Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Day Without A Mexican ≠ A Day Without A Latino

Numerous Americans, Caucasians in particular, have this ridiculous perception that all people of Latin descent living in the United States are originally from Mexico. Alberto Ferreras, owner of Latino Media Works, an independent media company, states, "there is such a strong stereotype... that all Latinos are Mexican and Catholic and that we all look alike," (1). Last time I checked there were other Latino/a identities than just the Mexican one.

There are three explanations for this utterly incorrect statement.

First off, Latino/as that recognize themselves as Mexican-Americans make up about 64% of the United States population (2). Granted, it seems like a great percentage. However, as of 2008, there are about 46.9 million Latino/as (2). This means that approximately 16.9 million of them do not consider themselves Mexican-Americans, an undoubtedly huge number of individuals.

In addition, Mexico is located immediately south of the United States. Therefore, people probably know more about Mexico than any other country with the majority of its population being from Latin ancestry. Yet, this is absolutely no excuse, which ties in to the last and perhaps most valid reason.

Ignorance. If you think about it, it just makes no sense. How could all of the 46.9 million Latino/as come from Mexico, one country? They simply cannot, as it would be practically impossible. There are numerous Latino/a backgrounds besides Mexican, such as Cuban or even Puerto Rican.

Thus, Americans who think that all Latino/as are Mexican are not thinking at all. They are being unbelievably rude and need to start paying attention to other ethnic groups besides their own. After all, Americans do not refer to all Asians as Chinese, so what makes Latino/as any different? We call the United States “the melting pot” for a reason. Some people need to start acting like that holds true.

1 Literanista. "Author Connects CNN's Soledad O' Brien with Latino Voices."
2 U.S. Census Bureau. "Hispanic Heritage Month 2007: Sept. 15 - Oct. 15."

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