Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Being Hispanic Means to Me (Guest Post!)

Yesterday was the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which goes from mid-September to mid-October in order to encompass the independence days of many Hispanic countries (Mexico's is today). Since I already shared a bit about being German-American, I asked Jesus if he would answer the same questions about being Hispanic. I didn't coach him at all (as in, I simply asked the question and let him interpret it on his own) and he didn't see my answers before he shared his experience, so I did make a few changes/additions to questions for clarification. I think the differences in how we answered are interesting, and though I wasn't surprised by his answers, there were a few things I expected him to say that he didn't.

[Disclaimer] This is Jesus's personal experience and is in no way meant to speak for Hispanics/Latinos/Mexicans/Puerto Ricans/Mexican-Puerto Rican-Americans as a whole. I wanted to hear more about his views on ethnicity and I thought a guest post would be a fun way to start the conversation. If you want to learn more about Hispanic and/or Latino culture in general, talk to more people/read some books/travel. This blog is personal, and he can only speak for himself. [End Disclaimer]

Do you identify as Hispanic-American? No.

What do you identify as? Plain old Hispanic or Latino.

What's the difference? Saying that I'm Hispanic-American implies that I'm not whole unless I'm American [as well] and I don't feel I need to add the American to my Hispanic. I can be Hispanic without being American in that same way that I can identify as American [without being Hispanic]. I can identify as American or Hispanic. They can be separate. They don't have to be the same thing.

What parts of you/your personality do you attribute to being Hispanic? Having a mother who speaks Spanish and a father who is, well, 100% Puerto Rican...they raised me in a Hispanic fashion...with Hispanic customs and traditions. Living in America, I still picked up on "American" traditions on my own. They never tried to seclude me from American culture.

What does it mean (to you) to be raised in "a Hispanic fashion"? The food, the language, what was considered culturally acceptable (discipline-wise).

Is anything about you not Hispanic? My girlfriend. I fit Hispanic stereotypes pretty great, but I can fit American stereotypes as well. I'm also pretty weird in general, so...

How did you know you were Hispanic growing up? (Did you know?) Any family traditions? Things that set you apart from people you knew who were not Hispanic? Just the fact that I grew up among Spanish-speaking people and speaking Spanish with them. I was lucky enough to attend a pretty diverse school so I understood that there were differences between all the different kids and their families and upbringings.

What do you think people assume about you when they see you? Do you get tagged with Hispanic stereotypes? I've spent a lot of my grown up life having people be surprised to find out I was Hispanic. When I would say I was Mexican and Puerto Rican they would say, "What, really?" so I guess I didn't act/look Hispanic enough...I don't know what they thought I was.

Will you celebrate at all this month? If so, how? No, not at all. Not in the least bit. I actually hate the traffic and the parades.

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