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Blog Essay TitleBlog Essay #PromptPublication
The Simultaneous Effectivity and Harmfulness of Labels1What are your general thoughts on all the different terms/labels used for Latinos? Also, if you are Latino, which term do you prefer to label yourself with and why? If you are not Latino, which term do you hear used most and explain why you think that is the case.26/8/20
The Exploitation and Exclusion of Latinx Identities2Write a short-answer essay where you discuss one interesting thing from “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” and one interesting thing from one of the two rap songs posted in this week’s Module. The “things” you discuss can be concepts, ideas, or points made. Make sure to give your thoughts on why you found those things interesting to you.

The Different Connotations of Labels3Choose one of the poems/lyrics we discussed and share your thoughts on it. Write about what you think is interesting or powerful.20/9/2020
Blog Essay TitleBlog Essay #PromptPublication
The Simultaneous Effectivity and Harmfulness of Labels4What are your general thoughts on all the different terms/labels used for Latinos? Also, if you are Latino, which term do you prefer to label yourself with and why? If you are not Latino, which term do you hear used most and explain why you think that is the case.26/8/20
Collective and Individual Latinx Identies, Labels, and Perception5Write two paragraphs about things you found interesting or educational in the discussion
you can write about things you learned, anything you were surprised by, anything that connected to your own life, etc.
Racial, Ethnic, and Nationality Conflation6Write a 1-paragraph blog essay where you react and analyze to the two articles/videos you chose15/11/2020

The Simultaneous Effectivity and Harmfulness of Labels

26 August 2020

The growing number of terms used to refer to Latinx groups has been reaching a wide range of identities, but we have yet to achieve full inclusivity in our diction and language. Firstly, the terms Latino/a and Chicano/a are used to refer only to (usually cisgender) men and women, and thereby fail to include people whose gender identity does not fall within the gender binary. Now, many use words like Latine, Latinx, and Chicanx to be more inclusive of trans and non-binary people.

However, that is not to say that these words are perfect. Any variation of a label used to reference a Latin-language based America asserts the dominance of a colonizing language and culture, undermining rightful Indigenous ownership of the land.

Languages of South America - Wikipedia

Additionally, the term “La Raza” is extremely harmful and not inclusive at all. The phrase comes from José Vasconcelos’ essay “La Raza Cósmica” which held that Mexico could create the (perfect) fifth race by combining all the present races in the country; the closer to being white, the better. To this day, the term is a call for solidarity among “one race” further perpetuating colorism, orientalism, anti-blackness, anti-indigeneity, and white supremacy.

“We recognize that it is not fair that people like the Chinese, who, under the saintly guidance of Confucian morality multiply like mice, should come to degrade the human condition precisely at the moment when we begin to understand that intelligence serves to refrain and regulate the lower zoological instincts, which are contrary to a truly religious conception of life.”

– José Vasconcelos, La Raza Cósmica

I, personally, refer to myself as Latina, occasionally Latinx, and Hispanic/Hispana based on the context and situation I find myself in. All in all, the multifaceted labeling of Latinx people shows heterogeneity among Latin Americans, but the fact that many labels remain colonial, binary, and racially exclusive shows the necessity of collective introspection and critique of these terms.

Between the Lines of Statistics

13 September 2020

Statistics concerning heterogeneous Latin American groups, though sometimes faulty in making broad assumptions, can provide perspective into the mindset of most people in an area. That is especially important when it comes to voting because one can see where the most participation is and can gauge why some areas have the most influence within those groups. To begin with, California has the largest share of the overall Latinx population in the United States, with a leading 15,541,000, and Texas falls into second place, with a total of 11,367,000. These statistics may be so because these territories were once a part of Mexico, and now Mexicans comprise a large part of the Latinx population in the United States. Not only that, but since these states are closer to the U.S-Mexico border, Central and South American immigrants, who cross through Mexico, may choose to settle there for the convenience, already large Latinx presence, and proximity to their mainlands, thus increasing the Latinx population in those states. This large immigration population may also mean that those who are eligible to vote will choose someone who stands for their best interests, such as immigration reform. In addition to this, Latinx people coming together and flipping House seats in the following districts: Florida’s 26th and 27th districts, California’s 25th District, Arizona’s 2nd District, Texas’ 7th and 32nd districts, Colorado’s 6th District, New York’s 11th District, and New Jersey’s 2nd District shows how much power can come from collectivism. Even though these statistics are specifically about voting, many Latinx (and other marginalized groups) should realize their political, grassroots power outside the confines of institutional politics. This constricted bubble can only break when communities come together for more than just electoral reasons and truly work towards overall health and prosperity. In conclusion, while statistics cannot always account for what entire, diversified groups are thinking, they can give readers a general idea about what kind of power and influence lies within.

Additional Statistics to Consider:

The Exploitation and Exclusion of Latinx Identities

20 September 2020

When discussing issues of identity and cultural struggle, marginalized people are often left out of the conversation — two examples of this are Snow Tha Product’s music video for her song “Bilingue” and Gloria Anzaldua’s How to Tame a Wild Tongue from her book Borderlands/La Frontera. First of all, The “Bilingue” music video shows many items that mainstream Latinx media has dubbed as being an encapsulation of “Latinidad.” Sweet Bread, Corona Beer, Hot Cheetos, and many other foods shown in the video have become tokens of Latinx identity, christened by Latinx influencers as things that only “a true Latino eats.” This commodified Latinx identity bolsters the idea that there is a certain mold that one must fit into in order to be able to label themselves as Latinx. Similarly, Anzaldua’s How to Tame a Wild Tongue discusses the sanctity of the Spanish language that defines a large part of her Chicana/Latina identity. She recalls how “Other Spanish speakers… would hold [them] back with their bag of reglas de academia*” and while this and other quotes encapsulate the language struggle that many Latinx people faced, particularly those who expatriated to the U.S, they exclude a vital component; race. Many of the issues that Anzaldua discusses were and continue to be increasingly worse for people of color who may not speak Spanish at all, or who have developed their own dialect in the way that Black Americans have developed AAVE**. Backlash from the “purist” for one’s “mutilation of Spanish” is far more violent towards Black, Indigenous People of Color*** than Mestize/White Latinx people. In sum, Bilingue and How to Tame a Wild Tongue are evidence of the work that needs to be done in order to bring issues to light with the recognition of its racial, class, and other types of complexities.

*reglas de academia: grammar rules/rules of academy **AAVE – African-American Vernacular English ***Often abbreviated to “BIPOC”

Stereotypical Mexican tokens of identity shown in video:

Horchata – 0:00

Concha (Mexican Sweet Bread – 0:27

Corona Beer – 0:35

Hot Cheetos – 1:12

Tacos – 1:32

Tres Tequila – 1:37

Churro – 2:31

The Different Connotations of Labels

In “The Abuelita Poem”, Paul Martínez Pompa describes his grandmother and the labor she put in the kitchen, but the part of this poem that stood out the most is in the first two lines of “II. Apology.” The first two lines of this part of the poem are as follows: “Before she died I called my abuelita* / grandma.” (Pompa, ll. 18-19). Firstly, these two lines may seem insignificant in a poem that is mostly about a grandmother who prepares food only to end up calling Pizza Hut for her grandchildren. However, whether it is a regional thing or a commonality among Latin American cultures, referring to a grandparent by a title with no affection in it is typically taboo. In this case, the speaker calls their abuelita not only by a formal label but by one in English. The formality usually connotes a detachedness to the addressee. The poet adds this into the second part of the poem labeled Apology to show that they are carrying the burden of rejecting both their abuelita’s food and her by calling her grandma. All in all, these two small lines encompass how in most cultures across Latin America, titles are vital in addressing others, especially elders, to show affection and respect.

*Abuelita – Affectionate term for grandma

How to Make Nixtamal!

Paul Martínez Pompa:

The Man Who Couldn't Stop Thinking" By Paul Martinez Pompa

Collective and Individual Latinx Identies, Labels, and Perception

25 October 2020

Latinx people are often perceived to have a unified culture, traditions, and customs, but in reality, there is a lot of diversity within this broadly labeled community and complex history that many often overlook. A panel with voices from different people of Mexican descent hosted by Dr. Robert Tinajero discussed some of these ideas, particularly in matters of history and identity, that permeate within Latinx groups. Firstly, an important topic brought up in this Latinx panel was by Luis Macias, who mentioned that Spanish is a colonizer language. This point is just one part of the broader fact that how Mexico and the Americas came to be is, in fact, due to colonialism. Many Mestize, Spanish-descendant Mexicans and Latinx often try to claim an Indigenous identity and ancestry with no real cultural ties to any community (See: Indigenismo) and talk about “decolonization” without acknowledging that their Spanish language and customs are colonial. The all too common claim that “All Mexicans/Latinx are Indigenous [in some way]” contributes to the violence perpetrated against Indigenous communities in these areas and makes it easier for the state to ignore their needs and existence. Seeing everyone as all having equal indigeneity across the board allows state functionaries to deny any ethnic/racial discrepancies and claim that the monetary services, rightful land ownership, and other rights that Indigenous people have been stripped of are, in fact, being met because “we are all Indigenous.” It is imperative to recognize that there is no unified identity or beliefs not only in Latin America as a whole but also within countries, states, or any region at all.

An additional significant point was from Dr. Tinajero, who mentioned a recent article about how around 98% of Latin American people who participated in a poll say that they do not identify as nor do they have any desire to adopt the word Latinx. That and other similar articles and polls are harmful in that they ignore people who use this term or do not identify within the gender binary. Another critique of these texts is that they focus so myopically on why people do not want to use that word, rather than how, although not perfect, it moves us closer to inclusive language. Similar to what Dr. Tinajero said in the discussion: many people see words like this as “anglicizing” the Spanish language. In response to this claim, it is important to first bring attention to “Latine”, which has risen in popularity recently, and to the fact that many non-European languages have gender fluidity in their pronouns. Additionally, just like the English and Spanish languages, colonist invaders also imported the idea of the gender binary. Therefore: what sanctity (non-Anglicization) is there to preserve in the Spanish language if, just like English, it is rooted in colonial violence?

Indigenismo was defined as: “public policy and institutions that address the educational,
economic, health, and social needs of the [Indigenous] population, with the underlying goal of assimilating [Native people] into the mainstream culture”

– The Legacy of Mesoamerica: History and Culture of a Native
American Civilization, p. 478, (Carmack, Gasco, Gossen 1996)

Racial, Ethnic, and Nationality Conflation

The two articles from a Wall Street Journal poll and an academic study address xenophobia and racism against Mexicans and Hispanics in the United States but fail to do it through a critical racial lens. To begin with, neither of the two articles addresses discrimination against Mexicans and Hispanics with all its complexities and uses these labels to address racial issues when one is a nationality while the other is an ethnicity. Just like the United States is composed of people from different national origins, ethnicities, and races, so are Mexico and other Latin American nations. There is no universal experience that these groups have, and placing them as having done so is harmful to actual marginalized communities under these groups. In addition to the conflation of race, nationality, and ethnicity, these two articles paint Mexicans and Hispanics all as being people of color. White Mexicans and Hispanics exist, as do Black and Brown Mexicans and Hispanics. Though White Latinx people do experience xenophobia, prejudice, and discrimination based on their ethnicity, they do not have a claim to the racial experiences of people of color whose Latinx identity is often doubted or tested because of their race. Because of this, it is necessary to bring into question the statistics of the lynchings of Latinx people. Though there is no denying that they happened: were white Mexicans/Latinx people as affected by this as Black/Brown Mexicans? Additionally, does the poll consider the different races of Hispanics, and if so, where do they draw the divide between Black Americans of direct African descent and those who more recently come from areas such as the Caribbean and different places throughout the Americas? To sum up, placing people who reside in Latin America under one single label when wanting to address critical race issues leads to the ignoring of people of color’s voices and replicates the tired overrepresentation of white/light-skinned Mestize Latinx people.

Sources to consider:

Exclusion of Black Mexicans in Mexico Census

Black in Latin America

Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination in Mexico

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