I Decide My Cultural Identity!

    This past week, I had a very interesting conversation on Pinterest with a complete stranger that was very confusing to me.  In essence, I was told that I have no right to refer to myself as a Latina because I am of Spanish heritage and Spaniards are Europeans and, therefore, not allowed to use this title.

    Huh?  That is exactly what I was asking myself.  Never in my life has another person presumed to tell me how I should label myself culturally.  I really felt offended because I have always identified myself with my Latin roots and I resented the fact that she was trying to separate me from everything that I have ever felt connected to or have identified with.

    I have always been raised to be proud of my heritage and to appreciate the ties that all Spanish-speaking people have to one another, regardless of what country they originated from.  Plus, if we want to get into semantics, the definition of a Latino is anyone who speaks a language that is derived from Latin.  This means that, technically, Italians and Romanians are Latinos too since their languages are rooted in Latin.

    The fact that I was raised in Spain has not shielded me from the discrimination that is directed toward Hispanics in this country.  When it comes to hate mongers, all they see is my Spanish surname and all they hear is that I am fluent in Spanish.  I have always felt connected to all of my Latin brothers and sisters due to all of the cultural things that we have in common including language, customs, foods, and family values.

    Even more ridiculous about this entire discourse was her insinuation that I apologize for the atrocities that imperialistic Spain exacted on the indigenous people of the caribbean.  Of course, these atrocities were heinous but, really?  I’m not apologizing for that because I wasn’t alive back then and those are not my sins to repent.  For that matter, every single citizen of every single country that has ever been imperialistic at one point would have to apologize.

    So, at the end of the day, it boils down to this:  I decide my cultural identity!  I am a woman of Spanish descent married to a man who is Cuban, Jamaican, and Puerto Rican.  I am the mother of children who are of mixed race and mixed nationalities and I’m proud of it!

    It is this very fiber of brotherhood and family that makes Latin culture so very beautiful and it is an honor to be a part of it.  Instead of looking for reasons to create separation and barriers among Latinos, we should be celebrating all of the things that we have in common as well as celebrating the things that make us different from one another.  This is the only true road to tolerance and respect.

© 2012, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.


  1. Wow, that’s about the silliest thing. I think if there was going to be a “banner” subheading, you’d definitely be consider Latina. People can be so narrow minded and ignorant. 

    • Yoli, I was just as taken aback as you are. First of all, I found it offensive that this person would presume to cast a label on me. The amazing part was how stubborn and venomous the whole exchange was. I didn’t realize that how I categorize myself culturally has such a bearing on the lives of others…

  2. Muy pero muy bien dicho. Fuerza Cookie Mommy!

  3. BiculturalMama says

    I agree, no one should be telling you what your identity is. No one else has walked in your shoes. 

  4. Clearly, Latino/a is cultural identity, not a where-your-ancestors-were-born one. No one says that, say, Argentinians of Italian descent aren’t Latino/a. (Right, Manu Ginobili?) Latinos and Latinas obviously come in white, brown and black, so it’s not a racial thing. Clearly, the Spanish language and Spanish cultural artifacts are key parts of the Latino/a identity.  Therefore, it only seems logical that people of Spanish descent consider themselves Latino/a. 

  5. Maria, you are a Latina! So sorry that you had to have that exchange with that person. Whoever it was, has no idea what a latina is and that it has nothing to do with where you were born or where you were raised. I’m a Latina myself and proud of it also. I was very happy to read this post because you opened yourself up, embracing and standing up as a Latina! Te aplaudo! 🙂  

  6. The audacity of some people. Who gives this complete stranger the right to classify you?! S/he is just propagating further ignorance, when it comes to our cultura. You are 100% right in stating only you can decide your cultural identity. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns.

    Sapphire @ Life with My Pollitos

  7. Margarita says

    Surely, “Ignorance is bliss”.
    If one wants to read about atrocities committed in America, both North and South, I would recommend reading the book “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. Maybe the names of tribes like Cherokees, Creeks, BlackFeet, Choctaws…. say something.
    Well, we all atleast have something in common, we all live on Planet Earth.

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