Gillian Daley/ Contributing Writer
The reason why the ‘Hispanic identity’ is so difficult to write about is because there is no such thing as a Hispanic identity.
We, as a nation, are heralding in the first Hispanic Heritage Month of the Trump administration, and as such, it’s appropriate to take a moment and reflect on some of the complexities of being a Hispanic in today’s America.
The most pressing topic of debate would definitely be clearing the record on what exactly being Hispanic means.
The issue is one of major contention in some circles of thought, but the term ‘Hispanic’ officially means a person or peoples originating from Spain or Spanish speaking countries, whereas the term ‘Latino’ carries a connotation of a person or peoples originating from Latin America.
The distinction means that a Brazilian, while a part of the Latin American community and consciousness, is technically not Hispanic because the Colonial presence in Brazil originated from Portugal and not from Spain.
Transversely, a person of Cuban descent would be considered Hispanic and not Latino as Cuba is not a part of Latin America.
These distinctions are important when exploring Hispanic and Latinx identities because understanding them will help us understand the evolution of those identities and how they work in the United States today.
Of course, there are limitations to what I can analyze, not being a member of either the Latinx nor the Hispanic community.
The distinctions between nationality, race and ethnicity for members of the Hispanic community may be tricky for anyone outside of that community to understand.
It’s important for outsiders learning about Hispanic cultures and exploring the stories belonging to each culture to realize that Hispanic identity does not hold one concrete or definite meaning—it’s a multitude of identities brought together.
Voices from Africa, Asia, Europe and a whole host of First Nations people have been forced together over centuries of colonial rule to create a bricolage of different races, nationalities and ethnic groups within cone cultural umbrella: “Hispanic Culture.”
The specificities between race and ethnicity in terms of transnationality is something that you’d think Americans would appreciate — us being the “melting pot” and all.
However, a surprising number of people are still confused when faced with people who don’t fit their preconceived vision of what a “Hispanic” is supposed to look like.
Hispanics who “don’t look Hispanic” can routinely face even more discrimination, colorism and intolerance than other members of their same ethnic community.
In fact, the discrimination can be so blatant that, for example, “blacks (Cubans) were unemployed at double the rate of whites. . . jails held 85 percent darker-skinned Cubans,” according to Al Jazeera.
As South Floridians, an essential part of our job in supporting the Hispanic community as a whole, is to delve deeper into what exactly each contributing culture has gone into create the extensive and multifaceted umbrella of “Hispanic identity.”
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Photo Credit: Nicole Malanga