In Sandra Cisneros’ “Never Marry a Mexican” the reader is able to look into the mind of a mistress, Clemencia. Ever since she was a child Clemencia was told repeatedly by her mother to never marry a Mexican even though she was married to one. Her mother would tell her this because even though she was Mexican-American she felt like she was never able to live up to the expectations of a true Mexican like her husband. Her mother did not want Clemencia to feel the same. When Clemencia’s father was ill on his deathbed, her mother would spend her time with a white male, Owen, who she met at work. This was something Clemencia would never be able to
forgive (Cisneros 73). After her father’s death it was like her mother had left as well. After marrying Owen, her mother was too worried about herself and her life. Fast forward a few years and Clemencia is an adult. She makes it clear that she will never marry let alone marry a Mexican. Her mother had unknowingly taught her to be racist to her own kind. Clemencia’s mother would be the reason why Clemencia only has relationships with married, “borrowed” men. She would ultimately end up ruining Clemencia’s love life because of the racism she taught her.
Clemencia and her mother’s self-racism are evident throughout the story. The story
begins “Never marry a Mexican, my ma said once and always” (Cisneros 68). Her mother was frequently expressing how unhappy she was married to a Mexican when she would use those words. She was unhappy because she felt like she could never live up to what was expected of her from her higher middle class Mexican husband. By telling Clemencia to never marry a Mexican her mother was trying to prevent her child from going through what she went through but instead she ended up teaching her racism. Her mother was unknowingly teaching Clemencia to hate her own kind.
Throughout the years her mother had accomplished brainwashing her because at a later age in Clemencia’s life she firmly believed that she would never marry especially marry a Mexican. She exhibits her self racism when she says that the Mexican men who cleared off tables or chopped meat behind the butcher counter or drove a bus are not men (Cisneros 69). Clearly she had an issue with men of color. She would never consider any of those men as “potential lovers” (Cisneros 69). It wasn’t just Mexican men who she would never consider being romantically involved with. Clemencia would never consider being involved with a “ Puerto Rican, Cuban, Chilean, Colombian, Dominican, Venezuelan, Guatemalan, Peruvian..”(Cisneros 69). Her mother influenced her to be racist to her own kind and men of color no matter what race. However, Clemencia knows this was her mother’s fault. She states “My mother did this to me” (Cisneros 69). Clemencia isn’t oblivious to the fact that her mother is the reason why she can’t see men of color, especially Mexicans in a romantic way. Alexandra Fitts mentions in her analysis of “Never Marry a Mexican” that race plays a role in the actions of Clemencia’s mother. Fitts writes “ Clemencia’s mother felt inescapable discrimination from both cultures” (1). It is arguable that Fitts also agrees that Clemencia’s mother led her live a life where she is only willing to have a relationship with a married white man.
As a little girl Clemencia was taught what it was like to marry up or marry down. When her father had married her mother it was seen as marrying down because she was neither full Mexican or full American. It was like she didn’t belong to either culture. Trying to avoid marrying down Clemencia decided not to marry and she willingly decided to be involved with a married man. But is wasn’t just any married man, it was a white man. Her mother’s racist teaching is what leads Clemencia to have a relationship it the married man, Drew. Clemencia is in a way following the footsteps of her mother. At the time of her father’s death her mother way seeing a white man. Clemencia may not be married but Drew is making the relationship forbidden just like her mother’s. However, Clemencia doesn’t seems to care seemingly because of Drew’s wife race. Clemencia said “ I was sleeping with your father and didn’t give a damn about that woman, your mother. If she was brown like me, I might’ve had a harder time living with myself” (Cisneros 76). Undoubtedly Clemencia is showing signs of racisms to the wife’s race possibly because of her mother. According to Harvard psychologist, children are able to learn to be racist as early as the early age of three (bostonglobe.com). From a young age Clemencia remembers being told that marrying a Mexican would bring her unhappiness and self-doubt. Since her early years she was exposed to the hatred of her own race. If she was taught to hate her own people how could she not have negative feelings towards them. Again Clemencia expresses her racism when she refers to Drew’s wife Megan as “redhead barbie doll” (Cisneros 79). Her choice of words have a such a negative connotation. It’s almost like she means for “redhead barbie” to be an insult.
There is no doubt that Clemencia’s mother was the reason she had a long relationship with a white man. Her mother’s words haunted her for the rest of her life. She was over and over to never marry a Mexican. If she did he would end up being unhappy just like her mother was. Clemencia’s racism is seen in the way she expresses about certain people. She tries to insult Megan by calling her a barbie. She also expresses her self racism when she implies that Mexican men who have decent jobs aren’t really men. She seems to have an issue with people of color for
no apparent reasons besides the fact that her mother was unhappy with one. Nowadays racism can be seen everywhere but no one seems to discuss it or offer a solution to end it if there is one. Too many people are unknowingly teaching their children to be racist. There needs to be an end to this. Clemencia is a prime example of what can happen when self racism and racism are
Cisneros, Sandra. “Never Marry a Mexican.” Woman Hollering Creek, Random House,
Fitts, Alexandra. “Sandra Cisneros Modern Malinche.” The International Fiction Review,
vol. 29, no. 1 and 2, 32,journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/ifr/article/view/7712/8769.
Burnett, James. “Racism Learned.” Boston Globe, 12,