How It Be In The D

August 31, 2007

So what is “Hispanic?”

Lately, I have begun to think about this a lot. Maybe it’s because I read my girlfriend’s Latina. Maybe it’s from hanging out with my girlfriend’s crew-one pocket is comprised of a good number of Spanish speaking people. So whether it has to do with somebody speaking Spanish or their last name being a Spanish one I have to ask myself, “So what is ‘Hispanic?’ ”

When I visit Mexicantown in Southwest Detroit, I sometime feel like I’m a world apart from its residents, which is funny because many of my childhood’s fondest memories are tied to some of Mexicantown’s well known locations. Around fifth grade, I lose the think Spanish accent that I carried from kindergarten up until that point. I don’t have a low rider and don’t have any real interest in them. I don’t have a single tattoo. I don’t have a Mexican flag flying off of my car or anything with the Mexican flag on it. I still speak the language and can read it, although I can definitely say that English is my stronger language. I wonder, “Am I still Hispanic?”

I can honestly say that some in the Hispanic community would consider people like me “sell-outs”-something comparable to the Hispanic version of an Uncle Tom. The moment that I learned to impeccably speak and write in English and lost my connection to those images that some associate with being Hispanic was the moment that I lost my culture. The funny thing is that it wasn’t anything conscious or anything imposed on me by my parents. My parents weren’t the type of Mexican parents that prize assimilation so much that they rob their children of any ties to their culture and instead leave them with the homogenization that is American culture.

For the record, I don’t consider myself assimilated. I’d prefer to call myself integrated. I say this because, while I consider myself as American as the rock music that I listen to, I also have a strong sense of my Mexican roots. I am fortunate enough that I have been to Mexico numerous times. I know who my family is over there and communicate semi-regularly with them. I’m very familiar with the food and have a working knowledge of the customs. I am Mexican and American at the same time.

I think that the excessive worry about what our culture is stems from the conflict between a culture (American) that devours elements of other cultures and another (Hispanic) that has a distinct sense of what it is. You have the fear of American culture and the sometime blind stubbornness of the Hispanic one for not accepting the other as much as they themselves would wish. Hispanics should worry about losing sense of themselves and Americans shouldn’t wish Hispanics to lose their connections.

Before Hispanics can fully reconcile their Americanness, I feel that they should recognize the fact that the definition of what it is to be Hispanic has been changed. For me, there isn’t one definition. Hispanics are those that immigrated to the United States. Hispanics are those that are children of immigrants. Hispanics are also a mixture of various bloods flowing through their veins. Hispanics are light-complected or as dark as dark can be. Hispanics are all of these things.

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2 Comments »

  1. Identity. It is formed individual. Some want to form it or change who a person is by who they come from, me being actually a German/English/American. Since it is like the dominant culture that exists here in the good ol USA, it is not to be said that I am Germanic. Everyone that is here has immigrated if you think about it, except the small percentage of our population here in the USA that are actually Native American.
    There are many that exploit other cultures and say one is better than the other, which is totally shortsighted or very ignorant. Acute mindset that strictly as a cultural definition does not make since. One could say these are the facts, this heritage of Americans are in jail, and this percentage is the most likely to success just because there are so many whites.. one culture is not better than another. Being a sort of optimist in this area, I would add that every heritage no matter what you are is just human. You are you and I am I. Being mature enough to notice that cultural differences are fine and that me being a 10th generation immigrant of Massachusetts does not make me better than someone just off of the plan from India or Mexico or Africa. However, I will say that you nor I would not be here if this country never had immigrants. I am not saying give them a free lunch or do things illegally, no sir “no way jose” This leads me to think of the “immigration problem” we have. In one view, it is a game of numbers if we keep letting people in and don’t have enough to support them, then the whole kettle melting pot’s way of life goes sick and decrepit.Or my thought is that immigration can only help, for the more people we have here, as long as they work, the taxes will be skimmed off of each worker and we have more money to go into our government to make it strong and all of those lovely bureaus that go with it… yes am being sarcastic about that a little bit. A delicate balance between what is good, what we think will happen good or bad, or speaking lightly that we are a melting pot, we don’t always get along, but with Polish, German, English, Irish, Scottish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Canadian, Spanish, Latin American, Chinese, Japanese, Portugese, African, Icelandic, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Indian, Korean, Australian, Cuban, Filipino, and yes even the East Side of Detroit, we are all people. If you are different than I, have fun with it. Variety is the SPICE of life, and Hispanic or not you still are human that takes up space, has a soul and is what God created you as a human not an animal.(another topic creationism).. i won’t get into that now don’t have the time at this moment in time.

    Take care human.

    Comment by chuck — September 1, 2007 @ 19:11

  2. Talking with people from many parts of the World, I have come to recognize that most of them consider “Hispanic” as the people who are party all day and can dance salsa really well. Nowadays, it´s unbelievable to see how people are stereotyped only because they have a different racial background. We need to enjoy, live and tolerate diversity.
    Diversity also means physically handicapped people, different religions and everything that is different to us. So, I have to say that Hispanic is a term that makes a distinction between Americans and those who are Mexican, Cuban, Brazilian, Spanish, etc. I hope it was used in the past… And as you said Hispanic means keep your roots and adapted them to your enviroment, no matter wich country we´re talking about.

    Comment by Ada — September 18, 2007 @ 22:36


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