Hello everyone! As the new editor for the Hispanic Culture site I would like to start a new forum on the topic of identity. In your daily interactions, which term is more prevalent -- Hispanic or Latina/o?

Or, do is it more common to refer to one's heritage, such as Puerto Rican, Cuban American, etc.?

Here's the link to my article on this topic:
Introduction to Hispanic Culture

In my parish we have a large Hispanic population from all over Central and South America. As you can see we say Hispanic. However, recently Meg Medina, a Latina author, came to our Friends of the Library meeting.
I always assumed it was interchangeable.
Hi Angie!
Thanks for your post. I think that "Hispanic" works well enough in everyday conversation since it is an inclusive term. It is interesting that Meg Medina, however, wished to be noted as "Latina." To each her own!
Hi Jill,
Thanks for participating! The terms are to a degree interchangeable, although as my article indicates there are subtle differences.

BTW, I love your site! I am a huge supporter of frugal living in order to save on waste and over consumption. Your site always has great tips.
In our community Hispanic is used. Latino(a) is seldom heard.
Hi Carleen,

Maria, my wife, was born in Mexico and at the age of twelve moved with her parents to San Jose, CA. A dual citizen, her self-identity is neither Hispanic nor Latina but rather is staunchly MEXICAN. On the other end of the self-identity spectrum, her second youngest sibling who moved to the U.S. as an infant, although also a light-skinned Mestiza, adamantly perceives herself as a Caucasian and wishes that everyone else did also.
When thinking of Maria's sister my mind for some reason, rightly or wrongly, wanders back to my high school readings of Gordon Allport and the concept of self-hate vis-a-vis assimilation.

If you had a choice, are you comfortable with your site being called "Hispanic Culture" or would you prefer something else?
Hi Les!
You have posed great questions and examples. This is exactly what makes these forums useful. Identity really is dependent upon one's experiences as much as historical and cultural context. Living in the US we often do experience that conflict you wrote of -- self-hate, assimilation, anti-assimilation, and cultural nationalism. For many people there are negative consequences to being "ethnic."

I'm on the fence regarding the name of my site. Certainly the majority of the US refers to people as Hispanic. As I continue to write articles I will delve more into the intricacies of identity.

I really appreciate your post!! I also love you Mexico site smile
Hi Carleen,

Thanks for your kind words.

A little off topic (ok, a lot off topic!) but...
I see that you did your Master's research on obsidian tools which is one of my higher priortized passions. I live around 6 miles from the small foothill town of Zinaparo ("Zinapo" is the word used locally for obsidian). The hills surrounding that community are a major source site for obsidian of all varieties: black, mahogany, brown, rainbow- plus small quantities of silver and gold sheen. Not surprisingly, it is also a fantastic site for obsidian tools, weapons, figurines and decorative items.

An acquaintance of mine from Zinaparo, along with his brothers is the leading collector of artifacts in the area and perhaps one day his family's findings (which are amazing and extensive) will be funded and put in a museum in that locality; The vast majority of the town's residents (ok, everyone, maybe including their wives?)think that the are "loco en la cabeza" for wasting their time on such "nonsense."

My collection is pretty darn good but pales in comparison to Guillermo's. Most of the better specimens, of course, are excavated for, but surprisingly I have found some prime items on the surface like owl, dog and snake/serpent figurines and some ornamental buttons (I think?).

Getting on topic a little bit, based on my observations and feedback from Ma Eugenia aka Maria, the majority of the residents in our small economically depressed and provincial town/municipality have a greater allegiance or identity to the state or region, Michoacan, than they do for Mexico as a cohesive entity.

Well, welcome to BellaOnline and I think that it is beyond wonderful that it now has an editor who has a comprehensive and well-grounded background on that vast subject area and realizes "Hispanic Culture" to be much more than just tacos and salsa.
Hi Carleen! Thank you for your nice words on the Frugal Living Site. I really have fun coming up with new ideas to share.

I didn't realize you had an article on the difference bt latino y hispanic. One thing i Like to do is post a link from my forum right to the articles - some people just live in these forums and forget we have accompanying topical sites to go with them! smile

Anyway, I will go hunt up the article - I am interested in what the differences are. I like to know the finer points on things.

Les, tacos and salsa would be more in line with the Mexican Cooking Site (and yes; I agree there is more to Mex food than the stereotypes). Or maybe salsa would fall under the latin dancing site (OK, i just made that topic up). wink
Okee dokees, just read the article. Very well written and researched.

My question, then: are you more or less saying that Hispanic includes Castilians and Latino is more for Mestizos?

I wonder what the equation is for people of African Descent? Would people from Belize be just Black, rather than African American? (IDK, because Belize is certainly a member of the Americas, just not part of the US). Would a black person in Spain be called a African-European or a Black Hispanic?

How about Mexican National living in Spain?

It seems like I am being irreverent, but I actually find this kind of thing very interesting.
Thanks for the tip! As a newbie I am still learning the ropes. I updated the forum question to include a link to the article.

Hi Jilly,

Your questions are really great since these issues remain very murky in Latin America, too.

So, I would respond that "Hispanic" includes Spaniards from Spain (again, not all Spaniards would call themselves Castilian).

Someone that is Latino or Latin American has his/her more recent origins in the Americas. There is no racial or ethnic designation in this term. The example I use is Sammy Sosa -- he is Latino because he is from the Dominican Republic. He or others might further identify him as Afro-Carib to denote his African heritage.

Not all Latinos are mestizo, but all mestizos are Latino (that is the offspring of a Spaniard and Indian).

Some countries are even more difficult to work with! Belize was an English colony prior to independence. The population consists mostly of Blacks and Creoles, Mayan Indians, Mestizos, and Spaniards. Some Belizians might consider themselves Hispanic or Latino or they might be English speakers of African descent with no relation whatsoever to a Latin American identity.

I have an upcoming article that will cover the details of race and ethnicity among Latinos/Hispanics since it does get confusing!

Feliz D�a!
Fascinating, and yes, hugely murky.

I descend from (among other things) an Italian background. Italy is a Latin country, but not a Latino one.

Not even sure what this makes me. European stock, but maybe also a form of Latin? Mediterrana? Are Italians considered White?

Are Spaniards White?

Hola Jilly,

Putting on my anthropologist hat for a moment . . . racial categories are social not biological constructs. What constitutes "white" has varied through time. When Italian, Jewish, and Eastern European immigrants first arrived in the US they were not considered "white" enough. Over time, however, these populations have been assimilated into the category of white.

Italians are not considered Latinos except for those who were born in South America. There are a lot of Argentines that are of Italian descent (but they speak Spanish).

Spaniards are considered "Blancos" (white) in the context of Latin America.

Whiteness is really a problematic concept for people in the US since it brings with it a lot of historical baggage. Most contemporary theorists consider identity as made up of social, cultural, political, and historical factors. So in the case of President Obama, although he is half white he identifies as being Black. He could assert a white identity, although socially people would identify him as African American.

Thanks for extending the discussion!

Abrazos (hugs)
To my way of thinking, Latino means Latin America (including Mexico)/South America. I do not even think of Spain as being Hispanic. It is European. I took a "fun" class in Spanish at church and the leader was from S.A. I mentioned something about the pronunciation of a certain sound that I had learned about in my high school Castilian Spanish class and he said that the Spanish of Spain didn't know how to speak Spanish. There is a world of difference between the two or three continents.
Hi Angie,
My upcoming article is about the Spanish language and how it has changed over the centuries.

It does annoy me a bit when Spaniards insist that their pronunciation is the only "correct" way to speak Spanish. The same thing occurred with English -- our accents and vocab are entirely different from the English.

Here's a great quote that applies to Spanish as well:

�England and America are two countries separated by the same language� - George Bernard Shaw

LOL, I was asking a question about pronunciation and was told Spain was wrong.

It's funny in the sense that hispanic means literally, Of Spain.
Jilly, I thought it was funny too that he said that.
Thanks everyone for participating in the forum (as reader and/or poster)!

Just thought I would chime in with my preferences. I use the term Latina/Latino, generally. But, I will use "Hispanic" in certain contexts.

I identify as a Chicana -- a US born Mexican American.

Keep checking back for more articles on identity.

Meanwhile, visit the site's Facebook page at
What is a chicano/a, then, as opposed to a latino/a?
Hi Jill!
Thanks for your question.

I'll be writing about this topic very soon! In a nutshell, a Chicano or Chicana is a Mexican-American, usually born in the US.

Since we were raised in the US, we have different experiences than Mexican Nationals, particularly in terms of Spanish language aptitude, discrimination, and poverty.

We are Latinos and/or Hispanics -- depending on how each individual relates to the categories.

So it's kind of like this for a mexican-american?

Hi Jill!

Yes, I think in a way that works.
© BellaOnline Forums