Sunday, September 25, 2011

Everybody Under The Same Umbrella

By: Linda Spector

I have been living in the United States for about four years. Since then, I am having a feeling of lost identity, lost race, and lost ethnicity. I was born in Colombia, and all my life I thought that I was part of one of the greatest countries in the world. I was Colombian. Today I am just one more Latino in the United States, I lost my Colombia. People call me Latina. But what does it mean to be Latino?

Some people think that Latinos all look alike, and come from the same place. Some people think that we all eat rice and beans and spicy food, we all are illegal immigrants, we all are small in height, we all have the same likable accent, and we all are beige, with dark colored eyes and black hair, like me.

Is it true that people from Central America, South America and North America, (Mexico is part of the North American Continent), are all Latinos?  Are they all alike? I would say it is not true. Every country in the world has different ethnicities, different traditions, different governments and different cultures. I don’t like that people make assumptions because the media has created a stereotype that people from South America, Central America and Mexico are all the same because most of the population speaks Spanish and has Spanish ancestry. 

 I totally disagree when people from Central America or from Colombia say “we are all the same because we are Latinos.” What does that even mean? And the media can’t even decide what to call the people from South America, Central America and Mexico – Latino or Hispanic.

            I don’t understand why we have to put everybody under one big umbrella just because people share a language and some of them have Spanish roots. I believe that not all the people from South America are the same, not all the people from one country are the same, and not even all the people from one city are the same.


  1. Being of caribbian descent I have first-hand experience at being thrown into a general category. On more than one occasion I have been mistaken for being Haitian when I am in fact of Jamaican ancestry. It is unacceptable to say everyone from Asia is simply Asian, but all too often this is the norm rather than the exception. In fact Asia has many many different subcultures and ethnicities such as Cambodians, Laotians, Chinese, Indians, Mongolians and many others of different ethnic backgrounds. To paint everyone with one broad brush is to say that every paint is the same color or every picture is of no differing significance. If umbrellas came in only one size many people would end up exposed to the rain.

  2. Linda and Shana, you both make excellent points. We'll address some of the problematic issues of measuring race and using broad racial categories in a few weeks.

  3. Kardia Rowe

    Shana I agree with you because I also have the same problem being a Jamaican. At my job I was asked on many occasions if I was Haitian because there are 3 other Haitians that work there. It’s like saying all black people look alike and all Latinos look alike. There are some Caucasians that think that way and some people do get offended by it. For example: a couple days ago my job, at a white male looks at me and said " sorry for walking out earlier and not paying for the things". I was confused because I wasn't at the main register at earlier that day, it was another black female. The fact that someone would put everyone under one title makes me wonder if they know that there are subcultures under that title.