In a series of video interviews, Americans who are second or third-generation Latino spoke candidly about feeling like they are often seen as if they were foreign or new to the country. They stressed that their American identity and Latino heritage are not mutually exclusive.
Frank Espinal described his typical Sunday morning routine as he challenged misconceptions about being Latino. Although he has the “extra identification,” Espinal said Hispanics have more to identify with than their ethnic backgrounds.
“I watch football on Sunday morning just like you do and sometimes I don’t want to go to church,” he said. “I just want to stay home and watch football. I work, I pay bills. I do the same things you do.”
Steven Frank Monzon is a third-generation Puerto Rican. He says Hispanics identify with their American nationality just as much as non-Latino citizens.
“I am from Harlem, New York and always been from Harlem, New York,” he said. “I will identify with being a New Yorker even before being a Puerto Rican.”
For actress Sofia Rodriguez, “there is really no difference than someone else in a different part of the country - I have the same dreams, I have the same wants. I pretty much live under the same umbrella as they [non-Latino Americans] do.”
The last interview sums up the emotional toll the conversation takes on some Latinos. Adriana Cárdenas said she knows her mother made sacrifices to come to the United States.
“My mother has been here 50 years and I know that she loves this country,” she said, tearing up and wiping her eyes. “She already said, ‘don’t bury me in Colombia, you bury me here, next to your father.’”
The question of whether her Latino heritage diminishes her American-born identity distresses her. She gets emotional answering the question.
“ […] You know what? We are Americans and we love being here,” she says. “And we don’t want to go anywhere.”
-Produced, directed and edited by Katherine Mendoza and Stephanie Encarnación