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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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.