Born in East La Essay

2802 Words May 14th, 2011 12 Pages
At the end of Cheech Marin's Born in East L.A. (1987), a pair of undocumented Chinese immigrants who have been trained by Rudy (Marin) in the art of walking, talking, and gesturing like Mexican-Americans successfully act Mexican-American in front of a police officer to convince and assure him that they indeed are "natives."

Of concern to both Lowe and Oboler is the unequal status of minorities as members of the United States national community and citizenry. Basically, the U.S. citizen has been defined as a white male. This subsequently has meant that especially persons of color have been "conceived in the popular mind as outside of the 'boundaries' of the 'American' community" (Oboler 19). Thus, persons of color are denied "the
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He states:

After all, it is difficult to deny the fact that the contemporary Mexican-American, while he may have firm cultural roots in Mexico, is actually only a distant cousin to the Mexicano living in present-day Mexico-- a distance that is rapidly increasing with each new generation, with each new educational opportunity offered to and taken by the Mexican-American, and certainly with each mile the Mexican-American moves north from the border. (17)

"I don't belong here in downtown TJ 'cause I was born in East L.A." Although of Mexican descent, Rudy is not exactly "Mexican." Within Mexico and amongst Mexicans, Rudy is an outsider, rendered so by his different socio-cultural experiences and subsequent sense of self.

Rudy does not, however, come across as a whited Mexican. When he aligns himself with white Americans, it is as a fellow American citizen, and not as a fellow white. This distinction is crucial for understanding the cultural identity politics of the film.

Rudy's forced journey to Mexico, however, does not facilitate some personal reconciliation with a lost or repressed dimension to his identity. Instead, he wants to go home, This type of nationalism is effective in its contestation of white-American nativism as well in its depiction of a securely distinct

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