Cholo culture: Mexican-Americans break cultural stereotypes
Breaking cultural stereotypes that’s what a group of Mexican-American bicyclists called lowriders is all about. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports from Mexico City on some young people trying to get others to respect their identity despite how they look.
It’s typical Sunday morning on the streets of Mexico City, people out riding bikes, jogging walking their dogs. But on the last Sunday of every month, there’s one group that stands out here.
They’re known as ‘Cholos’ – Mexican-Americans – many of them deportees, recognizable by their baggy clothing and tattoos and exotic bikes.
“We’re a group from all across the city, who get together to ride our lowrider bikes, and enjoy each others’ company. It’s something out of the ordinary,” says
Juan Carlos Jarro, a Chilango Lowbike Club committee member.
The Chilangos Lowbike Club is a group of bicycling enthusiasts who meet here in the Mexican capital every two weeks to put on exhibition rides. Their aim is to celebrate Mexican-American culture and change the image people have of its members.
One member of the group is David ‘Pizarron’ Tavira, a deportee from Los Angeles, who has gone to extremes to represent the Cholo identity.
“They call me the chalkboard, because more than 90% of my body is tattooed. People here often look down on me, thinking I’m a Central American gangster, but that’s not the case,” says Pizarron. “I was deported from Los Angeles after living there for 20 years, which is when I got involved with the Cholo’ culture in the United States.”
Yet, this Mexican-American culture is not readily accepted by many residents of Mexico City.
“The prejudice that comes against our culture makes people think we are bad people. They see us, and we are associated with criminality, when it’s completely the opposite. We are fathers, workers, students, who share a passion for these low-rider bicycles,” says Jarro.
For Roger Daz, who makes these custom bikes for a living, it’s a way of proving the value of the Cholo group.
“The stereotype around us is that we are thugs and drug addicts, but it’s not true,” says Daz. “That’s why we invite those who take an interest in our event to join in and learn more about our culture, and see that we are normal people, just like any of them.”
At a time of political turmoil over illegal immigration in the U.S., the lowriders of Mexico are pedaling against a stigma and taking pride in their identity.