Growing up Latino in the U.S. can be a pretty amusing experience: navigating between Spanish and English (thankfully, we’ve also got Spanglish), teaching mami to dance hip-hop and your gringo friends how to move to bachata (or trying to, at least), and constantly comparing fast food con la comida de abuela. But what about those of us with parents from different Latin countries? Things can get a bit more interesante:
1. You know how to speak at least two types of Spanish.
You start your day with the Colombian “¿Qué pasó papito, si durmió bien?” and end it with “¿Qué onda, mijo? ¿Cómo te fue en la escuela?” Or maybe you mix your “dale” and “wepa” with an “hijole” from time to time.
2. You can’t decide which abuela’s cooking you like better.
Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic? You’ve heard all of those terms before, and you have, of course, also heard the arguments that come over their use. Nowadays, many younger generations of Latinx folks decide to opt for “Latinx” because it’s more inclusive but there are still others who haven’t fully accepted or adopted this term in their daily lives.
Many people who are of Mexican, Argentinian, Cuban, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan (and many other countries!) descent, have a difficult time coming agreeing to one term that everyone can identify as.
But that’s the point of having different opinions and experiences, so it’s important to learn more about one’s history and also be open to another’s point of view.
“We’ll probably never find a perfect term, especially as some prefer to identify as their (or their family’s) country of origin.”
Arturo Castro went on the Daily Show last month to talk to Trevor Noah about his latest sketch show “Alternatino.” In the segment, Castro spoke to Noah about how difficult it was to juggle his characters from “Broad City” and “Narcos.” But he also talked about his heritage and how his experiences as a Latino influence his work.
“You know, being Latino, everybody sort of expects you to be, like, suave, you know, and really like spicy food or be really good at dancing,” Castro said. “I really like matcha, you know?”
In “The Daily Show” interview, Noah then asks Castro, “what do you think some of the biggest misconceptions are about being Latino that you’ve come across in America that you try and debunk in the show?”
To which Castro replies, “Well, you know, there’s this thing about being ultra-violent or being lazy. Like, you know, the most common misconception is about Latino immigrants being lazy. Where I find Latino immigrants to be some of the hardest-working people in the world, right?”
While Arturo Castro dropped some gems during the interview, notice that his quotes all referred to his community and himself as “Latino”? Well, when The Daily Show shared a promotional post on Facebook about the interview, they used the term “Latinx” and people were not happy about it.
“Arturo Castro pokes fun at Latinx stereotypes on his new sketch series, “Alternatino,” the social team for The Daily Show wrote on Facebook.
It didn’t take long for the backlash to pop up in the comments section.
Users were quick to comment on the use of the term Latinx, and criticize the show for inserting the word into Castro’s quote.
While the argument about whether one should use Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic is still up in the air, people can’t help but have opinions about it.
A reddit user argued that “you can’t really say [Latinx] in Spanish. I mean you can ‘Latin-equis’ but nobody does. The whole thing just reeks of white liberal wokeness being imposed on a community of smelly unfortunates. If they’re so concerned with gendered languages why don’t they do the same thing with French, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, etc.?”
But other Facebook commenters weren’t going to let people off the hook for criticizing The Daily Show’s use of “Latinx” in their promotion.
As one Facebook user pointed out, “not everyone identifies as binary male/female…hence the use of Latinx…it is for people who can’t or won’t identify as either. If you don’t like Latinx then don’t use it…see how simple that was?”
So, what’s it going to be? Latinx, Latino, or Hispanic? This social outrage also begs the question, if someone didn’t refer to themselves as “Latinx,” then should you omit the use of that term completely? Should brands be thinking harder about this before they hit post?
You tell us! Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
One of the biggest challenges faced by migrant families is deciding how to better get their kids to speak both languages. In the case of the Latino population in the United States and other Anglo countries, these idiomas are Spanish and English. Parents face the life altering decision of either fully embracing English at home or keeping the mother tongue alive. The choice might seem easy, but it involves a variety of factors. You might want your kid to be fully fluent in Spanish but don’t want them to feel left out when they go to school and their English is not there yet. You might be alone in the country and want your kids to fully assimilate, even though you don’t want them to lose your language and eventually forget your heritage. They say language shapes worlds and that is totally right: we use words to make sense of reality, to explain who we are to ourselves and to others.
Good news is, kids are really como esponjas, todo lo absorben. Children have an amazing capacity to assimilate words and concepts, and can easily switch from one language to the other if you give them the time and space to learn the difference between the two. By the time they are 18 months old, kids start categorizing the world: that is when they learn shapes, simple concepts like open/close and in/out, and also when they can start differentiating between languages. Like anything when it comes to parenting, there are no cookie cutter solutions or formulas, but here are some tips that can help out.
No baby talk, ever.
It is tempting to do baby talk with your little one. But it does them no good. Babies need to hear clear words, and going goo goo ga ga is not helping them. A good technique is to describe your actions: “I am changing your nappy, I am throwing it to the trash can, I am wiping your butt”. Or, the alternative: “Te estoy cambiando el pañal, ahora lo voy a tirar a la basura y te voy a limpiar las pompas”. Even if you are not raising a bilingual kid, this is the first rule: just dump the baby talk, porfas.
Be proud of your heritage.
Children are much more intuitive than we give them credit for. In the current political climate, it is easy to fall into the trap and feel like being bilingual is shameful rather than something to be extremely proud of. Give racist gringos the metaphorical finger, chin up, speak up and show pride. If you are afraid of speaking Spanish your kid will be too. It is easier said than done, but establishing the richness of multiculturalism is the only way to make society more inclusive, poquito a poco.
One parent speaks English, the other speaks Spanish.
This is an approach that is easy to take if one of the parents is a gringo. Kids can quickly understand that a parent talks to them in Spanish and the other one in English, and as they are learning to talk and bulking up on their vocabulary, they can categorize words. This is much clearer than saying “agua, water” while pointing to glass, as it might be too much information that is not put into the Spanish or English mental drawers right away. Also, it creates a great sense of complicity between parent and chaparrito.
Spanish only con los abuelitos.
Another good strategy is to have the grandparents speak to the child in Spanish, which also creates a special bond with the child. If you are lucky enough to have your Spanish-speaking parents or in-laws in your city, program regular play dates slash Spanish lessons. This can also give you and your partner some time alone, or some relaxing me-time if you are a single parent.
Language is fun, so don’t make it too serious.
Play games in your native language. For example, ‘I spy’, bingo or memory, key activities for incorporating new words into your little one’s vocabulary. You can also play a good old-fashioned LOTERIA.
Turn life into a lively musical!
All kids love, love, love music. You can sing songs, dance and play music in Spanish. What about a daily dance session with La Sonora Santanera or Los Angeles Azules? Melody is a great way to help them remember things, as new information sticks to their tiny and amazing brains by repetition. You can also play English and Spanish versions of their favorite songs… Let it go, let it go…..! Libre soy, libre soy!
Never underestimate the importance of numbers.
One of the first forms of abstraction that human beings learn is numbers. As your kids start counting, introduce both languages. There are some fun activities that you can do, such as taking them to the park and counting each push of the swing, first in English up to ten, luego hasta el diez. You can also get them to count characters or objects in books as you read to them at night.
Teach them the Spanish version of key introductory phrases.
“My name is…”, a key phrase that establishes a child’s individuality. There are such phrases that make social life possible. Teach your kids the Spanish formulation.
Listen to the radio.
Listen to radio programs in Spanish, including popular music programs and channels for kids. Thanks to services like Spotify it is easy now to listen to stations from all around the world.
Organize playtime with other children who speak Spanish. This will be key for building lifelong friendships. Parenting can sometimes be isolating, so this will also be beneficial for you, as you will be able to express yourself in your mother tongue, which sometimes makes for more intimate and lasting friendships
No te rindas.
Like all things concerning parenting, raising a bilingual will involve plenty of patience on your part. Some days it might seem like your chiquito doesn’t want to say hola. However, just hearing you speak your native language will help your child learn it.
Yeah, sometimes your kids end up watching TV.
But you can make the best of it in those times in which you feel you are the worst parent on Earth because you need to do the laundry or some work and your kids end up watching TV. Streaming services like Netflix provide the opportunity to change the language settings to Spanish, so the next time they watch PJ Masks or Paw Patrol they can actually learn some new words. Because dialogue in cartoons tends to be very descriptive, this will help them associate images and palabras.
Attend cultural events in Spanish.
Many communities in the United States organize events in Spanish, such as playtime, mother’s and father’s groups and concerts. Attend as many as possible, show your kid that your language is awesome, something that will open doors rather than close them.