How to Be Latin
The other day I was listening to a segment on NPR featuring Baratunde Thurston, author of the best-selling book, “How to Be Black.” What I loved about the talk was his human sincerity and intellectual dissection of an otherwise potentially dicey conversation. So my question is, what would happen if there were a whole series of these books created in every racial “flavor”? Would they carry the same weight and significance as the original, or would they be dismissed as cheap knock-offs?
Being a non-black minority in an area of the southeastern United States which is still, although sometimes subtly, drawn against very black and white lines, I can see how easily other races are brushed aside. The Irish and Italian immigrants who were encouraged not to apply at certain places of employment. The “Latin” immigrants from various countries and with various cultures who are daily harassed by fellow Americans. The Native Americans of various nations who are completely ignored. The Japanese Americans we interred in concentration camps not but a generation or two ago. The Chinese Americans who were considered “communists” and other Asians who are constantly harassed for their looks, traditions, beliefs and achievements. The Arabic Americans and many, many other nationalities that are constantly lumped into one group or another and branded as “Muslim” or “terrorist” whether they are or aren’t.
The truth of the matter is, we could write one of these books for just about any and every race/color on the planet. We could have one for gays, atheists, women, teens. There is no end to the number of labels and categories we file ourselves into. But when that conversation goes down, when it is all boiled down to black or white, Mexican or not, stop and give yourself a minute.
Let’s write a new book. We’ll call it, “How to Be Human.”