Latinos. People generally still have, like, little to no clue who we are. And a lot of it is understandable: We’re diverse af! That said, many of the misconceptions about us end up being counterproductive, not to mention ignorant.
So, in that spirit, here are some things that need to be cleared up about us as a group:
1. Latinos can be of any race.
A Japanese Peruvian, a black/Chinese Cuban, a Guatemalan with Mayan roots, and a Lebanese-Mexican-American are all equally Latino, if they choose to identify as such! We’re a worldwide phenomenon, babies.
2. Latinos can belong to any religion, or none at all.
Catholicism is often closely associated with Latinidad, and it’s true that many of us are because of Spanish and Portuguese influence across Latin America. But we also have ages-old ties to Judaism, Islam and African religions, and many Latinos are turning to Evangelical Christianity. You can be Buddhist or atheist and retain your ~Latinosity~ just fine.
3. You don’t have to speak Spanish to be Latino!
Credit: Warner Bros.
4. …Although plenty of us feel pressure to.
It’s an outward way of showing a connection to the larger group, even if there are many across Latin America who have never spoken Spanish at all, like indigenous folks and Brazilians.
5. Yes, Brazilians can indeed be Latino.
Não se esqueça!
6. Latinx is a newer, gender-inclusive alternative to “Latino/a.”
It’s easier than writing “Latino/a” and also works to include people who might not conform to either gender. (And it’s pronounced “Latinex,” in case you were wondering!)
7. Several Caribbean islands are indeed part of Latin America.
Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans are part of the Latino family. And often proudly so.
8. In fact, Latinos can live anywhere!
People, you know, move, bringing their cultural ties with them. It’s kind of fantastic.
9. Not everyone who can be considered Latino chooses to use that term.
And that’s fine. Some people who live or have roots in Latin America don’t have any ties to Spain, some simply don’t feel that so many different types of people from many places need to be lumped together based on a common colonial history. And that’s fine. Let people be.
10. Racism and colorism occur among Latinos, too.
It’s a global problem, and unfortunately that doesn’t exclude Latinos.
11. But Latinos aren’t a monolith. And this is not a contest.
We’re not all old-fashioned when it comes to sex or marriage. We’re not all homophobic. Not every Latino is machista, even though machismo is a pervasive problem. We don’t all vote the same way or for the same political party. We’re a group made up of individuals. And we need others to understand that, as well as one another.
What other misconceptions about Latinos have you encountered? Vent away.