‘I’m No Longer Here’: Just How Post‑Racial is Mexico?

I'm No Longer Here Oscars 2021 James Killough for Pure Film Creative

“I’m No Longer Here’ is an exquisite festival film — yes, it’s a genre of its own — from that filmmaking powerhouse just south of our borders. Mexico might not be making Marvels, or cranking out the binge series, but they’ve got plenty of social realism to talk about. They do it so eloquently.

On the surface, this is a story about a teen from the slums of Monterrey, Mexico, deeply immersed in what Wikipedia and the official sites for the film call “the counter-culture (sic) of Kolombia” (as a red link, meaning there is no more Wiki info on it), a version of hip-hop based around “Cumbia rebajada,” a slowed-down modification of the Colombian variant of Cumbia that “sounds like the battery is dying,” as one character puts it.

The ‘Kolombia’ misnomer can’t be ignorance, so I’ll just go ahead and assume that it’s global Marxist McCarthyism rearing its petty, triggered head once again. The proper, searchable name for it is ‘Cholombian’ culture, which is why it might be problematic for the Awoken — it contains the word ‘cholo’, which is somewhat derogatory among non-Mexican/Central American Latinos in Los Angeles. It means “indios,” or Amerindian, in the Monterrey region where the film is set.

Here I go again with an anti-Woke screed, but it’s relevant: What AOC and her fellow POCs don’t want you to know is that racism and its runty sibling, colorism, are alive and thriving in the Ibero-American world, meaning all of South America and the Caribbean. Compared to North America, they haven’t even begun to speak about it, probably because there are too many other actual struggles to handle day to day. Wait, sorry, I forgot that POC has now evolved to BIPOC, which is not the Korean barbeque bowl (vegan substitute: seitan, $3 extra) it sounds like, but an acronym for the conglomerate of non-White peoples who loathe us: Black, Indigenous and People of Color. (I’m not saying all non-Whites loathe us, just those who like their identities to be alphabet goop.)

I'm No Longer Here Review by James Killough Best Foreign Film Oscars 2021

Dance like everyone’s looking.

It’s All News to Them, Alexandria

My favorite reaction these days — after I inform Latinos who aren’t plugged into the Marxist McCarthyite movement, in Spanish, that they are part of pokey-pocked BIPOC — is the way they blink like their eyes hurt from the bullshit fumes, as if I’ve just told them they were secretly adopted by wrathful narcissists who won’t give them back, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

It’s exactly the same way AOC herself was blinking on CNN after the elections proved decisively that the vast majority of people-who-didn’t-know-they-were-BIPOCs weren’t buying the bullshit she and her Squad were trying so ferociously shovel onto America as a unifying construct, which is why it was still sitting in a steaming heap at her feet, making her blink: “I just don’t understand why Communities of Color voted this way.” Yeah, you do. But thank you, Congresswoman, now over Anderson.

Most Ibero-American countries, Mexico included, are socially organized by colorism, the covert evil forming BIPOC’s warped perceptions of how most American Whites think and see race and skin tone. As I’ve said before, the vast majority of Whites have no idea what colorism is, because the vast majority of Whites don’t think about race, or skin color beyond tanning. “Look how dark you are!” is actually a compliment between Whites, especially in winter — it means you have the money and the leisure to spend a considerable amount of indolent time in the sun in a sunny climate many hours away by plane. It might also be an admonishment from an Old Grizzled White, an oblique way of saying, “Keep that up, and the dermatologist will be cutting the carcinomas out, just you wait!”

“Look how dark you are,” is no compliment in Ibero-America.

Like all societies south of Laredo, Mexico’s upper class is almost entirely composed of Whites. They’re anywhere from 9% to 17% of the population, largely based in the capitals and larger cities — think the filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón, Gulliermo del Toro, Alejandro Iñárritu, Gabriel Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and probably the director of INLH himself, Fernando Frías de la Parra, although he might be able to convince me he isn’t, but I’d only pretend to buy it. All Mexican presidents as far back as I can remember have been White.

It’s the same with Puerto Rican society, both on the island and in New York: the darker ones in Spanish Harlem, the fair ones in the leafy Bronx. So siddown, Alexandria — Whitey got the mic right now.

The vast majority of Mexicans are Mestizos (mixed race), that melting pot of color that BIPOC claims Whites are terrified America will turn into, which is why we… I’ve totally forgotten what it is we do as a result of that fear I’ve never had or thought about — I’m too lazy and exhausted to look it up, my eyes sore from the bullshit fumes… I remember: it’s a major reason we oppress BIPOCs. It can’t possibly be their own colorism that tricks them into thinking we share the same prejudices and preoccupations. In Awoken America, perception is reality.

At the bottom of the Mexican social order are the Amerindian cholos, the graceful, kindly, misunderstood subjects of ‘INLH’.

Truly Insightful Subtext Is Never Woke

If we’re going to tak about racism, I insist we go by the numbers and the science, not emotions and received opinions from narratives formed in generations past. The stats for the “post-racial society” that Mexico is supposed to be paint a pretty bleak picture: According to,a politically neutral academic website dedicated to cutting cultural bullshit-fume emissions as much as possible, there is a 45% education gap between White Mexicans and their darker compatriots in terms of years of study. White Mexicans also earn 42% more on average.

The reason this is important is there is a fair amount of visual subtext relating to Mexican racism that Ibero-Americans would automatically process without thinking, but which most White, Black and Asian Americans might miss. Running afoul of a racist gang of mestizos, the F cartel, is what propels the Cholombian “gang” leader, Ulísis (an unusual lack of festival-film subtlety choosing that name), on his hero’s journey. ‘Los Terkos’ (the stubborn ones) isn’t a crime gang, although they are assumed to be, as my brief reading about Cholombian gangs tells me. Rather than get high and drunk, they spend their collective money on clothes and music, the aforementioned slowed-down Colombian Cumbia.

I never much liked the little Mexican Cumbia I heard before seeing ‘INLH’. I got the appeal and then some when I heard it the Cholombian way. And the dancing! All Americans recognize it as traditional indigenous ceremonial dancing gone street. Cholombians groom their hair to look like Aztec headpieces, and wear flowing, extra-baggy, brightly colored longline shorts and t-shirts. When Ulísis and his posse break into their moves, stooped low, hopping foot to foot, toe-heel-toe, it’s easy to imagine them bedecked in carved jade masks and magnificent plumes, cavorting among the step pyramids. They dance, and the groaning, growling Jaguar spirit of Mexico breaks through the concrete rubble of the slums and rises beneath their feet: the struggle, the poverty, the passion, the danger, the violence, the beauty, the love, the loss. Whatever story is woven between those moments is the mundane framing the divine.

‘I’m No Longer Here’ is one of 15 films shortlisted as Best Foreign Film. Like ‘The White Tiger’, it hits all the right conversation points for right now. I hope it’s nominated.

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