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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hispanic or Latino? 

After the welcoming speech was given, the first presentation, at the TLCDHH conference, was focused on racial terminology. (Some information are from the presentation and other information are from what I already knew, read or researched.)

- Hispanic?

- Hispano?

- Latino?

- Chicano?

Which one is appropriate?

Hispanic/Hispano indicates that one's heritage or culture is from Spain. However, its meaning has been blurred over time in which people in America have adopted this terminology to identify themselves. Hispanic is also a political term used by the American government for their own records, censuses and research.

However, there are people who refuse to identify themselves as Hispanic because they are not from Spain.

Latino indicates that one is from Latin America and it can be applied to those from Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking countries. Again, the meaning has also been blurred and some people refused to call themselves Latino because they aren't from a Latin American country.

Chicano is a relatively new term, which has been adopted by some in California, Arizona and a few in New York and Florida.

There are other terms:

- Spanish-American

- Mexican-American

- Tejano (a person of Mexican descent and is from Texas)

- Nuyorican (a person of Puerto Rican descent and is from New York City)

- country identification (Puerto Rican, Columbian, Mexican, etc.)

Spanish- and Mexican-American is still being used. However, I've noticed that these days these terms are used less frequently. Notice how -American is often added to minorities that are non-White. You never see Swedish-American, Dutch-American, European-American, British-American, Irish-American, etc.

However, there is no one correct term to apply to these people, who are from Mexico, Latin and South America, Spain, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc. Just like some blacks prefer to be called Blacks and others prefer to be called African-Americans. The same applies to Hispanics/Latinos. Some prefer to be called Hispanics, Latinos, Chicanos, Tejanos, Mexicans, etc. Just ask them what they prefer to be called and respect them. The identity preference they chose for themselves is not wrong.

I take comfort that it wasn't just the Deaf Latinos dealing with this racial terminology. The mainstreamed Latinos are also facing this issue. You'll see magazines, newspapers, television shows, debates, classes and other mediums are facing this issue as well.

Should we even bother trying to find a uniform term that applies to us people? Shouldn't we just accept the fact that we're all from different places, embrace diversity and respect identity preferences? I believe that's the way to go, respecting everyone's preferences, since we're all from lands of rich cultures and interesting histories.

ta ta...