Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hispanic, Latino or just American

I read the daily newspaper. Actually it probably be said that I devour the news from it. I can read and think at my own pace without being dependant upon the personal bias of the reporter. TV, radio and the Internet round off my quest for knowledge concerning current events and opinions. Another entertaining part of the paper is the comic section. No matter the news of the day, I can always rely on finding some comic relief on that page. I don't know if that says something about my maturity but it really doesn't matter to me. I like it anyway. One of the strips is named "Baldo." Baldo is centered on an Hispanic/ Mexican decent teen age boy of that name, living in America with the rest of his family. He goes through all sorts of situations faced by young boys during the growing up, becoming a man process. Cars, girls, studies and choosing friends. I remember that stage well. Good for a lot of laughs on a dreary day most of the time. The writer also includes insight into the world of being of Mexican and Hispanic decent. Interesting and informative for me. We all have richness in our respective heritages I think. Some is presented in a light hearted way and some in a serious way. I learn from it, expanding my knowledge and lessening my ignorance in this country known as a melting pot. A double whammy. Today the strip brought me up short.

Baldo has a younger, pre-teen, genius type sister. Smart and witty with high aspirations of adult achievements. Constantly coming up with wisdom far beyond her age. Today she was concerned about what to call herself. It went something like: She was speaking with her dad and wondered if she should be called, Hispanic or Latino? Latino is actually Italian she said. And Hispanic refers to a lot of people that aren't Spanish. And then the writer had her say something that took me aback: "Or, should we just call ourselves, "Americans?" The comment sounded to me to be referred to as a last resort. Something to be called only when all other designations were exhausted. Is that why I call myself, "American?" Because there isn't any other special name good enough left to call myself? Has that what being an American has become, a last resort? Is being called an American the new racial slur or insult? I don't get it!

In any given conversation, I believe that if asked what nationality we are, if we are citizens of this country, it should be an honor to call ourselves American. I believe that if we enjoy the benefits of this great country we should be pleased to be able to say we are American first, not last.

So, if I had a daughter that asked what she should call herself I would answer: "American!" If asked about my heritage I'd be happy to share my Dutch, German and other ancestral stories. Those stories surround the reasons my ancestors came to the United States to build a new life, they were glad to come here and call themselves Americans.

So my opinion is this: Let's be proud of our heritage and readily share it with each other. However, lets join together as Americans and quit being so blasted divisive by calling ourselves by some special name first. I don't see the good in those special names. I think being able to call ourselves American is pretty special in itself. Even in the comic section.......................Joe
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