El Indito y las Paletas Heladas

El Indito y las Paletas Heladas

The Indian and the Popsicles 

“Un indito viene por primera vez a la capital, a la Ciudad de Mexico. Y entonces entre las cosas que mas le gustan son las paletas heladas. Y como no son caras, dijo, ‘Ay pues esto les voy a llevar yo a mi familia para que sepan lo sabroso que son las paletas heladas que por allá no hay.’ Entonces, compra unas paletas heladas, las mete en su sarape que llevaba, toma el camión y se va a su tierra. Cuando llega a su tierra, les va a sorprender a la familia diciendo, ‘mira lo que les traje!’ y nadamas encuentra los puros palitos. Y dice, ‘Ay, en Mexico son muy buenos para robar! Me robaron las paletas y namas me dejaron los palitos!’”

“An indian arrives for the first time to the capital, to Mexico City. And among the things that he most likes when he gets there are popsicles. And since they are not expensive, he says, ‘Oh well I can take these back to my family so they can know how tasty popsicles are, since we don’t have them back home.’ So, he buys some popsicles, puts them in his coat, takes a bus and goes back to his homeland. When he gets back home, he is excited to surprise his family saying, ‘look what I brought!’ but only the popsicle sticks are left. And he says, ‘Gosh, in Mexico people are really good at stealing! They stole the popsicles and only left me the sticks!’”

My grandfather, the informant for this joke, was born and has lived in Mexico all his life.   He has seen the country change drastically and in many different ways over the 86 years of his life, and as a result knows a very great amount about Mexican culture, customs, and folklore. He often tells jokes, riddles and stories that he has garnered throughout his life, most of which he remembers very clearly and recites in the form a great storyteller.

This falls into a genre of jokes making fun of indigenous Mexican Indians. It is part of the Blason Populaire of Mexico, given that it negatively stereotypes indigenous people as being ignorant, unintelligent, and very gullible. This is the main strain of racism found in Mexico, and as such, there are many jokes associated with it. The informant does not remember the first time he heard this joke, but it was a very popular one when he was growing up. Later in life, he also heard it from a popular comedian on TV. Given its political undertones, involving the isolation of indigenous people in Mexico, their inferior position in society, and the bad treatment and exploitation they are put through oftentimes, this joke would probably not be very acceptable nowadays, since attempts to make amends with indigenous Mexicans is strongly supported these days. This shows a shift in perspective over the course of recent Mexican history, with the indigenous starting out as isolated objects of ridicule and now being embraced (to a certain degree) as part of the Mexican population.