Posts Tagged ‘Ricky Martin’

“What are you?” “Where are you from?” “Your Latina? You can’t be Latina (or  Spanish) because you are too white!”

By this time, I am usually frowning because I have heard this numerous times by a Latino person (well…mostly from the Latinas ). In an attempt to defend my skin color, I would explain that my “whiteness” was given to me genetically by my white American dad (even though my skin color is darker than my dad). Sometimes I would be looked at disapprovingly and told that I could not be a Latino because: I do not speak fluent Spanish/am too white/hair not black/fill in the blank.  I would try to explain as calmly as I could, that I grew up around the Latino culture. I grew up spending lots of time with my abuelita (Spanish for Grandma), who would make me homemade tortillas and sway her hips to the  sound of Latino music. As I child I would drink Columbian coffee with a homemade cupcake and I would scoop up my frijoles  (beans) with a piece of tortilla. I loved eating my tamales with Coca-Cola while I watched my American shows.  I had an interesting childhood growing up with an American and Latino culture.

Culture is the most important word to understand  here because Latinos and Hispanics (not Spanish because then we would be from Spain,which I am not, though our ancestors were) is not a race but a culture/ethnicity. When we call ourselves Americans, we are saying we are not only from the “Americas” but we are of that culture. Being an American is not a race, just like Japanese is not a race.  Japanese people obviously are considered to be of the Asian race.

Many American-born Latinos don’t speak Spanish, and can be of white, black, American-Indian (mestizo) and even of Asian race. There is a stereotype of what a Latino should look like: Ricky Martin or Jennifer Lopez, with dark hair, dark eyes and tan or olive skin. However, we all come in different colors, like Latina beauty Zoe Saldana.

Latina Zoe Saldana - Star Trek's Uhura

I will keep on educating those, who believe that a Latina should have a certain look. Even though some feel that they are more Latina than I am, there are many more Latinos that accept me as just as I am.  I am proud to be a Latina.