When someone asks about your background, what do you say? Chicana? Latina? Mexican-American? Puertorriqueña? LATINITA??? :)
Poll results just released from think tank Pew Research Center have a few interesting findings regarding how young Latinos define themselves.
It found that 52% of Latinos surveyed ages 16 to 25 refer to their family's home country first when identifying themselves.
20% use "American" first. and 24% use "Hispanic" or "Latino."
Additionally, 33% of second-generation Latinos use American first.
I use Mexican-American when I'm asked about my background. I've always used it, but now as I've grown into this loud, angry Latina, I am more sensitive to the way I refer to myself.
Once after a heated debate in my Media Effects on Minorities class, I went home and discussed the way us Latinos identify ourselves with my Mom. She seemed offended when I said I identified more with the term "Chicana" rather than "Hispanic." Even a good friend said "ewww" when I mentioned that I referred to myself as "Chicana."
There's a stigma attached to Chicanismo, a misconception that Chicanos wear zoot suits, speak using Spanglish, start bar brawls and break store shop windows in protest of the White Man. It's not! It's about human rights and understanding amongst the masses. I've heard of a professor at UTEP who refers to herself as a Chicana despite being Hindu with no Latin descent whatsoever. Chicanos and Chicanas want equality overall and this professor (whose name I don't know) is proof that people of other descents can be receptive to the needs of the Latino community.
She argued that "Hispanic" refers to all Spanish-speaking peoples of Latin America and Spain, completely the opposite of what I learned in all of my Chicano Studies-based classes.
To me Hispanic is offensive. It rapes my true culture of its wonder and richness. Hispanic is a generic term created by generic people to label and oppress this new population they feared (and to this day continue to fear).
I am, and always will be, a Mexican-American, a Latina, and a Chicana.
Mexican-American because both of my parents were born in Mexico.
Latina- because I refuse the term Hispana and Latina more appropriately describes the fact that my background is from Latin America and that I am a woman.
Chicana- because I feel strongly about the issues that affect the entire Latino community in the United States, and especially those in my community. My parents were undocumented immigrants and I have them to thank for the opportunity I have today to be an educated Latina/Chicana/Mexicana-Americana. haha
Besides I don't like how "American-Mexican" sounds-- no iambic pentameter or Latin flavor. Haha
Check out the Pew Centers findings : "Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America" here
. There is more to the findings; muy interesante!
Now that i'm on the topic, what is up with my Puerto Rican counterparts? They don't like to be referred to as Americans, despite the fact that, unlike Mexico, Puerto Rico is part of the U.S.? They have the same rights as Americans, better opportunities than immigrants of any other nation into the U.S. have? What gives?