Culture

Latino-ness Not Measured By This One Thing According To Study

hablo espanol
CREDIT: NUEVOTIEMPO.ORG

According to 71 percent of Latinos polled by the Pew Research Center, you don’t have to speak Spanish to be considered Latino. Hooray! (And duh.) However, that leaves 28 percent of Latinos who think you’re not Latino if you don’t speak Spanish.

“Among Hispanics, views on speaking Spanish and Hispanic identity differ,” Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center, wrote in a Pew blog. “Though majorities of all key subgroups say speaking Spanish isn’t necessary to be considered Hispanic.” Well, duh.

So, yes, views on whether or not you’re Latino if you speak or don’t speak Spanish differ. But, one thing that 95 percent of the people polled agree on is that it’s important for future generations to speak the language.

Spanish, nevertheless — even though usage differs — is still what unites the group: “About three-quarters of Latinos, no matter where they are from, speak Spanish at home,” Lopez said.

Tomato, tomate. Don’t let your language skills stop you from celebrating your Latinoness, we have more than just language in our beautiful Latino culture.

Read more about the Pew Research Center poll here.

READ: Spanish as We Know it May Change Forever, Here’s How

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A Homeowners Association Tried To Keep A Boricua Who Fought For Our Country From Flying Her PR Flag

Culture

A Homeowners Association Tried To Keep A Boricua Who Fought For Our Country From Flying Her PR Flag

screenshot taken from Orlando Sentinel

When hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans came together to demand former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to resign following leaked chats that revealed political corruption and a series of sexist and homophobic messages, Frances Santiago wanted to stand in solidarity with her people. Living in Kissimmee, Florida, she wasn’t able to protest with her country folk on the archipelago but she demonstrated symbolically by placing her red, white and blue Puerto Rican flag outside of her home. 

Now, the Central Florida Boricua is facing a battle against her own community leaders. Three weeks after putting up the flag, the homeowner received a letter from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association requesting her to take it down. 

Santiago, an Army veteran who served 14 years as a medic, including two tours in Iraq, says she refuses to remove the flag.

“I fought for this, to be able to do this. So, I don’t see a problem with flying my flag here,” the woman told Orlando-area news station WFTV.

According to HOA bylaws, all flags are outlawed. However, the board made an exception for US flags, sports flags and flags used to honor first responders and fallen officers. Considering these edicts, Santiago is unsure why the group is asking her to remove the flag, as Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.

“Puerto Rico is part of America. What’s the big issue with us having our flag there,” she said.

HOA president Norma McNerney told  WFTV that she’s not asking the Santiago family to remove the flag because it’s from Puerto Rico; however, she did not comment on the island being the colonial property of the US and, thus, meeting the association’s criterion. 

“We treat all owners the same. If you travel through our community, you will see the only flags are those regulated by the state,” McNerney said.

Puerto Ricans have historically been banned from displaying their flag. 

While many tease that Boricuas exhibit their bandera on anything and everything, from their cars and house goods to their clothes and accessories, owning a Puerto Rican flag wasn’t legal until 1957. Nine years prior, on June 10, 1948, la Ley de La Mordaza, better known as the gag law, made it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, sing a patriotic song or speak or write of independence. The legislation, signed into law by Jesús T. Piñero, the United States-appointed governor, aimed at suppressing the growing movement to liberate Puerto Rico from its colonial ties to the United States. Anyone accused and found guilty of disobeying the law could be sentenced to ten years in prison, be fined $10,000 or both.

Additionally, in Kissimmee, which locals nicknamed “Little Puerto Rico” because of its vast Puerto Rican population, there has been pushback from community members who are not pleased with the demographic changes. City-Data forums warn people interested in moving to Central Florida to beware of Puerto Ricans, who commenters refer to as “roaches,” “criminals,” and the N-word, while news of attacks against Boricuas has become more common. Florida is home to more Puerto Ricans in the contiguous US than any other state. Most of the population resides in the Orlando-Kissimmee area. The region has been the top destination for Puerto Ricans escaping the financial crisis since 2008 and displacement following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. But it is also the prime journey stop for diasporic Puerto Ricans from New York, Chicago, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Massachusetts. The area is among the largest and fastest-growing Puerto Rican communities in the country.

As such, Central Florida Boricuas have rallied around Santiago. An online petition created by the Florida Puerto Rican group Alianza for Progress is asking the HOA to cease their discriminatory practices against Santiago and is already close to meeting its goal of 1,600 signatures. At the time of writing, it is short just 51 names.

Santiago and her husband Efrain have insisted that they have no intention of bringing the flag down.

“[The flag] will stay there and we’ll deal with it; we’ll exhaust every avenue possible,” Efrain said. “We have our house, you see, up to standards. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not doing anything to our neighbors by flying our flag.”

While the Santiagos haven’t presently been issued any fines for the violation, they said they do have a lawyer and are prepared to take this fight to protect their freedom further. “I’m proud of my roots, who I am, [where] I come from. We’re not offending anyone. None of the neighbors were offended with us putting the flag there,” Efrain said.

Read: The Governor Of Puerto Rico Was Caught In A Chat Using Grotesque Homophobic And Sexist Language And The Entire Island Is Calling Him To Resign In Massive Protests

A Puerto Rican Woman Serving In The Air Force Was Told To Stop Speaking Spanish While At Starbucks

Culture

A Puerto Rican Woman Serving In The Air Force Was Told To Stop Speaking Spanish While At Starbucks

Xiara Mercado / Facebook

We’ve seen time and time again, people in the U.S., minding their own business, continuously get disrespected for speaking Spanish. The audacity of someone telling you that you cannot do something like speaking your native language as if it’s illegal. Typically these verbal assaults by complete strangers happen in restaurants, on the street, at stores, but this latest occurrence happened to someone we’d never expect. 

On July 17, 27-year-old Xiara Mercado, a member of the Air Force who is stationed in Hawaii, was wearing her uniform when a woman told her she shouldn’t speak Spanish.

Credit: Xiara Mercado / Facebook

Mercado shared the appalling ordeal in a Facebook post and described that she was waiting for a drink at Starbucks during her lunch break and began speaking on her cell phone in Spanish. She said she got off the phone once her drink was ready and walked outside.

Mercado writes, “I get tapped on the shoulder by this lady,” and the lady said to her, “you shouldn’t be speaking Spanish, that’s not what that uniform represents… It’s distasteful.”

The Puerto Rican native said that she was confused at first by the lady and her comment about being “distasteful.”

Credit: Xiara Mercado / Facebook

“I’m sorry ma’am, what’s distasteful?” Mercado asked the lady. “You speaking another language that does not represent America and that uniform you are wearing, that’s distasteful.”

Mercado said she collected her thoughts for a moment and responded to her by saying, “I’m sorry ma’am the only distasteful thing here is that you are clueless to your discrimination, please educate your self. Have a nice day.”

But the ordeal didn’t end there. Mercado writes that the lady spoke to her again, this time loudly and said: “I don’t know how you are allowed to wear that uniform.”

Credit: Xiara Mercado / Facebook

You would think Mercado would have lost her cool. We know we would have, but rather than lose her temper, Mercado responded to this racist woman by saying, “I wear it proudly.” She then walked away. 

Mercado finished her Facebook post by writing, “I was more sad than mad but above all I am disgusted. Even though I wanted to say a lot more I have respect for people and the uniform I wear… That’s the best I could do in that situation. Someone told me I could have smiled and apologized, Ummm I’m sorry what!? If you don’t see what is wrong with my story you are part of the problem. #thisisamerica.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 

Her post has since been shared almost 50,000 times on Facebook.

Credit: Xiara Mercado / Facebook

People from all over the world have been sending her lots of support via social media. They tell her she handled the situation amazingly and that she should never apologize for speaking Spanish. 

Vanessa Facio‎ wrote to Mercado on Facebook, “You remind me of a woman who holds a very special place in my heart. When I saw your post, not only did I feel your disappointment and disrespect, but I also felt the warrior in you. Thank you for serving this country and raising an awareness for not only women but for all the warriors and giving those the courage to stand up for themselves.”

A couple of days after her initial post, Mercado was clearly surprised by the overwhelming amount of comments and response to her words.

Credit: Xiara Mercado / Facebook

She said that she didn’t write that to get praise. She also said not all of the comments were positive, she said some of them were also bad. Mercado also said that just like us, she too has seen in the headlines how people say offensive things to others but never thought it would happen to her. She said at the end of the day, it’s not about the Spanish language but more directly about discrimination. 

Mercado added that people who live in a bubble and believe the armed forces are run by “straight, white, males” are very wrong. 

Credit: Xiara Mercado / Facebook

Mercado wanted her followers to know that her post was more than about speaking Spanish but also about gender equality, the LGBTQ community, and identity. “That’s what I fight for,” she said. 

Thank you for your service, Xiara!

READ: Two Racist Florida Women Are Caught On Video Telling A Puerto Rican Man To ‘Go Back To Mexico’ If He Wants To Speak Spanish

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