Written from the perspective of a Puerto Rican woman born in the US but raised in Miami, FL
Concerning all nationalities represented under the terms: Hispanic & Latinx/e/a/o.
These labels were given to us by governments and people rooted in white supremacy. People have to remember, this was not a label we gave ourselves. In fact, even when born in the US we identify by a different Nationality. Let’s truly think about all the different countries represented under these terms. Some of these countries are not even close to each other geographically and have simply been lumped together due to who colonized them.
Each country has completely unique indigenous groups that inhabited their land. Grouping people by whom they were colonized silences the Indigenous heritage that is very much kept alive today. These people had their own society, cultures, traditions and life that was completely specific to them. Our ancestors’ stubbornness was not in vain and gave us what we have today. This is where our pride comes from. Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean- so the culture is completely… I mean COMPLETELY different from Mexican and Central American culture. This is why it is so frustrating and offensive for us when we are assumed to be any of the other groups- we are all completely different.
Even in the last few years, I have learned that Puerto Rican culture is generations of Afro Indigenous traditions. In fact, it was once believed that the Tainos were decimated! Through genetic studies they have found that was not the case. They preserved themselves by escaping and hiding from Columbus. The Tainos, Black and some white people escaped to hide in the jungles on the mountains. This is where they were able to preserve and combine traditions that survived to what Puerto Rican culture is today. This is generations upon generations of a multiracial community and people.
As a whole, the Latinx community still finds itself in hiding. With the political and social climate being very anti-immigrant and anti Latinx- it is difficult to convince people to step out. There are inherent risks to drawing any attention to yourself that all have physical consequences. Imagine living in a country where at any point- it is legal for you to work and pay taxes but they can kick you out for any reason and not even tell you where they are kicking you out to. There have been employers caught withholding travel documents, visas and money from immigrants coming here to work and send funds back to their families. This is a reality- a common occurrence, not a rare situation. All these physical and fatal consequences are what causes silence in the Latinx community.
Generations upon generations have been treated this way leading to almost a culture of silence for most nationalities.
As a whole, we are a complex group of people. Not only are we miles apart culturally, but some of us are quite literally not welcomed here. When you see us Puerto Ricans speaking out- please recognize that we are using that inability to be deported (which is still somehow possible) to speak up for tons of people who literally can’t. – Danielle N. Gonzalez