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What’s in a name? For Hispanics, a lot

Ruben Navarrette’s self-proclaimed amusing article on Spanish names was intended to show how far we have come as a culture. Determining race or ethnicity is sometimes confusing, but a name is not.

As it happens, a rose by any other name changes the perceived smell.

Names are far more important than the article suggests.

There are many people with Hispanic first names and Anglo last names; it has become very trendy, but the last name is the one that counts. When the ethnicity of an individual is in question identification is often determined by a name.


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Why do so many descendants of slaves take back their African names? What would it feel like to be called Mr. Goldman in WWII Germany?

Who can you identify with more, Johnny Tapia or Ted Cruz? Ignore the fact that one is dead and the other looks dead. You probably can’t identify with either one of them.

The point is that there is such diversity in our histories, that other than our names, there is no binding fact to draw us together as a people.

We are a lost race, scattered by history. We have no conclusive characteristics. We are black, white, red and a combination of each.

Our homeland is Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Americas. We stem from shallow wandering roots; a grove of aspen surrounded by sequoias.

Being a U.S. Hispanic is like belonging to a club rather than a family.

Our distinguishing characteristics are not country of origin, color or name. We are a race within each race.

We are divided by money and education. We have gone through an unconscious osmosis to be accepted. This is worse than ethnic prejudice because we feel that we have earned our stripes.


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We are the product of our actions, at the mercy of our egos, and we feel that fate and effort have brought us to this well-deserved pinnacle.

Like Ruben Navarrette we have risen above our peers, (el piojo resucitado). Bitten by rabid Republicans, and blinded by a rosy future, we have lost sight of our past.

The problem is that the coming immigrant generation is redefining the norm.

We are in the second coming of our time in history. Every new group that comes on the scene is met with some form of resistance; they are either assimilated, conquer or are conquered.

The fact is that, we have already been assimilated once. This new wave of immigrants is upsetting the balance, and walls will not keep them out.

Navarrette’s parents were forced to adapt to succeed. Today’s Mexican Americans are reversing the processes. There are immigrants who have been in this country for years and still cannot or will not speak English.

They do not have to. Everything they need is given to them: it is written in Spanish, televised in Spanish and taught in Spanish. Within our embattled school system are there more Caucasians learning Spanish or Latinos learning English? Are we teaching Spanish as a second language or English as a second language? All to what end?

Grouping people to determine their origins seems to change with the times; ethnicity and race are synonymous regardless of needs of the government. We are enabling a group, perpetuating separatism, and creating a new and disgruntled race.

Time and economics will do that. It shouldn’t matter if our ancestors reached our muddy shores yesterday or 300 years ago. We do not need to be split apart but brought together.

Someday everyone will wear brown on Cinco de Mayo like they wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Que mi raza.