Hispanic or Latino?

Hispanic or Latino?

Hispanic or Latino?

Hispanic… Latino… have you ever thought about how these two terms are used differently? Are they different? If so, how?

Earlier this year, my Spanish class spent a few weeks exploring when people use the word ‘Hispanic’ and when people use the word ‘Latino’ to identify themselves. My conclusion after all the research and discussions is that it depends on the individual’s point of view.

As it turns out, the distinction between the use of these two terms is not definite. Depending on the person and his/her country of origin amongst many factors, each individual defines these two labels differently.

Hispanic

Hispanic is typically seen as the more general term of the two, because it is most widely used to refer to anyone from a Spanish-speaking country. Some also believe it’s to identify people from Spain or a country that’s gained independence from Spain, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, or Chile.

Latino

Latino is usually used to refer to geography: some use it to identify as a person from a country in Central America and others extend the definition to anyone from a country in Latin America (all countries south of the United States). Some people see it as a broad term for originating from a country whose main language is a romantic language, such as those of Brazilians (Portuguese) and Guianans (French).

As you can see, there is no right or wrong way to use these terms; and even still, many people from Spanish-speaking countries do not feel there is a difference between the two interchangeable terms and therefore do not have a preference. Supported by a survey done by the Pew Hispanic Center, most commonly people prefer to identify themselves by their country of origin (i.e.“Costa Rican” or “Mexican”). This makes perfect sense to me, as I personally prefer identifying myself as a Korean-American than an Asian-American. Country-specific identifications reflect the unique culture that plays such a huge role in a person’s life.

How would you define yourself? British? American? Chinese? Let us know in the comments below!


Jenna is a high school senior who currently resides right outside Nashville, Tennessee and isn’t quite set on what she’d like to pursue in college. Recently she co-founded an outreach club to cultivate STEM interests in elementary-aged girls through fun sessions with videos, crafts, and games. Aside from sharing her love for learning about life sciences, Jenna has a deep-rooted passion for singing classical and choral music. In her free time, you can find her binging on Korean dramas, stressing out about the incomprehensibility of physics, or having an intense tennis match with her younger sister (which her sister always wins).


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