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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is It Shameful to be Latino?







Why do so many 
Americans 
downplay their roots?










Ever since I was a child growing up near Spanish Harlem in New York City, I've met my share of Latinos who are in-your-face proud of their language and cultural heritage, but I've also met my share of Latinos who seemed ashamed. They avoid speaking Spanish, and get irritated when spoken to in Spanish. Recently, I read a blog by a Latina who happens to be fluent in English and Spanish; she was bitching and moaning because she receives business mail in Spanish. Here I am knocking myself out to increase my level of Spanish fluency and I meet native speakers who feel a need to rise above it. I know people of Latin-American ancestry whose parents restricted them to English only. Somebody, please tell me what is so wrong with speaking two, four, or six languages? 

I read a blog by a Latina fluent in both English and Spanish who was bitching and moaning because she receives business mail in Spanish.

Then I meet others who get annoyed when I pronounce their Spanish names “correctly” versus giving their names the “Anglo” sound. They've actually instructed me to mispronounce their names so it won't sound Spanish. Is something is wrong with the Spanish language and Latin-American culture that I need to know about? Why do so many “Americans” downplay their cultural heritage? The indigenous people are the only real Americans. The rest of us are nothing but gringos..

Here I am knocking myself out to improve my Spanish and I meet native speakers who want to rise above it.

Then I've met other Latinos who are annoyed by my interest in Latino cultures, and even questioned my loyalty to being African-American. It's as if I should stick to fried chicken with collard greens and abstain from arroz con pollo. Why shouldn't I enjoy both? What these people don't realize is that the more black history I read, the more I learn about Latinos who share my African heritage. The more I travel, the more I meet Latinos who share my African heritage.

I've met other Latinos who are annoyed with my interest in Latino cultures, and even questioned my loyalty to being African-American.

With all this said, I love Latin-American music, especially those with African influence, like bachata from the Dominican Republic, zamacueca from Perú, son-montuno from Cuba, tambor from Venezuela, and some cumbia and vallenato from Colombia. And jarocho music from Mexico? WOW, I CAN FEEL IT!!!

Now, the million dollar question: If you are of Latin-American ancestry and are ashamed of it and want to camouflage it, why? Is it internalized racism, or what? Please use the comment section below and enlighten me.