Recently, Yahritza y Su Esencia — a regional Mexican band made up of three mixed-status siblings —expressed their opinions on Mexican food and Mexico City during an interview.

Calls to cancel the band, anti-indigenous remarks and other harmful posts quickly ensued. These comments misinterpreted the group’s statements. They also exposed a much bigger issue: the harm caused by reducing the complexities of the transnational experience faced by Mexican immigrants and their families, finding themselves negotiating between their experiences in the United States and Mexico. 

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Yahritza and her two brothers were first introduced to Mexico under challenging circumstances. The siblings are children of Mexican immigrants from Michoacán, and they grew up in the fields of Yakima, Washington. The older brother, Mando, has openly discussed being undocumented, leaving the U.S. after the band gained traction to secure a visa. During this time, the siblings were separated for seven months. 

Constant uncertainty shaped their experience of Mexico, one that other immigrant families know all too well. “We love it when we’re over there, but it’s just that little thing that introduced us to Mexico… We’re kind of traumatized.” 

Yahritza, Mando and Jairo love Mexico, but say separation “traumatized” them

In the interview that prompted the latest backlash, the trio was asked if they liked Mexico City. Yahritza replied that she did, but did not like the loud city noises. Mando and Jairo said they did not enjoy the city’s food, citing they prefer the Mexican food back in Washington.

Many enraged social media users quickly called them “pochos,” a derogatory term used to describe Mexicans deemed too Americanized. 


Los integrantes del grupo Yahritza y su Esencia criticaron la comida mexicana, comentario que no agradó a los internautas y obligó a los músicos a disculparse. #Latinus #InformaciónParaTi

♬ sonido original – Latinus – Latinus

This reaction suggests Mexicans will not accept certain types of Mexican Americans or Mexicans with a transnational experience. By calling them “pochos,” Mexican posters distance them from their Mexican identity.

The debate on what is Mexican enough draws more cultural division than unification among Mexican Americans

Mexican parents in the U.S. jumped to TikTok to show how they are teaching their kids to respond to questions about Mexican food and drink soda out of bags, avoiding being canceled or criticized. In comparison, Mexican American performers that eat at Mexican stands were uplifted

Failing to embrace the complexities of the experiences of people like the Martinez siblings threatens the mental and social well-being of a population that has often already encountered various forms of adversity.

In the U.S., for instance, Mexican immigrants and their families present disproportionate levels of mental health illness associated with experiences of discrimination, xenophobia and other injustices because of their backgrounds.

Unfortunately, even returning to their origin country could further perpetuate this. Mexican immigrants who have returned to Mexico express isolation as they grapple with their transnational identity. Like Mando and his siblings, many returnees and international folks have attachments to certain places and memories ridden with trauma in other places — neither takes away the attachment to either community.

Hateful comments online about those attachments only further marginalize this population and their identity. 

The video’s response reflects much of the anti-immigration rhetoric migrants face in the U.S., but from other Mexicans

Paradoxically, the public’s response strays far from defending Mexico or its culture. Instead, it reveals the stigma migrants of color face while replicating harmful hyper-nationalist narratives.

Alarmingly, much of the online rhetoric around the Martinez siblings is filled with anti-immigrant sentiments akin to those we decry in the U.S. context. 

Others, commenting on their features, reveal the extent of Mexican racism. The racism of these comments is the same racism that has stigmatized indigenous Mexicans, kept their families in poverty, and pushed them to migrate.

Notwithstanding, many have argued that the band should not receive compassion, claiming that it’s profiting from Mexican culture while turning its back on its roots. That’s not the case, however. The siblings have continuously expressed their love and pride for Mexico several times, noting fondness for Tijuana and Monterrey.

Even if they were to be taken at face value, they commented about Mexico City. Many rural Mexicans share similar critiques. It’s jarring for anyone unfamiliar with the city to adapt to the metropolis. They are young and learning to express complex feelings and have published apologies — a sign of growing maturity.

Ultimately, social media backlash doesn’t stay within the constraints of the internet. For Yahritza y su Esencia, shows, performances, and their livelihood have been threatened.

Being Mexican immigrants and the children of immigrants living between the United States and Mexico, fighting for recognition and respect from either country is not an easy task and a unique experience. We should understand it as such instead of quickly distancing a growing population of their identity. 

Maria Castañeda Soria and Marí Perales Sánchez wrote this opinion piece.