Mexicans Begin Jogging

Soto, Gary

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Jan-26-2000
  • Last revised: Dec-07-2006


Soto describes an incident that occurred when he was a factory worker in a plant that employed Mexican illegals. When the border patrol raided the plant, the boss assumed that Soto--a brown skinned Mexican-American--was also an illegal. Soto "shouted that I was American" but the boss didn't believe him, and Soto was forced to run away along with the others.

"I ran from that industrial road to the soft / Houses where people paled at the turn of an autumn sky." The "amazed crowds" watched as these aliens ran through their neighborhood--"jogged" in the parlance of the well-to-do for whom running means leisure activity. As Soto runs past the white suburbanites, he salutes them, embracing the symbols of America --"baseball, milkshakes"--and comments wryly on the sociologists for whom he is another statistic in the assimilation process.


Soto addresses the dilemma of being neither Mexican nor American, of traveling the path between the two. Because he is brown skinned and lived in a border culture, it was often assumed that he could not be a "real" American. Soto writes frequently about being between cultures, and of the anxiety as well as humor in the situation.


Appeared originally in the collection, Where Sparrows Work Hard (Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press) 1981.

Primary Source

New and Selected Poems



Place Published

San Francisco