The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
I’ve been called a lot of things, but one that gets under my skin more than most, is the word “Latino.” Actually, just about anything referring to my race raises my blood pressure a little.
I am not Hispanic.
Actually, I’m not sure what you’d call me. My father was born in Mexico of mixed Spanish and native Mexican descent. My mother was born in Kansas to a father of Irish heritage and a mother whose family came from Germany. Go ahead, give me a word that accurately describes my ‘race.’ More than that, tell me why it matters.
I am not Mexican.
I was not born in Mexico. Yes, my father was, but I am 100% American. No Mexican-American, no Hispanic-American, no Chicano - whatever that is - just American. And maybe Texan. I have no real ties to the country of Mexico. In fact, if I went to live there I would be an illegal immigrant. I don’t even speak Spanish.
Most of all, I am not Latino.
Whatever it means to be “Latino,” I am not it. I don’t really fit into any of the neat stereotypes that are laid out for brown people.
What is the purpose of a label like that to an individual? It helps politicians plan strategies and it helps advertising companies manipulate demographics, but what does it really matter to you if you are “white” or “black” or anything else?
These labels are for separating, confining, and controlling. They don’t mean anything beyond drawing lines between people.
No two things that are different are equal. It is a rule of nature.
If I have two gold nuggets and both weigh the same - they don’t really both weigh the same. One is going to be a very tiny amount heavier than the other, it’s just how the universe works.
When you create a distinction between groups of people, you open that distinction up to interpretation. It’s just how the universe works.
If black people are somehow different from brown people are somehow different from white people then racism is actually a valid method of evaluating people.
But we know it’s not.
And that’s why I hate “Latino.” Because it groups me in this giant category of humans and ascribes a ton of invalid stereotypes to me that people think makes me different from them. But individuals are individuals to be judged on an individual basis. The word “Latino” allows people to judge me on what they think is my race. If it means something to be “Latino” then people have a right to judge whether being “Latino” is a good or a bad thing, and its neither. It’s just a thing. Color has no bearing on what kind of person you become. It is no mark of honor or shame. It’s just a color.
People get caught up on these racial labels like they have real weight, but the NAACP and the NCLR and anyone else who treats race relations as a conflict are just making the problem worse. By creating a distinction, you open that distinction up to judgement.
And one last thing, something that turns my stomach, is when someone yells or utters, or tattoos, or spray paints, or buys a decal for their car that says “Brown Pride.” Or “White Pride” or “Black Pride” it doesn’t really matter, it is all ignorant nonsense.
You didn’t choose your color. You didn’t fight for it, or win it, or invent it. You didn’t earn it, so it isn’t something you can claim pride in. It isn’t something you accomplished, and it has no intrinsic value. My view is, if you draw your pride from something that you had no hand in achieving, then you probably don’t have anything else to draw pride from. If you attach yourself to a strong group whose only requirement is being born a certain color, then you need to find new friends.
We make race an issue as a society, we need to stop making it an issue as a society.