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The Hard Art of Fitting In

El duro arte de encajar

[Leer en español]

IT’S UNDERSTANDABLY DIFFICULT. We don’t look like each other. Sometimes, we hardly understand each other. Some of us replace “r” with “l.” Others drag the vowels and incur in what linguists call yeísmo.

In view of this situation, to try to give a common label to all Latin Americans is not only an unnecessary challenge or an absurdity, but a real insult.

Of course, there are generalities, as there are in any human group. Central America and the Caribbean tend to be more conservative, while in the Southern Cone we have a greater tendency towards liberalism (in the literal sense of the term, without political-partisan associations).

From these generalities, however, it is not possible to make an agenda. Any premise that begins with “Latinos think X” will necessarily be false. Even so, forces that try to profit from identity politics insist not only on depicting us as a monolith, but also dare to delineate doctrines for what they assume we want or aspire to.

Throughout the country, we see daily examples of this aggravation. Some go even further and insinuate that “Latinos” are easily manipulated and sensitive to misinformation and seek to become the gastric juice that digests reality for us, lest we become confused.

The world changes, America changes, and the leader of the future must understand that in order to face the uncertainties and threats that await us around the corner, he or she must have the support of the fastest-growing minority in the country.

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But beware: each of us is, perforce, an individual (the smallest of minorities) and if we are lumped into a bag we don’t want to be a part of, the move can be painfully counterproductive.