U.S. is a vast nation of Hispanics, on Mother’s Day and every day
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
I had the honor of being one of the mothers chosen to be photographed with her children for the Mother’s Day photo essay in the Post Independent. I graduated from Glenwood Springs High School 20 years ago, where I met my husband, John, a Glenwood Springs native. We now live in Rifle with our two kids and three dogs.
I’ve had to bite my tongue regarding the recent four-part articles regarding our “increasing Hispanic population.” However, after reading Barbara Orcutt’s letter to the editor, in which she is saddened to only see “white” mothers honored for Mother’s Day photos, I had to respond.
I believe Ms. Orcutt had positive intent with her letter, but I believe the letter was, as she wrote, “racist, irresponsible and dangerous.” She judged the pictures by image and names.
Guess what? I am Hispanic. I guess I didn’t look Hispanic enough for everyone to recognize my ethnicity. Hispanics are all different colors. Some of us even have blonde hair and blue eyes!
I’ve dealt with varying degrees of racism my whole life, from being called racial slurs to having Spanish-speaking immigrants assume that I must speak Spanish because of my brown hair and brown eyes. Back in the day, I lifeguarded at the Hot Springs Pool. I used to get so tan that people would ask if I was half black.
Racism works both ways. No matter what color you are or where you are from, people label one another.
I’m a sixth generation proud American, native to Colorado. During the Spanish Inquisition, my ancestors were forced to emigrate from Spain and settled in Northern New Mexico and Colorado.
Perea, my maiden name, is Greek meaning “beyond” and refers to a region in the Middle East, east of the Jordan River, that dates back to biblical times. I also have Native American Indian, Italian and German blood in my gene pool. My family jokes that we are like Heinz 57 sauce, a mixture of a lot of things.
My parents are ministers and my father learned Spanish as a child. He speaks it so well that people often assume he must be from Mexico. My mother learned fluent Spanish more than 15 years ago after they started their church ministry in the valley. Growing up, I refused to learn Spanish because I didn’t like being labeled and judged, which I regret immensely now that I am an adult.
Hispanic does not mean we are all from Mexico, or one country, or that we are in this country illegally.
Here’s a little geography lesson. Hispanics are made up of the following: Latin Americans, also called Latinos, who are from the countries where Latin-based languages are spoken south of the United States, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Costa Rica and all of South America.
There are also the European Hispanics who come from Spain, also called Spaniards.
We are a vast nation of Hispanics with different Spanish dialects, food and cultures.
I appreciated our government’s recent attempt to update the census format. Before they did this, Hispanics were very generalized as one ethnicity, with no ability to define what country we are from. On the new census form, I put my check mark next to Hispanic and could also place a check mark for my European descent.
Europe. It’s the same place my “white” husband’s ancestry is from, but because my family speaks Spanish, we are labeled as Hispanic. Still, there are many generalizations from being labeled Hispanic.
When I read or hear that the Hispanic population is larger than the white population, I wonder who they are referring to? Me? A sixth generation “Heinz 57” American? The immigrants who went through an expensive and long legal process to become a resident or citizen?
Or are they talking about the undocumented illegal immigrants here in our country who desire to gain residency or perhaps wait for amnesty?
You see, we all have the same Hispanic label and are still lumped into one statistic. In my opinion, our government misleads the general public about Hispanics and the population.
My hope is that when you see the census report come out, or read articles claiming that our country is being “overtaken by Hispanics,” that you will have a better understanding of what Hispanic means.
We are not all from one country, nor are we all here illegally. You know the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.”
Tanya Doose lives in Rifle with her husband and children. She is the finance secretary at Kathryn Senor Elementary and a cheerleading coach for Rifle High School.
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