Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ethnic Family Toys. Mexican MP3s. SW Audio history.

by Rudy Ch. Garcia

You probably didn't get your kids any of Playmobile's "Families" for Xmas, so here's highlights of what you could have bought. In most cases, the Families don't seem to do much to portray ethnicity, which might say more about corporate America's understanding than it does about what makes us unique.

First comes the Egyptian Family, who skin tones seem light enough to be from a well-tanned gringo family in some school play. With very little imagination, they could also be used as a not very tanned family of pre-Colombian Mayas.

Next comes the Amerindian family, who might be preparing to entertain tourists on the reservation. It may be culturally accurate, only in that sense.

The Asian Family obviously have eyes much different from other models, but the distinguishing factor is that the dad is holding a camera, as you'd expect.

The African American Family does at least look black and one of the kids has a basketball, of course, with the mom wearing what might be an African-motif blouse. What dad's wearing on his head is a question, as well as why any black dude would wear plaid.

The Caucasians have two blondes, appropriate skin tones, and the males are holding the all-American baseball equipment. Why they wear nothing on their heads like all the other families is unknown.

Here's the tough one: the Mediterranean/Hispanic family. How these two cultures can be represented by one family model is also an unknown. The girl is mysteriously riding a wooden horse that few American kids would ever want, and the boy is on a skateboard that wouldn't seem to be more Hispanic or Mediterranean than it is part of dominant culture. However, the dad is wearing a construction hat, so it might make you wonder why the mom wasn't dressed in a maid's outfit.

Mexican children's songs

From Gustavo Arrellano (Ask a Mexican columnist) comes this info about Mexican composer and children's songs performer Francisco Gabilondo Soler, who recorded and performed under the name of Cri-Cri: El Grillito Cantor ("Cri-Cri: The Little Singing Cricket"). If you're looking for a huge collection of delightful children's music that is easily comprehensible, or want material for bilingual children, go here. There's an aviso at the top about copyrights, etc. that you should read.


New Mexico History Special

January 12, 2012

In commemoration of the New Mexico Centennial of Statehood, Frontera NorteSur is pleased to officially announce a new section on its website dedicated to different issues of importance in the southern New Mexico borderland from 1912 to 2012. Readers will find articles published during the last three years that explore agricultural history, Mexican immigrant labor, economic development, the North American Free Trade Agreement, African Americans in Dona Ana County, and much more. Community histories of the rural towns of San Miguel and Vado-Del Cerro are among the many topics covered in Frontera NorteSur’s Centennial section.

In addition to print stories, the public can listen to a pair of radio documentaries, one in Spanish and one in English, which were earlier aired on KUNM-Albuquerque and KGLP-Gallup. The English-language program, "Behind the Truck Stop," takes listeners on a journey to the small town of Vado-Del Cerro near the Mexican border. The Spanish-language documentary, "La Trailita," examines the displacement of farmworkers in southern New Mexico from mechanization and free trade.

Although the website might be of special interest to university and high school instructors specializing in New Mexico and borderlands history, it contains many broad themes of interest. Universal issues of migration, community formation and identity, foodways and more are all examined in the series.

Contributing scholars include Guillermina Nunez-Mchiri, University of Texas at El Paso; Connie Falk, New Mexico State University; Dionicio Valdes, Michigan State University; Clarence Fielder, New Mexico State emeritus; Jim Peach, New Mexico State; and Lois Stanford, New Mexico State.

The series was made possible in part by grants from the New Mexico Humanities Council, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and the McCune Charitable Foundation. Watch for new print stories and audio pieces in 2012.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news

Center for Latin American and Border Studies

New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, New Mexico

For a free electronic subscription email:

1 comment:

Guillermo said...

Well, Carleton of "Fresh Prince" fame would surely wear plaid!