Identity crisis spawned from labels

Some Americans of Latin American descent are apparently bristling at the general labels of “Hispanic” and “Latino” when asked about race, according to CNN.com. The reason? Not all Hispanic people are from Latin America, not all Latinos speak Spanish, and each of the nations that makeup these labels are very different from each other.

Um… Does the word “Duh” mean anything?

I have dealt with this sentiment for at least 20 years now, since I was old enough to understand the whys and hows of cultural differences. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but I don’t get angry or offended when someone asks me if I’m Asian.

I’m Filipino. Or rather, my parents are from the Philippines. Why is this a big deal? It’s not, except that Filipinos can be considered Hispanic by the general definition (Spanish-speaking – much of the national dialect is comprised of Spanish words – with Spanish surnames). Geographically, the Philippines is very close to China and not too far away from Japan, so by that definition, Filipinos are Asian. Culturally – and by this, I mean the most native language, customs, artwork, manner of eating, means of cooking, style of housing, etc. – the Philippines has much more in common with Hawaii and Tahiti than with China, Korea, or Japan.

So, what is the Philippines? The Philippines is a country comprised of a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. It’s been occupied by several countries during its rich history, including Britain, Spain, and, yes, the United States.

If there’s really an identity crisis, it stems – not from the others’ lack of education – from one’s desire to share information and educate those around us.

I don’t mind if someone says that I’m Asian. I would be quite surprised if someone said I was Hispanic. And I would be a little impressed if someone asked if I was Polynesian. But these are just labels.

And I’ve never been one to place much emphasis on a label to define my identity.

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