How would you identify yourself when people ask you if you are Latino or Hispanic?
Well there is an answer, but it takes more than just a few sentences to explain it.
A few days back, I was at a party with a couple of my friends.
As the party went on, some of my buddies left to dance, and I stayed at the table with Luis, one of my Venezuelan friends.
Hours passed, and Luis and I were just drinking and telling jokes when a Mexican guy approached us.
Neither of us knew who he was, but he looked rather impressed, and he mentioned something about our accents and how fast we spoke to each other.
We told him we were from Venezuela and showed him how we managed to speak so quickly.
He sat down with us for a while and then said, “So, I am a Latino, too.” Impressed, Luis said, “No, sorry you’re just Mexican; you’re not Latino.”
That kicked off a whole different conversation, and I just sat there while they were discussing what made them Latino.
Then they asked me, “Eduardo, what are you? Hispanic or Latino?”
I felt stranded in the middle of their heated conversation, as they glared at me for an answer.
I stood up and left outside thinking, “Am I Latino or a Hispanic?” Then, a Puerto Rican friend approached me outside and I asked, “I feel weird, what is the difference of being a Latino or a Hispanic?”
He smiled and explained that it was too difficult of an answer, but left me with this advice,
“Hispanic refers to language, and Latino refers to geography.”
That cleared up a lot of my confusion, and when I got home I did some research on my laptop and came across a quote from Lawrence Hernandez, “Words such as Hispanic or Latino are limiting. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and dialects. There’s no one word that fits all.”
The next morning, Luis and I coincidentally ran into the Mexican guy from the night before at a gas station.
I felt more confident than the night before and explained my opinion of what I thought the difference Hispanic and Latino was.
Latino refers to us South American people, and if you spent a day with us you’d know we talk in quick and thick accents, inject jokes into our conversations often, and the food we eat is different, too.