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Corona at Night

Cartagena, Colombia

Anonymous said: Confession: Untill very recently I didn't know latino was a race. I live in the UK, and people who were called "latino" on cartoons (my major understanding of American culture comes from imported media afterall) had Spanish accents, so I assumed "oh they just come from the parts of the Americas where the Spanish colonised" and to me the Spanish are white. It confused me for years cause "Latino isn't Native American, they're not Asian, they're not Black or Arab... I AM SO CONFUSED AT THIS!?"


Hello anon! Actually tbh I feel “latino” as a racial category is quite artificial (i.e trying to categorise genetics, skin colour, lineage etc), and really should be treated as a cultural identity instead. I feel the way in say, the US, people often treat it as a rigid racial category is quite reductionist.

The reason being that Latin Americans are incredibly diverse racially, and what welds them together is their common Hispanic heritage- having been colonised by Spain or Portugal for over 300-400 years. (“Hispanic” comes from “Hispania” which was the name the Romans gave to the Iberian Peninsular) Many modern Mexicans, for example, are mixed-race- being part Spanish and part Native American (the Aztec, Maya, all the other pre-Columbian civilisations, because the conquistadors intermarried with local women.) In addition, many are also of African descent, being descended from slaves brought to the New World by the conquistadors. For example, there are Afro-Brazilians. To add further to it, in Argentina, you have quite a lot of people who are of predominantly European ancestry because Argentina received a lot of relatively recent European immigrants (i.e in from the 19th-20th century), compared to say, Mexico, where the vast majority of people are mixed, descended from the original Mesoamericans and conquistadors. 

And, so for example, if we take an Argentine person who is mainly of European descent, in my view they’re still Hispanic rather than “European” because they probably grow up speaking the Latin American Spanish vernacular, immersed in the cultural and geographic context of Latin America, surrounded by other Latin-American countries. So that’s why I feel “Latino” or “Hispanic” really is more of a cultural identity that embraces multiple ethnicities- just as the way people agree now that being “American” is about subscribing to a way of life, and that African-Americans, Asian-Americans etc are all just as “American” as white Americans :) 


Eddie Bong
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