Culture is the set of ideas, traditions and customs that are characteristic of a town, social class, time, etc. and that are learned from generation to generation through coexistence in society. Each country has its culture that distinguishes it. In the case of Latinos in the United States, identity complicates it. As we speak Spanish, which is a language that comes from Latin, they identify us as Latinos. The mistake is that they identify us all as Latinos and do not take into consideration that we come from different countries, even if we speak the same language. I am Latin because I speak Spanish, but my culture is different from that of the other 20 Latin countries that are represented in the city of Reading.
My experiences as Puerto Rican are different from the customs and traditions of Mexicans, Dominicans, Cubans, etc. They are not better or worse, they are different. The meals, the music, the history of each of our countries are different. It’s like thinking that Italians, Germans, Englishmen, etc. They are the same because they are European. That is why it is important that each of us knows the history of our ancestors. That, although we are not living in our country of origin, we learn to honor them. To say that one country is good, we don’t have to discredit others. If one learns to love and respect the culture of origin it is easier to navigate in any other culture.
I love the diversity and enjoy the culture of all the countries that make up this Universe. I am Latina because I speak Spanish and Hispanic because my country was colonized by Spain. But when they ask me how I prefer to be identified, I say Puerto Rican. My roots are from Puerto Rico and there is no word that changes that reality. As Patriot Pedro Albizu Campos said, “He who is not proud of his origin will never be worth anything because he begins to despise himself.”
By María M. García, BA, MLA