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The Latino Movement: More about Integration than Differentiation

By Mari D. González

It is not uncommon to read outrageous statements in discussion forums and blog comments. The anonymity of users gives them more freedom to express their individual opinions without a second thought; this tendency is less common when people use their real names.

A few weeks ago, I read this comment on a well-liked Latino blog: “Mexicans have no clue, their Spanish it’s [is] the worst among the Central American people.”

I wrote the following response:

1) Mexico is part of North America not Central America, and NAFTA refers to the North America Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.

2) Mexican Spanish includes words from the 60 Indigenous languages officially recognized by the Mexican government. The extent of the Indigenous influence is due to Mesoamerica (Central Mexico southward through Central America) being the center of the first most developed pre-Hispanic civilizations in the Americas.

3) Most Mexicans are proud of their Indigenous background and cultural make up. As a Mexican, I speak Mexican Spanish because that is my mother tongue; I use Spanglish with my Latino(a) friends in the U.S.

While we acculturate and adapt to the United States by keeping up with the challenge of “straddling two cultures” that is a common topic among Latina bloggers, let us not forget where we come from and the values we learned there such as respect for language differences and the nuances of language use. Let us “preserve our unique cultural identities” and “continue defining ourselves” without shoving others out of the way.

Welcome to the sequel or Chicano movement Part II, which is now more about integration than differentiation, and should be termed the “Latino Movement.” The term Latino was officially established in 1997 by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. It indicated that the terms Hispanic and Latino were to be used interchangeably beginning January 1, 2001.

Edited by Connie Cobb