Does not speaking Spanish make someone a “fake” Latino?
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro was headlined across the country as the first Latino keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, but the Mexican-American’s lack of Spanish fluency has sparked some debate within the Latino community.
While introducing “the Democrats’ rising star” The Guardian questioned whether Castro could be considered “Latino.”
Though Julian Castro, like his brother, is grounded in the Hispanic community, to define him exclusively as a Latino politician would be to make a big mistake. For a start, he doesn't even speak fluent Spanish.
But does not speaking the language make anyone less Latino? HuffPost Live’s Alicia Menendez hosted a segment asking guests and viewers “does it matter?”
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“I find it hypocritical and frustrating that it’s the language [that is considered binding], when the culture, I think, is more binding,” said Angelica Martinez, a student at Smith College.
Sara Inés Calderón, journalist at News Taco, thinks there may be “some sort of cultural bind between different Latinos,” but she adds “that Spanish is definitely a component of that, even if it is just a little bit.”
Many however, may agree with Gina Espinoza, Founder of UpLatino, that the Spanish language is “a national treasure” that we “owe it to our ancestors” to learn. Or should Hispanic-Americans be more worried about the message this is sending to Latino youth?
“We have to be careful whether it’s through the media or through ourselves not to have young people,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council Member. “Who are already struggling as Latinos in this country to identify and develop their self-esteem, not to make them think that they’re any less of who they are because they don’t speak the language."
The Huffington Post’s Latino Voices asked readers earlier this month, “Is Spanish a cultural requirement for Latinos?” And while 36 percent considered it a “crucial” part of the heritage, nearly 64 percent answered “Not in this day and age.”
If not language, then what binds the Latino community? Let us know in the comments below.