Spanish textbooks often discuss the topic of Hispanidad, which is a very interesting topic indeed. Some people are considered Hispanic if they have parents who are Hispanic, even if they no longer speak Spanish or practice any Hispanic customs. “Hispanic” is a unique classification in that it is not based on race, but rather on culture. People of any race are considered Hispanic if they live in a Spanish-speaking country and speak Spanish. Can you be of Japanese descent and still be considered Hispanic? Well, yes. Remember President Alberto Fujimori of Perú? He was Hispanic, until, that is, he sought political asylum in Japan because of his Japanese ascestry. That and the fact that Japan didn’t have an extradition treaty with Perú who wanted to prosecute Fujimori for human rights violations. One of my students was of Korean descent, but she was Hispanic by virtue of having been born and raised in Argentina. The most important component of hispanidad is the culture in which one was raised. I remember once when I was with my sons in a McDonald’s parking lot in Back of the Yards, a male black approached me and wanted to sell me a bag of peanuts. He was very insistent. I kept trying to ignore him, and when that didn’t work, I kept telling him I didn’t want to buy any peanuts. I figured he was just another one of these street peddlers trying to hustle some money. He was very persistent. When I started to walk into McDonald’s, he followed me into the restaurant. Finally, he spoke to me in Spanish. He spoke Spanish fluently. In fact, it turned out that he was a native Spanish speaker. We spoke for a few minutes and I learned that he had been born and raised in Cuba, which I guessed immediately because of his accent. I guess I stereotyped him because he was selling peanuts on the street, and in Chicago, we all have certain images associated with these street vendors. Anyway, he turned out to be a nice man who was selling peanuts for his church (non-Catholic). Yes, I bought some peanuts!

¡Yo también formo parte de la hispanidad!

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.