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We Answered 13 Questions People Had For Latinos

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We crowdsourced questions people were always afraid to ask Latinos, and then, ya know, we answered them!

1. Why do some Latinos/Hispanics call themselves "Spanish"? Does that mean something different?

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Brian: I think Spanish is a bit of dated term that Latinos used to call themselves.

Norberto: I never understood some Latinos from the East Coast calling themselves "Spanish." I CAN understand calling yourself Dominican or Cuban (even if you were born in the U.S.) but calling yourself "Spanish" is just...odd, especially when you're not from Spain and you have no direct connection to Spain.

Pablo: Unless you’re from Spain or have descendants from Spain, then I think it’s pretty weird.

Alex: Calling Latinos "Spanish" is the equivalent of calling Americans "English." It doesn't make sense and it makes me cringe, even (and especially) when used by other Latinos.

2. Do you speak in Spanglish?

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Brian: Nope, I either speak in English (for the most part) or Spanish with my family. But with that being said, I totally understand why a lot of Latinos speak Spanglish with friends and family — it’s a blend of both worlds.

Norberto: Yes! Spanglish is great because when you don't know how to fully articulate your thought in one language, you can always switch over to the other mid-sentence.

Pablo: It often depends on who I’m speaking to. When I speak to my family it’s strictly in Spanish. If it’s with English-speaking friends, I’ll speak strictly in English. I only speak in Spanglish with other Latino friends who also speak Spanglish.

Alex: With my family and my Cuban friends, claro que sí. You need both languages PLUS excessive use of hand gestures to truly communicate fully.

3. Are you really into those telenovelas?

telemundo

Brian: Nope. But I totally see their fun appeal, and unlike American soap operas or nighttime soaps, these shows usually last only a few months, so time investment is minimal.

Norberto: I love '90s telenovelas. I grew up watching Dos Mujeres, Un Camino, and Bibi Gaytan was my first crush ever. I'll watch '90s telenovelas solely for the nostalgia factor. I can't stand to watch modern telenovelas (looking at you, Telemundo), but my mom enjoys them so whatevs.

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4. Is Sofia Vergara loved or hated?

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Brian: Personally, I love her. I think she’s a smart business woman, who is also really talented and has great comedic timing. I do think though that it’s a bit sad that she is boxed in as a certain character (the spicy Latina), but this is nothing new in Hollywood for women; Marilyn Monroe, for example, was someone who was typecast as the “dumb blonde” for her entire career.

Norberto: Love her in Modern Family, hate her in everything else.

Alex: I'm not a fan. That said, I think she has a good sense of what she needs to deliver as part of her particular brand, so more power to her as an individual. I just resent that, given she's one of the few prominent Latinas in English-language American media, she's seen as emblematic of the Latina experience and how Latinas act and view ourselves. But her schtick doesn't represent me and never will.

6. Real talk: How do you feel when (ostensibly) white people speak to you in Spanish, or overpronounce Spanish words? Is it more OK if they're genuinely good at the language?

Norberto: If you're genuinely good at the language, speak to me in whatever language you want. If you have a heavy accent to the point where I can't understand you, I will ask you to speak in English. Don't overemphasize. You don't do it in English, so why would you do it in Spanish?

Pablo: If you’re looking to have an authentic conversation and can speak the language relatively well, then I’ll be open to you speaking to me in Spanish. If you’re just trying to be funny or imitate what you think Spanish sounds like, then please stick to English.

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8. When you get Chipotle, do you order black or pinto beans?

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Norberto: When I pretend to be on a diet, I'll get black. When I'm high, I'll get pinto.

Pablo: I get black, just because someone once told me they were healthier. Whether or not that’s true, I have no idea.

Alex: Bruh. I don't eat Chipotle.

9. I'm Mexican and wondering why U.S. Latinos speak in English to one another if their native language is Spanish.

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Norberto: For me, it's a generational thing. I speak in Spanish to my parents, my aunts and uncles. I'll speak in English to my siblings, cousins, and friends. It just happens to be that in my family, my elders have an easier time speaking Spanish, so I speak to them in Spanish. Some of my siblings, cousins, and friends have a hard time speaking Spanish, so I speak to them in English.

Pablo: I’ll speak to someone in the language they feel most comfortable speaking. If that happens to be Spanish, like it is with my family, then I’ll speak in Spanish. Not every Latino speaks Spanish or prefers to speak Spanish however, so I’ll speak in English when necessary.

Alex: Not every Latino speaks Spanish.

10. My boyfriend defines himself as Hispanic (because he's born in the States), but considers his parents Latino (because they're immigrants from Panama). Is there a typical distinction (beyond just "of Spanish origin" vs. "of Latin origin")?

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Norberto: I used to care about the "Hispanic vs. Latino" debate for many years. I would get into heated and lengthy arguments about what is Hispanic and what is Latino and talk about world history to support my arguments. And then I realized that life is too short and it doesn't matter what you call yourself... we're all on the same team. So let's just all be friends and get some tacos.

Alex: It's important to note that no term used to describe us is perfect (and all are relatively new marketing inventions). To me, the argument surrounding "Hispanic" is that it refers to someone who is part of a culture influenced by/once colonized by Spain. Not every Latino wants their culture defined by colonization, especially given pre-Colombian, African, and Asian influences on Latin American/Latino culture. So, Latino is often seen as a more neutral term used to describe this admittedly vast, diverse group of people. I'm both Latina and Hispanic, so I'm fine with either used to describe me, personally, and prefer Latino when speaking about us as a group. That said, a lot of people who fit into that group, both within the U.S. and across Latin America, will go by their nationality rather than use "Latino."

11. Is the constant mispronunciation of Spanish place names in the U.S. like nails on a chalkboard to you?

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Brian: Doesn't bother me at all. I mean, I do it too. The truth is that it's natural to want to pronounce something in English if that is your first language.

Norberto: Nah.

Pablo: If someone is purposely mispronouncing it just to get a laugh, then yes. If they genuinely don’t know it’s correct pronunciation, I’ll definitely notice it, but I won’t really care.

Alex: YES. To me, it's an issue of respect. Also, let's be real, "LOS FELIZ" isn't hard to pronounce in the least.

12. Do you get annoyed when people say you don't "look" Latino?

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Brian: Yes, that's not a compliment. We also don't like to hear "but you don't sound Latino" or "you speak English really well!" — like, duh, English is my first language.

Norberto: Some people confuse me with Indian. I find it more amusing than annoying.

Pablo: Yes it does, because then I feel obligated to ask what your depiction of a Latino is. People vary, and that’s no exception when it comes to Latinos. We come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, so having only one mental image of what a Latino should “look” like is not an ideal way of thinking.

13. How offensive do you find American celebrations of Cinco de Mayo?

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Pablo: Celebrate away, just don’t appropriate Mexican culture while doing so. I’m just as down as any other American for good drinks and good food, but I don’t see the point in having to imitate someone else’s culture while doing so.

Norberto: I've accepted the fact that Cinco de Mayo is mainly an American-made holiday (although it is recognized in Puebla). It's fun and there are some awesome drink specials. But think twice before putting on a fake mustache, a sombrero, and a serape and shaking maracas. It's equivalent to putting on blackface. Just don't do it. And if you tell me "you're just being sensitive," well... you know... vete a la verga.