11 Things You Should Never Say to a Latina

Photo Credit: Ariela Muñoz via Compfight cc

Cultural diversity broadens the mind and fuels our spirit of adventure. It’s enlightening to explore the rituals, traditions, and intricate nuances of foreign cultures. And I feel deeply privileged to live in a country where I can experience this type of phenomenon.

The biggest impediment to a multicultural society, in my opinion, are:


We see them every day in memes, and twitter hashtags that go viral, inducing riotous laughter. I have even spent hours laughing at caricatured Hispanic memes. Little kids running from the chancla (sandals) the number one weapon of choice for many moms to discipline their kids. I also laugh at the memes that depict how Hispanics store pots and pans in the oven (Ok, I’m guilty)

I’ve read countless articles about what not to say to Latinas, and they’re all funny. I decided to share my own list of never ever say or mock based on my own experiences as an immigrant:

1. I’m learning a new language, so please don’t mock my accent.

I have had wonderful American friends who have helped guide my cultural and linguistic transition. Working and speaking with other Americans has improved my vocabulary, diction, and grammar. But, unfortunately, I’ve had to endure cretins who laughed at my accent and mocked my inability to verbalize an idea in English.

Not all of us over exaggerate our accents like Sofía Vergara does. Hello!

2. Just because I was born in a third world country doesn’t mean I’m stupid.

Living in extreme poverty is tough, but somehow I managed. I met wonderful Honduran musicians, poets, and writers who continue to work themselves numb for a chance to show their talents to the world.

Where I come from doesn’t determine who I am. It’s a central element of my identity, but there’s more to my personality than the cultural milieu of my formative years.

3. Please stop irritating me/us with these irritating questions:

Does your country sell Coca Cola?
Does your country have shopping malls?
Do you have to wear loin cloths?

Pardon me, but not only do we have malls and buildings, but we gorge on McDonalds & Wendy’s, and even wear Gap!

4. Please don’t generalize impressions of Hispanics. We are a dynamic cultural and social force.

I bristle at the ignorant homogenized impressions that showcase Hispanic women only worthy of cleaning houses while Latin men all congregate lazily in front of convenience stores & Home Depot.

Furthermore, contrary to Donald Trump’s bloated pontificating, we are not a race of rapists or thieves, period.

5. Another infuriating generalization:

If you’re a Latina, then why is your skin light and why do you keep dying your hair blond?

I must confess, this is a tough one to swallow. But what can I say? Should I blame my mother for her obsession with Caucasian names and my Spaniards ancestors for lighter skin? And my hair? I just happen to like blonde hair, deal with it!

6.  All Hispanics can dance salsa.

Ok, I admit that after a few mojitos I hit the dance floor, leaping from merengue to salsa (I can do an excellent impression of Iris Chacon, a famous vedette dancing to Tito Puente).

Hispanic culture is a dizzying spectrum stretching geographically from the Rio Grande all the way down to the Tierra del Fuego (just a short hop from Antarctica). And each of the nations in between those distant extremes sport an array of cultural mores and customs that are just as foreign and intriguing to me as they are to most Americans.

7. “Oh, you’re from Central America? So you really like spicy food, right?”

Yeah, I have encountered this remarkably dumb and provincial assumption countless times. While I can’t speak for others, I personally lack that overgeneralized Hispanic culinary affinity for anything spicy.

My apologies to Tío Tapatío.

8. “Oh, you speak Spanish? So, are you Mexican?”

I won’t even answer this one…

9I’m a Latina but I don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  Again, this is a celebration from Mexico!

I don’t even think Mexicans celebrate 5 de mayo…

10. Please don’t ask a Latino about their legal status.

If one of your friends happens to live illegally in the U.S. what are you going to do? Call the migra or Joe Arpaio?

I dated a guy who told me on our first date “I know you’re not into me because of the green card” of course, not pendejo, I’m a U.S. citizen.

11.  No, I don’t know the words of the Macarena, ok?

Stephanie Ortez

Stephanie is a highly caffeinated mother of two wonderful boys. She is hopelessly addicted to non-fiction books and literature that moves her to tears. She is an admissions advisor for George Washington University online where she assists homeschooled students internationally. Stephanie lives with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She is a passionate mental health advocate, member of Stigma Fighters. Her writing has been featured on The Elephant Journal, The Mighty, The Organic Coffee Haphazardly and Feminine Collective.

14 thoughts on “11 Things You Should Never Say to a Latina

  1. Stephanie Ortez

    Thank you Nicole! I’ve heard a few stereotypes “aboot” Canadians (see what I did there?) I understand why people rather use stereotypes instead of learning how to have an actual, intelligent conversation that doesn’t involve Seth Rogen (ouch!)

  2. Stephanie Ortez

    Sabes que me cae mal Sofia Vergara? no la soporto! jajaja Yo amo México y espero visitar la casa azul my pronto. Aún así, no me gusta la comida picante ay ay ay ay mamasitaaaa!

  3. Stephanie Ortez

    Thank you, Mary! my family and I came up with the list and while we shared a few laughs, we also realized how much work we have in our hands to change this list. I think a person should be valued for who they are instead of asking where they come from.

  4. jaklumen

    En serio- tienes mucho razón aunque para mi, es facíl gustar las cosas de Mexíco a donde están mucha gente mexicano muy acerca de mi (estoy en Kennewick, WA y Pasco es 15 minutos de coche). Mi bisabuelo fue Rey Pratt y claro que sí soy mormón, tengo tantos amigos de iglesia que son de todo de Latin America o sirven como misioneros hispanohablantes.

    Really… when people ask me where I learned Spanish, it really is easy to say “I’m Mormon.” I used to have a very mixed accent in Spanish because of my various Latin American friends, till it settled to something more norteamericano/mexicano. The culture is just a part of my life and my family, and I’m grateful.

  5. Mary Rowen

    Another great, fun, and informative read, Stephanie. Gosh, I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with those ignorant questions, though. I’m glad you can laugh at them and hope by the time your kids are adults people will have smartened up. I grew up in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts, where a lot of Dominican and Puerto Rican people live, and every time I visit there now, I cringe when I hear them referred to as “Spanish.”

  6. Dori OwenDori Owen

    Ay, mija, que estaba rodando en el suelo. Así, tan inteligente. Incluso Sofía Vergara admite que exagera su acento para las risas. Estoy, sin embargo, con la esperanza de que usted comparte mi amor por todas las cosas en México. Usted es más divertido que mierda. ¡Te amo! xoD.

  7. Nicole LyonsNicole Lyons

    I love this Steph, you had me laughing at 4am, a great feat indeed. All laughing aside I understand the frustration and thank you for clearing some of these points up for some of those who may not get it. Beautifully written, with all of your sass and charm. This was a great read.


    Did you know that up here we all live in igloos and apparently don’t know what “real bacon” is?

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