Very often my middle school students ask: “Are you Puerto Rican, Latino or Hispanic?” They also want to know “Is Cinco de Mayo a Puerto Rican or Latin American holiday?”
The truth is that the different labels used to refer to the diverse Spanish-speaking communities and their respective traditions in the United States baffle even adults.
This is a reflection of how little people know about the fastest growing minority group in the United States. Most Americans are not aware of the fact that there are different cultures and races among the more than 20 million Spanish-speaking people in the U.S.
Afraid of generalizing, stereotyping or leaving somebody or something out, people prefer not to have this type of discourse. We need to take time to research about these matters. As teachers, we need to better prepare our students to understand the different cultures and ethnic groups that are the fabric of this country. The dialogue on multiculturalism is becoming very crucial as we are moving toward a more global society. We need to talk about race and culture to understand the changes in our communities, in politics and in today’s popular culture.