Middle-Class Latinas, and the Gabachos Who Won't Believe Them

I'm speaking today at USC (go Bruins!) at the invitation of sociology professor Jody Agius Vallejo, a proud graduate of El Dorado High in Placentia (this might be the first time in Weekly history we've mentioned that high school...) and UCI doctoral grad from its School of Sociology. She's done a lot of work on Orange County, specifically middle-class Mexis and their own unique integration into a county that simply can't believe wabs are capable of living outside the rough parts of SanTana and Anacrime or have jobs more prestigious than nanny and jornalero. Nowhere is this more sadly exposed than a paper she wrote this summer for the academic journal, City & Community.

In "Latina Spaces: Middle-Class Ethnic Capital and Professional Associations in the Latino Community," Agius profiles a national Latina business group with an OC chapter. Everyone gets pseudonyms to protect individuals from some of the chismes told (like older members looking askance at a younger Latina who's a bit too ghetto for their tastes) but the stories of their struggle to be taken seriously in Orange County are legion: discrimination at a local golf course (also gets a nickname) which thought the group "was not the caliber of people to bring to the golf course," a gabacha telling Agius during a business mixer, "Good for you Mexicans. Usually, people take over countries with wars but you Mexicans are doing it by having a lot of babies," and--most hilariously--a Laguna Beach cosmetic surgeon who didn't want to deal with Agius during Orange County's Largest Mixer because "your members are[n't] my caliber of people. I usually deal with the Newport Beach type of ladies."

You pendejo--don't you know successful Latinas all get permanent blonde hair and other surgeries to look more white? We kid--we know a lot of rich prietas. I've begged Agius to reveal the name of the surgeon, but she's too professional to budge. Good luck trying to find her paper online (damn academics and their paywall!), but congrats on an article well done. A profe to watch...

Academics: doing research on Orange County and its sundry issues? Dissertations, papers, and the like? Send them my way at GArellano@ocweekly.com so more than 50 eggheads will know of your work!

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