What Does Being Latina Mean to Me?

by Melanie Edwards on August 6, 2010 · 14 comments

in Puerto Rico

Latino Family

This post was first published on October 7, 2009. Since I’m speaking today on a panel titled “Latinas in Social Media” at the BlogHer 2010 conference and exploring how being Latina influences our social media interactions, I thought this post was timely.

I’ve been asked a difficult question.

I was asked to write about what it means to me to be a Latina.

To be honest, I had never really given it much thought until now.

I mean, do people normally go around thinking, “What does it mean to me to be a woman?” Or a man? Or do Americans think to themselves, “What does it mean to me to be American?

It’s just who you are. It’s you. To me, it’s much the same.

Being Latina is a large part of my identity. To be specific, being Puerto Rican is really a major influence in who I am.

I was born in Puerto Rico, but we moved to Florida when I was 8 years old. Although I’ve spent many more years in Florida than I did in Puerto Rico, my parents made sure to maintain our culture in our house. I was raised pretty much the same way I would have had we stayed in Puerto Rico. (Ok, like 90% since obviously there are outside influences from school, friends, etc.) But, my parents spoke Spanish in the house (and still do), we listened to Spanish music, we ate Puerto Rican food, and I was taught values and traditions that are important to our culture.

All of those things helped to make me who I am. However, being Latina is not just a matter of “I listen to Spanish music,” or “I eat rice and beans.” That is not what makes me Latina.

To me, it’s more about the overall culture, values, traditions, and beliefs. It’s about understanding why family is so important to us. Or understanding why my parents believed that as the youngest sibling and the only girl, I couldn’t do some of the same things my brothers did. And, how about the fact that now that I’m older and my parents are aging, I must understand why my father prefers to speak with my brother (who lives in Milwaukee) about his health issues than with me who lives 10 minutes away?

These may seem like trivial points, but if you understand the way our culture operates and the overall mentality, it’s easier to understand why these things happen the way they do.

So, what does it mean to me to be Latina? It means a rich culture, deep values, traditions, pride, and an overall appreciation for yourself and your family.

What does it mean to you?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christineromero86 August 6, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Being Latina, it’s funny because when I was in high school I was always accused of not being proud of who I was( by Latinos.) I had a variety of friends. What the kids never knew was that at home we spoke Spanish in fact I’m fluent. Our customs, traditions at home were all of the Latino culture and we listen to Spanish music too. For a really long time I let what others though get to me. It was not until I moved to San Francisco that I began to come to terms with who I am and what I love about being Latina. I now see my 16-year-old daughter going through the same struggles. Which is why I decided to start blogging for the Latino community. I want her to read and be happy with whom she is and not embarrassed about the customs, culture and traditions. I cook as much Latino food at home so the kids are familiar with the foods. Now all we have to do is get them to learn Spanish. I enjoyed reading your article.

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2 Anonymous August 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’m not latina but I loved this post, I’m English living in England, I know If I were to move away my culture would be very Important to me. I’d probably get a ton of marmite imported! (It’s not really a cultural thing but an English thing definitely) nnCulture is very important to everyone, It gives us a baseline to who we are and who we will become :) nn

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3 Anonymous August 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’m not latina but I loved this post, I’m English living in England, I know If I were to move away my culture would be very Important to me. I’d probably get a ton of marmite imported! (It’s not really a cultural thing but an English thing definitely) nnCulture is very important to everyone, It gives us a baseline to who we are and who we will become :) nn

Reply

4 Anonymous August 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’m not latina but I loved this post, I’m English living in England, I know If I were to move away my culture would be very Important to me. I’d probably get a ton of marmite imported! (It’s not really a cultural thing but an English thing definitely) nnCulture is very important to everyone, It gives us a baseline to who we are and who we will become :) nn

Reply

5 Anonymous August 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’m not latina but I loved this post, I’m English living in England, I know If I were to move away my culture would be very Important to me. I’d probably get a ton of marmite imported! (It’s not really a cultural thing but an English thing definitely) nnCulture is very important to everyone, It gives us a baseline to who we are and who we will become :) nn

Reply

6 Gemrawr August 9, 2010 at 6:13 am

I'm not latina but I loved this post, I'm English living in England, I know If I were to move away my culture would be very Important to me. I'd probably get a ton of marmite imported! (It's not really a cultural thing but an English thing definitely)

Culture is very important to everyone, It gives us a baseline to who we are and who we will become :)

Reply

7 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

8 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

9 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

10 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

11 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

12 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

13 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

14 blancastella August 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Melanie, you couldn’t have said it better. I was speaking to LIz & Carrie at Blogher about this very same topic. My parents came from Colombia when I was born and have lived in Miami all my life. After hearing some discussion at the Latina panel about certain cultures living in the US that have had to “hide” their origins made me sad. nI guess living in Miami created a bubble from that type of discrimination. I have relished in the diversity of so many cultures here, and have found that most people are proud to embrace and share where they are from. So, like you, the term “being a Latina” didn’t come up for me.nI am proud of my Colombian heritage and the values instilled from my mom and Dad.nThat is not to say that the American culture does not value family. It is just that the Latino cultures bring a different flavor, and I believe that is what makes America such an interesting country..embracing all cultures and enjoying what makes everyone different and unique. nIn the end, we are all one human race…and hopefully this one human race can value the importance of family unity, no matter where they are from.n

Reply

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