I’m not ‘Spanish’!

Welcome to one of my rants. I’ve been away from the blog for a while and have been back in the states. I figured I might as well write a rant about the US since Chile is usually the topic of discussion…and there are far too many rants to write about Chile in the future. 😉
I really have a problem with how the word “Spanish” is used by a lot of people on the East Coast of the US. Sorry, but that happens to be the only place where I have heard the word used in such a way, and not just by non-Latinos, but by Latinos themselves. Even a quick Google search will give you the impression that it is primarily an East Coast thing. Here are the kind of things that irk me:1. Spanish refers to a LANGUAGE and describes cultural aspects of SPAIN, including their nationality. My post should really end here, but unfortunately it doesn’t.

If you are thinking, “Duh! A Spanish person is from Spain”, remember a person from Spain is a SPANIARD and their nationality is Spanish.

2. If someone tells you they’re Peruvian-American, you shouldn’t respond with, “Oh, I thought you were Spanish”.3. If we’re talking about a person who is obviously from the Caribbean, don’t say that that person is “Spanish” either. It would be like me saying I’m English because I’m from an English speaking country.

4. If you love arroz con habichuelas, empanadas, tacos, etc. Don’t tell me you “love Spanish food!” What you really mean is that you love Puerto Rican, South American, Mexican, Latino food etc.

5. If you are a descendant of or from a Latin American country, YOU ARE NOT SPANISH! Stop calling yourself that, stop calling your friends that and please stop referring to your cultural aspects as such.

I know that when Latinos call themselves/others Spanish that they are not trying to claim that they are from Spain or deny their heritage or their “native” roots. I also understand that language is always evolving and I am in no way a linguistic purist. I just simply think it sounds ignorant and it’s poor English.

Half (51%) say that most often they use their family’s country of origin to describe their identity. That includes such terms as “Mexican” or “Cuban” or “Dominican,” for example. Just one-quarter (24%) say they use the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” to most often to describe their identity. – Pew Research Center

I don’t want this to be a debate about labels, because even the more commonly accepted labels (Latino or Hispanic) have their defects despite being in use for decades. If I were to choose a pan-ethnic label, I personally prefer Latin@ because at least in Spanish it wouldn’t sound out of bounds to call myself so (although I would most likely just refer to myself as Mexican-American or Chicana), but to call myself espanola or hispana just sounds wrong in my bilingual brain, so I usually avoid using those terms.

Hispanosphere readers split on use of “Latina,” “Latino” and “Hispanic” to identify their ethnicity….and Spanish made it on the list. Really?? (Graphic and poll by Victor Manuel Ramos/Orlando Sentinel)

On the other hand, the word Hispanic has evolved and grown to carry a different meaning in English than it does in Spanish, so I have less of a problem with it. “Spanish” is being used, and it even made it onto this survey by the Orlando Sentinel (over 5% identify themselves as Spanish). Maybe the word “Spanish” will one day be a commonly accepted term to describe Latinos/Hispanics in the US, but until then, my ranting will go on.


  • Tu publicación me recuerda un incidente que tuve en Boston, resulta que un amigo uruguayo tuvo un mini accidente y lo llevaron al hospital (nada grave, una herida en una mano). La enfermera lo interrogó para rellenar la ficha médica y le preguntó por su origen o raza (no me acuerdo) pero entre las opciones estaba white, asian, black, hispanic. Mi amigo, blanco como la leche, rubio y de ojos azules obviamente respondió blanco, pero la enfermera enojada le dijo “no, you are hispanic because you speak spanish”. Nos quedamos todos con poker face, pero bueno…Larga vida a los hispanos.

  • Gracias por el comentario. Hay muchas ocasiones donde me encontré en una situación similar. A veces, por puro joder digo que soy blanca. Como me veo ‘’étnica’’, obviamente la gente me mira raro y a veces se ríen. Aunque puede sonar estúpido, la gente no sabe que los iraníes son considerado como ‘’blancos’’ (soy irán-méxico-americana). Luego les digo que soy aria (No se confunde con los ´´arios alemanes´´), lo que les confunde más…pero los iraníes son arios, entre otra gente del Medio Oriente/Asia Sureste y por eso soy ‘’blanca’’. Hasta en los formularios dicen en paréntesis que blanco también incluye a los medio orientales…por supuesto nadie no consideran blancos ni realmente me considero blanca pero no estoy mintiendo si lo digo. Me parece que la mayoría de la gente solo ve el aspecto y la lengua que uno hable…de hecho en EEUU, alguien se sorprendió de que hablo ingles muy bien y me dijo, ‘’ yo conozco a gente más blanca que tú que no habla ingles!’’ Y eso qué tiene que ver???

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