He provides a slice of just some of the tensions framing this “debate” within the Latin American-descent population of North America. If you are new to the topic of us, it’s a good beginning. And if you’re you and you is us then, well, how about that?
Cubias doesn’t offer much of a solution and, as a professor of Chicana/o ~ Latina/o Studies (yes, that’s right, I did just use all those words and slashes) let me declare my reluctance to offer any bold opinion as to which we should “all” be using. As with most “debates,” the most important understanding to take away is not the results of an either/or dichotomous battle but a bird’s eye view of the arena of contestation.
The real lesson in all of this is three-fold:
1. Latin American-descent populations are diverse and, at times, rivalrous to an extent that makes inter-ethnic, inter-national, and/or inter-identity formation difficult, to say the least.
2. The question to ask is, really, what frames and nurtures these diverse examples of identification? This is not a debate about language at all. It is about what that language says about what we think of ourselves. Identity is about memory and visions of the past and future. The unique historical experiences and circumstances which have given rise to this current “debate” are the real story for us as Latinos/Hispanic and as non-Latino/Hispanics to educate ourselves about.
3. No matter what you think about this in intellectual terms, identity is a historically situated phenomenon. People will call themselves what they want because of the time, place, and circumstance of their life experience. Barring a widespread–and I mean WIDE–movement in this country, there will be no lasting resolution to this debate.
And, just so you know, I am proud to call myself a Chicano.