As a minority, we all have our idiosyncrisies and dogmas, but there are many other things which can get under our skin.
What stereotypes really do anger you and what misconceptions about your community do you tire of trying to explain to those outside the Puerto Rican community?
Here's one for you!
This subject was brought up a long time ago, but I can't find the thread. So here it goes. I would like to know what everyone thinks.
¿Are we Latinos, Hispanics or Does it Really Matter?
Vernacular Insight by Don Jíbaro
his new age of “politically correctness” is oftentimes bringing us more chaos than order. With perhaps the exception of the Native American Indians, everybody else is claiming different ethnic roots. Many are trying to define racial and ethnic groups without stepping into each others toes… a task that is becoming more difficult each time. As Puerto Ricans we are, of course, included in this “genteelicial” melée and many of us feel reluctantly drawn into a whirpool of confusion and struggle as if we found ourselves in a hand-to-hand combat with our neighbor.
Everybody wants to have a somewhat aristocratic quality or flavor relating to their own gentry and no one desires to be identified by vulgarity or rudeness… However, maintaining or striving to maintain the appearance of superior or middle-class social status or respectability requires hard work as individuals as well as a community. This work must be devoid of false delicacy, prudery, or affectation.
It's so true that, while none no one wants to be classifed as a phony, not too many care to abstain from behaving or doing the things that automatically will make you one... like promising something and not delivering it.
(Later, you can read my essay on phonies... on THIS LINK)
We have learned that the greater proportion of the members of an ethnic group of people determines the group’s character which tends to preserve its characteristic form of civilization and customs, arts and crafts, legends, traditions, and superstitions from generation to generation. We pass on what and who we are. How do we determine that?
This is indisputably the case with Latin Americans (Con tu permiso, let’s call ourselves that for now for the sake of reference) whose unprecedented growth is rapidly changing the political, economic, and cultural panorama in many parts of the United States. So, who is a Latin American? Are Caribbeans included? Are we to be Caribbean Americans, because many maps separate the Caribbean from “continental” Latin America for obvious topographical reasons?
The last census in 2000 found that people of Latin American heritage identifying themselves as members of two and sometimes three ethnic groups. Consider the cultural diffences of the Cubans in Miami, Puerto Ricans in New York, and Mexicans in Los Angeles who while sharing a common language, yet have unique experiences.
Many books like “Living in Spanglish: The Search for Latino Identity in America” by Ed Morales are being written with labels already embedded in the title. Does that perpetuate the stereotype or pushes us to seek a “new” politically correct terminology?
Ed writes…“One borderline (or GAP) exists between first-generation immigrants and American citizens of varying levels of assimilation, and more between Caribbean Latinos, who are more influenced by African culture, Mexican/Central American Latinos, who are more influenced by indigenous Meso-American cultures, and South Americans, whose societies tend to be more Euro-colonial in tenor.”
I reluctantly agree with Ed, since the gap is there. Subliminal but existent. The Jibaros Forum on “Puerto Ricans vs. Newyoricans” has shown that there’s an enmity or antagonism between Boricuas from the Mainland and Boricuas from the Island. That gap gets narrowed with education and tolerance. Some of that has been accomplished by celebrities such as Jimmy Smits, J-Lo, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and others who bring our culture into the elite social strata.
Then… what exactly is this Latinamericanhispanico culture phenomenon that creates such a trail of eggshells for us to tread upon?
Morales sets aside “Hispanic” and “Latino” as problematic, and prefers to use the term “Spanglish.” Doesn’t that place us “out of the frying pan and into the fire”? It does, regardless of how hard Mr. Morales tries to broaden the term beyond language, to encompass a multicultural and multiracial identity. To this jíbaro, it’s just one more label. We need unity, not a new degree of separation.
Our music unites us… be it mambo, merengue, bolero or ranchera. The great ones, Puente, Palmieri, and even Los Panchos and others have blended the aspects of one group into the other in order to appeal to more than one smaller ethnic constituency.
We need a fascination for unity and solidarity as the United States confronts a fragmented racial and ethnic future and the influence of Latin Americans grows.
Parenthetically, on the Hispanic, Latino, etc. thing, I particularly don't adhere to any of it... Generally, those are terms given by the Separatists, whether it be anglos or otherwise… looking for a “label” that draws a subtle separation from us, while not being totally offensive. Sort of like the labels given to the what became “Negroes” in the 40s and 50s, that became “Blacks” in the 60s and 70s, that became “African Americans” in the 90s.
Do I come from Latinia? Hispania?
I know that as an individual I might not be able to do anything about the way society labels us... I might even have to conform to "rolling with the punches." ALL I KNOW IS THAT I am a Puerto Rican who comes from one of a conglomerate of countries known to the world as Latin Amercia, so if anything, I’d be Latin American. but, sincerely, I don’t subscribe to any of it!
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