Now that’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
And it’s interesting that this question is being brought up as Pope Francis has been named the head of the Catholic church. The son of Italian immigrants, is he Latino? What makes one Latino?
In a perfect world, this would not be a valid question. Does anyone else ask what is a Black person or a White person? (The fact that they are races while Latino is an ethnicity is moot.) Of course, not.
But maybe we should.
It seems that, in absence of real conversation, the general public depends on stereotypes as a knowledge crutch. So when you ask someone what is a black person, you could get a myriad of answers and of those, a portion would be stereotypical.
What is a Latino then? Should we work to find a definition? I don’t know about you but I tell my own stories, I define my own life. I don’t allow anyone else to do it for me.
This is how I define Latino(a):
- I am emerging, with my toes on the edge of a cliff toward greatness.
- I am educated. I can make my own decisions — good and bad — without rhetoric or the help of pundits.
- I am a fighter. I come from strong stock; my parents wanted a good life for me. It’s my responsibility to ensure their dream which is also my dream
- I am the future. My children and my children’s children will know about the hardships of my parents and their parents because it will be told to them as the verbal history of a people. They will be proud because they know all this was for them. They are the next level Americans, the kind that will never ask what is a Black person or a Latino person. Those questions will not have a place in their world.
- I am the past. It does not matter how many tablets, computers, and phones I will have or use, I am my ancestor. Their blood flows through my veins, their features are on my face — Indian, African, European.
- I am not the stereotype. I speak Spanish. I was born in the United States. I was one foot firmly in one culture and the other in another culture. I am bilingual and bicultural.
- And above all… I exist and I will not be ignored.