What does Hispanic Mean? What Does Latino Mean?

I have a California friend, of Mexican descent, who scoffed when she heard a reporter use the word Hispanic. “That’s what they use,” she said. “We like to be called Latino.” When a Nevada friend of mine used the word Hispanic, I warned her that I’d been told, “that Hispanic was offensive. It’s Latino.” My friend asked around and came back and said, “In Western Nevada, Hispanic is proper.”

So I pulled out my old dictionary from 1941 to see what it says about Hispanic and found that back then, Webster’s said that it’s an adjective and means, “Spanish.” Above the entry is Hispania. It’s a noun, it’s Latin and it refers to: “An ancient country comprising modern Spain and Portugal; now, Poetic, Spain.

What does Webster say today, 2019, that Hispanic means? They say it’s still an adjective and it means, “of, relating to, or being a person of Latin American descent and especially of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin living in the U.S.” It also means, “of or relating to the people, speech, or culture of Spain.” Webster’s 2019 definition of Hispania is quite simply: “Iberian Peninsula.”

Let’s look at Webster’s 2019 version of Latino. “A native or inhabitant of Latin America.” And “a person of Latin American origin living in the U.S.”

How did Webster define Latino in 1941? The word isn’t even listed. The closest that I can come is Latin. It’s a rather long entry so, I’ll paraphrase. “Of or pertaining to… the Latins… Romans… Latin Church.” Also, “Designating the peoples (French, Italian, Spanish, etc.) or countries whose languages and culture are descended from the Latin.” Also, “One of the people of ancient Latium or Rome.”

See how fluid ancestry and history is? We can go all the way back to ancient Latium and Rome. And don’t forget Iberia. Lots of us Iberians around, now that we’ve had our DNA tested. As genealogists, we don’t try to define ourselves. We try to define our ancestry. Latino… Hispanic… I like them both. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VI – Freemasons, Jewish Conquistadors and the Holy Family. Available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY35VCP

American Born Spaniards… Creoles… Should Have Received More Respect

Spanish King Ferdinand made some bad choices. In his realm as master of the kingdom, he was quite cruel. He instituted the Inquisition, and followed through on his plan to make Spain a Catholic country, leading to the death or banishment of thousands of innocent subjects who refused to submit. But when Spain had colonies in the New World, his choices were also harsh. Ferdinand expected his New World subjects to trade only with Spain. That didn’t go over well. We have the history of pirates and smuggling to prove that. Those whose parents were born in Spain but they themselves were born in the New World were referred to as Creoles and they did not receive the respect they deserved. Laws that allowed only Spanish born subjects to hold higher offices in the government and within the Church brought discontent. Revolts of all varieties in the New World grew so strong, Spain was unable to control the colonies and eventually lost them.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era Historic Romance, Black Pansy.

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