PDA

View Full Version : Latino/a vs. Hispanic, por favor?



Los Pollos Hermanos
08-18-2014, 03:17 AM
I was wondering if any of you kind AW-ers could pretty please clarify the above for me? I'm assuming I'm on the correct part of the forum? :)

Part of my story is set in the US, specifically the cities of Denver and Los Angeles and their surrounding areas. I have some characters who are originally Mexican, others are American-born of Mexican parentage/heritage. Incidentally, I have a wonderful Mexican colleague who has provided me with lots of invaluable information on Mexican culture (including where to get decent authentic Mexican food in Manchester, bless her!).

From my googling, it seems as if Latino/a and Hispanic have slightly different meanings depending on which side of the US-Mexican border you're on. I also assume there may also be room for debate within each side of the border?

I've found this tricky to research, as I have no desire to place people in neat little boxes depending on their nationality/skin colour/religion/taste in hats, etc! However, real life ain't so simple. It's not a big deal in the story, but I'd like to get things as correct as possible - for example, in a scene when the police are describing a missing person.

So, here are my questions:

1). A person who is Mexican-born but now lives in the US - in addition to being Mexican, would they consider/refer to themselves as Latino/a or Hispanic?

2). A person who is American-born of Mexican parentage/heritage - besides being an American, would they consider/refer to themselves as Latino/a or Hispanic and/or something else?

1+2). Does it differ between age groups/cities?

3). Is there anything else relating to the above which may help my story?

I think that makes vague sense?!

Many thanks in anticipation,

LPH.

Fruitbat
08-18-2014, 03:45 AM
I only know about Houston, so fwiw... I don't often hear "Latino" or "Chicano" here. Mostly, it's "Hispanic" or "Spanish." And I've heard many who call themselves "Mexicans," whether they're from Mexico or have Mexican roots (and Texas did used to be part of Mexico, after all).

In your story, I think which term is commonly used would vary by area. And then, of course, an officer wouldn't likely know where someone was from (the U.S., Mexico, or other Spanish speaking country), so "Mexican" would be out. Also, even if someone's family has been here for generations and they call themselves "Mexicans," I'm not sure they'd welcome it from outsiders. A police description here would say "Hispanic."

kuwisdelu
08-18-2014, 03:51 AM
For both 1+2 the answer could be either or both.

The most obvious thing is to look at the terminology: Latino and Latina emphasize Latin America, while Hispanic emphasizes Spain.

Hispanic can refer to people from any Spanish-speaking country.

Notably, Hispanics can be white, and there are large populations of both white Hispanics and non-white Hispanics. So Hispanics are not necessarily people of color, while Latinos generally are.

Hispanic tends to be preferred in the Eastern US while Latino tends to be preferred in the Western US.

Hispanic would be preferred by those who would emphasize their Spanish origins, while Latino would be preferred by those who would emphasize their Latin American origins. I don't know how it is now, but my understanding is that the former enjoy a more privileged social position in Latin American countries.

Remember that Mexican isn't an ethnicity. Mexico has multiple ethnicities, including Latinos and Hispanics and other groups including many indigenous peoples.

If the character is meant to be PoC, using Latino or Latina would indicate that. Hispanic would be ambiguous.

And likewise, one might prefer to say Hispanic if they don't want to emphasize their PoC-ness.

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-18-2014, 04:17 AM
Many thanks for the help and information. My characters are assumedly proud of their heritage (in that they never try to hide it or pretend to be from a different background) and are from the western half of the US, so I'm guessing Latino/Latina would be more appropriate?

Would a police officer or detective (from whatever background) in Los Angeles, for example, use Hispanic to describe a victim/suspect if they were trying to be politically correct? Even if they knew the person was of Mexican heritage?

Cheers,

LPH.

kuwisdelu
08-18-2014, 04:28 AM
Would a police officer or detective (from whatever background) in Los Angeles, for example, use Hispanic to describe a victim/suspect if they were trying to be politically correct? Even if they knew the person was of Mexican heritage?

No idea. I'm in Indiana and a police officer described me as "Mexican" even though I'm Native American.

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-18-2014, 05:25 AM
People shouldn't assume - just because somebody appears to fit their idea of what they think (insert name of nationality/race/ethnicity) look like, it doesn't mean they are. I'm white and English, but have very dark brown hair and slightly sallow skin (there's some Italian on my dad's side). It was never commented on until I went to university, then people regularly used to ask me if I was Spanish or Jewish. My blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jewish flatmate used to think this was somewhat amusing! How can someone look Jewish just because they've got dark hair?! (rolls eyes)

That's why I'm trying to be as accurate as possible with characters. For example, I've used surnames from all over Europe for my (predominantly) white characters in the US sections, although I rarely specify a character's background, I hope the surname may give a clue as to their heritage and the reader can fill in the rest and imagine them as (whatever colour?) they want to.

Fruitbat
08-18-2014, 06:18 AM
Los Pollos- Maybe someone will come along who is from the area where your story is set and help you get the details right. Around here, it wouldn't be unusual for police to describe a suspect as "White or Hispanic" or maybe "Black or Hispanic" depending on the physical description received.

M.N Thorne
08-18-2014, 07:58 AM
Los Pollos Hermanos, I would like to help you out with your questions about latinos. In California, a lot of people used Latino more than Hispanic. However, I have many Mexican-American friends who calls themselves either Chicano or even Mestizo. But my friends who themselves that are either brown berets or into the Chicano movement. Then there are Afro-Latinos, Asian Latinos, and even Romani (gyspy) Latinos...since there are so many different people born in Latin-America. Many people just call themselves either Mexican, Chicano, or Latino. Very few called themselves Mestizos. The latinos of African descent called themselves Afro-Latino and the Latinos of Asian descent call themselves Asian-Latino ;) I hope this helps!



I was wondering if any of you kind AW-ers could pretty please clarify the above for me? I'm assuming I'm on the correct part of the forum? :)

Part of my story is set in the US, specifically the cities of Denver and Los Angeles and their surrounding areas. I have some characters who are originally Mexican, others are American-born of Mexican parentage/heritage. Incidentally, I have a wonderful Mexican colleague who has provided me with lots of invaluable information on Mexican culture (including where to get decent authentic Mexican food in Manchester, bless her!).

From my googling, it seems as if Latino/a and Hispanic have slightly different meanings depending on which side of the US-Mexican border you're on. I also assume there may also be room for debate within each side of the border?

I've found this tricky to research, as I have no desire to place people in neat little boxes depending on their nationality/skin colour/religion/taste in hats, etc! However, real life ain't so simple. It's not a big deal in the story, but I'd like to get things as correct as possible - for example, in a scene when the police are describing a missing person.

So, here are my questions:

1). A person who is Mexican-born but now lives in the US - in addition to being Mexican, would they consider/refer to themselves as Latino/a or Hispanic?

2). A person who is American-born of Mexican parentage/heritage - besides being an American, would they consider/refer to themselves as Latino/a or Hispanic and/or something else?

1+2). Does it differ between age groups/cities?

3). Is there anything else relating to the above which may help my story?

I think that makes vague sense?!

Many thanks in anticipation,

LPH.

M.N Thorne
08-18-2014, 08:00 AM
Yes, a police officer might just used either Hispanic or Latino. However, Los Angeles has a lot of different Latinos such as Colombians, Argentineans, and Bolivians. So Latino would the term to used.


Many thanks for the help and information. My characters are assumedly proud of their heritage (in that they never try to hide it or pretend to be from a different background) and are from the western half of the US, so I'm guessing Latino/Latina would be more appropriate?

Would a police officer or detective (from whatever background) in Los Angeles, for example, use Hispanic to describe a victim/suspect if they were trying to be politically correct? Even if they knew the person was of Mexican heritage?

Cheers,

LPH.

kuwisdelu
08-18-2014, 08:16 AM
My Japanese friend who grew up in a heavily Latino part of LA calls himself an Japanese Chicano.

:tongue

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-18-2014, 03:56 PM
Thanks again for all the help. I'm about to start the First Big Edit so am going to check I've used Latino/a if I need to actually describe the person, and Hispanic for any formal police conversation. One of my detectives is half-Latino (and half-white) - I didn't set out to make him mixed, it's just how I began to imagine him. It's not mentioned until later in the story and is relevant to the homicide they're investigating.

The other three detectives in his team are white guys. I did wonder, as a female member of our species, if I should make one of them female. But then that's a bit like adding the token (insert ethnic background) character to look PC, imho. I imagine the team to be made up of four men, so four men it is!

Cheers,

LPH.

AllenC
08-19-2014, 08:57 AM
I think on a situation involving the police, they will refer themselves as regular citizens/people, and will let the policemen to "put them in a box". Secondly, they might be proud of the Mexican heritage rather of "latinity" since the US conception of the word latino comes from "Latin American", and not from of Latin origin (as in descending from the ancient Roman Empire, which is the right meaning of the world academically worldwide). Latin American is not one culture of heritage. It's not like an Uruguayan eats burritos and beans everyday, and are super religious, superstitious, lazy, and desperate to run away from their country (such is one short-sighted pop view of latinos in the US). So, if they are Mexicans, they will be proud of their Mexican culture and heritage, and if they were Colombians, they will root for Colombia's culture, which holds not much similarities with Mexican's.

Los Pollos Hermanos
08-19-2014, 04:07 PM
These characters all come from one large extended family who live in and around Atwater Village* (with one out in Colorado - he's an FBI agent). Most of them are hard-working law-abiding citizens who go about their day-to-day lives without incident (like myself). Four of the younger members of the family (three brothers and their cousin) have previously mixed with some unsavoury characters, and this is what brings them into contact with my Bad Guy (who's white and moved from England as a child, btw). The brothers' dad is a small-time criminal; his brothers and sisters are all law-abiding as described above and the cousin has a sheep mentality.

There are also minor Latino/Hispanic (origins not specified) characters - shopkeepers, police/FBI, a fast food outlet owner, etc. I wouldn't refer to them as Mexican, as I haven't explored their backstories. Their origins are merely suggested by their names, so a reader can fill in the rest.

* I visited on a reconnaisance mission - it fits the location, image and demographics I need.

I read this to get a flavour:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mexican-Mafia-Tony-Rafael/dp/1594031959/
But the three brothers and their cousin are nowhere near this level of criminality

My colleague was telling me about different parts of Mexico having different foods, dialects, slang, etc. It's much the same over here - we generally all understand each other absolutely fine, but accents and slang vary - as do local delicacies.

I've avoided stereotypes, although one of the grandmothers is very religious - and I have mentioned huevos rancheros and burritos on a separate occasion for each dish. Probably because I love both and would eat them every day if I could! ;) My younger characters' food preferences seem to lie with burgers and pizza though.

I've done my best to research thoroughly, so as to reduce the likelihood of offending anyone. The same applies with certain sections of the England-based parts of the story, although grey skies, rain and grumpy people can't really be called a stereotype when it's true - haha!

Thanks again,

LPH.