Latino, Hispanic, and Nationality: A Breakdown

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Latino is defined as “a person of Latin American origin.” In the Spanish language, words are gendered feminine (ends with -a) or masculine (ends with -o) so Latino means a male of Latin American origin meanwhile Latinmeans a female of Latin American origin.

Latinis the gender-inclusive word used to address the entire Latin American community and has become a widely used term when it comes to talking about inclusion. It is not interchangeable with the word Hispanic, something that many people (specifically politicians and especially Donald Trump) do. If you’re still confused, Huffington Post made a very informative video on the difference between Latino and Hispanic here.

There is a certain kind of pride that Latinos and Latinas hold about their country of where they come from, regardless if they were born there or not, and this is their nationality. There’s a lot of joking around about this pride between the different nationalities but it’s all in good fun: 123. However, this pride is taken very seriously and some people may not understand this.

I am extremely proud to be Colombian and can find the hilarity of the jokes that people make about Colombians (1, 2). Yet when people confuse my nationality for another, I am offended. It’s not because I think being Colombian is superior to being Puerto Rican or Mexican (the most common nationalities people think I am) but because that is not who I am, what I identify as, or my culture.

I mean, being Colombian rocks for so many different reasons, (123), but that doesn’t make it superior to any other nationality. You don’t see me or any Latinx person going around and asking a fair-skinned person “Oh my god, are you German?? That’s so cool!!” so why should anyone else?

It is safer to ask a Latinx person what their nationality is rather than assuming.

So instead of having a conversation like this:

Stranger: So what’s it like being Mexican?

Me: I don’t know because I’m not Mexican.

Stranger: Wait, what do you mean? What are you then?***

Me: I am Colombian.

Have a conversation like this:

Stranger: Wait, where are you from? Like what’s your nationality?

Me: I’m Colombian!

Stranger: That’s cool! Tell me more about Colombia.

While it shouldn’t make a difference in how you treat a person because of their nationality, we should all celebrate each other and our cultures. It’s time to get rid of “I don’t see color” because yes, we are all different, but we are all equal.

***Being asked “what are you” is so rude and offensive because it makes a person feel like they are a completely different species. I am a human being, regardless of race, ethnicity, or nationality.


2 thoughts on “Latino, Hispanic, and Nationality: A Breakdown

  1. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t get this about Latinos. We’re all so different but we’re viewed (and represented) as a homogenous group. I’m Salvadoran, but because I live in L.A. people assume I’m Mexican.

    Liked by 1 person

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