What it Means to be Hispanic

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In Richard Rodriguez’s opinion there is no such thing as a purebred Mexican. In Mexico, most Mexicans are a blend of many races. One of the most common is European and Spaniard. Many of them are also African and completely that before anything else. They are proud of who they are and who it is that makes their background what it is. Being Mexican means mixture and diversity. Richard Rodriguez defined it as “Blending. Mixture. Intermarriage.” He also gives examples to further our knowledge on the topic such as the diversity of a burrito. He asks us if we have ever looked inside of one and seen how everything is mixed together and yet still delicious. I know that I have, although this is mostly due to my inability to allow my burrito to maintain its original shape after about 30 seconds in my hands, but that is beside the point. I have seen all the components of the burrito all mixed together, creating the final product. One of Richard Rodriguez’s statements that I love and do not doubt is this one. He starts it off by saying “The thing we [Mexicans] shocked America with was the notion that, in fact, we were not pure. We have never been pure. Our genius is for contamination. We will contaminate you.” I don’t know if what I’m getting at is so much contamination as it is diversity and looking at yourself as a whole, but I still believe that Richard Rodriguez has a point. Looking at yourself at a whole is what I believe being a Mexican means. You are not the beans, or the rice or the deliciously oozing cheese. You are all of them combined, wrapped up in your own tortilla skin that you are free to wriggle around in until you find a shape or fold that suits you best. Even though you are a Mexican, that one part of you is simply that. A part. A fraction. A slice. Not the whole cake, but maybe a bite. You define who you will be through your background as well as whom you strive to be. What road you choose to charge down will decide who you will become and will eventually define who you are. Not just your heritage. Or your burrito.
“There are no such things as Hispanics in Latin America. There are Bolivians, Chileans and Mexicans. You have to come to Miami or Sacramento to meet a Hispanic. There is a large controversy among us as to whether we are Latinos or Hispanics. Hispanics are nothing if not people preoccupied by fathers and ceremony, and we worry a great deal about which is the right word for us.” Truth be told, there isn’t a word. No syllable, sentence, or phrase can describe it, at least, not really. Our society has decided that it is necessary to group all people that are different. Anyone who is a threat to disrupting the norm is labeled, tagged if you will, and there is no means of revoking this tag. You cannot give it back. You are tagged for life. Tag, your it. Forever. Tag. However, some people do not like their tags and do what they can to scribble something else over it and be multiple things at once. Shame on those who refuse to only come from one place! Shame on them. Although there is nothing people can do to change their background, race or ethnicity, it is most definitely not anything to be ashamed of. There is an argument about the label Hispanic and whether it holds too much of ‘Hispanic’s’ identity to Spain, when in fact you are not from there. As Richard Rodriguez said: “We are not comparable to Whites and Blacks because we are an ethnic group, not a racial group. You understand?” Well…do you? Because I know that I am still unsure about what being a Hispanic truly means. As humans we still do not have the proper vocabulary, but in time maybe we will deem it an issue to find a name, but until then, Hispanics it is. That’s what it means to be Hispanic. When you are made up of so many different things, people and places, and somewhere along the way you are given a label much too broad to describe you, and only you, you are Hispanic. You are something entirely new, something indescribable by words and through gestures. Up on a tight-rope you wobble, wondering which way to go, part of you Mexican another Scottish and then another part Dutch. That is what it means to be Hispanic in my opinion. Diverse and unique? I dub you Hispanic.





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