Latino, Spanish or Hispanic?
As a latin-american born in Australia, I am constantly referred to as Spanish and regarded as what is called here 'wog'. I think it is incorrect to refer to me as Spanish because I am only partially Spanish. I am also African-Brazilian, Mapuche and Portuguese. The reason this term is so widely used in Australia is because of our language, but I don’t want an Australian referring to me as Spanish just as much as they wouldn’t like me to refer to them as English. Hispanic is simply too broad a term. A Hispanic could be someone from Equatorial Guinea or a spanish speaking Filipino. To date, Latino is the only term that has been uniquely used for us and has a gained a direct meaning to our people. Latino and Latin American are the best terms to refer to us. At least in my opinion. I would gladly like to hear yours.
Terminology: My opinion.
I never really thought about the difference between being Hispanic OR Latino. Although technically I am both. I really don’t find a difference between those two. I don’t mind being called either one. I firmly stand by it actually. I am also Peruvian, born there, lived there until I was 6, then moved to the States. There are a lot of experiences I actually want and will talk about on here. Namely differences in cultures. Culture clash. The food. The people. Even how being Hispanic/Latino affects my dating life. It’s interesting really. Hope you guys are doing well!
From general terms such as Latino and Hispanic, to the much more specific Peruvian, Mexican, El Salvadorian, there are countless ways to identify.
A recent discussion between Bob and I made me wonder how you identify. I decided to call this blog Latino/Hispanic/Spanish because I didn’t want anyone to feel left out. However you identify, this blog is for you.
Personally, I identify as a Latina. Beyond that, I identify as a peruana. Growing up with the nationalist pride that is so prevalent in many Latin American countries, it is a huge offense to have someone come up to me and assume I’m Mexican. This is not because I don’t like Mexico or Mexicans, but it stems from the fact that I was brought up to believe that my home country, Peru, is the best. And while Peru still has so many problems, it is a country I am proud to represent. But this is getting a little too deep into specifics (and I will get into that later!).
What I want to know is how you identify. Are you Hispanic? Latino? Or do you simply not have a preference? Let us know in a submission, reply, or question!
I really appreciate AP Lang, because a lot of the assignments force you to explore your own experiences. This is an essay (an entire one, this time), and the assignment was to write a descriptive essay. I decided to write about Inti Raymi, the Inca festival of the sun, which I witnessed while I was in Peru for the first time.
Hopefully this will give you perspective on how important my Peruvian culture and heritage is to me. It’s highly personal, which is rare in school assignments, so I hope you enjoy.
As I looked out over the clearing, waiting for the ceremony to start, my anticipation was almost tangible. The grass was a gradient of yellowed brown to green, and somber gray ruins rose up in the background, remnants of a lost empire of which I was about to get a glimpse.
The familiar sounds of a wooden pan flute could be heard, distantly at first, then closer as the parade of dancers grew nearer. Thump. Thump. I could hear their feet slapping the ground as they came within eyeshot, hundreds of legs working in unison. They were dressed as priests, advisors, and servants, all playing a role in the Inca hierarchy, and everything around me faded away as they drew me in with their fluid movements. All were adorned similarly: woven clothes in muted tones and decorated in feathers—red, orange, yellow, green, white, blue, and purple—the colors of the Inca flag, yet all paled in comparison to their Inca king. All eyes turned to him as he commanded the ceremony, his voice strong and deep, reverberating within me. He was a general, and I was his willing soldier. The glare from his over-polished and extravagant jewelry hit my eyes like a cacophony of sight—harsh, blinding light, gold glinting, yet I could not look away. He was the sun. And in that moment, it seemed as if the Earth revolved around him. The Inca was the center of attention, of the universe, and his servants—and I, captured in my reverent awe—looked to him with a blind devotion.
Then just like that, it was over. The music stopped and the Inca was carried away, never once breaking character. Just like that, I was jolted back into reality, left with a lingering memory of a lingering culture, refusing to fade away like the sunspots that clouded my vision.
Where it all started:
I got the idea to start this blog after an assignment to write an essay on three types of languages I speak and why they are important. I had to read an essay written by Gloria Andalzúa, and it got me thinking a lot about why Spanish and my Latin upbringing is important to me. One of my greatest regrets is my inability to speak fluent Spanish (which I am trying very hard to change) but that doesn’t change the fact that the Spanish language is incredibly important to me.
So here is the small excerpt (there was a length constraint, after all) of my essay that deals with my experience with the Spanish language. At some point I will write a full length essay on this alone, but until then, hopefully this will give you a taste of my experiences.
If “truespeak” [a “language” I speak] is the language I use with strangers, Spanglish is a language I reserve for my family. [Gloria Andalzúa, author of the essay “How To Tame A Wild Tongue] eloquently and beautifully describes the internal struggle that every Spanish-speaker faces. In a culture where the dialect of Spanish you speak tells where you’re from, how you grew up, and what kind of person you are, the kind of Spanish you identify with shapes who you become. My Peruvian upbringing certainly shaped who I have become, and it is the most important thing in the world to me, which is why, despite the fact that I am not fluent, Spanglish is the language I use for my family—what I am comfortable with. Andalzúa writes, “If you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language,” a sentiment that rings true to myself as well. There is a Spanish phrase, “que pena,” which means how sad, or what a shame. And ‘pena,’ or shame, is what I feel when my Spanish is insulted. My Spanglish, however mangled and imperfect, allows me to communicate with the people most important to me, my family, and especially my abuelita, whose “broken English” mirrors that of Tan’s mother.
As I shift from language to language, and I often speak all three in one day, it is clear to me that who I am is seen as how I present myself. Whether it be the confidence I exude in “truespeak,” the warmth and familiarity I feel when I speak Spanglish, or the softer cadences in Japanese, where self deprecation is an art form, the languages I speak define my sense of self. For who am I? I am who I choose to be heard as.