Forbidden Love

interracial couple

The brutally vigorous hurricane of debate over gay marriage is sweeping across the United States. I have a stance on this matter as well. But first, I believe it’s important that I share my story.

I am multiracial. Or, as some older folks have phrased it, a “half-breed.” My father is Mexican, and my mother is a diverse collection of peoples that amounts to “white.” They met in Arizona, where the two of them were going to school. This detail is important, because in my parents’ lifetime, there was a law in Arizona that made it illegal to marry a Mexican. Had the repeal of this law been delayed a decade, I would never have existed. [Read more…]

The Mythical Latino

The Latino is a mythical creature native to parts of America’s Southwest, although clusters have migrated all across the United States. Known less commonly under names such as Hispanic, Paisa, Raza and others, the Latino is most commonly distinguished by its medium-brown skin tone, practical working clothes (usually paint-stained), and tendency to carry tools for manual labor, such as the leaf blower (pictured). Latinos tend to live, travel, and work in large clusters. Their diet consists mainly of beans and a flat kind of bread, and they seem to have an intrinsic need to hear accordion music at least once a day.

I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the above paragraph is absolutely ridiculous. Such was its intent. However, many continue to stereotype Latinos in a very similar way, presuming that we look the same, think the same, vote the same, act the same. Now let me be clear: it’s always unfair to make blanket assumptions about any group of people, not to mention inaccurate. But I think it’s a particularly bad mischaracterization to batch-process Latinos.

To start off with, Latinos, by definition, come from Latin America, a region of huge ethnic diversity. Most Latinos are mestizos, or a mix of varying proportions of Spanish and native blood, of which there are hundreds of tribes. Let’s not forget all the African slaves that the Spanish imported, adding yet another ethnicity into the mix. In some places such as Mexico, the African blood has been so thoroughly mixed in that it’s difficult now to find a mostly-black Mexican. Then there’s Argentina, whose inhabitants are almost exclusively of European blood. Finally, Latin American countries have experienced much foreign immigration from all over the world. Mexico, for example, has a significant Chinese and Irish diaspora. Even linguistically, we can’t lump Latinos together. While most speak Spanish, Brazil, Latin America’s most populous country, is Portuguese-speaking. Beyond that, many inhabitants of Latin America still speak a native non-European language. In Paraguay, a staggering 90% speak Guaraní, more than Spanish.

To attempt to stereotype such a diverse group of people is absolutely ridiculous. We are all unique, with vastly different cultures, appearances, traditions, stories, and thought processes. We don’t live the same, we don’t act the same, and we certainly don’t vote the same. There is no homogeneous “Latino demographic.”

So remember, this mythical Latino creature is just that: a myth.