Ms. Monica Stone
04 June 2011
Label Me for Who I Am
“La Raza unida jamás será vencida” or “the people united will never be divided” is a popular chant within the Latino community. It is used to promote social changes in the political world. It signifies unity within the multiple shades of brown that exist in the United States. Latinos may have similarities like the language that we may speak and the unconditional pride we have for our families, but we also have our differences, differences that set us apart, differences such as our cultural background, ethnicity, and our way of cooking. Regardless of this many people in the country would find it simple to come to a conclusion that the Latino community to be solely Mexican. They find it easy to say that if I speak Spanish, look brown, and have parents that came from south of the boarder… that I am Mexican.
In my case as in many others they are wrong. I am the son of a Latina who was born and raised in Guatemala, whose mother was born and raised in Guatemala. A Latina who has no background of which comes from Mexico and therefore does not make me Mexican. I am a proud to be a Latino with Guatemalan roots and I believe a person should feel proud of their own heritage. A person should not be labeled as something that they are not; doing this creates mistreatment and oppression between those minorities and the lesser minorities. Geographically speaking Mexico does share a boarder with the United States, but for someone to believe that everyone who is brown comes from Mexico; we could say that he or she is committing an act of ignorance.
Living in a society which for me mostly consists of Black, Asian, and Latinos I myself have lived in a city which has a lot of fallacious stereotypes, stereotypes like every Latino is an immigrant or if you’re Latino and have a shaved head that you’re part of a Gang, but the most common one is the misinterpretation of Latinos. I remember one day when I was still a little kid, it was a summer day in the city of Compton and my mom and I were on our way to the store. We were walking to the Superior when a group of individuals zoomed past us shouting a racial slur and demanding us to go back to Mexico. For a second I was confused because I did not realize they were talking to us. In a way it was kind of funny, not the racial part, but the part that they told me to return to a country that my mother and I had never been to. I mean if you want to insult me do it right, do your homework and find out where I’m really from. Don’t get your information from stereotypes.
I remember high school in 9th grade. I remember that the school had a celebration for the accomplishments done by the Black community, I remember a ceremony celebrating accomplishments done by the Asian community, and I remember May the Fifth. What I do not remember is a day that celebrated the accomplishments done by other Latinos. For those who are speculating that Cinco de Mayo is a day for all Latinos might I say that you are drastically misinformed. Cinco de Mayo is a day that celebrates La “Batalla de Puebla” or the “Battle of Puebla”. Puebla is a city located in the northern territory of Mexico and therefore this celebration is a Mexican tradition. In no way shape or form does this day represent a day of celebration for countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, or Venezuela.
In a study made by a private organization entitled Hispanic Americans: Census Facts states that during July 1st, 2008 through July 1st, 2009 out of a 48.4 million estimated Latinos that reside in the United States a forty four percent of them were not Mexican. These Latinos include Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Central Americans, South Americans and others with Hispanic or Latino origins. In an unrelated study created by me, I asked group of ten Latinos if they have mistaken anyone to be part of a race that they were not a part of five said yes and the rest said no. When asked if they have ever been mistaken as being part of a race that wasn’t theirs, six said yes and four said no. When I asked them what they were mistaken for, the answer was shocking, all of them said, “Oh, they had mistaken me for a Mexican.” How is this relevant? Well, the fact that almost fifty percent of the Latino population is not Mexican and for some reason the general population seems to label all of us as being only Mexicans, it’s a problem, but it’s a problem that can be fixed.
The way that people seem to look at Latinos has to change, I believe that Latinos should stand and represent their nationality to the fullest of their capability. I also believe that others who are not Latino should find out true information about individuals before labeling them. It’s simple really. Don’t judge a book by its cover because Latinos may have similarities like the language that we may speak and the unconditional pride we have for our families, but we also have our differences, differences that set us apart, differences such as our cultural background, ethnicity, and our way of cooking. So next time you want to call someone a Mexican because he’s Latino think twice and say hello.
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· Family Members