Published On: Fri, Jan 16th, 2009

Ask A Latino: Americanos ask about the power of the Chancleta…


Dear Urban Jibaro,

I work in the toy department of a major retailer in a pretty diverse part of Pennsylvania. I see a lot of Latino families and I am curious about something. Whenever a kid throw a tantrum in my department, I hear their mothers threaten them with “John Kletter” and they immediately start behaving in most cases.

I have 3 kids myself and I would love to know how John Kletter can help me when they act up.

My question is “Who is John Kletter, and why are Latino children so afraid of him?

“Gracias” (thats all the Spanish I know)

Misty (Lancaster PA)


Ok…so being that fact that I am completely new at this, I honestly did not know what the hell Misty was talking about. I googled “John Kletter” and did not find much…and was about to move on to our next submission…that is until I mentioned the question to one of my friends (she made me swear not to reveal her name) who has a thick accent and she said “que eso de jon kleta?”and then it hit me me like a ton of bricks…we had a phonetic translation issue here….John Kletter doesn’t exist…at least not in the Latino universe what Misty actually witnessed was the power of the almighty “CHANCLETA”.

This whole ASK A LATINO thing is gonna be fun…

So now that we got that squared away…Click below to read my official response to the first “ASK A LATINO” question.

Thank you so much for your question…and choosing me the self appointed Ambassador of Latino Culture to answer it for you. What you observed is a Latino phenomenon not easily understood by mainstream Americanos. John Kletter does not exist, what you saw was Latino parents using one of the most effective disciplinary methods in our culture, the Chancleta. The Chancleta is really no more than a flip flop (the kind you would wear at the beach). The Chancleta’s power comes from the skill of the mother wearing them, the ability she has to un-holster it from her foot (mind you she has two) and immediately resolve the disciplinary crisis by applying what we Latinos call a “pela” (a good old fashion ass whooping). The mere threat of the Chancleta to a child who has ever endured a “pela” will usually correct bad behavior in public as Latino mothers are not really aware of current American laws that frown upon corporal punishment. An incident in which someone approaches a Latino mother who is disciplining her child with a Chancleta to help the child will likely result in that person getting a “pela” themselves. A child that is at home misbehaving while his mother may be barefoot in the house knows that his mother, if forced into a conflict will actually make him go get the Chancleta for her so she can then resolve any behavioral issues. This dynamic is also present in rural African American communities in which black children were told to go to the yard and get a “switch” or a branch from a tree so that their punishment can be administered. Having experienced that personally…I will let you know that it is the longest walk you will ever take and nothing can prepare you mentally for what will happen at the end of your journey.

So Misty…it is very possible like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, you have may have had the power all along right at your own two feet to keep those bad ass kids of yours in check. Go to the footwear department and get yourself a pair of Chancletas today…and for all you other American moms who favor shopping at home on channels like HSN…below is a video (courtesy of that shows a new and improved Chancleta product that has multiple uses in the household. I hope that this will help you in keeping those kids out of trouble.


As I am,
The Urban Jibaro
“Chancleta Survivor”


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Ask A Latino: Americanos ask about the power of the Chancleta…