Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My kids are brown, we speak Spanish, but we're not Latinos


Since, we are smack dab in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15), I figured it was the perfect time to disclose an interesting fact about my life. Even though el esposo is from Spain, and we maintain a bilingual household, and our children share the same genetic make-up as the citizens of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, we do not have a place in the Latino community. Never have. In fact, I can't really say I have any really close Latino or Latina friends, which seems odd given our family make-up.

Many people just assume that because we speak Spanish, and we're kind of a minority family, that we somehow are connected to the Latino community, but I'll say it again, we most definitely are not. In fact, many times, my husband, as a Spaniard, has been shunned by individual Latinos because they don't like Spaniards. It's a historical hatred and distrust that apparently hasn't diminished since 1492. Recently a Latina woman said to el esposo, "You know, you're the only Spaniard I've ever liked." I find this fascinating in an anthropological, meltingpot kind of way. El esposo finds it depressing and shameful.

Either way, it is an interesting phenomenon. I admit I don't go out trolling for Latina friends, even though I would like to have a connection to other Spanish speakers and people who share my husband's culture in this country. But I also don't go out trolling for Asian friends and I have tons of those. So many in fact, I used to be called the honorary Asian by my close group of friends. And it goes without saying that White (Gentiles, Jews, and Quakers) people are all over my social calendar. So what gives? We obviously have things in common, but maybe not enough to find common ground.

Is it because I married a conquistador and the sins of his fathers make him Latino Kryptonite? Or maybe it is my own negritude that makes me an undesirable to my Latino brothers and sisters? Or maybe I just hang out in all of the wrong places? I am not blaming anyone or finding fault. I'm just trying to figure out this place I find myself in. And I'm not looking for suggestions on how to make friends with a Latina, I guess I'm just ruminating on an interesting fact of my life during Hispanic Heritage Month.

If you'd like something to ruminate on for Hispanic Heritage month that has nothing to do with my personal issues, try visiting La Literanista for some awesome Latino literary links.



Ehav Ever said...

I recently did a video I have put up on YouTube concerning an issue that I would love to get feedback on. The video is called Defending the Honor of Black Women it can be found here. The video, along with other videos will posted on my blog as a part of my A Month of Positive Solutions campaign.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with your first explanation. Spanish European culture is very different from Spanish South American or Spanish Caribbean culture.

Your husband is European not Latino (as it's defined in the States).

Your race shouldn't be the issue as there are many Latinos who are black.

I went to college with Dominicans who were in the Latino student club AND members of African-American Fraternities/sororities.

ieishah said...

spanish culture and latino culture are not only really different, one's, dare i say, derivative? there's probably a better, less hegemonic word to use than that; let's just say a lot of latinos don't like spaniards because spaniards tend to look down on latinos. case in point, i was talking with some students about how technically, i was an illegal immigrant. one said, 'no, no!! you're american. illegal immigrants are, like, south americans.' so though latinos have valid historical and relational reasons for being wary of spaniards, i've noticed on the other hand that spaniards do not remember their colonial history, and though they are, like my students, sure that they're better than latinos, they aren't so clear on why they feel this way.

spanish denial. you know a little something about this, lori, right? your family's got the right racial mixture, but in the words of heidi durrow, you 'fell out of the sky' in terms of historicity .

LT said...


I prolly should have mentioned that I've never thought of myself as Latino, but many, many people assume that my family is some kind of quasi-Latino by virtue of the fact that we speak Spanish and we live in the US. It's just one more example of how things like skin color and language don't automatically determine culture.

LT said...


Are you back in Spain? I did leave out of my post that there is horrible prejudice in Spain against South/Central Americans, which makes the Latino distrust/dislike of Spaniards completely understandable. Point well taken.

Anonymous said...

You know what's really interesting? I've noticed that Spain has a bit of an inferiority complex concerning the rest of Europe. Of course many causes of this are rooted in 20th Century history, etc. The old saying is that Europe ends at the Pyrenees. I've heard many other Europeans make the statement that Spain is "less than". I've been in classes with international students (europeans) where Spain was being picked on for being backwards and then teachers finding away to defend. The big scheme of things is always interesting and complex.

Brown does not equal latino.

Kathrin said...

Well you have a quarter-Latino friend here!

This is such a good point! Skin pigmentation only tells half the story - if even that!

I am sorry that you feel as if you have no place within the Latino community! I hope that you and the family will make it out to another Swirl event. We would love to have you!

Literanista said...

Thanks for the linkage. I find your post really interesting. I've met many Spaniards in the US and while yes, they are European - I would never not consider them Latinos.

Once upon a time said...

Just part of the beauty of being multicultural/multiracial.. you get to confuse everyone even if you're not! :)