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.

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This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Things That Matter

This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Photo via Facebook/Miguel de la Rosa

Once in a while, a story comes along that makes you realize that the phrase “you can do anything you put your mind to”, isn’t just an old cliche. One California Latino man proved that the phrase has some truth behind it.

62-year-old Joseph Valadez just graduated with honors from Cal State Long Beach after spending the half of his adult life behind bars.

Valadez’s story went viral when one of his fellow students tweeted about the California Latino man’s incredible story. “This man accomplished something incredible AND took the coldest pic of 2021,” said that caption.

The post is a screenshot of a Facebook post Valadez wrote, accompanied by some stunning graduation photos of the 62-year-old.

“I finished my last two semester at Long Beach on the ‘President’s Honor List’ for making straight As,” wrote Valadez on the CSULB alumni Facebook group. “Was also on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.67. Not bad for someone who spent half his adult life in prison.”

“There’s a misconception about guys like me that I want to break,” he added. “If I can do it, anyone can.”

Since the picture went viral, Valadez opened up about the journey that took him from rock bottom to where he is now.

Like many people in the prison system, addiction fueled Valadez’s life of crime. In an interview with Long Beach Post, he revealed that he began using heroine when he first joined the army at the age of 18.

“All the crimes I did were related to trying to get drugs, selling drugs,” the California Latino man told the Long Beach Post. He would spend 38 years of his life battling addiction.

After that, his life spiraled into a cycle of addiction, homelessness, violence, and crime. In total, Valadez has been to prison 40 times. He has spent more than 30 years behind bars.

Valadez finally decided to change his life in his 50s, when he realized that if he kept living this way, he would die soon.

In 2013, Valadez checked into an adult rehab facility. He stayed there for a year while he got clean. Soon after, he enrolled in Orange Coast Community College before ultimately transferring to Cal State Long Beach. In total, it took six years of challenging coursework for him to graduate. But from the look of pride in Valadez’s face, it was worth it.

Throughout his journey in the educational system, however, Valadez has discovered all the ways that the system failed him. Despite getting good grades in high school, teachers didn’t suggest college as an option for him. Instead, they suggested he pursue landscaping or construction. Similarly, when Valadez bounced in and out of jail due to his addiction, no one ever suggested rehab as a way for him to break the cycle.

Now, Valadez wants to take the lessons he learned and give back to his community.

At CSULB, Valadez excelled in sociology, and was interested in exploring how the criminal justice system is set up to target people of color. “I know a little bit about that subject because I lived it,” he said. “I wanted to understand the ‘why?’.” As of now, he is waiting to see if he gets accepted into CSULB’s Social Work masters program.

Valadez wants to use his new degree to help young kids who are at-risk of being failed by the system, like he was. “I’m going to inspire somebody, I’m going to motivate somebody, I’m going to give somebody hope,” he said. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

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Black Women Are Talking About The Stereotypes That Plague Them

Fierce

Black Women Are Talking About The Stereotypes That Plague Them

Probal Rashid / Getty

Doubly marginalized by their race and gender, Black women face so much of their lives combatting the stereotypes that anguish them. Worse, on a daily basis Black women are forced to find ways to thrive and succeed in their lives and careers by white-washing and invalidating their own identities.

Recently, women on Reddit shared the stereotypes that afflict them and it was pretty eye-opening.

Check this out below!

“The stereotype that our entire being is sassy and ghetto. Recently, I was at a friends for game night, we were playing Uno. I simply but jokingly was like “girl don’t look at my cards” and her entire family mimicked me but made it way more than it was like i had said “GURRRLLL DONT YOU BE LOOKIN AT MY CARDS” when that’s not how i said it… at all.” –y0aujani

“I hate the stereotype that we must want to be White if we don’t fit within the clearly defined list of actions and beliefs that society says black women are supposed to be (this stereotype is usually coming from other black people, which makes it sadder).

Oh look! That black woman dyed her hair a color that isn’t typically associated with black people. She clearly wishes she was White!

Oh my GOD. That black woman is dating a White guy. Doesn’t she know that she’s supposed to save herself for a black man?? She clearly wishes she was White.

Good Lord. That black woman likes country line dancing! This is humanity’s worst affront to nature! She clearly wishes she was White!

And so on. I mean, I get that “black” isn’t merely a skin color, it’s a culture. Doing things outside the customs of the culture can make it seem that we are ashamed of said culture. If I don’t like soul food, you can kind of see how that may come across as me looking down my nose at my own culture. But there has to be some kind of limit, where we can like different things and simultaneously have respect for our roots.

Do other cultures go through this? If a Scottish person doesn’t like haggis, are they given shit for not being ‘Scottish enough’?” –VintagePoet82

“My last name is Italian. I know this doesn’t come close to the crap you have to deal with on a daily basis, but admitting I don’t like tomatoes is usually met with “how do you call yourself an Italian?!” …Because that’s where my great grandfather is from?

My family still practices some cultural traditions that celebrate our heritage, but I HATE the idea of baskets delineated by racial stereotypes. People don’t fit in boxes. I’m not trying to be Jewish when I attend Hanukkah parties, I’m not trying to be Cuban when I dance salsa, I’m not trying to be Black when I braid my hair, I’m not trying to be white when I go skiing. I’m just trying to enjoy time with the people I love, and also manage these damn curls, wherever they came from.” C0USC0US

“This doesn’t happen since I moved, but happened a lot when I was a teen/young adult growing up in rural Pennsylvania. (By the way, on balance it’s a wonderful place. Like any rural area, you sometimes wish the people there were more worldly and educated than they are, but I still love Pennsyltucky.)

Anyhow, often times when it came up that I was (and still am) a huge hip-hop fan, someone would inevitably bring up that I was, ‘trying to be black.’ Or they would use an extremely derogatory slang word for a white person who is ‘acting black’ that I’m not going to repeat here.”- Langosta_9er

“I think that everyone in the world feels pressure to let go of their culture and fall into line with the Post-ww2 American consumerist canon. So the people remaining that wish to remain tied to their culture demonize those who embrace change (I’m not saying that the change is positive though).

In my case as an Indian you get pressure from both sides, if you’re too Indian you’re considered a luddite and might be given shit for not assimilating enough, but you might also get shit for not knowing some random shit about your culture depending on who you talk to. That’s just with 2nd gen immigrants though, it seems like 3rd gen are completely assimilated with just physical differences while 1st gen tend to go too much to the other side.

With black people there seems to be a movement for black pride and preserving the culture you’ve developed in spite of the constant pressure from the media and other white people to mix and assimilate into the new “neutral culture” and any form of “giving into that is seen as betrayal.

I used to be more towards assimilating and even wanting to be with white girls to “dilute my Indian genes” but now I’m starting to see how much I dislike the blandness of the “American” culture and part of me doesn’t want to assimilate as much anymore.

Do other cultures go through this? If a Scottish person doesn’t like haggis, are they given shit for not being “Scottish enough”?

I guess that’s where the “No true Scotsman” fallacy comes from.”- RagingSatyr

Had one dude claim I was rolling my eyes any time I looked at him. I’m very quiet by nature, and extra careful with my words and tone. We can literally not do a damn thing, have no reaction, but will still get accused of having a bad attitude. We are often just fucked, no matter what.” –Kemokiro

When you’re a black woman, you have to be strong, Super fucking Woman all the time but if you stand up for yourself, you’re an ‘angry black woman.’ But if you don’t uphold to strong stereotype and you any emotion other than strength like sadness, you’re weak and a black bitch with an attitude.” –beatlegirl95

“Idk where it was but awhile ago there was some post and in the picture there was a naked black girl and you could see her pubic mound (thehehe the phrase) . Comments starting pouring in like “omg wtf is that” “wow it’s just like a black hole isn’t it” “someone needs to get skin toner” so on and so forth. The only thing that gave me some hope is the highly upvoted comment along the lines of ‘ITT men and women who have never fucked or seen a black women naked’ Then it dawned on me; are black women so undesirable that a community, like Reddit ,that is seemingly obsessed with porn hasn’t even seen a black women naked, or is it just another way to put down women.” – mongoosedog12

“the angry black woman stereotype is by far the worst. you can never win with it i see people trashing black women and if i try to stand up for myself and other blacks people they claim i’m proving them right by having an attitude? i’ve literally seen where girls and latina girls act in the exact same manner, say the exact same thing and they are deemed as sexy while the black woman is ghetto and trashy.

people will legit interpret your actions to fit this stereotype like i’m an introverted person and people have said i was a bitch because i didn’t talk to them when another girl can do that and she’s just shy.

on multiple occasions i’ve looked in the general direction of an interracial couple (black man and other woman) and people said i was giving them dirty looks when i really do not care!

i also just hate the cognitive dissonance when it comes to the same thing with black men. most people would agree that it’s racist to generalize all black men saying they are all dead beat fathers, criminals, violent, etc but people seem to think it’s just a perfectly valid opinion to negatively generalize all black women. and it’s the worst when it comes from black men.” –woahwoahwoahwoa

“The fact that we are supposed to speak and act a certain way. The amount of times I’ve been called oreo just for the way I speak is disheartening. No, I’m not white on the inside thanks.” –moonscry

“What’s really annoying is when it comes from other black people. I had a cousin once say that I was so “white” that if I married a black man, my kids would come out biracial. These days, I try to treat it as a running joke because I see absolutely no reason to change myself to fit what “black” is supposed to be. I love Star Wars and video games and reading books by 19th century British women and dislike most rap music and I speak like any other educated person from the suburbs. This is who I am and people who believe that these things make me less black are the ones who have the problem.” –kaitco

“we can’t be beautiful.” –ajarndaniel

“When I was really new to dating and desperate for love/attention/a bf, I ended up ‘dating’ this white guy… He would mention how he watches a lot of interracial porn and how his ultimate fantasy was to rent a plantation in Georgia and for me to be his sex slave…. I wish I was kidding.” –Stitch_Rose

“The worst thing I’ve had is being told I’m “too white” cos of how I talk. I grew up in a mainly white area and had more contact with my white side of the family (although my black family aren’t stereotypically black anyway), so why would I? Why must anyone with black in them be stereotypically black, am I not just as much white as I am black?”- RJturtle

“Dehumanization. If they don’t look at you with the empathy to acknowledge your humanity, they can justify anything that is done to you.

I suppose that’s a black problem to have in general, but it hits women hard too.” –AliceHouse

“I’m angry. I’m sassy. I’m ghetto. I could be a thief. I’m loud. I’m unintelligent. I’m close minded. I’m spiritual. I’m “manly”.

The only one that’s true for me is that I’m loud lol. And my GOD I hate the, “Wow! You speak very nice. You’re eloquent”. That’s a backhanded compliment; they expected me to sound a certain way JUST because I’m black. =A=; The fuck dude.”- FantasticHamburguesa

“I’m not sure I can pinpoint this to a specific stereotype, but when interacting with my customers, I’m questioned a lot more than my white or male coworkers. I often have to take male coworkers with me to deal with belligerent restaurant owners who just will not listen to me. It’s the racism+sexism combo, and it sucks. I’m not dumb because I’m black. I’m not dumb because I’m a woman.

When customers talk back or are rude, I have to try extra hard to be nice to them because they’re more likely to report be for being rude and hostile. It’s just their perception and it sucks so much. Edit: Remembered another one! My baby sister was born when I was 12 going on 13. I developed early and this lady in Kohl’s cooed at my sister, which scared her, causing her to reach for me. The lady said ‘Aw look, she just wants her mommy’ and I was like… what? Who? Me? I’m 13. There’s a comic strip that shows the difference in how white and black women are treated, I wish I could find it.

It also had a panel about how it’s assumed black people go to college because we’re simply minorities and filling up seats. Nope, I earned my $22k/year scholarship, thanks.” –TheYellowRose

Parallax92

“You speak so well…”

“You have such a normal name”

“You’re not like one of THOSE black people”

“YOU play guitar?”

“Oh wow, I didn’t know black people like that kind of music”

“Oh your parents are still married?”

“You’re pretty for a black girl” –3 years ago

“I hate the stereotypical backhanded comments. The “You speak so well, where did you grow up?/ You talk white”, the “You’re so pretty for a black girl,” or the worst one “It’s okay, you’re not really black though.”

First of all, I don’t remember there being official perimeters for being black and if there are, I sure didn’t get the memo. Just because I’m not generally outspoken, I like nerdy/geeky shit, and I have a white fiancé does not mean in any way I’m less black.

I also really hate it because not only does that comment imply to be black is something to be ashamed of or something lesser, it also negates all the bullshit I’ve have to deal with on a daily basis. Like oh, well you don’t see me as “black” but the store attendant that followed me through the entire Sprint store because he assumed I was there to steal something sure thought I was black enough.

I hate that I can’t fight back against any of these comments because I’ll be labeled an “angry black woman”. Nothing is more frustrating than to have legitimate reasons to be upset but if your octave goes up even a little, everything you say is invalidated because you’re just “an angry black woman complaining about everything.” –Slightlydazed49

That I’m poor because I live on the south side of Chicago. I’m not smart & I look like I have a bad attitude/mean.

What’s so funny is, I was at a Walmart in Iowa, I was talking about all the places I’ve been to over the last 10 years and I was talking on the phone with my mom. Some white lady just kept looking at me in shock like….WOW. Then when I mentioned to having family in Toronto, Canada, her eyes got big as hell. Again, at Walmart, white woman clutching her purse….I go to pull out my wallet, just to fuck with her, , (oh and in my wallet, I have many credit cards, one of them is a beautiful platinum discover card), anyway she was looking shocked, like how did she get that.” –imtherealistonhere

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