Are you Latina enough?

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What makes us Latina?

The big question I've faced my whole life is: Am I Latina enough? Sure I look like a Hispanic woman, but I've considered that it's more than that. I come from a Colombian (from my mom's side) and Peruvian (my dad's side) background, but I call myself an American because I was born in the United States. 

But just because I am a Hispanic American woman, does it make me any less Latina than the rest who were born in their native countries and now live here? In this day and age it seems like the concept of being "Latina" has evolved and there's a huge debate around the concept of being Latina, Latina enough or not...

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I think I'm not the best Latina. My Spanish isn't perfect, I don't salsa like a pro, I tend to avoid eating meat, I'm clueless about the latest telenovelas, most of my friends aren't Latino, and I only use Spanish at home--if that. In fact there have been many occasions Latinos (even non-Latinos) have told me I'm a "bad" Latina. Normally I laugh it off, but could there be some truth to it?

The reality is I grew up in a typical Latino household, where music was always playing, food was a main staple, and my abuela watched novelas. But even my parents haven't been to their respective countries in years. I know for a fact my dad hasn't visited Peru in over 30 years. Does that make my parents less Latino too?

Judging by my group of friends, the majority are not Latino. In fact, even the few who are Latino are just as Americanized as I am. We don't even speak Spanish amongst ourselves. My boyfriend is Gringo and although we are aware of our different backgrounds, I don't think I'm less of a Latina for not dating a Hispanic man. The majority of couples I know--including some Latinos--come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and they've learned to embrace their differences instead of alienating them.

However, I become aware of how out of the loop I am in terms of Hispanic culture when native Latinos bring up current slang, or the latest Latino music artists, and sometimes it's hard to follow what they are saying because they speak faster than I'm used to. Do these things make me less Latina? No.

What makes me Latina is that I embrace my culture and wear with pride my unique background. I remember having my abuelita's delicious sancocho, her hilarious old school sayings, sharing arequipe and buñuelos with my mom, my uncle dancing merengue with me as a little girl, tasting my tía's ceviche, and always being surrounded by family. Every one of these things has modeled me into the woman I've become today--whether or not society considers me Latina enough.

The truth is there is no such thing as being Latino "enough." In my opinion, it's all about preserving what we can of our culture. My parents and I have discussed taking a family trip to their native countries because they want me to experience my roots firsthand. I know one day when I have kids, I will want them to be brought up bilingual and I will pass down the same customs I was raised with. And it all starts with us. I mean, if we don't teach them about our culture, who will?

What are your thoughts on being Latina enough?

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That's the reason I'd rather describe myself just as mexican instead of latina =) that way I'm saying I speak spanish and that I'm from Mexico (aside from eating beans, have a brown skin and black hair, like loud music and enjoy parties with lots of people).


 Bravoooooooo! Nice article! To tell you the truth I was born in Cuba, my father was from Germany and my mother Cuban, her parents were from Europe. I have always felt latina in a way that I embrace our culture, language, food, traditions,  even though I have been in this country for almost my entire life.


This is something I always wonder about also.

I can't understand or speak spanish. I mean I know a tiny bit, but not enough to be comfortable even saying it. Both my parents were born in the US. I have had people say I am to "white" to be hispanic.

I am proud to be spanish though, and I don't feel I'm less because of those things.
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