Portal:Hispanic and Latino Americans

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Hispanic and Latino Americans are an ethnolinguistic group of Americans with origins in the countries of Latin America or the Iberian peninsula. More generally it includes all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino. Reflecting especially the Latin American population, which has origins in all the continents and many ancestries, Hispanic/Latino Americans are very racially diverse, and as a result form an ethnic category, rather than a race.

While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, Hispanic is a narrower term and refers mostly to persons of Spanish speaking origin or ancestry, while Latino is more frequently used to refer more generally to anyone of Latin American origin or ancestry, including Brazilians. Hispanic thus includes persons from Spain and Spanish speaking Latin Americans excluding both Portuguese and Brazilians (who speak Portuguese) while Latino excludes persons from Spain but includes both Spanish speaking and Portuguese-speaking Latin Americans. Persons from Portugal, and all other Portuguese-speaking peoples around the World outside the Americas (e.g. Cape Verdeans or Angolans), are neither Hipanic nor Latino. Latino is a broader term encompassing more people. The choice between the terms Latino and Hispanic among those of Spanish speaking origin is also associated with location: persons of Spanish speaking origins residing in the eastern United States tend to prefer the term Hispanic, whereas those in the West tend to prefer Latino.

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Alamo Mission, San Antonio, Texas
Hispanic (Spanish: hispano, hispánico, Portuguese: hispânico, Galician: hispánico, Basque: hispaniar, Catalan: hispà is an ethnonym that denotes a relationship to Spain or, in some definitions, to ancient Roman Hispania, which roughly comprised the Iberian Peninsula including the contemporary states of Andorra, Portugal, and Spain and the Crown Colony or British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar. Today, organizations in the United States use the term as a broad catchall to refer to persons with a historical and cultural relationship either with Spain, or with Spain and Portugal, regardless of race. The U.S. Census Bureau defines the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino to refer to "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American (except for Brazil), or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.", and states that Hispanics or Latinos can be of any race, any ancestry, any ethnicity. Generically, this limits the definition of Hispanic or Latino to people from the Caribbean, Central and South America, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race, distinctly excluding all persons of Portuguese origin. (more...)

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Lowrider at 2009 SF International Auto Show
image credit: BrokenSphere

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Sandra Cisneros (born December 20, 1954) is an American writer best known for her acclaimed first novel The House on Mango Street (1984) and her subsequent short story collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991). Her work experiments with literary forms and investigates emerging subject positions, which Cisneros herself attributes to growing up in a context of cultural hybridity and economic inequality that endowed her with unique stories to tell. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and is regarded as a key figure in Chicana literature.

Cisneros's early life provided many experiences she would later draw on as a writer: she grew up as the only daughter in a family of six brothers, which often made her feel isolated, and the constant migration of her family between Mexico and the USA instilled in her the sense of "always straddling two countries ... but not belonging to either culture." Cisneros's work deals with the formation of Chicana identity, exploring the challenges of being caught between Mexican and Anglo-American cultures, facing the misogynist attitudes present in both these cultures, and experiencing poverty. For her insightful social critique and powerful prose style, Cisneros has achieved recognition far beyond Chicano and Latino communities, to the extent that The House on Mango Street has been translated worldwide and is taught in American classrooms as a coming-of-age novel. (more...)

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