Today I learned a little bit more about why some Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. prefer to be called Hispanic and why others prefer the term Latino.
This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s blog post, when I wrote about the book The Hispanics (We Came to North America). I didn’t like that the book didn’t go into enough detail and explain why some people prefer Hispanic and others prefer Latino. So I investigated this issue today by asking ten people about Hispanic vs. Latino.
Most of the answers I got I didn’t expect and they were so funny. I never thought people would have so many reasons why they would rather be called Hispanic or Latino.
One woman (names have been withheld) told me she’d rather be called Hispanic because “it rhymes with ‘panic’ and ‘Latinas causin’ panic’ just doesn’t flow very well.” Another person said her reason for wanting to be called Hispanic is: “It’s proper and I was born in America.” Another man prefers Latino because “it sounds more Hispanic.”
Even though they knew I was serious, most of them joked about it.
Another woman said she’d rather be called Puerto Rican and not Hispanic or Latino because “that’s where my roots are.” Another woman said she’d rather be called Latina because, “Latina sounds nicer in Spanish.”
Still another woman told me: “Well, either or is fine with me. As long as they realize that I’m a human being, that’s all that matters to me.”
One girl said she’d rather be called Hispanic because, “A lot of people think Latino means you’re Spaniard, or you originated from Spain. That’s what I always got from high school.”
I asked a lot more females this question. Another woman said she wants to be called Hispanic because “it’s more proper.” She also said, “Latino is more slang. Hispanic refers to every person who speaks Spanish and comes from Hispanic countries.” Wow.
The second guy I asked gave me a thoughtful response about preferring Latino. “It reminds me of the word Latin and I was always fascinated by both the ancient Romans who spoke Latin,” he said.
Another person wasn’t too sure which word she prefers, but then added, “I usually call myself Hispanic, though.”
Like I said, most people decided to make a joke when asked this very serious, important question. The last person said she would rather be called Latina because, “Hispanic has the word ‘panic’ in it.”