I am going to start by quoting Shakespeare: “ What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet”. This is what Juliet says in reference to The Montague and the implications for them as lovers of the meaning of his house. This episode in Shakespeare tragedy reminds us of the consequences that can be drawn from the using of names and labels, and this might be the case for the “Latino” or “Hispanic” name.
Some of these consequences are good and some might not be that good. As human beings we need labels and names in order to apprehend new concepts. That happens with every piece of new knowledge acquire by our brains. We need names and labels in order to understand and put every single idea, abstract or not, into our mental boxes. So, when the immigrants from south of Rio Grande, with some common history, religion, ethnic, linguistic and social similarities started to be noticeable and worthy of understanding, a label and a name that grouped them and put them into the little mental box was necessary. This naming or labeling somehow helped to understand the phenomenon of “Latinos” or “Hispanics” at the beginning. As marketers, the label and name helped to categorize this population in order to develop messages, products and services to satisfy the needs of this special group of people.
But these names and labels can also be very un-useful and un-appropriate because they can lead to wrongful generalities and sometimes to terrible deviations like prejudice and discrimination. It is true that there are similarities among the population of central and south America. There are some common elements like language, religion, history and social behavior but naming or labeling such a complex diversity of people under just one term can be very misleading. There is not a thing as a typical Hispanic or Latino so when asked about what race are Hispanics , it is not an easy task trying to get an answer for that. America in general is a continent of mixtures, and it has been like that since day one. In Latin-America for example, the XV century Spaniard and Portuguese arrived to the new continent as a mistake and then realized it was a land full of riches. They took some of them home but left quite much here too. The European pioneers started to mix with the American locals and so a new “race” was born. The same happened with the Africans brought to America to work as slaves. They mixed quite well too. That mixture came in as a part of an evolutionary social- historical process: adapt or perish. As a consequence of this process , it can be said that there is not a “pure taxonomy” or classification for the result of this evolution.
Nevertheless, we still need a name if we want to be recognized as a group. We need names, labels and leaders if we want to survive but let’s use them carefully, rationally and with ethics. There is a race in Hispanics, it is human race.