Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants

By Robert Courtney Smith | Go to book overview

7. “Padre Jesús, Protect Me”
Adolescence, Religion, and Social Location

ADOLESCENT IDENTITY, BELONGING,
AND FAMILY RELATIONS

“In New York, you don’t fit in because you’re Mexican. In Ticuani, you don’t belong because you’re not Mexican enough.” This remark by Willie, a twenty-two-year-old college student who works in the finance industry, captures some of the complexity facing second- and 1.5-generation Ticuanenses returning to Ticuani. While many in the second generation dream of returning to Ticuani, they are not always welcomed as hijos y hijas ausentes (absent sons and daughters) as their parents are. While most Ticuanenses receive them with open arms, a few see them as “tourists”; presumidos (arrogant or conceited ones); pochos, who do not belong fully in either place; “New Yorkers”; or, most pejoratively, “New Yorguenses,” a Spanglish term amalgamating “Ticuanenses” and “New Yorkers” that implicitly disputes their claim to ticuanensidad. These ambiguities create curious tensions in second-generation experiences of Ticuani and transnational life. Having been told all their lives that they are Mexicans and Ticuanenses, and having participated in Ticuani rituals with Ticuani friends they have known since childhood, these returnees are understandably disconcerted when treated like outsiders. While tensions are usually managed well by both sides, this selective withholding or granting of recognition of authenticity by those in Ticuani is often met by assertions of superiority and modernity by the returnees. After all, their parents left Ticuani because it could not offer them a living, and everyone in Ticuani seems to go, or want to go, to New York, the worldly metropolis.

Despite such tensions, return to Ticuani and participation in its religious rituals bridges gaps between the second generation’s various social worlds.

-147-

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