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'How do you identify?'

For Hispanic Heritage month and beyond, the best way to ask someone about their culture is to politely ask, "How do you identify?"

MINNEAPOLIS — Today is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. However, the LatinX community is one that includes many different communities--it's one that is not a monolith.

Within the LatinX community are folks who identify differently. The best way to figure out how people identify themselves is to simply, ask.

The students at the University of Minnesota who are either a part of, or are frequent visitors of Mi Gente LatinX Student Culture Center at Coffman Memorial Union, graciously gave us their time and space to explain their personal backgrounds.

Kenneth Zuniga, the founder and CEO of MNLatinos.com, also joined in for a discussion.

Alberto Gomez: I'm used to people calling me Mexican American. I tried being more comfortable with the term Chicano, but I never really felt too comfortable with that just because I've never been too close to my Latinidad until I came to the university.

Dania Barrera Carrasco: I identify as Mexican. I was born in Minnesota--in Minneapolis actually--but I don't necessarily claim the term American, just because my identity is more with Mexicans. Especially because both of my parents immigrated from Mexico.

Kenneth Zuniga: I use Latino, and Hispanic, but I feel closer to Latino. I know there are other variations of it.

Sarah Atilano Gonzales: I personally grew up just from my family identifying as Hispanic, but then once I became educated on the history of colonization, that really made me want to use different terms. So I do prefer ChicanX more than anything.

Karen Delgado-Villanueva: I use she/her pronouns, that's why I identify with the term Latina.

Gomez: I've never been too comfortable with the term Hispanic because that strictly only refers to people who speak Spanish. That erases Haitian immigrants, Brazilians and people who may not speak Spanish.

Barrera Carrasco: When you ask them where they're from and they say Latino, some people automatically will assume they're Mexican, which is unfortunately something that we have to combat. [It's] something we try to promote-- that we're not only just Mexico, we're a bunch of LatinX communities too.

Gomez: We're not just one giant thing.

Atilano Gonzales: And I definitely think how you ask is important, too.

Barrera Carrasco: We tend to ask what is your ethnicity? Or what's your background. People end up saying, 'what are you?'

Delgado-Villanueva: "What are you?" or "What are you really?" is always asked. It's very unsettling.

Atilano Gonzales: [It's] rude and insensitive.

Zuniga: If you're talking to someone that's Latino for example, say, "should I call you Latino, Hispanic, or LatinX?"  Always when in doubt, it's best to ask.

If you have a Lifting Voices story idea, send them our way! The email is liftingvoices@kare11.com.

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