The terms Hispanic or Latino are used interchangeably by many to classify our culture.
While the most commonly used of the two is Hispanic, it only became popular in the United States after it was added as a question in the 1980 U.S. Census. Originally, the term came from Hispania,the name given by the Romans to the entire Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal, Andorra & Gibraltar).
The term has caused controversy in certain segments of the market, as some people feel it is not necessarily inclusive of all the groups that conform us as a race.
The reason it is so hard to nail down is the fact that Hispanics/Latinos are a mix of racial and ethnic lines from 22 different countries of origin. We all come in different colors and, depending on the demographic sample you look at, not all of us speak Spanish.
So which of the two is the ‘politically correct’ term to be used?
You will find it is best to use both. The term Latino denotes respect to the native people in Latin America who don’t have genealogical ties to Spain, those who don’t condone Spain’s past colonialism and those who resent the subsequent perceived capitalistic conquest by the United States. On the other hand, there are people who have lived in New Mexico, Texas and Florida since the Spanish settlers. The preferred term for them is Hispanics.
However, don’t be surprised if, after asking one of us about our ancestry, we declare ourselves Puerto Rican, Mexican, Colombian or whatever country we happen to be from. Even if that country happens to be the United States.
© 2009 Elianne Ramos. All rights reserved.