LATINO VOICES

12 Typical Reasons People Are Told They're Not 'Latino Enough'

"You sound too white to be a Latina."

Have you ever been told you're not “Latino enough”? Unfortunately, you're not alone. 

Celebrities like Gina Rodriguez, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Alba, and Gina Torres have all said their Latinidad has been questioned at one point or another, and for various reasons. The same goes for everyday folks. 

We recently asked our readers to share whether or not anyone has ever told them they’re not “Latino enough,” and based on what rationale. 

The response was overwhelming and enlightening. Of the hundreds of comments we received, we noticed these were the 12 most common things respondents' say others have used to deny them of their Latinidad: 

1. Their skin color.

"I've been told that I'm 'too dark skinned to be Latina,' and 'your features are too black to be Latina.'"-Iris Altagracia Gonzalez

"I was sitting in a queer resource center at my university, and was told by the staff that I am not brown enough to be an actual Mexican. I have a Mexican passport and birth certificate. Can you say wtf?!?!?"-Hugo Whittier Agosto 

"In college, my black Colombian friend and I were completely shunned by the Latina sorority on campus because I am so light skinned and she is so dark. We apparently didn't fit into their 'ideals.'"-Luz Infante 

2. They way that they speak.

"Because my Spanish isn't perfect. [Because] my son can't speak or understand Spanish. My son has Autism and speech delay amongst a few other things and it was more important that he learn to TALK and that he be able to understand and communicate with the therapists, plus English is my 1st language so it doesn't come naturally. I want him to learn and hope he will but I don't feel I am the most qualified to teach him! It doesn't mean I'm ashamed of my heritage or not Latina enough. I love being Latina and our culture." -Yashy Alfaro 

"I get 'you sound too white to be a Latina' or 'you talk just like a white girl.'" -Noëllie Medina

3. Their name.

“My dad is Irish/Mexican American, so my last name is Irish. Even though I am a bilingual teacher, grew up speaking Spanish, was surrounded by only my large Latino family, and was only aware of my Latino identity, I am doubted in my profession because of my last name.”-Melanie Lowery 

4. Their religion.

"I've gotten some ignorant remarks and nasty stares from my fellow Latinos because I converted to Islam a few years ago and I wear the headscarf as an act of worship (just like the nuns in church). 'I've been told 'b#tch you’re Mexican, you can't be Muslim.' Funny thing is that some so called Christians don't know that Christianity was founded in the Middle East not in Mexico or Europe so how can they mock me without mocking themselves?"-Diana Gutierrez

5. They were not born in Latin America.

"I'm Ecuadorian by birth and Hispanic by ethnicity, but people have felt the need to tell me that I'm not really Ecuadorian because I didn't grow up there."-Rocio Isabel

“I've been kicked to the curb by Puerto Ricans because I was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents. There was even this one guy who was derisive in the extreme and insulting because I wasn't born in Puerto Rico but I had the nerve to attend the New York City Puerto Rican parade. How dare he!”-Brenda Bunnell

6. One of their parents is not Latino.

"I've been referred to as 'just a half-breed,' so there's that."-Jacki Ordoñez-House

"I'm half white and half Puerto Rican. I'm told I'm to white to be Puerto Rican because I grew up with my white mom, and that I’m too tan to be white. I have some who say that to be Puerto Rican is just the same as being black, so I'm not Puerto Rican, I'm black. When I get defensive I get asked well what's wrong with being black. Nothing is wrong with that, but I'm not black. I don't even have the words to express how this makes me feel."-Kristina Flores

7. They were adopted.

“Being adopted by a white couple.”-Pamela Reister

8. Their culinary preferences.

“I can't eat spicy food. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard 'how can you be Latina if you don't eat spicy food?!' I would be rich.”-Gaby Hinojoza

9. Their education level.

"That being well-educated makes me 'an exception' and not really 'like the rest' of Latinos."-Suzanne M. Rivera

 10. Their personal preferences.

“I've been told I'm more gringa than Latina because I love to read, and also for being a white Hispanic.”-Laura Venegas

"I've been called a 'coconut' because I do not have an affinity for some Mexican music."-Jane M. Fernandez

 11. Their partner is not Latino.

“I'm Colombian and have a Caucasian boyfriend. So I've heard that I'm not Latina enough because I don't have a Latin partner. Yet, I've never felt more Latin and proud of my heritage than I do now.”-Luz Infante

12. They don’t fit any stereotypes.

"My personal favorite is when people call me a ‘white Mexican’ or a ‘white washed Mexican’ just because I am not your stereotypical version of a Mexican. That doesn't make me any less of a Mexican." -Ellie Lopez

The truth is, there is no such thing as being "Latino enough." You're Latino if you identify as Latino and you or your family are of Latin American descent. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Latinos are as diverse as they are beautiful. Some speak Spanish, others don’t. Some were born in Latin America, others weren’t. Some are dark, others are light and, still, others are tanned. Some have curly hair, straight hair, dark hair, blonde hair, or red hair; that's because Latinos break the mold!

Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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