As the thoughts of what to write for Being Latino swirled through my head it finally dawned on me “what better way to begin than by offering a challenge to all Latinos.” A challenge to better ourselves. As diverse as we are, there is a lot more that we have in common. Let us use that common ground to better educate ourselves about each other, share our diversities. Being Latino provides the social forum for us to do so. It is through this vast social media outlet that we, as Latinos, can connect and share our stories.
Being a Latino of Puerto Rican descent was something I had never given much thought to.I had never questioned what a Puerto Rican was, what a Latino was, what I was. It was that which I had always been around and accepted as the norm. I remember many years ago being asked if I was Mexican. When I replied with a “no” the response to my reply was “well, what’s the difference?” I also recall a time when asked about my nationality and responding that I was a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent. To this reply I was asked what and where is that? How was I to answer that when I honestly didn’t know myself. I put the challenge on myself to find what ever information I could. To get an answer to my question, “what am I, really?”
Since then, I have amassed a small collection of books, have learned a great amount and still continue to learn more as there is so much history and culture to absorb. On the identity question, there is no longer a question nor doubt. In the book, Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings- An Anthology, edited by Roberto Santiago he writes in the introduction of his experience while talking to a Jewish boy. The Jewish boy spoke about his culture and history but when he asked Roberto about his, Roberto really didn’t have the answer. All I could think, as I read that, was how similar my reaction would have been. Hence, I say ” you are what you want to be, you are what you define yourself as, you are that which you associate with the most….,” yes, a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, I am a Boricua and a Latino hasta la muerte, not just once a year but every day.
” I am new, history made me. My first language was spanglish.
I was born at the crossroads and I am whole”
-From Child of the Americas by Santiago, Roberto “Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings- An Anthology”. One World/Ballantine, 1995. 77
by Efrain Ortiz Jr.