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I'd rather be called Cuban-American than Hispanic
Once upon a time, we were called "Latinos" or "Latin Americans" or "Cubans" in our case.
In the 1970s, they started calling us "Hispanics," a term that I had a lot of difficulty relating to.
I recall this conversation with my mom a long time ago:
"Mom, I just met a kid in school who said that he is hispanic".
"Really, did you practice your Spanish with him?"
"No. He does not speak Spanish."
See what I mean? I always related the term "hispanic" to someone who actually spoke Spanish. I'm not saying "fluent Spanish" but I mean more than calling the Cubs "los cachorros".
Hispanic came into the picture in the 1970s when the federal government created a "little box" for us to check on applicaions. According to Grace Flores Hughes, it was done to account for the growing Hispanic population.
And so we became Hispanics!
However, "hispanic' has always left something out. After all, some Hispanics are white, black or descendants of native populations. Some are the sons and daughters of the Chinese who built the railroads in Mexico.
My problem with the term Hispanic is that Americans think that we all eat "tacos". In fact, I did not eat a taco until I moved to Texas.
There is tremendous diversity in the Hispanic community. There is "salsa," "tango" and "samba" and that's just 3 of the sounds that you can hear in Latin America.
Therefore, I have always found that Cuban American describes me better. It tells you that I am Cuban and a naturalized US citizen. It identifies me a lot better.
I have nothing against the term 'hispanic" and understand the reasons behind the "little box" on the application. However, I will always tell you that I'm Cuban American because it is what I am.
P.S. You can hear my chat with Jorge Ponce of Babalu Blog about this topic.
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