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What does it mean to be a proud Latino?

Decades after James Brown first exhorted his brethren to say it loud (“I’m black and I’m proud), another group of oppressed Americans — gay people — adopted the idea and found resounding success in proclaiming their pride.

But African Americans, gays, and (presumably) gay African Americans are not the only people who are proud of their culture.

Latinos are well-known for bursting with pride for their heritage. However, while such expressions of ethnic boosterism are practically required on Puerto Rican Day, or during Hispanic Heritage Month, or — Lord help us — Cinco de Mayo, such statements often come across as just empty phrases.

After all, do we have good reason to be proud?

We have higher unemployment, lower educational achievement, and higher rates of poverty. These are not things to take pride in.

And of course, one could argue that it’s ludicrous to be proud of something that you have no control over. After all, nobody picks his or her ethnicity. And let’s be honest, if they could choose, many Latinos would give anything to be pure Caucasian.

At a certain point, this shouting about pride begins to sound self-defensive. It’s like saying you’re not embarrassed at all about your low-paying job or your homely boyfriend. Quite the contrary, you’re proud of them.

So are expressions of pride merely self-defense mechanisms? Do we exclaim pride in something because we’re actually ashamed of it?

Keep in mind that black pride was originally a rallying cry for African Americans to rise up and band together. Such a claim would not have been necessary if blacks were doing great. It would have been superfluous if so many African Americans, at the time, weren’t filled with self-loathing and feelings of inferiority.

Perhaps Latinos in America are at that stage right now. We continue to gain power, both socially and politically, but many of us feel like we are not real Americans, or good enough for college, or not in the same league as our white compatriots. If so, maybe the time is right for expressions of genuine pride, and not baseless sloganeering.

Perhaps being a proud Latino is acknowledging the sacrifices that your parents or grandparents made to come to America, and doing your best to honor their work. Or perhaps it is knowing we are emerging as one of the most influential cultural forces in the nation. Or maybe it just means that despite being demonized and marginalized, many of us are still making an impact on every aspect of American life.

If so, maybe future generations of Hispanics won’t exclaim how filled with pride they are. Because it will be obvious.

About Daniel Cubias

Daniel Cubias is a writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Being Latino, his work can be found in such publications as the Huffington Post,, Aqui magazine, and his website, the Hispanic Fanatic. In addition, he has been published in many literary journals and won the occasional writing contest.

He is a Wisconsin native who still roots for his hometown Milwaukee Brewers. He is way too much into horror movies, and he is inexplicably still unable to tune his guitar properly.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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