Wed, 25 Apr 2012 19:01:36 GMT | By Simon Gomez

¿Somos Latinos?



Man daydreaming in coffee shop window

David Malan/Getty Images

Latino certainly flows better than Hispanic, a word saddled with the dry clicking sound of an empty C, so foreign to the Spanish language. It is also more accurate in my personal context, as a Spanish speaking national of Venezuela living in the United States of America. When I say Latino I think of Latin America, which is where I come from. I after all, am and will always be a Venezuelan.

But then I look at so many other Latinos with very similar circumstances and, at a first glance, what I see is that all I really share with most of them is the language. And I can't help but wonder if that language, which incidentally we misuse and pervert constantly, is enough of a bond for us to present ourselves collectively as a group to the rest of the nation.

Is Spanish enough for Latino marketers to brag about our collective buying power? Is it enough for Latino pollsters to brag about our ever-increasing political power? The answer is easy and is also a resounding yes. You can say many things about business and political people, but the one thing you cannot say is that they are stupid.

But when you reduce the question to a more personal level things can get tricky. Now the question is if my dear Spanish is enough for me to feel a connection with an illegal immigrant picking tomatoes in northern Florida or with a Mexican waiter in Texas, with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis or with Florida senator Marco Rubio, with William Levy or with the folks enjoying their cortaditos in Calle Ocho? How about Christina Aguilera and Cameron Diaz? I don't know, honestly. Sometimes it seems it is and sometimes it doesn't.

I feel no bond whatsoever when I see Latino actors playing pimps and drug dealers in the movies, dropping a word or two in Spanish with the wrong accent every so often. But when I read things like how the Dream Act got torpedoed in Congress, or how Mitt Romney thinks that Arizona's immigration law should be the model for a national immigration reform, I feel attacked, I feel solidarity and I feel very very Latino.

So, what do you think? How do you feel?

19Comments
Jun 8, 2012 7:02AM
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Thank you so much, Mr. Gomez. Finally a voice of reason. I am a Latina or what I more like to refer to myself as a Caribbean Cocktail, a nice mix of Puerto Rican, Cuban and Trinidadian. But above all I just say I am American. It hurts when people forget that being Latino means people from Central and South America but also North America. My family doesn't hail from Spain, maybe some generations back but that was so long ago I can't trace it.  America is my birthplace, my first langauge is English, my second is Spanish. My culture is American and a crazy mix of carribbean influences. I look very much Puerto Rican, there is no doubt of my heritage. I am proud  of it and I love my family. I do not like when people assume I speak Spanish or I know how to make a Paella. Sorry but I don't have a funny accent or know anyone that was an illegal that crossed the border or was a gang member or drug dealer or wore a bandero around their head. I am not a dropout or teenage mom, no I am an educated woman with a Master's degree and I have no issue paying taxes. Sorry to ruin your image. Stereotypes presist because we let them persist. History books need to be changed to reflect the important contributions that our people made to this country and get the facts staraight about who really conquered the Americas. Our people were here before Columbus ever stepped foot on the New Land. And PR is a American Commonwealth, so my ancestors have been Americans far longer than most white people that came here seeking fortune in the 1930's. Oh, even though I am not Mexican, they were the first North Americans, being that the West coast from Texas up to Oregan was their territory before the white men came to settle. Most of those men married and had children with the locals, so people need to look to their bloodlines to know the truth of their ancestry.  That is okay, because in 2050 most all Americans will be tan skinned and will be able to trace some part of their ancestry to Latin American roots. Just like my children;) Yes, Latinos once ruled this land and will one day again take back what was rightfully theirs in the first place. Wepa!

Jun 6, 2012 10:21AM
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First and foremost, your notion that we misuse and pervert the Spanish language is a very negative and narrow minded point of view. Languages are constantly in flux and any change should be celebrated and encouraged. Second, all Latino cultures should be respected, from the abuelita who sells oranges on the corner to the homeboy that we see standing on the sidewalk drinking a forty. Once you start ignoring certain members of our Latino family you risk erasing a part of our identity.

Jun 6, 2012 1:06PM
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I feel exac tly the same way you do.  And I too have been advocating for years to be called Latina and not Hispanic.  My argument is that not all Latin Americans are of Hispanic origin.  I happen to be; my father and grandparents were Spanish and I feel a deep connection to Spain, my culture, my upbringing and all my Spanish relatives that live there, but have many friends in Mexico who are of Italian, French, German, Polish and other origins, so to call these people "Hispanic" is certainly a misnomer and an aberration. If you were to ask any of them what they consider themselves, they would undoubtedly tell you "I am Mexican."   I was born and grew up in Mexico - and I feel, first and foremost,  Mexican and I do  feel a deep connection to the immigrant workers from Mexico, but a lot less connected to the Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in this country.  I am Mexican and I am very proud of it.  I am college-educated, middle class, come from a higher social ladder in Mexico; I am cultured, well-travelled and speak 3 languages - and I came here legally and then became a naturalized  American citizen.  Mexican-Americans and Chicanos hate the Hispanic label, rightfully so.  They were born here; many have been here for generations.  For Heaven's sake, if you are from the Southwest, this WAS MEXICO once upon a time.  I love the saying that I've heard said many times:  "I didn't cross the river; the river crossed me!"  The people in Texas, California, New Mexico, Nevada and much of Colorado were all Mexican people once upon a time, as were the people from Louisiana and other Southern states, prior to the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, which acquired Louisiana (and other states) from France and Mexico.

Yes, there should be some immigration laws - and they should be enforced, but certainly not the way it's been done in Arizona - and it's a shame Mr. Romney can't see that.  He's from a Mexican background; his father was Mexican-born.  I am American, and I love it, but, like you and feel very Latina and proud of it.

Jun 6, 2012 9:12AM
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Mr. Simon Gomez, I understand that you are from Venezuela and say that you are latino, and that when you think of Latino, you think of Latin America, however, you and many others like you think that Latino only means Latin America and Spain. Somos todos Latinos; French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish (Spain). We are all Latinos also. Just because I am french and my native language is not spanish, doesnt mean I am not Latino. People please stop stereotyping Latino as only people of spanish speaking descent. All of the nationality that I just mentioned all happen to be latin languages also. I am not sure what the point of this article was, because before I read it, when I seen the headline, I was expecting it to say something to the effect of what I just said. But once again your 'Latino' reference was just to people of spanish speaking descent. Hispanic is not the only latino in this world. Latin America are not the only latinos, please people at LatinZine stop being racist. Somos Todos Latinos!
Jun 6, 2012 8:57AM
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I agree...  I too am Latina, from Central Ameica, but not Mexico, as they are part of North America and not Latin America.  The type casts are always belittling.

 

Jun 6, 2012 1:23PM
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To Rose Parker -- where exactly did you get your education?  You are so wrong to say that Mexicans are not Latin Americans; you obviously don't know what you talk about.  Yes, Mexico is in the North American continent (a fact many forget when they speak of Norteamericanos); but Mexico is very much a Latin American country.  Latin American does not refer as much to location, as it refers to a common language, culture and background, which is why I somehow agree with Clemente77, below who asserts that peoples from european countries are also Latin American.  While that is NOT true, people who were born in Latin American countries and are of european backgrounds (almost everybody in Latin America) are also Latinos; however, people from those countries are NOT Latinos; they are EUROPEANS and the Census is wrong to bunch them all together.  Latinos are the people whose countries were colonized by SPAIN and that includes everybody in Mexico and South of Mexico, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean islands.  Just look at the names-- Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, etc.--all Spanish names.
Jun 6, 2012 7:44PM
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Somos Latinos Exactamente! All of us that Claim our Heritage and Culture...what ever that may be!
DROP HISPANIC that's a GOVERNMENT TERM that some "Fool in DC made up" and certain people consider themself Hispanic since I've been told it sounds Nicer...whatever that means...
Like My buddy George Lopez says" HIS PANIC" is RIGHT!
 WE are populating and will be very  Powerful Folks in this world so let's get it right!
So...let's quit with all this arrogance and classism and stereotypes perpetuated by White people and unfortunately some our people to make us look inferior and straight IGNORANT!

I agree with El Toothpick  there is too much Conquer and Divide among each other! Speak Spanish well, speak spanglish, don't speak spanish at ALL ...
all we know if you CLAIM LATINO(a), from
Mexico, USA, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Brasil( we love you too) Columbia,El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Guatemala, Uruguay,Paraguay, Nicaragua,...I think I missed a few???
QUE VIVA LA RAZA Y La GENTE LATINO(A)!

I've been to 12 of these countries and plan on visiting all of them in the next 10 years!
What's so fascinating is they all speak spanish, I can get around easily, I love to celebrate the similarities and I feel a bond to all the countries....I love the different accents and colloquial language...I can't be so narcissists to only feel a bond to "my People! Aye Por Favor...mY pEoPle are all over North, Central South America and the CARRIBEAN!
Not just where I was raised!
WAKE UP EVERYONE their is a entire World out there of LATINOS LET'S EMBRACE IT!

PS writer Your "no bond"   comment  with the Latino actor's playing pimps and drug dealers that has a been a way of OPPRESSING OUR FOLKS FOR YEARS...unfortunately w/our RAZA that's a Self filling Prophecy that has been manifesting our JAILS/PRISONS in CALIFORNIA! We have more LATINOS LOCKED up in CALIFORNIA than ANYWHERE! So Let's identify with Pedro Almendriz or Ruben Blades,Paul Rodriguez or Andy GARcia, CAntifilas...why you focusing on the disenfranchised oppressed folks...I can identify with poverty and pain...that HURTS especially with Latinos...every family member has one that's been to the POKEY..for some reason or another...! So let's not be so ARROGANT MR. Writer...show some real LOVE for your GENTE ESE!

Aye Por Favor!
Jun 8, 2012 8:13PM
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You live here. What does Latino have to do with anything? The question is do you feel like an American?
Jun 6, 2012 1:34PM
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To El Toothpick -- Yes, it is a shame to degrade the language; just because Americans have done so with the English language, doesn't make it right.  I too hate the degradation of the language and hate Spanglish.  People should speak in either language, and speak it well, but Spanish should not be degraded and anglosized.  I'm sure Cervantes and Shakespeare would agree.
Jul 15, 2013 11:53PM
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Latino/a is a misnomer.  People from Latin America are not "Latinos/as."  Latino/a means Roman.  "Hispanic" means someone from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain).  In reality, people from Latin America are Latin Americans.  (Latin American.  Coined by the French in the 17th Century).  In this racializatuin process that we see in the U.S., race is a tool used by the majority.  These two misnomers are used as a "one-size" fits all amalgamation of Latin American ethnicities that erases their histories, especially in context each ethnicity's historical relationship to the U.S.  It is important that we not be classified under these two misnomers.  We of Latin American descent are Latin Americans.  There are Mexicans, Salvadorians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, etc.  For those Naturalized, there are Mexican-Americans, Salvadorian-Americans, Cuban-Americans, etc.  For those born in the U.S. they are Americans of whatever their ethnic descent may be, such as Salvadorian-American, Cuban-American, etc.  Americans of Mexican and Mexican-American descent, seeing their ethnic relationship with the U.S. in the context of historical usurpation of Mexican land and proximity to the U.S., and own American minority history, are unique in their ethnic development and are Chicanos/as.  It is a term that was coined by Rodolpho "Corky" Gonzales in his poem, "I am Joaquín," that defined the Mexican-American and the Mexican-American civil rights movement.  It ethnically and politically defines the American of Mexican or Mexican-American descent to gain a political voice in this racialization process.  It is la causa that spearheads resistance to ignorance, such as seen in these posts, and it is la causa that spearheads a political voice for Latin Americans and Americans of Latin American descent.  It is La Causa  to prevent the amalgamation of ethnicities under these to misnomers that those who ignorantly assimilate into the dominant white culture of Dutch, German, and English descent, that seek to impose their culture on the minorities, even though minorities have always been a part of the American story.  Educate yourselves.  You've just been educated that you are not Latino or Hispanic.  If you insist you are, then do it; but you're not and never will be.  And no worries.  Proceed.  Educated folk will just continue to spread seeds of knowledge that will grow elsewhere that didn't take with pendejos or the apathetic.  Viva la causa, cabrones.
Jun 9, 2012 7:06PM
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I've worked in Venezuela for years and ate my share of arepas. The food and culture isn't even close to the Mexican Culture. I'm proud to be a American of Mexican descent or a Mexican-American. If someone is offended by that discriptor....deal with it. Proud of my Mexican roots and my American grandchildren. I've worked with Hondurans, Salvadoreans etc. and their food is similar to Mexican food.  I don't feel inferior or superior to other cultures. I'm simply proud of what we brought to the table and moved on.This Mexican American votes and Romney has my my vote based on what I feel will make America an economic and educated country once again.

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