In the wake of new and upcoming presidential debates, we are preparing ourselves to hear candidates’ proposals on improving our nation for the people who calls it home. The issues are broadly ranged, discussing topics such as healthcare, education, reproductive rights, and, of course, immigration.
It’s no surprise that the subject of immigration – which is somehow mostly referenced to Latinos – are going to be brought to the debate table in both negative and positive perspectives. It’s inevitable. However, there are perhaps a few simple adjustments every political party should make in their choice of wording regardless of their position on immigration. One of these vocabulary cautionaries includes attaching the description “illegal” and using derogatory stereotypes to purposely dehumanize us.
In this article, we will be talking about another flawed system of categorization when it comes to Latinos that is made by politicians and even Latinos themselves. It’s the difference between the terms Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish.
First, let’s review the difference according to their dictionary definition:
Hispanic - “of or relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Latin America; A Spanish-speaking person living in the US, especially one of Latin American descent.”
Latino/a - “a person of Latin American origin or descent.”
Spanish - “the people of Spain; the Romance language of most of Spain and of much of Central and South America and several other countries.”
In a simpler explanation, we are not all Hispanic. Brazilians, who are Latino/as, are not a primarily Spanish-speaking country, but Portuguese-speaking. It is also important to note that not everyone of a Spanish-speaking country necessarily speaks Spanish. A lot of indigenous civilians converse in their native language. And for those of us who speak Spanish, we are still not Spanish. To be Spanish only means if you are a person of Spain. Since Spanish people obviously speaks Spanish, they are Hispanic, but they are not Latino/a because Spain is located in Europe.
This should be a vital observation. Every September, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, but porque “Hispanic”? Why are we disqualifying Brazilians from this annual celebration when Hispanic Heritage Month is not celebrated by the Spanish either? Is it because the term Hispanic is automatically assumed to coincide with Latinos? Is that wrong?
An experiment was recently conducted in a video by Peruvian and Columbian Youtube personality Kat Lazo. She displayed three different Latinas in pictures to the people of New York, asking them which one is Latina. The Afro-Latina was least likely to be chosen as the Latina. After, Kat Lazo asked the participants if they knew the difference between Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish. Spoiler Alert: most of them didn’t.
However, commenters brought another perspective to the discussion of terms. Many argue the labels are only important in the US, and the confusion wouldn’t of occurred if it wasn’t for European colonization. This is why several people of Latin America with indigenous roots are starting to reject the labels ‘Hispanic’ or even ‘Latino’.
And the various terms do for the most part complicate us. Latinos are united, but we are definitely not duplicates. We are not a race. Some of us are Indigenous, White, Black, Asian, or a mix of some (or all!). It is important to remember that each heritage and culture is unique.
What are your opinions, chicas? What do you describe yourself as? Are labels important to you? Let us know in the comments down below!