We all might be a little too much for some and not enough for others, but most interesting to me is the “enough-ness” of our racial or cultural identities.
I am Latina, half Puerto Rican and half Peruvian. Spanish is my first language and Latin music, particularly salsa music and dance, are my passions. I volunteer teaching salsa to elementary school kids to share this part of my culture and identity with my child and his school community. I try to be visible about my academic and professional accomplishments as a Latina to members of my cultural community. Yet to some, I may not be Latina enough. I’m totally okay with that. To others, I might be too much.
I can only speak from my own experience, but I have encountered other women of color who were educated professionals, who perhaps dated outside of their race or culture and specifically dated white men, and have been told or made to feel that they weren’t Latina enough or Black enough – myself included. Of course I can’t speak to the other factors that may have brought about those feelings about us, but the impact was the same: a judgment from another Latina or Black woman about the enough-ness of our own racial or ethnic identities.
Today’s version of not Black or Latina enough has more to do with what aspect of our identities we choose to focus on in conversations and on social media, what we tell our kids about prejudice and racism and at what age, what views we hold politically and even within the same political ideologies – how vocal we are about them and what tone we use to express those views.
This past Tuesday marked the beginning of National Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month in the United States. It’s a month where we celebrate Latin American roots, culture, history, contributions and for many of us, our Latin American identities: nuestra Latinidad.
What does it mean to be Latin? It’s not a national identity. In fact, it’s more than a national identity; it’s an ethnicity. We share a common language, although we don’t all speak it. Our countries of origin share certain histories, but they vary. And of course, we have many cultural traditions in common. We share a pride when one of us achieves, and we feel at home when we hear our music . . . or is that just me?
But within our Latinidad, we are also so very different from one another. We look different. We have different religious beliefs, different political ideologies and different views within the same ideologies. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and also the biggest critics of one another. We are a huge, diverse family. Yet despite all our differences, we are each uniquely Latin, just as we are each uniquely human.
So let’s not question it. We are all Latin enough.
I had my Latinidad questioned (by other Latinas) a long time ago, even though I “check a lot of the boxes” ✅ for being Latina. Some of these boxes are simply stereotypes, by the way (and the subject of a future blogpost!). I even had someone characterize me as not being a “real Latina” because, for a few years, I used the nickname “Rita” for Margarita. Nonsense. It was many years ago, but I know such judgments of our Latinidad still exist, be they blatant or latent.
Today I want to say whatever our race, ethnicity or culture, we are enough. The standard is a subjective one, not an objective one. We are the only ones living in our skin and walking in our shoes each and every day, so we are the only ones to judge what is enough Latina or enough ______ for ourselves.
❓Whether you are Hispanic or not, whether you have Latin roots or not, have you ever felt judged as not being “enough” of your cultural or ethnic identity?
Check out my Instagram post on this topic for an interesting discussion!