Growing up in a half-white, half-brown town and family in South Texas, Stephanie Elizondo Griest struggled with her cultural identity. Upon turning thirty, she ventured to her mother's native Mexico to do some root-searching and stumbled upon a social movement that shook the nation to its core.
Mexican Enough chronicles her adventures rumbling with luchadores (professional wrestlers), marching with rebel teachers in Oaxaca, investigating the murder of a prominent gay activist, and sneaking into a prison to meet with indigenous resistance fighters. She also visits families of the undocumented workers she befriended back home. Travel mates include a Polish thief, a Border Patrol agent, and a sultry dominatrix. Part memoir, part journalistic reportage, Mexican Enough illuminates how we cast off our identity in our youth, only to strive to find it again as adults -- and the lessons to be learned along the way.
Griest (Around the Bloc), whose mother is a third-generation Mexican-American, made a conscious choice to be white like my dad one day in elementary school and, initially, finds her Hispanic identity when a guidance counselor advises that given her SAT scores, otherwise closed doors would swing open (she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas in 1997). The realization that nearly every accolade I have received in life... has been at least partially due to genetic link inspires her journey to Mexico to learn Spanish and to gain a deeper understanding of cultural heritage. Roughly from January to June 2005, she lives in Quer taro (north of Mexico City), coincidentally with a bunch of gay men. Aside from learning about the gay scene, the art scene and Mexico's unique wrestlers, the timing of her trip places her there when the gay activist Octavio Acu a is murdered. In July, she goes to Chiapas (Mexico's southernmost state), Zapatista territory, and devotes the second half of her book largely to documenting a burgeoning social movement that shook parts of the nation to the core. Patches are interesting, but Griest is not compelling or profound about the harassment and violence suffered by homosexuals, for instance, nor seriously affecting about her personal dilemma, being biracial.