What does it mean to be Latino/Hispanic?

7 05 2008

Following up with my previous post, changing subjects.

 What does it mean to be Latino/Hispanic? If you live in Latin America, well I never thought about it, really. To be a Latino in the US, well that is entirely different. 

How are Latinos really supposed to look? As someone commented in my last post, Latinos come in all shapes and sizes, skin colors…etc. We also come from different cultures. No one knows what a Latino is really supposed to look like. I have been told I don’t look Latina enough because I “look white”.

 I have found that people like to generalize; I guess it makes it easier if you lump all into one neat category. Saying that all Latinos are the same is like saying that all Asians are the same or have the same culture.

 In the US there is a set of stereotypes assigned to Latinos… I am still trying to figure it all out. I can tell you some of the things that I have heard:

  • All Latinos  speak Spanish, and they don’t speak English.
  • Latinos are all Mexican. There are more countries south of the border.
  • All Latinos are in construction, landscaping, or are maids.
  • Latinos only like to party (actual statement in a job interview) a duality with the next one,
  • Latinos are hard workers
  • Temperamental
  • Irresponsible
  • All take a siesta (nap)
  • Overly sexual
  • All eat spicy food
  • All can dance
  • All Illegal
  • All Latinos are part of a gang
  • If you speak with a Spanish accent, then you must be unintelligent.

Latino Stereotypes

Because the ethnic and racial designations are labels, they fail to express the multiple facets of the person, it places people in a box with parameters they are supposed to accommodate. I have to explain that the Latino culture of the US is unfamiliar to me. It is very different from my own culture. So I usually don’t fall in the “Latina Box”.

I have been told that I am a woman of color and as such I have to take sides with one group or another, but how can I?  I am a mix of all races. Taking sides would imply denying parts of my self. I am Black, white, native, green (hey my grandmother said so) and I am proud of all those.

I am glad that I moved here as an adult, because I am better equipped to deal with this.

Most of the Latino population where I live is immigrant, so I never encounter the “you do not act Latino enough”, I think this is because none of us knows what that means. But I learned that there is something called a coconut…Brown on the outside white on the inside. This is used for Latinos that act white. I also learned that African Americans are called Oreo cookies and Asians are called Twinkies.

How are Latinos supposed to Act? What Does it mean to act Latino?




4 responses

8 05 2008

I have some more stereotypes:

Latinos are supposed to be practicing Catholics with a house full of candles that have biblical figures and the saints on them (I collect them because they are cool).

Latino men get very dirty on their landscaping jobs and then ride around in the back of pick-up trucks drinking tall boy Budweisers.

Latinas get pregnant very early and have multiples of children. This causes them to have short thick bodies with extra fat to feed their next batch.

Latinos have barbecues in their back yard where they cook goats and pigs on a rotating spit violating many city ordinances.

Latino men routinely congregate on street corners and Home Depot parking lots waiting for contractors to hire them for construction jobs under the table.

The men wear cowboy hats and boots and the women wear tight ill-fitting jeans that display their muffin tops (stomach fat that hangs over the top of the jeans.

To act Latino means you support la raza and the reconquista effort to annex the Southwest to become Mexico. It also means you will not act White so you can maintain your heritage.

Hey Johnny, Have you been to my Grandma’s house? How do you know about the saints and altars? My Grandmother used to have a table in her room that had the saints and the candles. 😉

9 05 2008
Quirky Indian

Really like your post. In a strange way, I can empathise, since Indians are also confused with Pakistanis and people from the middle east. We are all supposed to have that Indian accent, like curry and steal America’s tech jobs. Americans seem surprised when Indians seem to have money to spend!

It is sad to have to explain youself and your culture on a daily basis, but I like to belive that eventually people will open their minds and hearts and be more mindfull and learn about others. By the way I am often confused with Middle eastern, by people from the Middle East.

17 05 2008

i swear, i think the only reason they put hispanic as a race was to find the illegal aliens! its so stupid, i know!

19 05 2008

I think I was at your Grandma’s house once. here name was Maria, right? My favorite candle is San Lazaro (Lazarus) because it has a little English dog licking his leprosy sore.

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