I have been called both and recently my teen daughter asked me what was she? (For some of you that may not know, she was born here in the United States from a Panamanian mother and a Mexican father) which would make her Hispanic and Latin, according to the United States Census Bureau. And to understand why, below is their perspective.
“Hispanic” is a different term that refers to native speakers of Spanish, or have Spanish-speaking ancestry, while “Latino” is more frequently used to refer generally to anyone of Latin American origin or ancestry”
-United States Census Bureau-
I told her that according to the Census description, she was both, Hispanic and Latin, although, between her father and I, we have a lot of European ancestry. I also told her, that many people born in the United states are either the 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th generation of many people that immigrated to the United States from other countries.
I told her, many of those people were Latin, Hispanics, Italians, Germans, French, Chinese, Japanese, Austrian, Danish, and so on and so forth, and they no longer identify themselves as any of those groups, because they were born and raised in the United States, and they have never visited, or lived in their ancestors native countries, so naturally, they will described themselves as Americans, nothing else.
And of course, the whole description would get complicated regarding origins and race and ethnicity, so I told my daughter, all 3 of us were Hispanics and Latins, because of our culture, our music, our traditions, our food, our dances, the things that we like and how we do things.
My daughter agreed and she told me; You are right mom, I see the differences with Latin and Hispanic people, and when I am at school or when I go to an event with people that do not do the things the way you, Hispanics or Latin people do. I get it. “I am a Latina”
Yes, we are both Latin and Hispanic, a group of people with an amazingly rich legacy, culture, history and folklore. With deep rooted Latin and Hispanic traditions and with a past that as sad as it was, allowed me and my ancestors before me and my daughter now, to be part of that ancestry.
We, all Latins and Hispanics have so many things in common, including that past and how we came about. The language we all speak. The music we love to listen and we dance to. The very delicious food we take hours to prepare and hours to eat in the company of family, friends and even strangers.
The many occasions we choose to celebrate. The colorful clothing we design and make with our own hands. The dances we invented and we created and we play with our own handmade musical instruments and the dances we dance with passion because they make us happy.
We are very warm and open and inviting. We love to celebrate life and we love to gather as people, as communities and as families. We invite even strangers to eat and we share food, even if we have little and even if we have to sacrifice our own.
We love to invite people over to our houses for afternoon tea, while we watch our favorite soap opera, soccer match or just simply because we love to have company. We love to tell stories and we love to hear them. We love seating by the patio or the open porch while we listen to good music and while we say hi to the neighbor that walks by.
We wear colorful, bright, very beautiful traditional clothing because we are surrounded by beautiful scenery and beautiful wild animals, flowers and birds and we naturally got and get inspired by them, to create something that would match the beauty of the place we live in.
We dance for no reason at all or maybe just because we feel like we have to dance whenever there is music playing, or maybe because it is in our blood like some say. Or maybe we dance because our ancestors did and so we feel we must do it too, to honor them and to pay our respects to them.
Some of us dance to traditional as well as pop culture music coming from violins, trumpets, guitars, accordions, drums, either alone or as an orchestra and some of us may dance to music coming from flutes, marimbas, or hand made percussion instruments made from recycled metal.
There are a variety of rhythms to dance to and a variety of genres to listen to. Throughout Latin America, there are people of all skin colors and heights, as well as many natural hair colors, straight and curly and a great variety of eye colors from black to brown to green, to blue to hazel.
And yet, we are so different from each other. Every country so beautiful in its own right and with its own beauty, unique culture, traditions, food, traditional clothing, music, dances and speaking the same language but just with a different accent.
There are so many ways to prepare bananas in Latin America, as there are so many types of tamales. We all celebrate Christmas, however, we have specific traditions that are very different from each other. Even the birthday song, is sang very differently in many countries. Wel are all very proud of our own countries. We have our own flags, our own shield of arms, and our own national anthem.
We have different holidays and we all have different forms of government. We have different currency and we have unique and distinctive things that allow us to stand out, from each other. A Spanish word may not have the same meaning in all of the countries. We may use a word in a country to show admiration and in another country, we may be insulting someone.
Yes, we are so different and yet, we remain the same as a group. We are Latins and we are Hispanics. We speak Spanish as some of our ancestors may have, although, we do not know for sure, in most cases, if our ancestors were “pure” natives, if they came from Africa, Spain, or any other countries, and they may have spoken some other language or dialect.
It doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that they left us an amazing heritage and what we are is because of them and what we chose to do with that legacy is entirely up to us and may we continue to carry on with all of the wonderful parts that legacy left and gave us.
And if you did not know, September is National Hispanic Heritage Month. And September is not over yet and if you want to know more about us Latins or Hispanics, there is abundance of articles regarding both and regarding what we are all about.