I’ve been reading this book lately called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about a Nigerian’s experience living in America and the UK. I’m still a little more than half way through it so, when finished, I’ll offer a decent review, however I do like it so far. I did have an issue with it nevertheless. I did not enjoy her critique on Hispanics:
“Hispanic means the frequent companions of American blacks in poverty rankings, Hispanic means a slight step above American blacks in the American race ladder, Hispanic means the chocolate-skinned woman from Peru, Hispanic means the indigenous people of Mexico. Hispanic means the biracial-looking folks from the Dominican Republic. Hispanic means the paler folks from Puerto Rico. Hispanic also means the blond, blue-eyed guy from Argentina. All you need to be is Spanish-speaking but not from Spain and voila, you’re a race called Hispanic (p105).”
Coming from an Ecuadorian, Polish (more like European mix, but mostly Polish) background, I’ve been able to stand for two worlds that came together through my parents. I have embraced both cultures and I love both families. However, they are not the same. There are always similarities between many cultures throughout the world, but these, along with the staunch differences are what is embraced. I love that I can speak Spanish and make empanadas with my mom, but talk about fishing in Wisconsin and eating polish sausages and sauerkraut with my dad. These differences are embraced and remembered as…different. My hispanic (mind you, I use Latina and Hispanic interchangeably because I’ve heard both interchangeably) culture is not just a Spanish speaking white person. It’s not just a Spanish speaking black person. My hispanic side is a race of it’s own. Being Ecuadorian is a culture all in it’s own. It cannot be generalized, summed up, or blurred. It is particular, intricate, and unique.
In Americanah, she speaks of how Americans generalize all Blacks, whether non-American or American into one category: African-American or Black (depending on the PC of the person). This, to her, is unnatural since, not long before, she was Nigerian, not just black. This desire for close ties to one’s identity stands for everyone, and that needs to be appreciated for Hispanics as well.
Now, Chimamanda is a brilliant women, so I am not critiquing her as an intellectual, nor her ability to study race. However, I just wanted to share a personal point of view on being Hispanic, biracial, and willing to share. :]