Not everyone has the privilege of growing up surrounded by their cultura, with parents there to pass on knowledge of traditions and customs from home. That, combined with heavily opinionated internet trolls, has led to many people struggling to feel confident in their identity. In a digital world that tries to force us all to fit into boxes, what does “Latino enough” mean and how do you know if you’re there?
Recently, we asked our Instagram community “what does being Latino mean to you?” and although some responses had details in common, for the most part they were as unique as every member of the community itself. There is no one definition of Latinidad, and therefore there is no way to measure what exactly makes someone “Latino enough.”
We got the chance to talk to Alaina Castillo, musical artist and TikTok Queen, about how she identifies with Latinidad and what this TikTok video means to her.
What does being Latina mean to you?– mitú
“It means that I have something to identify with and be proud of because of my family members, my culture, and the things that I participate in as a Latina.” – A.C.
Side note, this was a personal reminder that we represent the community wherever we occupy space, whether we realize it or not. We are all participating in things as members of the community.
What’s something that, as a Latina, you are proud of?– mitú
“The strength and endurance that we have. I’ve seen it in my dad, his family, and so many others and it makes me feel proud as well as encouraged to achieve my goals with the same mindset as them.” – A.C.
While they may not be perfect (and let’s face it, who is?), our parents are the definition of hard working. Remembering that their blood runs through my veins always keeps me going when the going gets tough. Si se puede!
What Latino figures inspire you? – mitú
“Selena, even though she was an artist that I didn’t really grow up listening to. When I found out who she was, she was someone who I related to because she was a Mexican-American learning to speak and sing in Spanish, while breaking a lot of barriers that people had set up around her.” – A.C.
La Reina del Tex-Mex was a trailblazer indeed! Who else could forget Selena’s iconic “diecicuatro” blurb when she appeared in an interview with Cristina Saralegui? The important thing to focus on is that she was TRYING! As long as we’re all working on improving and being the best versions of ourselves, that’s the best we can do, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.
Name one meal that, no matter where you have it, always reminds you of home. – mitú
“Homemade tamales!!!! 100%” – A.C.
You know we love some good tamales, so naturally our next question was…
Where is your family from? – mitú
“My dad is from Mexico and my mom is from Ohio.” – A.C.
Mmmm…Mexican tamales 😋
Have you ever been to those places? – mitú
“Yes, both places. I went to Mexico when I was really young, maybe about two times, and then I’ve traveled to Ohio on various occasions to see family. I was young each time I went to those places so they’re little memories I think of when I miss my family.” – A.C.
What would you say is the most “Latino” item in your home? – mitú
“We have these blankets from my grandma that I grew up using. I thought they were normal blankets but then I saw on social media that almost every Latino household has some and I was like hmmm, what do you know?” – A.C.
What would you say to people who think that not speaking Spanish makes you less Latino?– mitú
“I think it’d definitely be nice to know the language fluently but some people aren’t taught Spanish growing up and that’s not their fault. Not speaking the language doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same customs or should be rejected from the culture that their family is from. I decided to learn on my own because I’ve always been interested in Spanish, and also so I could speak with my family and I see that’s what a lot of other people are doing too.” – A.C.
One more time for the people in the back: not speaking Spanish doesn’t make you any less Latino.
How do you celebrate your Latinidad? – mitú
“With pride. I wouldn’t be who I am today without influences from my family so it’ll always be something I carry with me and proudly show throughout my life and career.” – A.C.
What do you hope people take away from this trend? – mitú
“That Latinidad is something you’re born with and it can’t ever be taken away from you,” – A.C.
So forget about the opinions of other people! All they’re doing is projecting their beliefs onto you and that is not an actual reflection of who you are. We hope you are inspired to embrace your Latinidad on your own terms, and that you walk more confidently in your identity. So duet us on TikTok and don’t forget to use the hashtag #AreYouLatinoEnough to join in on the fun!
Did we mention quarantine has not stopped Alaina Castillo from dropping new music? Check out her latest single, “tonight,” below!
In a world with so much rising intersectionality and access to language tools, many still feel that passing along the traditions of their languages is necessary. Studies have shown for decades that children who grow up in an environment where they’re exposed to different languages have a pathway ahead of them that is full of promise. Particularly when it comes to education and career opportunities.
But why else do some parents find it essential to teach their children their family’s native languages?
Recently, we asked Latinas why learning their native language is important to them.
Check out the answer below!
“So they can be a voice for others in their community .” –_saryna_
“Besides the fact that bilingual kids use more of their brains. I’d like to teach my baby my native language so they can feel closer to our roots and be able to communicate/connect with our community not just in the US, but in Latin America too.” –shidume
“So that when the opportunity arises they can pursue their endeavors with nothing holding them back!” –candymtz13
“It not only helps them be multilingual, but also reminded them of their ancestry. Their roots. It builds a certain connection that cannot be broken.”-yeimi_herc
“So they can communicate with their grandparents, so they have double the opportunities growing up so they know their roots. So many reasons.” –elizabethm_herrera
“Know where you came from, being bilingual for more job opportunities later, being able to communicate with family members.”- panabori25
“I don’t have children but I think a language is tied to the culture. For me Spanish is a direct representation of how romantic and dramatic and over the top in the most beautiful way latin culture is. Also I’m Dominican and we just blend and make up words which really represents how crazy my family is.” –karenmarie15
“If I don’t and they lose ties to their people meaning my family who only speaks Spanish and Italian than I myself am harming them. As a preschool teacher I always tell parents English will happen eventually that’s the universal language but teach them their home home language the one that grandma/pa and the rest of the family speaks. They lose their identity. Sure they make up their own eventually but they must never forget where they come from.” –ta_ta1009
“So he doesn’t lose the connection to his grandmother and great grandfather who only speak spanish. So if he ever hears someone struggling to communicate he can help and feel a sense of pride in his roots/culture. 🇸🇻 plus 🤞🤞 I want him to pick up a 3rd language too!” –cardcrafted
“To give them more opportunities in life. I feel that some stories can only be told with authenticity when they’re in their native language. If you have the opportunity to do so, please do.” –titanyashigh