Che Guevara, perhaps the world's most famous (and infamous) Hispanic

Hispanics and Latinos:
A Culture - Not a Race!

Now, repeat after me: "Hispanic is not a race." Disregard nearly every U.S. Government form which asks for race and shake your head in dismay at the cultural ignorance of nearly every writer in practically every newspaper in the United States, yes! the United States, because the term "Hispanic" or the equally misused "Latino" is nowhere used in so many wrong applications as it is in our politically correct, but sometimes culturally incorrect nation.

Go ahead, pick any random issue of the Washington Post, or the latest book of essays by the great Camille Paglia or the wording in some of our 50 states' Equal Rights laws. You will also find countless medical surveys or economic studies where "races" are broken into Black, White, Asian and Hispanic; Congressional Black Caucus members complain that U.S. Government policy is different for Cubans because they are "light-skinned Hispanics." The samples go on and on.

For the last time: Hispanicism is NOT a race! Hispanicism is the cultural legacy which sometimes unites nearly every country in the New World south of California into a diverse group of peoples and races joined by a common language. Oh, by the way, I suppose one must throw in Spaniards, although I was shocked and amazed to listen to a San Francisco Mexican-American politician declare a few years ago that " Spaniards were not Hispanic because they were Europeans and white."

Cameron Diaz

There are white Hispanics (Cuban-American actress Cameron Diaz and Spanish actor Martin Sheen a.k.a. Guillermo Estevez and his warren of sons come to mind), Black Hispanics (the late great Puerto Rican baseball player (and one of my childhood heroes) Roberto Clemente), Asian Hispanics (Peru's former President, Seņor Alberto Fujimori), Indian Hispanics (sorry, but the term Native American is not widely used in Latin America and somehow the term "Native American Hispanics" just seems odd) and the 46,656 possible permutations found in colonial Spain's attempts to codify the races into 16 possible marriage mixtures. Since many Hispanics or Latinos are white (especially in Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and of course Spain) and some are black (also Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama, etc.) and a small number Asian (Central and South America) and a large number are mestizo (most of Central America and Mexico) it is complete nonsense to categorize them as one race.

Roberto Clemente

Given the huge cultural diversity among the people we call Hispanic in this country, it must be understood that the term comprises many ethnic groups and it is an arrogant and ignorant error to classify them, in race-obsessed America, as a "new" race. The key here is to recognize that there is ethnic and cultural diversity not only in our nation as a whole, but also within Latin American Hispanics as well. While Cubans may be culturally and historically closer to Spain and the United States, Mexicans are fiercely proud of their Indian heritage and Argentines share strong cultural and blood ties not only to Spain but also to Italy and Germany.

It is then no wonder then that we Hispanics shake our heads in disbelief when we read that Coppola initially wanted to film "Evita" in Mexico City. For anyone who has taken a stroll in the wide, elegant avenues of sophisticated Buenos Aires or has shopped in the wonderfully colorful markets of overcrowded Mexico City , the differences are as clear as black and white (yes, yes, pun intended).

Also read this piece "Before El Duque There was Luque and Before Robinson There was Estalella"


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