejano Music

Selena – The Queen of Tejano Music

Selena Quintanilla (one of the most famous Mexican American musicians of all times) was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas, United States. She tragically died on March 31, 1995 at age of 23.

Selena was a model, dancer, an actress, record producer, singer and a songwriter.

This beautiful Mexican American young woman was most famous for her singing and her angelic voice. She released her first album at tender age of twelve and even then everybody knew that this young girl is going to conquer the world with her amazing voice and stunning beauty.

By the age of 20 she was one of the most famous singers in Latin America and in the United States.

Many referred to her as the Mexican Madonna because she was most popular and loved in Mexico and among the Mexican Americans.

When everything seemed to be like in a fairytale Selena was shot dead by Yolanda Saldívar, the manager of her boutique and the president of one of her fan clubs.

After her death Selena became even more famous. For example her album Dreaming of You debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 which made her the very first Hispanic singer to accomplish this.

Sides from Carlos Santana and Selena there are many other great and famous Mexican American musicians that shaped and influenced the world of music.


Mexican American Poems

There are many Mexican American poets that have created great Mexican American poems about the Mexican American culture.

One of the most popular subjects of the Mexican American poetry is the crossing of the Mexican American border and Mexican immigration in general.

However, this is not the only thing that Mexican American poets have been, and still are, writing about. There are many Mexican American poets that wrote about love, passion, religion, wisdom, freedom, loss, pain, death, everyday life and all other aspects of life.

In this article we will present to you the Mexican American poems of the three great Mexican American poets: Gary Soto, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Gary Soto

Gary Soto

A Red Palm

You're in this dream of cotton plants.

You raise a hoe, swing, and the first weeds

Fall with a sigh. You take another step,

Chop, and the sigh comes again,

Until you yourself are breathing that way

With each step, a sigh that will follow you into town.

That's hours later. The sun is a red blister

Coming up in your palm. Your back is strong,

Young, not yet the broken chair

In an abandoned school of dry spiders.

Dust settles on your forehead, dirt

Smiles under each fingernail.

You chop, step, and by the end of the first row,

You can buy one splendid fish for wife

And three sons. Another row, another fish,

Until you have enough and move on to milk,

Bread, meat. Ten hours and the cupboards creak.

You can rest in the back yard under a tree.

Your hands twitch on your lap,

Not unlike the fish on a pier or the bottom

Of a boat. You drink iced tea.

The minutes jerk Like flies.

It's dusk, now night,

And the lights in your home are on.

That costs money, yellow light

In the kitchen. That's thirty steps,

You say to your hands,

Now shaped into binoculars.

You could raise them to your eyes:

You were a fool in school, now look at you.

You're a giant among cotton plants.

Now you see your oldest boy, also running.

Papa, he says, it's time to come in.

You pull him into your lap

And ask, What's forty times nine?

He knows as well as you, and you smile.

The wind makes peace with the trees,

The stars strike themselves in the dark.

You get up and walk with the sigh of cotton plants.

You go to sleep with a red sun on your palm,

The sore light you see when you first stir in bed.

By Gary Soto

Saturday At The Canal

I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.

School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,

An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team

Was going to win at night. The teachers were

Too close to dying to understand. The hallways

Stank of poor grades and unwashed hair. Thus,

A friend and I sat watching the water on Saturday,

Neither of us talking much, just warming ourselves

By hurling large rocks at the dusty ground

And feeling awful because San Francisco was a postcard

On a bedroom wall. We wanted to go there,

Hitchhike under the last migrating birds

And be with people who knew more than three chords

On a guitar. We didn't drink or smoke,

But our hair was shoulder length, wild when

The wind picked up and the shadows of

This loneliness gripped loose dirt. By bus or car,

By the sway of train over a long bridge,

We wanted to get out. The years froze

As we sat on the bank. Our eyes followed the water,

White-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town.

By Gary Soto

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera

In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul

In the cannery the porpoise soul

and the shadow fins of spirit boats lie awake

the hundred hooks and flying reels

one harpoon

& the silver fleshing in the nets

the mayor is waiting/counting scales

dreaming new quotas & tuna coasts

(under the table blood & payrolls

swim to the shores on a crucifix of oil)

in the cannery the porpoise soul

steals a dagger for the engines throat

tuna fins etch an X

on the green stone of the ships floor

there are documents with worker sweat

files and rolled sleeve salt

a spear of sails and anchor years (lost)

inside the shoulders and against the ropes (somehow)

a policy gunned the waves back

before the porpoise sea was born

by Juan Felipe Herrera

Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings

for Charles Fishman


Before you go further,

let me tell you what a poem brings,

first, you must know the secret, there is no poem

to speak of, it is a way to attain a life without boundaries,

yes, it is that easy, a poem, imagine me telling you this,

instead of going day by day against the razors, well,

the judgments, all the tick-tock bronze, a leather jacket

sizing you up, the fashion mall, for example, from

the outside you think you are being entertained,

when you enter, things change, you get caught by surprise,

your mouth goes sour, you get thirsty, your legs grow cold

standing still in the middle of a storm, a poem, of course,

is always open for business too, except, as you can see,

it isn’t exactly business that pulls your spirit into

the alarming waters, there you can bathe, you can play,

you can even join in on the gossip—the mist, that is,

the mist becomes central to your existence.

by Juan Felipe Herrera


Jimmy Santiago Baca

Jimmy Santiago Baca

A Daily Joy to be Alive

No matter how serene things

may be in my life,

how well things are going,

my body and soul

are two cliff peaks

from which a dream of who I can be

falls, and I must learn

to fly again each day,

or die.

Death draws respect

and fear from the living.

Death offers

no false starts. It is not

a referee with a pop-gun

at the startling

of a hundred yard dash.

I do not live to retrieve

or multiply what my father lost

or gained.

I continually find myself in the ruins

of new beginnings,

uncoiling the rope of my life

to descend ever deeper into unknown abysses,

tying my heart into a knot

round a tree or boulder,

to insure I have something that will hold me,

that will not let me fall.

My heart has many thorn-studded slits of flame

springing from the red candle jars.

My dreams flicker and twist

on the altar of this earth,

light wrestling with darkness,

light radiating into darkness,

to widen my day blue,

and all that is wax melts

in the flame-

I can see treetops!

By Jimmy Santiago Baca


An acquaintance at Los Alamos Labs

who engineers weapons

black x’d a mark where I live

on his office map.

Star-wars humor….

He exchanged muddy boots

and patched jeans

for a white intern’s coat

and black polished shoes.

A month ago, after butchering a gouged bull,

we stood on a pasture hill,

and he wondered with pained features

where money would come from

to finish his shed, plan alfalfa,

and fix his tractor.

Now his fingers

yank horsetail grass

he crimps herringbone tail-seed

between teeth, and grits out words,

“Om gonna buy another tractor

next week. More land too.”

Silence between us is gray water

let down in a tin pail

in a deep, deep well,

a silence

milled in continental grindings

millions of years ago.

I throw my heart

into the well, and it falls

a shimmering pebble to the bottom.

Words are hard

to come by, “Would have lost everything

I’ve worked for, not taking the job.”

His words try to


my heart

from the deep well.

We walk on in silence,

our friendship

rippling away.

By Jimmy Santiago Baca

There are many other great Mexican American poems that you would enjoy. Therefore, what are you waiting for? Start explore the great depths of the Mexican American poetry.