By Christina Raney |Staff Writer|
Although associated with individuals from Mexico, the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” also apply to Latin Americans and Europeans.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of Hispanic, “1. relating to the people, speech, or culture of Spain or of Spain and Portugal. 2. of, or relating to, or being a person of Latin American decent living in the United States; especially one from Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin.”
The definition of Latino, “A person who was born or lives in South America, Central America, or Mexico or a person in the U.S. whose family is originally from South America, Central America or Mexico.”
The word “Hispanic” comes from the U.S. Census Bureau. Before 1970, Mexicans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans were actually considered White—Caucasian. However, it was in 1970 when the word
“Hispanic” was created because Latino activists were lobbying the Bureau to have a national category for all the different communities.
According to Liliana Gallegos, CSUSB Latino/a Media and Culture professor, the word “Latino” pertains to people from Latin America.
“Latinos are politically aware and united from being in the United States. Also, the term Latino is more commonly used on the West Coast, and Hispanic is more commonly used on the East Coast,” added Gallegos.
It seems some students have some confusion with the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” and how to self-identify.
“I truly don’t know the exact meanings or difference between the two,” stated student Antoinette Armas. “They are usually thrown together as an option on paperwork, as if they were the same thing or had no significant difference.”
“What is ethnicity? I don’t use those terms,” asked student Oscar Rios.
A student said, “I don’t use the term. I’m 100 percent Latina, but I use Hispanic because of my parents,” which speaks to the nature of how confusing the two labels may be.
“Honestly, neither term works for me,” stated student Diana DeCastro.
Of the terms Latino students would be associated with, it appears that they don’t want to be associated with either Latino or Hispanic.
Instead, they want to be associated with the countries from which their ancestors are from, and quite possibly due to the demographics of the school, many want to solely identify as Mexican-American.
“I prefer to state what I am, which is Mexican-American,” stated Armas. “I do not have a preference of either. I don’t usually use either. I just tell people that I’m Mexican, if asked and that’s it.”
Others chose to be connected with their culture or their ethnicity.
“I associate with Mexican, because it’s what I am,” said Rios.
“I associated myself with the Bolivian and Nicaraguan culture because of my parents,” said Mariagracias Terrazas.
“I affiliate myself as mixed,” explained Gallegos, “Culturally I’m Mexican, but ethnically I’m Native American, Western European, and African.”
With all that said, Latino or Hispanic, how do you identify?