La Chinita

No más le voy a contar la historia de… una canción que me cantaba mi padrastro, porque no me quería ir con mi papá. Porque él decía que yo era una chinita cuando era una niña. “Me da chinita” es que estamos estirados de los ojos, no “chinos” como dicen los mexicanos del pelo. Y luego me cantaba una canción que decía que “en el bosque de la china, la chinita se perdió, y como yo era un perdido, nos encontramos los dos,” decía. Y me cantaba que “era de noche, era de noche,” decía la canción, “y la chinita, la chinita se perdió,” y decía que “al cabo de un rato, la encontramos los dos.” Esa era toda la cancioncita que me cantaba, pero siempre me la cantaba cuando era una niña.


I’m just going to tell you the story of… a song that my stepfather sang to me, because I didn’t want to go with my father. Because he said that I was Chinese when I was a girl. “Me da chinita” means that our eyes are stretched out, not “chinos” like Mexicans say of the hair (curly hair). And then he sang to me a song that said that “in the forests of China, the little Chinese girl got lost, and since I was a lost one, we found each other,” it said. And he sang to me that “it was at night, it was at night,” said the song, “and the little Chinese girl, the little Chinese girl got lost,” and it said that “after a while, we found her both.” That was the whole little song that he sang to me, but he always sang it to me when I was a girl.



My informant is a middle-aged Latin American woman who cleans our dorm. I’ve noticed a few Latin American songs or phrases that reference China and Chinese people (such as the Mexican designation of curly hair as “chino”), though I’m not sure what the relationship is. It is interesting that it was my informant’s stepfather who sang her this song, since it talks about finding each other after she’d gotten lost (presumably in reference to a bad relationship with her biological father). Calling her a “chinita” and then singing her this song about a lost person finding a “chinita” in the woods makes the song even more personal and affirms the relationship between my informant and her stepfather.