By most standards, it’s a stretch for someone like me – a Jewish guy who was born and raised in Wisconsin to claim he is Latin American.
But when you live in a country with a Latino population outnumbered only by the populations of Brazil and Mexico, it becomes less preposterous to make the argument. And history also shows us that our geography is intrinsically tied to the rise and fall Spanish rule throughout Latin America. Just check out this map to see how much of the US once was a territory of Spain.
You also have to consider the prevalence of Latino culture in our country. Bilingual and Spanish-language newspapers, television channels, and radio stations are found in every major metropolitan area. And the US isn’t just importing Latino culture – we’re producing and exporting it to the rest of the world. Just look at Billboard Latino and you’ll see the names of US-born artists who are the voices and creative forces behind some of the most internationally popular Spanish-language songs.
One out of four babies now born in the US are Hispanic. But this demographic shift isn’t making our country more Latin American. It’s just making us come to terms more quickly with a national identity that has been too easy to ignore for too long. I’ve embraced this identity and I own it. And I challenge more organizations and companies to do the same and to embrace their own Latino identity. It’s not just good business – it’s American.