Culture

From Spain To Latin America, How A Mass Migration Created A Thriving Latino/Jewish Community

The days of stereotyping Latinos are over, dead to 2019. We are an ethnicity, not a race, which means we have every range of skin tone and practice every major religion. The arc of Latinidad is so entrenched in imperialism and immigration that it makes sense we would be so diverse. To be Latino has often meant being a native Latin American indigenous person or ancestry that, at some point, hailed from somewhere else in the world and landed in Latin America. The Spanish Inquisition is largely responsible for the present-day stereotype of Catholic Latinos, but the Inquisition is responsible for the mass immigration of Spanish Jews as well. During the 16th century, the Inquisition mandated that all Jews convert to Catholicism. Many of them did and were known as conversos, but many of them continued to practice their religion in secret, becoming known as crypto-Jews. The rest were expelled from the country and would eventually make their way to Latin America.

Today, an estimated half-million Jews live in Latin America, with Argentina having the second-largest Jewish community in the Americas, at an estimated 300,000 total. 

Studies have revealed that almost 25 percent of Latinos have Jewish DNA.

Credit: Unsplash

Immigration has long been the defining mark of non-Indigenous Latinos. Historians have long wondered how many descendants were produced from those original Jews expelled from Spain to Latin America. What’s more interesting is understanding that conversos offered a whole other lineage of people with Jewish heritage hatefully stamped out by an empire–an erasure of identity that can now be found through genetics research. A Nature Communications study from December 2018 has concluded, based on the research of dozens of professors around the globe, that 25 percent of Latinos have Spanish or Portuguese Jewish DNA. Today, 20% of the 60 million people in the Iberian peninsula have significant Jewish ancestry. Researchers suspect that the total number of descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities range in the 200 million.

In a world without anti-Semitism, would Latinos be more widely known as Jewish because their ancestors weren’t forcibly converted?

Credit: Unsplash

Given the shocking estimates, it seems likely that there could have been as many as 1 in 4 Jews in the Latino community. In Miami Dade County, a third of all Jews identify as Latino Jews, and many Latino-American Jews have begun advocating for their Latino culture within the Jewish community. “[Although we] don’t generally inhabit the same spaces, we have to come together and become aware of the commonalities, the linguistic, cultural and historical ties the two communities have. Latino Jews could play an important role in being the link between Jews and Latinos, so what we’re trying to do is create more and more spaces for this interaction and cooperation to happen,” Dina Siegel Vann, Director of Latino Affairs at the American Jewish Committee told Aish.com.

Even though anti-Semitism and radical political ideology have erased the Jewish heritage that could have been passed down to the existing Latino population with Jewish DNA, many Jewish customs and traditions have prevailed in Latino culture without due credit. Por ejemplo.

Puerto Rican Sofrito came from the Sephardic Jews.

CREDIT: @IZZY_MONEY85 / TWITTER

That’s right my fellow Boricuas, sofrito might be the ultimate symbol and base of our cuisine, but Spanish Jews had long been using the garlic, onion, pepper, tomatoes, cumin, and olive oil base salsa to slow-cook chicken, veal, beef or lamb by Spanish Sephardic Jews. In fact, we owe it to the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition for bringing their recipes with them. Their cultural influence made an impact on Spanish cuisine, which then had a ripple effect on Latin America as it became colonized by Spain. Originally, sofrito was most often celebrated in the Balkans, the Levant, Turkey, and the Maghreb before making its way to become a Puerto Rican staple. Whatever you decide to make for your Hanukkah meal, including sofrito is a no-brainer crowd pleaser.  

Lachmazikas, a meat-stuffed pastry, is quite similar to empanadas.

CREDIT: UNTITLED. DIGITAL IMAGE. TABLETMAG. 20 DECEMBER 2019.

While most Latino-Americans are unified in speaking Spanglish, Latino Jews speak Ladino. Israeli Jews delight in sufganiyot, while American Jews often see it as an afterthought, just a jelly-filled donut. Spanish Jews made lachmazikas, which were filled with everything from lamb and mushrooms to ricotta, herbs, and whitefish. A meat stuffed bread might sound familiar to you *cough* empanadillas *cough*.

Looking for more Latino-Jewish foods for your Hanukkah celebration? Look no further.

READ: Disney Is Debuting Their First Jewish Princess And Surprise! She’s Also Latina

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

People Are Sharing Their Personal Experiences Of Feeling Shame Over Their Bisexuality And It’s Pretty Heartbreaking

Fierce

People Are Sharing Their Personal Experiences Of Feeling Shame Over Their Bisexuality And It’s Pretty Heartbreaking

mitu

It’s no secret that more than most sexualities, the bisexual experience is often invalidated and largely stigmatized. Often times, people who are bisexual are forced to shoulder the social stigmas from partners, friends, and family who believe that they are hiding their homosexuality, are sexually promiscuous, and or more likely to spread sexually transmitted diseases.

Curious about the effects of the stereotypes, we scoured Reddit for personal experiences with the sense of shame some people feel attached to their bisexual identity.

Check out what we found in one thread below.

https://www.reddit.com/r/bisexual/comments/4r4ha4/does_anyone_else_feel_shame/

So, I’m bi and finding some videos on the youtubes about bisexuality and started watching videos of people saying being bi doesn’t exist. I also noticed on some apps like grindr and a few others who seemed to have a ‘problem’ with my being bi for some reason. Which makes me feel bad about being bi :c

“I was really insecure about my sexuality for a long time… I still kinda am but I’m mostly ok with it Now. Sometimes I even love it. I’m not really ashamed of it anymore, I’m just incredibly introverted and very private so I’m not open to most people about it. It took me several years to come to terms with my sexuality and accept myself and I still struggle with it sometimes. I used to wish I could just be straight. But now I feel like if there was something I could do to make myself straight, I wouldn’t do it.”-Strawbeerylemonade

“No I don’t feel bad about who I am. If someone doesn’t like me for who I am, I don’t want to date them.”- EnLaSxranko

“There is a lot of misconceptions about us in the gay and straight community. I don’t feel shame but I feel awkward. No matter who I choose to be with I feel I need to explain. I’m currently in an amazing opposite gender relationship with a queer woman who I adore and we encounter bi-phobia. Today I kissed her at Pride. We are in love and queer.
I hold my relationships with my male partners in high regard and will never be ashamed that I loved them (because of their gender). So like it or not, as queer people my love for my girlfriend will be political. oh well. I’m used to it and so is she.”- torontomammasboy

“Kinda. I find it embarrassing for some reason, kinda like if I had a skin condition or something. I actually came out to my parents yesterday and they haven’t disapproved or anything but I feel really weird that they know now. Kinda exposed feeling. It’s weird. I also get the whole shame part. I don’t want to be public about my same sex attractions in the sense that they are almost purely sexual in nature. I would probably not date a guy. I’m ashamed I have sexual feelings for men but really wouldn’t date them (I could do a BFF with benefits thing but it wouldn’t be romantic at all and I don’t think I’d ‘fall in love’).”- CompartmentalizeMyBi

“I’m 25 and am currently having my homophobic mother staying with me until she finds her own place. I’ve came out to her a couple of years ago, but she dismissed it as “foolishness” and has basically been in denial about it ever since. I basically have to tip-toe around her if I want to have another guy in my own apartment. That combined with my own internalized homophobia and biphobia makes it hard not to feel ashamed of my own attractions.” – acethunder21

“No I do not feel any shame. Mostly because I actually don’t give myself any label at all. And why I don’t give myself one is because honestly, I hate labels. For jobs, for relationships, for sexuality. It all is just not something I want to deal with. Now I’m not saying that any of the the labels you give yourself aren’t any real to you. You’re reality is just as personal to you, as mine is to me. And I don’t want to get in the way of how you want to live. And that’s how everyone should really treat each other about their sexuality. I’m nearly 17, (6 days from now) and male. I’m in love with my first, and 7-month boyfriend. A lot of my friends and family know this, and I didn’t feel any different coming out about it to them than when they did not know. When wondering about your sexuality, learn it like you would playing an rpg game. Go out and explore, and find what you like, and make it yours. Hopefully my tired 1:30 am rant meant something. Have a happy night and 4th if your in the good ol’ U.S. Of A like me.”-PopsOnTheRox

“I stopped giving a f*** about what people think eons ago. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has them. Yours is the only one that should matter to you. Make yourself proud and you’ll find people respect and admire it.”-StroppyMantra

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

Culture

We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

What does being Latine mean to you? That’s the question that we asked our Instagram community and their responses really got us thinking.

There is so much to love about being Latino – from our community and our familia, to our cultura and our resilience, our drive to be better and work harder to reach not just our dreams, but the dreams of our pápis and our abuelos too. There is no single definition of what being Latino/Latina/Latine means, and, as expected, where we fall on the Latinidad spectrum varies depending on each one of us. That being said, there is no wrong way to be a Latino or to feel Latinidad, and we hope that these answers give you the courage to accept it, embrace it, and carry it proudly.

But first, the response that left our jaw on the floor:

“I consider myself Indigenous Latinx. I have a trilingual experience growing up with listening and speaking a mixture of Mixtec, Spanish and English #indigenouslatinx” – @jeanettejaguar.

Wow Jeanette! That is so beautiful, thank you for sharing with us. If you ever want to talk to us about your Mixtec cultura and your upbringing let us know, we’re all ears!

Being Latine means embracing the skin you’re in…

“Being a Latino means I’m beautifully brown.” – @pepelokz

“Means brown is beautiful! Was taught at a young age the girls who had brown skin, brown eyes, and brown hair like me were the prettiest. 💕” – @_cynnreneerose

…and not letting anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel.

“It means being unapologetically brown and proud and not letting other oppress our culture and beliefs 👏🏽” – @_ottootto_

“always persevering and continuously learn about ones culture or cultures as to not repeat the same mistakes of the past! I’m a proud Mutt of Mexican born parents! Never have I denied my culture and being what I am I would gladly die fighting then on my knees ✊🏼🇲🇽” – @immanuel_rosa

Some people have trouble feeling accepted

“Ni de aquí, ni de allá” – @marcela.nog19

“Being a Latina is being unsure if it’s okay to claim being Latina. It means fear of being rejected by both cultures that make up my being. It means to laugh at myself as being white wash so that i can pretend it doesn’t hurt when I hear from family and friends around me. It means to constantly be looking for my roots because neither groups want to claim me.” – @miszjean

First of all, whoever made you feel like you weren’t enough is projecting their own beliefs onto you! You said it yourself, both cultures make up your being. You are not either/or, you are BOTH, and that’s something that’s within you, regardless of what other people have to say. Do whatever makes you feel more secure in your identity; if it’s not knowing enough about your cultura that you are self conscious of, all the knowledge in the world is just a Google search away. There’s always going to be people telling you what to do and how you should feel, but that’s their problem, you are supported and loved and you are accepted just the way you are, and if you don’t think so, keep reading to check out Ana Martinez’s answer a little further below.

“Well I feel like I am not living up the standards of being resilient. I am struggling to get my career or studies done, I just feel overwhelmed about the pressures of being an immigrant, disabled, and with chronic issues. I don’t know how my grandma did it coming from a indentured farming family to a businesswoman in her prime time in Mexico- considering that she was not a white woman or a criollo or from a rich family. I am very tired of fighting. I am exhausted. I don’t think I represent anything of Latinx/Latina/Latine, but my grandma DOES represent that. 🇲🇽🌻” – @pandapanda_26

It’s not fair for us to compare our obstacles and challenges to those of anyone else, especially our parents’ and abuelos’. Granted, sometimes it’s hard not to, especially when we consider the lives they led and the sacrifices they were forced to make along the way, but we’re never going to feel like what we do is enough if we’re always comparing ourselves to them. It’s hard not to feel intimidated when things seem to go wrong or when things get tough but mija, you’re doing amazing! Growth is hard and uncomfortable and sometimes we fall but the most important thing is that we pick ourselves up and keep going. That’s exactly what we saw when we read your response: someone who has overcome many challenges and is tired af but is still here, growing and learning and echandole ganas. Think about a time when you overcame something you thought you wouldn’t. See? You can do anything as long as you actually try, your abuelita’s blood is in you, and you cannot fail. *Sending you a big virtual hug*

There is so much of Latinidad to be proud of.

“Being super proud!” – @sarahi_rueda

“Being Latina means being proud of your culture, and being a princess and a warrior.” – @j98oo

“What being Latina means to me: you have the upmost knowledge and first hand experience of struggles( it be family, self, work) getting by just to stay afloat(financially, emotionally, physically) but most importantly the exposure and lessons embedded in us by our adult leaders(parents/ guardians/grandparents) in our life. But on the other side of that coins what makes us Latinas unique is beside all of the above we still are shown how to hard workers, humble, and resilient.” – @tati_rivas90

“It means I love to dance. It means family will always be the most important thing in the world to me. It means I might sound like a gringa to some pero the spanish comes out real quick when im angry, smitten by a cute dog, or in other situations I better not say. It means I belong to a group of people they act like they can’t see. It means I have to explain myself to my white boyfriend over and over again. It means every time I go back home to miami a part of me that’s always empty gets filled. It means vallenatos, mi abuelita, My finca in colombia, the navidades that can never be the same again ❤️” – @saraamayaaa

At the end of the day, remember that where we are born does not determine who we are.

“It means that just because we were born in the 🇺🇸.. being children of a Mexican immigrants… we are Latinos” – @anamartinez67

We hope that you are feeling just as inspired by these responses as we are.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com