LATINO VOICES
08/18/2015 12:21 pm ET Updated Jan 03, 2017

Gina Rodriguez Questions What It Means To Be 'Latino Enough'

"When did we decide there are certain criteria that make you Latino enough?”

“No, I’m going to talk about this, we’re going to open this bad boy up. Let’s open the can of worms,” Rodriguez said, speaking to The Huffington Post about what she's described as “interracial Latino racism,” during her Crest 3D White Brilliance 2 Step launch event on Thursday.

The “Jane The Virgin” star experienced it first-hand earlier this month when she shared her People En Español cover story in an Instagram post, the caption of which she decided to write in both English and Spanish.

Rodriguez says she wrote the Spanish caption because she felt it was appropriate when sharing her People En Español cover, adding that she also wanted to do something for her Latino fans who only spoke Spanish or were bilingual. She even sent it to her father for approval first.

But soon after she put it online, Rodriguez began receiving hateful comments about her curled toes and her Spanish.

“I posted the picture and I looked at it and I go ‘oh, you know my toes look really weird’,” she said. “Boom! [Commenters started saying] “Weird toes,” “weird toes.” It was like I said it and I spoke it into existence. Then I started getting nasty comments about my Spanish.”  

“Yo hablo español, yo puedo hablar español y también entiendo todo (I speak Spanish, I can speak Spanish and I also understand everything),” Rodriguez said in Spanish before continuing in English. “But during interviews I get nervous, so I don’t always say it very well. And I, grammatically, don’t write Spanish very well but I understand everything." She added with a laugh, “If you want to talk shit about me, I can understand everything that you’re saying, which is the only thing that counts."

Rodriguez chalks up the experience to the negative criticism some Latinos direct at other Latinos, adding that the topic is "never" discussed out of fear. That's why she decided to bust open that can of worms and eventually called her bullies out in a follow-up Instagram post. 

“Then I opened the can of worms and I saw so much about like, ‘oh I’m only half-Mexican and half Scottish, people say I’m not Latino enough and other people say if you don’t speak Spanish you’re not Latino at all.’ And this and that,” Rodriguez said. “I’m like, when did this happen? When did we decide there are certain criteria that make you Latino enough?”

“I’m sorry no, I don’t agree with that,” she continued. “It’s like anybody turning to you and being ‘You ain’t human enough, you ain’t pretty enough, you ain’t tall enough, you ain’t big enough.’ What do you mean I’m not enough? No, I am enough. I am fully enough. And you’re enough. And the girl that’s half and half is enough. And the girl that only speaks Spanish is enough.”

This rift she sees within the community worries her, particularly when it comes to the upcoming presidential election.

“Because they all try to lump us into one little group, we’re all Latino,” Rodriguez said. “But we go like this: ‘I’m not Dominican, I’m Puerto Rican.’ ‘I’m not Puerto Rican, I’m Cuban.’ ‘I’m not Cuban, I’m Mexican.’ What are we doing?”

“We are the most powerful force in this country, we hands down could put somebody in office, 55 million plus, if we united – unstoppable,” she continued. “But we are not united and that’s the scary part."

 Also on HuffPost: 

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