For Latinos, identity can be a touchy but passionate subject.

Some defend the term “Hispanic,” which broadly refers to people with ties to the Spanish language or the country of Spain, depending on the context. But some Latinos argue that “Hispanic” is a term that leaves out Portuguese and Brazilian people who live in Latin America but don’t originate from a Spanish-speaking country.

The U.S. government began using the term during Richard Nixon’s presidency in the late 1960s to describe Spanish-speaking American citizens. It was the official ethnic designation used by the U.S. Census until the late 1990s.

Others prefer the term “Latino,” which is used more broadly in reference to anyone from Central and South America and some countries in the Caribbean who feel cultural or geographic ties to the region.

The U.S. government officially adopted the term in 1997 and replaced “Hispanic” with “Hispanic or Latino.”

According to the latest survey of Hispanic adults from the Pew Center, 50% say they have no preference for either term. When broken down by states with the highest Hispanic population, there is a noticeable preference for the term “Hispanic.”

In Texas, 46% of people said they preferred Hispanic over Latino. Florida Hispanics, on the other hand, had 31% of people say they favored Hispanic over Latino. The percentages were similar in California and New York.

The issue of identity is further complicated by the other half that said they have no preference. In fact, not everyone from Latin America and the Caribbean, or who descends from the region, identifies as Latino or Hispanic.

Alternative terms have become increasingly popular over the last several years including “Latino or Latina” to challenge the gender binary inherent in the Spanish language.

The controversial “Latinx” term was introduced in the early 2000s as a gender-neutral term for Hispanics. The LGBTQ+ community has embraced the term which encompasses people who identify outside the gender binary, such as those who are transgender or gender-fluid.

Critics argue the term corrupts the Spanish language.

What do you and your friends and family think?

We’re counting down the five worst stereotypes about us.

As Latinos, we’re used to the troubling assumptions that are made about who we’re supposed to be.

They tend to be negative and wrong. Frankly, it gets old and frustrating.

We’re counting down the five worst stereotypes about us.

The Clown

How many times have you’ve been asked if you have jokes to share at a gathering of any sort?
Supposedly, we’re all hilarious by nature. This makes us think of the loud, self-depricating caricatures is how we act a fool for comic relief.

But the clown stereotype makes us look uneducated, obnoxious and ridiculous. All for what? A few laughs?

This stereotype emphasizes the idea that our culture and customs are backward. Instead, we should be embracing the things that make us stand out in a positive way.

The Domestic

Hispanic domestic workers are a staple at the box office and by the 1980s, Latinos increasingly replaced Black folks as Hollywood’s chosen ethnic group for this role.

The Hispanic maid and gardener characters usually speak little or heavily accented English, have a submissive demeanor and are down and out with their finances, legal status or carry family baggage.

While there’s no shame in this of work. On the contrary, they are honorable and humble jobs; we’re portrayed as only being capable of having these jobs.

In reality, we can achieve anything we set our minds to, just like any other group of people.

The Latin Lover

This persona was first popularized by Italian actor Rudolph Valentino after his performances in The Sheik (1921) and Son of the Sheik (1926).

You know the type we’re referencing: Sweaty, tall and handsome, often a construction worker.

And if he isn’t depicted as a sexy blue-collar fantasy, he resembles Ricky Martin’s “Living la Vida Loca,” always ready to wow you with his romantic antics and dance moves.
While Hispanic men are often typecast as Latin lovers, women are characterized as The Spicy Latina.

Carmen Miranda capitalized on her sexy image in 1950s Hollywood. Most recently, Sofia Vergara’s role on “Modern Family” fuels the stereotype that we’re sexy but also loud, crazy and spicy.

The problem here is that we’re reduced to our physical and sexual attractiveness while ignoring our other assets as women and Latinas.

The Gangster

Both the media and current presidential administration have portrayed Latinos as gangsters, drug dealers and rapists, among other criminal labels.

This stereotype is particularly harmful because it helps those outside our community, especially those in power, reinforce the idea that we should be feared, shunned and dehumanized.

These stereotypes are a superficial and exaggerated depiction that’s often untrue and result in lack of opportunities and other harmful consequences for our community.

There is real diversity and complexity in our Latino identity and these one-sided portrayals don’t show that we are in control of our lives, capable of standing up for our rights and working hard for ourselves, families and our future.

So, the time you’re made the butt of a joke, maybe redirect the conversation to some interesting facts about Latinos. Like how we’re taking over music, how we’re voting in record numbers or how we’re opening more businesses faster than any other demographic.

And that’s just for starters.

Even swimming pools aren’t safe from our country’s racist history.

Who gets to swim?

It sounds like an insane question but there is a long history of segregation, discrimination and violence against Black and Latino people at public pools.

In California, for instance, Mexican Americans used to be excluded from “Whites Only” swimming pools.

“Monday was Mexican Day and the next day they’d drain the pool and clean it so Whites could use it the rest of the week,” recalled Sandra Robbie, a filmmaker who grew up in Orange County.

There are incidents happening pool-side even today. In 2009, 65 Black and Latino campers from a camp in North Philadelphia arrived at the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon to use the facilities for the day.

As the campers entered the water, some club members reportedly pulled their children from the pool and commented aloud about what all those Black and Latino kids were doing there.

And in 2016, The Red Cross faced major scrutiny for their pool safety poster titled, “Be Cool, Follow the Rules.”

The poster showed White children as behaving in a “cool” way while children of color are shown defying pool rules and were labeled as “not cool.”

Despite the discrimination, pools are for everyone. Now go pick out your favorite bathing suit, grab a beach towel and a powerful sunscreen and go enjoy a swim. Nadie te saca de aqui.

Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez took a hiatus from social media recently after she came under heat for a comment she made.

During an interview, the voice actress for Netflix’s new Carmen Sandiego animated series, said Latina actresses get paid less than Black actresses.

Strong voices in the Black community and other critics accused her comments of being out of touch with the facts.

But guess what? It’s true.

Latinas get paid less than their Black, White and Asian counterparts.

Latina women earn 54 cents for every dollar made by their White male counterparts.

Meanwhile, Asian, White, Black and Native American women earn 87 cents, 79 cents, 63 cents and 57 cents, respectively, for every dollar their White male counterparts make.

And the wage gap doesn’t only affect Latinas, men in our community are also earning less.

The Economic Policy Institute reports that in 2017, Hispanic men made 14.9 percent less in hourly wages than comparable White men.

Rodriguez returned to social media to promote new projects such as the crime action flick, Miss Bala, but closed the comments section of her Instagram feed.

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Sway In the Morning, she got candid about the impact of getting people so riled up over an issue close to heart.

“I never said actresses,” she said getting teary-eyed. “I wasn’t speaking about my industry. I always find it difficult to talk about equal pay as a woman who makes a substantial amount of money. As somebody who came from poverty to now the amount of money I get paid, it doesn’t feel right that I’m the one talking about it, because I’m so damn grateful.”

She said she was hinting at intersectionality to nix the pay gap in the bud.

“And so the backlash was devastating to say the least because the Black community was the only community I looked towards growing up,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t have many Latino shows and the Black community made me feel like I was seen, so to get anti-Black is to say I’m anti-family.”

She apologized to those she may have inadvertingly hurt through her comments.

Major props to Rodriguez and other Latina actresses who are taking on the enormous responsibility of advocating for equal pay for nuestra gente.

So long as we keep speaking up about the pay gap, we’ll keep making progress.

DNA tests are all the buzz these days, but don’t they don’t tell the whole story, especially for Latinos.

If you’ve turned on the T.V. in the last year and made it to your favorite show’s commercial breaks, chances are you’ve seen an ad for a DNA test.

It seems like they’re more popular than ever, but for Latinos, DNA tests just don’t tell our whole genetic story.

Historically, people of European ancestry have taken more DNA tests, resulting in much more comprehensive DNA databases for them than for people of color.

This lack of DNA testing by Latinos, coupled with our ancestral mix of European and indigenous roots, has made our gente’s results less accurate.

But with more folks of non-European ancestry buying DNA tests at higher rates, test-making companies are being forced to make their databases more diverse.

While the more popular companies get it together, there’s one lesser-known DNA test company that’s already better serving our community.

We Are Cousins is a website that helps Latinos trace their Native American and Spanish roots.
By knowing our roots, we can keep our family’s history alive for generations to come.