What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. ~ William Shakespeare
That famous phrase from William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, has been quoted ad nauseaum to mean that the names of things do not matter, that what truly matters what things are. And while it seems to apply to pretty much any topic one can think of, its message seems to have excluded any discussion regarding what to call those of us with a Latin American background who happen to live in the United States.
Are we Latin? Latinos? Hispanic? Latin American? What’s the difference? Does it even matter?
Last week, a report from the trusty folks at the Pew Report Center, “When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity” seems to have reopened the age-old wound. According to the report, only about one-quarter (24%) of Hispanic adults say they most often identify themselves by “Hispanic” or “Latino.” About half (51%) say they identify themselves most often by their family’s country or place of origin—using such terms as Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran or Dominican. And 21% say they use the term “American” most often to describe themselves.
The report’s release created much chatter, as everyone from TV to social media pundits tried to give their two cents about it, and jumping to conclusions as to what the ‘preferred’ term was for most people of out ethnic descent. Which brings us to tonight’s party: Latinos, Hispanics and Labels. We’ll discuss how people are stereotyped, labeled and categorized in modern society, the dangers of labeling, and the best ways to guard ourselves/fight back against the practice.
- Are there any positive sides to labeling a group of people?
- Why are labels so difficult to eradicate?
- What are the dangers of labeling people? Can labels create unconscious damage to those on whom they are applied?
- What are the possible consequences (positive or dangerous) of picking one label over another to call our ethnic background?
- And perhaps most importantly, can the identity of so many millions of people with different idiosyncrasies, tastes, customs and even language differences be somehow made uniform by slapping a label on it?
Let’s get this straight once and for all – We’d love to hear your thoughts, join us at 9pm EST!