Code Switching from English to Spanish

It’s actually pretty common for bilinguals to get words mixed up. That’s because our brains work differently and faster than those of people who only speak one language.

Here are a couple of funny and slightly embarrassing translation mishaps we can all relate to.

Amy Garay remembers going into a Burger King as a kid and getting a weird expression from the cashier when asking for chile. It took her a while to remember the English word is “hot sauce.”

Some Latinos remember having a stuffy nose meant being “constipado.” But, alas, in English constipated means a totally different thing!

The confusion goes both ways. Like when Selena forgot the Spanish translation for “excited” and made “Me siento muy excited” a catchphrase.

These mishaps will happen so we may as well embrace them and get a chuckle out of it!

Latino Identity Still a Source of Debate

Today, nuestra gente is divided between using “Hispanic” or “Latino” to define us, but we are united in our cultural pride. Our Latinidad gives us a sense of identity, belonging and purpose.

One way we maintain our identity is through the Spanish language. Afraid their bicultural children would miss out on their Mexican heritage, Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein created Lil’ Libros to share stories of Latino folklore and historical figures.

Another way is through a strong Latino support network. Denise Soler Cox created the Enye Nation Movement to empower Latinos and give them a sense of belonging.

We can also keep our herencia viva through sharing our recipes. Latinos do so by writing cookbooks or appearing on television or simply passing family recipes on to younger generations.

Books like SalviSoul, a cooking media platform and forthcoming cookbook, celebrates the women who cook from the heart.

How do you maintain your Latino identity?

Love It or Hate It, Latinx is Here to Stay

“Latinx” was introduced as a gender-neutral term in response to the Spanish language’s male-dominant tone. Progressive Latinos embrace the term but Hispanic scholars worry it will ultimately be rejected by nuestra gente.

Despite concerns, colleges such as the University of California, San Diego have formally adopted “Latinx” to define Chicanos and Latinos. UC Davis created the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success to show support.

Support for “Latinx” also comes from a need to better represent non-Mexican Latinos who are growing in greater numbers both inside and outside colleges. Meanwhile, growth of Mexicanos is declining.

Naysayers point out that even younger Latinos have publicly criticized “Latinx” as a “ridiculous,” “stupid” and “offensive” term. They say it’s just another term to further divide us.

Admittedly both sides of the argument are strong. Where do you stand on the “Latinx” debate?

Debunking Retirement for Nuestra Gente

Have you noticed Latinos don’t like talking about retirement?

Finding the right way to plan for retirement can be legit hard. Most people just want to get through their work week, not plan for the future.

But a 2017 survey found that one-third of Latinos cite finances as their top stressor. Luckily, there are tools to help nuestra gente plan for retirement.

Latinos should sign up for any retirement programs available through their employers such as a 401(k) plan. Another option is to open up an Individual Retirement Account with your credit union.

Undocumented immigrants can plan for retirement by setting up a spending plan, saving monthly, having a strong credit report and setting up a retirement plan through a credit union or broker.

The best thing you can do is start planning early. Create a budget, work on your credit rating and work with a financial planner or advisor. Your older self thanks you.

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.

Hispanic vs Latino

Here’s a simple way to think about the difference between “Hispanic” and “Latino.”

“Hispanic” = Language
“Latino” = Culture

The U.S. government first started using the term “Hispanic” during Richard Nixon’s presidency in the late 1960’s to describe Spanish-speaking American citizens.

It first appeared on the U.S. Census in 1980.

“Latino” is used more broadly for anyone from Central and South America or some countries in the Caribbean to group people who feel cultural or georgraphic ties to this region.
“Latino” was officially adopted in 1997 by the U.S. government, and was supposed to replace “Hispanic” with “Hispanic or Latino.”

But not everyone from the region identifies with the terms “Latino” or “Hispanic.”

Check out this video for more thoughts on these terms: