Guest Author - Sarah Salas
Are all of the Caucasian people you know exactly alike? What about all of the African Americans? Are Asians and Native Americans all similar? Of course not! So why is it so many people think that all Hispanics must share a cultural “sameness?”
There really is not one identity that Latinos can claim as THE Hispanic culture. But then again, why would they want to? The truth is that there are thousands of different “Hispanic” cultures, if not more. Even among the stereotypes prevalent there are lots of variations on what makes a Hispanic. Almost every movie now has a Latino character in the script – a tough gang-banger type, a Mexican migrant worker or a Columbian drug dealer for example. Sure there are people in this world that fit that mold (stereotypes are around for a reason), but there is so much more variety in the Hispanic community.
There are the obvious distinctions that separate Hispanic groups (country of origin, location and ancestry for example) and the hundreds of little differences that make us all unique. Even language is not universal in the Latino community. While a good majority of people in Latin America, and Hispanics in general, speak Spanish, it is not the only language spoken. Portuguese, Creole, English and even French are some of the popular Languages spoken by many Latinos, and there are millions of people of Hispanic Descent who do not speak Spanish at all!
Language is not the only thing many Hispanics differ on. There are big differences in location in areas such as cuisine (while jalapeños feature predominantly in many Mexican dishes, they are non-existent in much of Central America for example), music (you usually do not here much Duranguense in Puerto Rico), and religion.
So what are some things that might be considered traits of the Hispanic Culture?
Among the Hispanic Culture there does tend to be a shared sense of history. Most countries in Latin America were indigenous at one time. From Maya to Aztec to Inca, there are still so many aspects of Ancient Latin American history and Culture that influence even today. Most nations went through colonial periods as well. There is a shared fight, a sense of revolution and a fierce independence, which is never far from the Hispanic consciousness.
Family is also a common denominator throughout the various Hispanic subcultures. Though it comes in many different forms, a strong family is valued and respected throughout Latin America. Immigrants to the US and Canada have a tendency to keep that strong family bond with them, often extending it to include anyone who also emigrated from the same area.
So we come back the original question, is there a Hispanic Culture? Yes and no. While there are many unifying themes that flow through the Hispanic Community, there are just as many differences. That’s one of the great things about being human though-the chance to celebrate our differences and our similarities.