What's wrong with being "Latina"?
Before moving to this country as a teenager, I'd never been told I was Hispanic or Latina, for that matter. I was simply Peruvian and, if anything, Latin American. But a few years after getting here, I had to start filling out all sorts of forms for college and for scholarships and I remember having to identify myself as Hispanic for the first time, even though I hate that term. After 25 years in the U.S., I still much rather identify myself as Peruvian.
Apparently, I'm not alone. According to the results of a Pew Hispanic Center nationwide survey released today, 51% of Hispanic adults most often identify themselves by their family's country of origin.
Incredibly, less than one-quarter of the respondents said they use the terms Hispanic or Latino to describe their identity. Among this group of people, the preferred term is Hispanic by more than a two-to-one margin. But 51% don't have a preference one way or the other.
This was kind of surprising to me because I thought the term Latino was preferred. Or, at least, that's the case for me. I like it better than Hispanic for several reasons. First of all, it's a Spanish term, which means it's gender specific, allowing me to call myself Latina. Second, I like to look at it as the abbreviated version of latinoamericana (Latin American), which definitely describes me much better than Hispanic, which is supposed to me "of or relating to Spain," according to the dictionary. Nothing against Spain, but I'm not from there.
Finally, 21% of the Latinos in the survey said they use the term American most often. I never have, but then again I wasn't born here, so that makes a huge difference. As a mother of two children born in Colorado to a Peruvian mother and a Puerto Rican father, I often wonder how my children will identify themselves when they get older. One thing is for sure, though, like 95% of respondents, I believe it's hugely important for future generations to hang on to the one major aspect that does binds all Latinos: Spanish. And that's why I'm raising my children bilingual.
How do you identify yourself? Do you prefer Latina or Hispanic?
Image via cliff1066™/flickr