Towards the end of the movie The Mule (2018), there is a moment where a Mexican is stopped by police as a suspected drug mule, and tells the police "I don't speak Spanish".

A screenshot of a Mexican man being arrested by a white police officer, with his hands against the hood of his truck

I'm not American and don't know the cultural meaning of this. Could you elaborate on this? Why did he say "I don't speak Spanish"?

  • To show that there are Mexican Americans who are so American that they don't even know the language of their ancestors?
  • To debunk some stereotypes that all Mexican Americans speak Spanish and are still more Mexican than American, aka identify as Mexican-first or mostly Mexican?
  • 2
    Not everything is symbolic. Sometimes, it is just a case of a simple mistake - in this case a trope called Mistaken for foreigner
    – Yasskier
    Sep 27, 2021 at 1:47
  • 1
    Why do you think the character stopped by police is Mexican? Sep 27, 2021 at 2:58

1 Answer 1


Spanish is the language of Mexico.

I think you are mistaken that the man stopped is Mexican, which is also an assumption the police are making. While I don't doubt he has Hispanic ancestry, possibly Mexican, it's pretty clear he's born and raised in the USA, in that interaction, and his saying "I don't speak Spanish" is the way the director chose to show that, instead of having him say "I was born and raised in the USA."

He's saying "I don't speak Spanish" because one of the officers spoke to him in Spanish.

  • interesting, i did not think that the director meant to say "i was born raised in us". I really thought that the director tries to change perception of the public, white americans that most mexicans are fresh recent fence hoppers. he probably wanted to convey thru movies - "hey these are new kind of americans", "accept the new kind of americans - the society is changing" or like "our mostly white society is becoming more multicultural"
    – ERJAN
    Sep 25, 2021 at 17:04
  • @ERJAN - I'm not sure why you think what you describe as the desired goal conflicts with what I said about that, in any way. They showed that this Mexican-"looking" individual was born and raised in the USA, had citizenship, and legal documentation. I'm saying that the director wanted to communicate that this person did not fit stereotypes of what an illegal/undocumented person vs a citizen looks and sounds like. I summarized that by describing it as "I was born and raised in the USA." Which IS what is being communicated, but for the reasons you stated. Sep 27, 2021 at 13:35

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