What is the American Latino? Well to answer that we have to define what being Latino is. Webster’s dictionary defines Latino as, “a native or inhabitant of Latin America”. In layman’s terms, the U.S. has used this term to identify anyone of Latino descent, but what about the first, second, third generations born in the United States descending from those Latinos that migrated from Latin America? They are of Latino descent but American just the same as everyone else.
With the exception of native Americans, everyone in this country is an immigrant and the have been given the proper classification of American such as African American, Italian American, and so on. It is now time to properly classify Latino’s born and raise in the United States.
The American Latino is a what I would call a sub-culture of the Latino community. Born in New York City Hospital and raised in Queens, New York my first language is Spanish. Although my father spoke very little English and my mother spoke both English and Spanish, in the house we predominantly spoke Spanish. My neighborhood was a mixing bowl of Latino, African American, Irish and other cultures where I spoke Spanish with my fellow Latinos and English with other cultures.
This was also very similar to the music I grew up listening to. In the house my sister and I grew up listening to Salsa greats such as “Rebulion” by Joey Arroyo and “Timbero” Tito Puente. At family gatherings, my female cousins taught me how to Salsa. Yet in school I would debate who was the greatest Rap artists or group from LL Cool J, Leaders of the New School, A Tribe Called Quest to Wu Tang Clan and Biggie. All the while practicing the latest break dance moves while watching the “Breakin’2”. In addition, my family would watch such shows as Sabado Giante and Chisperito (one of my favorites as child) along with other Latin shows on Univision and Telemundo. Though I loved a couple of those shows, I would rarely watch those channels and have found myself caught having to choose between Americanized television and Latin Channels to meet my cultural needs. This dilemma has haunted me until today.
I am a lot of things, I am as much American as I am Latino. It wasn’t until my service as a U.S. Marine that I realized that the world is changing and who we are has evolved. We should not settle or try to categorize ourselves in categories provided by society. The American Latino is this beautiful fusion of proud Latino culture fused with Americanized customs, thoughts and influence. It is our responsibility to teach society that we are more than what they want to classify us as. We are not Black Latino, White Latino, or just Latino, we are the American Latino, we have no color and yes we speak Spanglish.
So with that said, it is a privilege to introduce the faces of the American Latino, Pa Que Lo Sepa!
Welcome to Latin é.