Does Calling a Mexican "Hispanic" or "Latino" Say Something about Your Political Ideology?

Dear Mexican: Is it just me, or has what to call our friends from south of the border become a partisan issue? While taking in both political conventions, I noticed that Republicans invariably use the word "Hispanics" while Democrats are far more likely to say "Latino/a." Is there some nefarious semantic plot afoot, such as when right-wing commentators dropped the "ic" from "Democratic?" Ensuring My Future in Brown America

Dear Gabacho: While you over-generalized a bit — Latinos from the East Coast tend to call themselves "Hispanics" regardless of political affiliation, while Republican Latinos usually call themselves vendidos — you're on to something. It's not just a political ideology litmus test but also a gabacho one: Any gabacho who calls brownies "Hispanics" is usually clueless about them, while any gabacho who calls us "Latinos" is a fellow traveler of the Reconquista.

What is the relationship with the Chicano culture to the song "Crystal Blue Persuasion"? I've seen Tommy James and the Shondells perform it numerous times and never got goosebumps or teared up or anything. But Chicanos ALWAYS request that song.

MC Cuervo

Dear Readers: It's rare I break my pseudonym rule, but I'm doing it for MC Cuervo, whose real name is Danny Valenzuela and who co-hosts the "Latino Soul Party" every Friday night on KUVO-FM 89.3 in Denver and worldwide on I'm surprised that MC Cuervo doesn't know his Chicano-soul history: While it's true that hippy-dippy gabachos Tommy James and the Shondells recorded the first (and best) version of the best-seller in 1969, multiple soul groups with a Chicano fan base covered it, as did Latin soul pioneer Joe Bataan. From there, it lived on in muchos oldies-but-goodies compilations. It got a new lease on life in 1990, when A Lighter Shade of Brown incorporated it into their "On a Sunday Afternoon," and just got major play on Breaking Bad. But why do Chicanos love the song so much? It's basically a Mexican song; the bongos and the acoustic guitar arpeggios come from Latin America, while the dreamy electric guitar and dramatic organ riffs sound like "96 Tears" (another Chicano classic) after a couple of bong hits, and the horns and harmonies straight out of Eastlos. Perfect cruising music.

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When you use the word Hispanic or Latino you are implying a certain ethnic group with a racial undertone. People from all Latin American countries have different histories, ethnic make ups and cultural values.

People from Mexico should be called Mexican, people from Cuba should be called Cubans, people from Colombia should be called Colombians and so on.


primi_timpano topcommenter

That organ riff in 96 Tears is sick. On fact the whole song is amazing. Listen carefully to the organ after the break for a very cool one measure continuation (2 total) of the minor chord. Better than the vocal faux paux in the Kingsmen's Louie Louie.


as for 'African-American', what a joke.  Did they change the name of the NAACP??  no, but maybe it ought to be NAAHH, using their vernacular.  you figger it out.


Gus, that was a crap non-answer.  Making it wrong to use either term.


So much for educating, or serious answering.  Pendejo.


Got a serious answer from a good friend.  'Hispanic' of course refers to Spanish speaking, but for New Worlders, that brings up the memory of Spanish conquest, with all the genocide, pillage, etc.


Latino is just a geographical term, less baggage.



Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Why not call people, "people".  I lived through the era when people were called "colored", then "Negro", then "Black", then "African-American".  Throughout it all they remained human beings and Americans to me.


 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz We agree on this, one thing I have always found somewhat offensive is the tendency to address minorities as hyphenated Americans, but call Caucasians "white". If a 'Black' person is euphemised as an "Afircan-American", even if that 'Black' person has nothing to do with Africa, in fact was born in France and emigrated to and became a US citizen.


If hyphenated American were to be truly descriptive of a citizen's place of birth, then someone such as Teresa Heinz-Kerry would accurately be called "African-American", she was born in Rhodesia (IIRC), then became a US citizen.


But, yes, Let's call people 'people' and get away from the ethnic/racial divisions. Treat people as individuals and judge them by their actions and attitudes, not their ethnic/racial facets.