How to Turn Off Latinos

Carlos Valenzuela | September 19, 2012 | 10:48 AM

Want to be Latino socially correcto in your salon? Here is the most important rule to keep in mind: we Latinos are not “one” homogenous group.

How to Turn Off Latinos

 Imagine large numbers of Americans, Canadians, Brits, Australians, and New Zealanders, all with Inglés in common, moving to a new country. And, what if the locales created a category for this group called Anglics. Everywhere you went people would refer to you as an Anglic. At the first oportunidad,would you not say, “I am not really Anglic, and there is no such thing as an Anglic. I am Americano?

Wait, there is mas. All Anglic customs and traits would be lumped together.
This would go something like this: you would be assumed to know all about tea, someone would call and ask how many kilómeteros in a mile. Maybe ask you if you had a bebé Kangaroo as a child, or to explain cricket. You would forever be saying, “Well, you see, in my country we don’t...” Are you with me?

Latinos come from twenty-four different countries in Latin America.

I had never heard of “pasteles,” until I went to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.Deliciosos. And, don’t automatically cook enchiladas for your Latino dinner guests, because Mexico is the only country that enjoys picante (as in spicy) food. BTW, the correct word for spicy in Spanish is picante, not caliente, which refers to increased sexual desire, (I have stories). In Argentina frijoles are called porotos, and butter is not mantequilla, but manteca, which in Mexico means lard, (lard on your toast?). In Mexico a roller istubo and in other countries, rulero. And, don’t get me started on bobby pin: gancho, pasador, pincho,etc.

We Latinos are good at dealing with these generalizations, because it is all meant well, at times it’s an effort to make you feel included. Gracias.

Here is my list of ways to turn off Latinos: (send me yours, please)

  1. Assume what a Latino should look like.
    Latino is not a race, but an ethnic group.

  2. Should I say Latino or Hispanic? Answer: we don’t care because both are wrong (Anglic?) Most of us identify with our native country.

  3. Assume all Latinos come from uno o dos countries. (Mexico and something else)

  4. Don’t endlessly bring up immigration issues, muchos Latinos are not passionate about this.

  5. Assumptions about economic and educational status. Big mistake.

  6. Practicing your high school Español on us in professional settings. Acceptable only after muchos rounds of tequila.

  7. When Latinos say something en Español, it is not about you or something you should not hear.


Número seven requires one final ejemplo: If you met up with another native English speaking person in Brazil, Colombia or Dominican Republic, your inclination would be to speak with them in English, right? After all, this is both your native language with trendy words that have no real translation. Do not be offended when two Latinos speak to each other en Español in your presence. It is our way of connecting and validating our heritage. If we get carried away, and you feel uncomfortable, for sure, say something. Avoid, “This is America, speak English.”

Most bilingual Latinos refrain from extended Spanish conversations when in English only company. But, there are times, including topics of the heart, of my spirit, which I can only express in Spanish.

I suffer only in Spanish. I trust you understand.

Hasta pronto,

Carlos Valenzuela

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