There are many components that make up identity. Identity is what tell you where you fit in the society. Race and gender specifically has played a big role in the Latino Identity. Latinos have been affected by the question of what race to identify with and how gender is line that separates the latino group.
In America the Latino community is not recognized. Most Latinos do not actually know the difference between Latino and Hispanic. I think the reason behind that is because it actually never mattered to know the difference, it is just Americans creating another line to separate people from one another.In the land of the free , you become either White, Black or “Spanish”. In my everyday life people either call me white or spanish , and I am not any of those. I consider myself American. Just American , because I technically cannot consider myself Mexican because I do not live my life in Mexico , or ever experienced life in Mexico. Latino Identity just seems like margin full of people who do not know where to belong. Latinos live in different worlds, one at home, one in social places, and then another one with the Latino community.
That is why language is so important to us , because we speak differently to play the different roles in our lives. There is a reading called “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” , written by a Chicano writer, Gloria Adalzula. Her writing piece explains it all perfectly. As a Chicano living in the U.S, she was surprised to read her first Chicano book, because it was always marginalized. Chicano is not recognized at all , even by the hispanic community , because they are told that their spanish speaking is wrong, just like Adalzula describes in her memories growing up.
The spanish language is separated by a gender barrier. The language is spoken as the language of men. In many ways the language takes aways from the strength of the female. In the same reading, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, Azdalzula describes a time when she first heard someone use the word “nosotras”. She found herself really shocked to hear that word because all her life she just heard “nosotros”, which defines as we in English but in term of a couple of men or more , or can also mean a group of people.
In Latino and Hispanic households, there are two typical structured gender roles and spaces. The first one is a married couple, stay at home mom, and a father who works 6 days a week 12 hours a day, with 2 or more children. The mother stays at home cleans, cooks , stays in the kitchen, goes grocery shopping, picks up the kids from school and feeds them. The father barely knows his kids names because he works all week and on his day off he decides to sleep in. He is in charge of the rent and the electricity bill. The second typical family situation is a single mother left with little to nothing to bare with her children. This mother works multiple jobs. Jobs that no White American wants, just to feed her kids. This mother has talents in many other areas of life. She is a dancer , she knows how to sing , and she knows how to cook up an amazing dish for her family. These are stories that shape identity by gender. Why do these worlds feel stuck? The roles they play are limited by the gender roles set up by the small recognition given to the Latinos. Unfortunately, that is how they identify.
Another form of identity is stereotypes. That is right, stereotypes. Although stereotypes are just racial myths, society makes them seem almost real for those who are affected by them. For instance , the lifetime show “Devious Maids”, showcases all hispanic women as maids. Like how insane is that ? That we are portrayed as maids, and not as lawyers or , doctors. These situations that we glorify are sometimes pretty offensive.
Overall Latinos are people that have not been able to find a place to speak about the social issues they face. But now after reading this , you can get an idea of how hard it must be to not be recognized by your own homeland. So think twice before you celebrate 5 de Mayo, with your sombrero, stach and you pale white skin.