The year of Speedy Gonzales | In 2006 Texas final, Brownsville’s Cowboys produced outsider’s art

Game officials ask fans to remove the sign, but the impression has been made. Casares is quick to place the Porter experience within the wider frame of immigration reform in the United States. On 26 Oct 06 President Bush signed into law a bill authorizing 700 miles of dual-layered, reinforced fencing to guard the border with Mexico in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with one end passing a mile from Porter High School. With Democratic victories in midterm elections in November, however, it appears unlikely the $6 billion project will ever be funded. Further, politicans and businesses in these border regions wish to preserve a symbiotic relationship in cities such as Brownsville, Laredo and Eagle Pass, where “crossing the river is an everyday part of life” (Jeremy Schwartz, “Thriving Towns Fret Over Border Wall Plan,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7 Jan 07). A bridge has connected Brownsville and Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, since 1910; in fact, there are now three bridges.

One Coppell fan at the 2006 soccer final, oblivious to such context, calls out to Porter players, “You suck, you beaner!” The Porter Nation answers with “¡Si se puede!” Casares continues:

What the Coppell fans and the players on the charged soccer field probably didn’t realize was that their reaction toward a group they assumed was not American could hardly be counted as new. One of the most concentrated efforts to rid the country of illegal immigrants occurred in 1954, when the U.S. government officially passed Operation Wetback, a mandate to expel all illegal workers, particularly those from Mexico (as the name may have clued you in to). Led by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and aided by the municipal, county, state, and federal authorites, as well as the military, the operation resulted in a massive sweep of Mexican American neighborhoods and random stops of “Mexican-looking” people.

Within this time frame Warner Bros. introduced the Speedy Gonzales character, brandishing the convenient stereotypes and coining the phrase, in the faux-Mexican voicing of Mel Blanc, “the fastest mouse in all Mexico.” Casares notes appreciatively, though, that Speedy, with cries of ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! regularly outsmarted and outran nemesis Sylvester the Cat. In somewhat similar fashion, Porter players utilized what Casares describes as “more of a Mexican style,” emphasizing short passes in heavy winds that affected play in the Apr 15 final.

It certainly isn’t the kind of soccer most kids across suburbia grow up with. The quicker technique makes sense because of the smaller size of the players in the Rio Grande Valley. Porter’s approach to the game is actually quite common in this region of Texas, as well as on the other side of the river, because until recently, crossing over to Matamoros was the only way for boys to play on leagues year-round.

The championship remained scoreless through regulation, although several Coppell shots had clanged the posts and crossbar (David Hinojosa, “Brownsville Porter Sends Coppell Packing,” Dallas Morning News, 16 Apr 06). But, as often happens, the game opened up in extra time, with Coppell scoring first. Porter coach Luis Zarate, a former placekicker with the University of Houston’s gridiron football team, already, while addressing the racial slurs from the grandstands, had spread the message to players that Porter belonged. “You’re here. You belong here,” the coach said. These are well-worn coaching aphorisms, but Casares extends their meaning to the sense of belonging that Porter players and compatriots should feel in the United States, within a nation that sometimes appears to question their legitimacy.

Link to image as desktop wallpaper

Page 2 of 4 | Previous page | Next page