When we were younger, we were taught that America is what is called a “melting pot” meaning that although it is full of different cultures, the cultures live together and blend, maybe either borrowing from each other or assimilating. Makes sense, right? If one is exposed to other cultures, they may find things they like about said cultures and adopt them into their way of life.
Now there is a new term special to those who love the Latino culture although they are not Latino themselves: “gringo Latino”. According to a panel at last month’s Hispanicize event in Miami, a “gringo Latino” is someone who loves the Latin “culture, food and language” as much as Latinos do.
So who are these “gringo Latinos” and how do they express their love of the culture?
“I was introduced to the culture by a Mexican friend in high school,” Jennifer S. said. “I loved the togetherness, the activity, and the colorfulness. My values align more with collective cultures rather than individualistic cultures.”
While the term was new to some, the concept was not.
“I’ve never heard of the term before, but that might be me!” Genn Jackson said. She began learning Spanish as a child and grew up with a best friend whose family was from Mexico. “I took Spanish as a second language in junior high and high school and almost minored in it in college. I worked for three years as a bilingual reading tutor and spent some time in Spain.”
So what about the culture drew Genn in? “I think what I’ve always loved about the culture is how connected everyone is family wise. I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family and have no culture really, so the fact that I was “adopted” at an early age and felt accepted might be part of it…I love it all. The people, the food, the music.”
Another article noted that these Latino culture enthusiasts may experience backlash from other Latinos who may criticize them for abandoning their own culture.
“Latinos love me,” Jennifer responded. “I think I fit in because I am relational.”
Nena Ortiz added, “I have a friend who is the prettiest white girl with long blonde hair and the bluest eyes. That being said, I’ve always considered her to be a better Puerto Rican than me. She grew up in a Latino neighborhood, lived with a Puerto Rican man for nearly a decade, and had a son with him. She makes arroz con gandules and Bustelo better than I do. I love her very much because I know that she’s not trying to be Latina. She is more than accustomed to the culture; she is part of it.”
And when it comes to being a part of the culture, the love and interest is what is important. These “gringo Latinos” have found something that they can connect with and run with it. Why fault them for that or criticize them?
We know why we love our culture. How can we blame others when they decide the same?
By Being Latino Contributor, Christina Ortega Phillips