When is it okay to show you’re Latino?

Admittedly, the picture made me cringe when I saw it.


Because of copyright laws (and because I don’t want to get sued) I’ll link to the picture and Ruben Navarrette Jr.’s column on CNN.com.More on that column in a bit.

Yes, I cringed and the first thought was, “Oh, this is going to be a talker.”

Of course I instantly went to social media where, if you’re Latino its where you get a good portion of Latino news. There it was on Facebook and Twitter, comments and commentary about not only the picture but of Navarrette’s column

So I read his column and, for the most part, I agreed.

How could I as a proud Latina with Guatemalan and Cuban roots agree with Navarrette who essentially said he was offended by the photo and the gesture by Manzano? It boils down to old English letters on the window of a F-150.

In addition to being Latina, I am a Texan and, as far as the rest of the 50 states are concerned, we are the most cocky s.o.bs on the planet. Call it a size thing or the fact that we can still legally secede from the union, Texans are filled with a pride and cowboy stubbornness that gives us a certain type of character. Add to that the fact that we’re neighbors to Mexico and inherited the Mexican machismo, we do what we want, when we want, and to hell with everyone. Hence Latinos in cities such as Houston and San Antonio display their pride in la tierra madre by putting their family’s last names or Mexican city of origin (Orale Monterrey!) in reflective old English letters in the back window of “la troca”.

Yes. I cringe when I see that, too.

My sister and I, proud Fernandezes, would never stick old English letters on our cars or trucks. Maybe out of fear that our Cuban father would rise from the dead to beat some sense into us or that fact that pride in culture, in family, and in country of origin is not in how you display it to the world but in what you do.

Now, back to Manzano and Navarrette. While I agree with Navarrette’s overall argument, although made clumsily (non-immigration status making it okay for Oscar De La Hoya to do the same? Come on, son!) the bigger discussion is how does a bi-cultural person display pride in their heritage? Is there a time when its okay or not?



I would argue that every minute of every day is a perfect opportunity to show Latino pride. How to do it, however, is the real question. As a Latina, my pride is subtle only if one choses not to see it. It’s the Cuban flag next to the US one on my desk. It’s the picture of my dad as a young man in Cuba and the one of my mother’s home village in Guatemala that sit next to my computer as I write this post. It’s my desktop wallpaper: I am Cuban I cannot keep calm. My loud belly laugh when something’s funny because my dad had the same laugh and he said Cubans all laugh the same, on purpose. My disdain for Fidel, my worry about the Guatemalan mountain villages during the civil war. It’s Noche Buena and lechon during celebrations. It’s talking to my Jewish coworker and learning about her culture/religion as she learns about mine. It’s in my Tweets, Facebook statuses, and when I’m on there it’s on my Google+ page. There is no on/off switch to my Latinaness. It is with me when I breathe and it makes up my story, my American story.

That’s why Manzano’s picture made me cringe, old English letters on trucks make me shutter, and why, when Marion Jones repped the US and Belize flags (she was born in the states)during the 2000 Olympics it also made my face twist. It’s not that they represented their heritage, it’s how they choose to do it.

You don’t need to tell me who you are, you need to show me. 

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