Bilingual is Better

Latina? Hispanic?

Part of the first chapter in our forthcoming book, Bilingual is Better, deals with the ongoing debate of how we identify ourselves. Are we Latinos? Are we Hispanics? Or are we something else? So I was pretty interested in the results of a Pew Hispanic Center survey on this very topic that came out last week.

I’ve never really liked the word Hispanic because I feel it implies I come from Spain, which I don’t. I’m okay with the word Latina because I feel it’s short for latinoamericana, which I am. But whenever anybody wants to know how I identify, I say I’m peruana because that it was I am and I will always be, even after living in the States for almost 25 years.

Surprisingly, most Latinos (51%) feel the same way, preferring to identify with their family’s country of origin. Only 24% said they prefer to identify themselves with Latino or Hispanic. And among those who did, they preferred the term Hispanic over the term Latino by more than a two-to-one margin. Another surprise, at least for me, since I thought Hispanic was more of an outdated term.

In the end, does any of this really matter? My husband says that all these are just labels that don’t make a difference one way or the other. In fact, check out the comment he left on my Facebook page when I asked my friends about this topic:

“I’m a human being. Labels don’t really matter. Most people I know who concern themselves with labels end up feeling less than, or feel they need to prove themselves. Secondly, any people I know who bother themselves with who they are based on where they were born or where they live, have problems moving within other cultural circles which are different to theirs.”

Since I don’t fit his description at all, I don’t agree with him. I know labels are just that, labels, but I feel that in this case it has a lot to do with pride for my ancestry and heritage.

What about you? What do you think?

{Image by Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side}

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