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The Truth about Being Latino

todayNovember 20, 2015

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by Chelsea Moran
Web Content Contributor

Being Latino in America can be difficult at times when there is a load of ignorance floating around your race, nationality, and culture. Although there are many differences in the Latino community depending on where you hail from or are descended from, there are three things that many latinos have in common and have to explain to people on a regular basis…

Not every Latino you see is Mexican

There are 22 countries that make up Latin America, they include: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Everyone from these countries is Latino because they are from Latin America or are of latin descent. We all take pride in where we come from and going unrecognized or categorized as anything other than what we identify as is insulting. Be aware of this and please take a moment and think before automatically assuming that every Latino you see is Mexican.

Not every Latino speaks Spanish

Do not assume that every Latino speaks Spanish. This goes for Latinos and non-Latinos alike. Don’t ask me what something is called in Spanish or to translate something for you because I can’t. Personally, I feel uncomfortable when I go somewhere and another Latino automatically starts talking to me in Spanish. Usually i just nod my head and say “si,” and keep it moving. I don’t speak the language (unless I’m saying bad words), I roughly understand it, and I don’t want to be judged and made to feel any less Latina (specifically Mexican) because I can’t speak it. Many people in my generation are in the same boat because our parents and older family members may speak the language, but we ourselves were not taught Spanish growing up and told by other Spanish speakers that we would just pick it up eventually. Well, I’m almost 21 and if I haven’t picked it up by now, I seriously doubt I ever will. This leads us to problem number three.

There’s a Difference Between Being Hispanic and Being Latino

I am guilty of using these terms interchangeably, but they are by no means the same thing. Not every Latino is Hispanic and vice versa. Being Hispanic specifically means being a person from or being a descendant of someone from a  Spanish speaking country. Being Latino specifically means being a person from or being  a descendant of someone from Latin America. So for example: I am Mexican American (Chicana), therefore I am Latina and Hispanic because Mexico is a Spanish speaking country and part of Latin America. Someone from Brazil or of Brazilian descent is Latino but not Hispanic, because Brazil speaks Portuguese. People from Spain are Hispanic but not Latino because it’s not part of Latin America.

A lot of times these issues are punchline jokes and admittedly funny, however, it doesn’t take much for a joke involving race, ethnicity, etc. to go too far. Needless to say, if you are a non Latino encountering a Latino, keep these things in mind and be respectful. The same goes for Latinos encountering Latinos, because even we can sometimes be ignorant of others in the same community. If you attend Texas State then you know that this campus takes great pride in being as diverse as possible. Be a good Bobcat and don’t allow lack of knowledge of other cultures and races keep you from making a contribution to our own little melting pot.

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