Does not speaking Spanish make someone a “fake” Latino?

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro was headlined across the country as the first Latino keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, but the Mexican-American’s lack of Spanish fluency has sparked some debate within the Latino community.

While introducing “the Democrats’ rising star” The Guardian questioned whether Castro could be considered “Latino.”

Though Julian Castro, like his brother, is grounded in the Hispanic community, to define him exclusively as a Latino politician would be to make a big mistake. For a start, he doesn't even speak fluent Spanish.

But does not speaking the language make anyone less Latino? HuffPost Live’s Alicia Menendez hosted a segment asking guests and viewers “does it matter?”


“I find it hypocritical and frustrating that it’s the language [that is considered binding], when the culture, I think, is more binding,” said Angelica Martinez, a student at Smith College.

Sara Inés Calderón, journalist at News Taco, thinks there may be “some sort of cultural bind between different Latinos,” but she adds “that Spanish is definitely a component of that, even if it is just a little bit.”

Many however, may agree with Gina Espinoza, Founder of UpLatino, that the Spanish language is “a national treasure” that we “owe it to our ancestors” to learn. Or should Hispanic-Americans be more worried about the message this is sending to Latino youth?

“We have to be careful whether it’s through the media or through ourselves not to have young people,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council Member. “Who are already struggling as Latinos in this country to identify and develop their self-esteem, not to make them think that they’re any less of who they are because they don’t speak the language."

The Huffington Post’s Latino Voices asked readers earlier this month, “Is Spanish a cultural requirement for Latinos?” And while 36 percent considered it a “crucial” part of the heritage, nearly 64 percent answered “Not in this day and age.”

If not language, then what binds the Latino community? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Barack Obama

    "I was born in an island and I understand that food, gas and everything else, is more expensive. Puerto Rico has the right for a better future. My plan offers new incentives to restore the 40,000 job which have been lost and invests in the education of Puerto Rican kids. This coming July, it would be an honor to count with your vote." Obama is really pushing for the Puerto Rican vote. He visited the island in June of 2011. The first president to visit Puerto since John F. Kennedy in 1961,<a href="" target="_hplink"> according to NYTimes. </a> Keep your eyes and ears open for the next spanish speech by Obama.

  • Jackie Kennedy

    "Dear Friends, this is the wife of John F. Kennedy, candidate in the U.S. presidential election... When world peace is threatened by communism, it's necessary to have a leader in The White House who is able to guide our destinies with a firm hand... Long Live Kennedy!" 1. No need for introduction. As if the entire world didn't know who Jackie Kennedy is. 2. It's nice to see she's friendly with latinos and 3. Given the Trade Embargo with Cuba has been firm since 1962, we're guessing that Miss Kennedy's spanish speech wasn't exactly detrimental to her husband's campaign.

  • El Bloombito

    Oh yes, that day Bloomberg so kindly "summarized for the spanish speaking audience" the city's plan to clean up after Irene and inspired one of the best twitter accounts of all times: @ElBloombito. The twitter account mocking Bloomberg's spanish has over 25,000 followers. The hilarious spanish-speaking alter ego was created by Rachel-Figuero Levin. "The Spanish is just so blatantly hilarious,"<a href="" target="_hplink"> she said to NBC New York.</a> "It's the diction. It's the pronunciation. It's the accent." To @ElBloombito account, Bloomberg responded from his personal Twitter account "It's hard to learn a new language at age 69", according to NBC New York. Follow <a href="!/ElBloombito" target="_hplink">@ElBloombito </a>here.

  • Hillary Clinton

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  • Jeb Bush

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  • Craig Romney

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  • Barack Obama

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