Sunday, October 19, 2014

To Have or Not To Have a Latino Heart? That is a good question...

A couple of weeks ago, the term "Latino Heart" came to question as labor activist, Dolores Huerta directed the lack of it from New Mexico's Governor, Susana Martinez.  This term was then used by non-Latino gubernatorial candidate, Gary King to identify Governor Martinez. Since then, the question of whether or not Dolores Huerta had a right to criticize Governor Martinez came into question. But most of all, was if the criticism she gave another Latina was opening a door for prejudice by non-Latinos.

Growing up in a predominantly Latino community in Queens, I never seemed to fulfill the requirements  of what a Latina was amongst my peers. Growing up I would be told I "speak", "dress" or "act" like a white girl; simply because I would not follow the herd of the masses. Automatically and ignorantly I believed what I heard and thought of myself as less of a Latina as everyone else. From 10 to 20 years of age I grew up parents were Ecuadorian immigrants, I grew up in a very Latino household -- the food, the music, the language, the spirituality. However when I would go outside I was convinced I was not Latina.

It was not until my sophomore year in College that I found myself and educated myself enough to strengthen my identity as a Latina. I embraced the diversity within our community and learned of the stereotypes that both we as Latinos as well as non-Latinos have learned to live with. Ignorantly categorizing our community only to poorly simplify our views on race and ethnicity. However, no matter what country we originate from, what color or religion we are -- we all hold certain core values.  Familismo, Personalismo, Machismo, Marianismo, Spirituality, Children, Kindness and Respect are values embraced on various levels by our community. 

While some, less or even none of the core values are embraced, the issues mostly affecting our community somehow define our identity. Whether we are first generation immigrants in this country or bicultural Americans, the social and economic issues affecting Latinos has an impact on all of us. Thus expanding the core values towards a broader perspective. And I think that's what creates a Latino Heart.

A Latino Heart, to me is not being limited to a stereotype -- whether or not we sound, look or act Latino or even carry the name/surname. Instead its about being close to the issues affecting our community as a whole whether or not it affects me as an individual. And that's where I would agree with activist Dolores Huerta. Politics and media have entwined stereotypes to maybe simplify our community to those who are not aware of the diversity our it holds. Whether its the fiery Latina wife in Modern Family or a politician carrying a very Latino name, such as Governor Susana Martinez -- its not enough and its not what we are ALL about.

Briefly touching upon her positions on issues of immigration, gender and healthcare, she is on the other side of the fence when it comes to sympathizing and working to help her community. Against immigration, pro-choice, government run healthcare and same-sex marriage -- all issues affecting the Latino community, I would say all she is, is a name.

The role the race card plays in media and politics is a tricky thing used to appease those who are not entirely aware of our diversity. And it is up to other Latinos to educate and broaden these narrow boundaries that have been put in front of us. As Latinos we should diversify and open our minds to the reality that we are more than just a Latino name or supposed image of what we are supposed to be. As "Latinos at Heart", we should not sell ourselves short and make a REAL presence in society because if we don't we can't blame anyone's ignorance simply because we choose to retain to our own ignorance to what it means to be Latino today.