!"#$ &' $"( )&**(+(,-( .

($/((, 0#$&,12 3"&-#,12 #,4 5&'6#,&-7
1hls documenL was adapLed and amended from a posLlng aL

Some scholars have noLed LhaL LaLlnos ln Lhe uS, llke oLher mlnorlLy groups, have had Lo do an
ºeLhnlc name dance" over Lhe years Lo reslsL group ldenLlflers and flnd one LhaL sulLs Lhelr sense
currenL of self. Cne Lhlng ls for sure, how people self-ldenLlfy maLLers a loL Lo Lhem, and lL ofLen
resonaLes wlLh Lhe reglon ln whlch Lhey were ralsed, Lhe hlsLorlcal Llme perlod ln whlch Lhey
llve, and Lhelr pollLlcal, soclal and culLural world vlews. 1he word "Chlcana/o," for example, was
consldered derogaLory when lL flrsL appeared, buL laLer generaLlons of Mexlcan-Amerlcans have
slnce deemed lL accepLable. 8razlllans may be consldered Lo be LaLlna/o, buL are noL consldered
Plspanlc. 1hls ls why lL ls lmporLanL Lo undersLand Lhe dlfference beLween Lhe Lhree words
commonly used Lo descrlbe Lhose of Spanlsh or Mexlcan descenL.

1he mosL sLralghLforward of Lhe Lhree culLural ldenLlflers may be Lhe word !"#$%&%'(. "Chlcano"
refers speclflcally Lo Mexlcan Amerlcans, or anyone else of Mexlcan herlLage. Cne verslon of Lhe
eLymology suggesLs LhaL when Mexlcan workers and Lhelr famllles flrsL moved Lo Lhe uS, Lhey
were ofLen referred Lo as "Mexlcanos," whlch became shorLened over Llme Lo "xlcanos" or
"Chlcanos". AL flrsL, "Chlcano" was consldered Lo be derogaLory, or aL Lhe very leasL an
excluslvely ln-group Lerm. LvenLually, however, when sLudenLs ln Lhe 1960s declded Lo adopL
Lhls Lerm Lo demonsLraLe prlde ln Lhelr mesLlza[e and ln Lhelr worklng class background, many ln
Lhe Mexlcan Amerlcan communlLy embraced Lhe Lerm, aL leasL lnformally. 8y and large, Lhose
who call Lhemselves Chlcanos are maklng a pollLlcal and culLural sLaLemenL LhaL ls lmbued wlLh
prlde ln Lhelr culLural and llngulsLlc herlLage. 1here are sLlll older Mexlcan-Amerlcans who vlew
"Chlcano" as someLhlng less Lhan respecLful. lL should only be used Lo descrlbe Lhose of Mexlcan
descenL, noL Lhose of CenLral or SouLh Amerlcan descenL.
Many people conLlnue Lo use Mexlcan-Amerlcan, buL wlLh or wlLhouL Lhe hyphen, Lhls was ofLen
seen as referenL Lo second class sLaLus. neverLheless, lL conLlnues Lo be very common ln some
parLs of Lhe SouLhwesL and MldwesL.
1he word "Plspanlc" ls much broader Lhan "Chlcana/o." PlsLorlcally, areas conquered by Lhe
Spanlards were consldered parL of a reglon orlglnally called Plspanla. Modern counLrles whlch
can Lrace Lhelr hlsLory Lo Spaln are now consldered Lo be Plspanlc, and lnclude Mexlco, CenLral
Amerlca, and mosL of SouLh Amerlca where Spanlsh ls Lhe prlmary language. 1he only excepLlon
Lo Lhls Plspanlc deslgnaLlon ls 8razll, whlch was seLLled by ÞorLugal, noL Spaln. Any clLlzen of
Lhose counLrles orlglnally colonlzed by Spaln can be consldered Plspanlc. Þeople from Mexlco, Ll
Salvador, CuaLemala, Þanama and oLher areas souLh of Lhe u.S. border would all be consldered
Plspanlc. Plspanlc ls a Lerm LhaL was adopLed by Lhe uS governmenL under Lhe nlxon
admlnlsLraLlon as a means of referrlng Lo Lhose formally called LaLln Amerlcans. 8ecause lL ls a
Lerm used Lo label Lhe communlLy from Lhe ouLslde, some folks flnd lL an lnauLhenLlc ldenLlfler.
Powever, Lhere are now enLlre generaLlons who grew up wlLh Lhls as Lhe mosL common monlker
and lL has sLuck wlLh many people.

"LaLlna/o" ls very close ln meanlng Lo Plspanlc, buL lL also lncludes oLher counLrles such as 8razll.
1he reglonal descrlpLlon "LaLln Amerlca" now refers Lo Lhe counLrles where 8omance languages
(Spanlsh, ÞorLuguese) are spoken, buL was orlglnally used by napoleon Lo descrlbe oLher
8omance speaklng (lrench lncluded) LerrlLorles LhroughouL Lhe Amerlcas. 1o be descrlbed as a
LaLlna/o ls noL consldered derogaLory, alLhough lL can be consLrued as a generlc for all Plspanlc
culLures, much llke referrlng Lo a korean or !apanese-Amerlcan as "Aslan." Whlle "LaLlna/o" may
be pollLlcally and soclally correcL, lL may more culLurally senslLlve Lo learn a person's speclflc
herlLage and refer Lo hlm or her as "nlcaraguan" or "CuaLemalan" raLher Lhan Lhe broader
"LaLlno." lor many people, lL beLLer resonaLes and reflecLs a Þan LaLlno sense of self Lhan does

Pere ls a reference Lo a provocaLlve arLlcle wrlLLen by a sLudenL LhaL explores Lhls lssue furLher.
ºSoy Chlcana: A 1erm CrlglnaLlng ln Lhe 1960s 1akes Cn A new Meanlng Cf lncluslon, Soclal
AcLlvlsm ln 1he ?ear 2000' by Chrlssle CasLro

Web Þubllshed 01.31.2000


Related Interests