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Will the Word "hispanic" Do Justice?

Autor:   •  February 14, 2016  •  Essay  •  806 Words (4 Pages)  •  401 Views

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Labels are only necessary to identify bottles, jars, and cans! I wish this were true, but unfortunately it is not. Society has practically forced us to label ourselves. The U.S, Census asks us to identify our racial/ethnic group, financial aid applications ask for this information, and so do many other places. For Spanish-speakers the issue of “labeling” becomes complicated. Will the word “Hispanic” do justice? Is “Latino” better? In his article “What’s the Problem with ‘Hispanic’? Just ask a ‘Latino’” David Gonzalez, a writer who focuses on immigration, finds that there is controversy with both of these words. Some people whom he interviewed feel “Hispanic” is too colonial, and others feels that “Latino” is slightly better but still too general. Moreover, others prefer identify with their country of origin. This debate has been going on years, and there is still no simple answer. Rather than choosing between “Hispanic” or “Latina,” I always refer to myself as “Cuban-American” because it shows that Latinos cannot be lumped into one group, and it highlights my distinct ancestry. Moreover, as a Chicagoan, I make sure I say “Cuban-American” because it makes others aware that not all Cuban-Americans call Miami home!

I agree with many writers and experts on Latino affairs who believe that the word “Latino” is too generic. Lisandro Perez, the director of the Cuban Research Center at Florida recognizes the limitations of this term. “The mega-label is widely used in the United States, but people have an identity of where they migrate from,” he said. I share Perez’s sentiment. Being Cuban-American is not the same as being Colombian-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican-American, etc. Our Spanish is different, our food is different, our music is different! I’ll never forget when I was in third grade and we had a potluck dinner. Our teacher asked us to bring a dish that reflected our heritage. I recall her saying that the Latino students could bring tacos or enchiladas. Of course, she wouldn’t have dreamed of mentioning ropa vieja or arroz congri -- two traditional Cuban specialties – because she assumed that all Latinos ate the same kind of food. We should honor our diversity and take the time to announce it when we are asked. It is important for us to make sure non-Latinos don’t group us all together.

Referring to myself as a Cuban-American is also important because it keeps my ancestral country


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