Sunday, April 26, 2015

Latinos, Stop Buying Gold Jewelry!

Latinos should be the last people on the planet buying gold jewelry!  What is wrong with us?  Spending thousands of dollars over our lifetimes buying and selling different variations of the same things.  Gold chains, crucifixes, earrings, bracelets, rings, tooth caps, watches, and so on, what are they good for?  We have a complex, my people.  The gold fever imported to the Americas by Christopher Columbus, lives inside of us too.  The genocide of millions of native peoples in the Americas was fueled by this "precious" metal, now found on our own bodies.

Image result for vicente fernandez el arracadas

I've heard the myths: the gold bracelet on the child is to keep the evil spirits or people who want to do harm, as far away as possible.  The gold crucifix and the chain is to show how devout we are to Christ.  The gold earrings on the baby girl is to make sure people know it's a girl.

I'm calling bullshit on all of it!  It's about status, and it always has been.  It's about what the Spanish did to the Latino psyche.  It's what the poor learned while working on the hacienda of the wealthy landowner, seeing the riches so close, yet so far.  The only way to show oneself superior to jewelry.  Even gold coins play a role in Latino culture via Las arras.

As a child I remember the first piece of gold jewelry my parents bought me, una esclava.  Ironically, the word, "esclava," translates to the English word for "female slave."  It's a bracelet that perhaps you have seen both female or male Latino children, adolescents, or adults wearing.  Mine looked something like this below:  

My name was not engraved on the plate though this is done in Mexican tradition often.  I outgrew my first "esclava" and my parents bought me a new one from their "gold lady."  Yes, there's a lady or man who is the gold pusher in the Latino neighborhood or barrio.  If not with one of these individuals, many Latinos will flock to their local jeweler for some of the latest gold pieces to arrive.  Latino owned jewelry shops make sure to have stock of pieces made in the likeness of religious symbols such as, crosses, saints, Virgins, etc., so as to prey on the devout who sometimes finance their purchases with the credit card!

The second piece of gold jewelry I wore on me and never took off was a chain and crucifix.  I was baptized Catholic and recall doing my first Communion in Mexico.  Never did complete the other Catholic rites and my mom regrets it to this day.  I don't recall how many gold chains and crucifixes I came to own, at least three I'd say.  One lasted me from 9th grade through Junior college before the crucifix bent out of shape.  My non-Mexican or Latino friends would make fun of me for wearing jewelry while running track and cross country meets.  They claimed laughingly that the gold would weigh me down and cost me valuable tenths of a second.  I wish now I'd listened.  Maybe my 400 meter personal best would be 50.68s instead of 50.88s?

It looked similar to this one below:

Image result for gold jesus on cross necklace

I'd like to remind everyone that I was poor growing up.  My parents had to borrow money from friends for food many times, yet we had gold jewelry we could have sold, but did not.  My mom wore these earrings called, "arracadas," and took really good care of them.  They come in different looks obviously, but my mom's looked something like this:

My two sisters have had their ears pierced as far as they can remember.  Their first earrings were, you guessed it, made out of gold.  Having girls can get expensive for Latinos! 

My parents had a friend who owned a ranch.  His name was Reymundo, and he went by "Mundo."  He had land and animals, and a nice house.  He also wore a ton of gold.  This man wore several gold chains and crucifixes around his neck, an esclava to make all other esclavas look like a loop of yellow yarn, and gold rings like Mr. T.  I was totally in awe of him as an adolescent.  I wanted to be like him, to one day be so rich I could afford as much gold as him--a foolish idea now.

With respect to Mexicans, wearing expensive gold jewelry has unfortunately also been adopted by elite drug lords and cartel top bosses.  In fact, Chalino Sanchez, who became famous in Los Angeles (was murdered in Sinaloa, Mex) for singing his own penned narco-corridos (ballads), was the father of the "Chalino" style = Western wear with exuberant gold jewelry.

Thanks for reading!

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