“Texas romance writer Jeremiah Clemens gave his version of the origin of the term greaser and why he felt it was appropriate: ‘The people look greasy, their clothes are greasy, their dogs are greasy-everywhere grease and filth hold divided dominion, and the singular appropriateness of the name bestowed by western settlers, soon caused it to be universally adopted by the American army.” – Racism, Sexism, and the Media (Wilson II, Gutiérrez, Chao, 2013, page 59)

I find this passage comical because just a few sentences before this the authors were talking about how popular American literature at the time portrayed General Antonio’s victory at the Alamo as “cruel” all while championing the defenders of the Alamo (Crockett and Bowie) as “gallant.” As such, the phrase “greaser”, when used to address Mexicans with a specific look, was derogatory in nature, but when the same phrase is used to describe a White man.. it is now in fact sexy, rebellious, and cool. Latino’s can’t win. We can’t even prevent derogatory slang exclusive to us from being appropriated.

-Edgar Nava


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