From 2000 to 2010, the census showed that the Latino/Hispanic race grew four times more than the U.S. population did as a whole. Five years later in 2015, it was estimated that around 56.6 million Latinos/Hispanics live in the country. This makes latinos the largest minority group in the country. Some of the most populated states are California with a large number of Mexicans as well as Texas, while on the other side of the country you have states like New York, where Puerto Rican natives dominate, and Florida with a strong number of Cubans. Given the information stated above, you would think that people would grasp the idea that being latino/a does not necessarily equal Mexican, and that Mexican is not a race.
Assumptions like these are racist and ignorant. They fall right next to calling people that speak Spanish “Spanish people” when that only pertains to people from the country of Spain and not just anyone that speaks Spanish. This would be as if we ever referred to anyone who speaks English as being “English”, it doesn’t make sense, does it? Things like these are not only completely and utterly ignorant but they might often offend the person that it is being said to due to the exclusion that they may feel. Being a Latina from Central and South America, I am often told by non-Latinxs, “wait..so you aren’t from Mexico? really?” to which I always have to say no, and reassure them about it two or three times. Most of the time they assume my country of Guatemala is IN Mexico, yes, you read that right.
The idea that all Latinxs are from Mexico excludes all the other Latin American countries, and trust me, there are plenty, and trust me, they are all beautiful. Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Peru, etc. etc. etc. I could go on for a bit more. Assuming that someone is from Mexico simply because they speak Spanish is ignorant when all these Spanish speaking countries exist. Spanish is the official language of 20 countries (including U.S. territory Puerto Rico) and you really believe that anyone that speaks it is Mexican? Not only that, but there are also other languages spoken in these countries, not just Spanish, many indigenous people live in these countries and have their own dialect, Spanish may not even be a second language to them but it does not erase their ethnic identity because of it.
This does not have anything to do with the country of Mexico by any means, it has to do with the assumptions and misinformation that NPOC and non-Latinxs have on our culture and who we are. Assuming these things excludes other countries and therefore does not allow them to be recognized by other people when in reality, these countries have had their share of big impacts on the culture, traditions, and languages found in this country today. Stereotyping them makes room for them to feel that they are not being recognized.
The truth is that all countries deserve respect, each individual Latin American country has their hardships as well as their beauty and all deserve to be recognized and acknowledged.
Whether it may come from a place of ignorance, you should inform yourself before you make statements about someone’s race/ethnicity because latinos and Latinas come in all shades of skin color, from white to brown, their skin color or language should not bring you to the conclusion that they are from a specific country when you truly do not know. This also does not mean that their ethnicity is the language that they speak, this mentality is flawed all on its own. You cannot spend your spring breaks in our countries while continuing to disregard who we are and where we come from. You should not listen to the music our people create or participate in the traditions from our países while you continue to ignore who we are. Educate yourself and appreciate these cultures instead of taking them for yourself while stereotyping all Latinxs as Mexicans and/or calling us “Spanish” people.