20 Only Things Latinas From The Midwest Just Get Better Than Everyone Else
Growing up Latino in some parts of the United States can be, well, challenging. I was born and raised in Nebraska — smack dab in the middle of the country — and definitely have a few interesting anecdotes to share. While my hometown had pockets of diversity, it was a far cry from the cultural melting pots found on the coasts. Although this lack of community was often frustrating and isolating, it informed my sense of identity and, ultimately, gave me a deeper appreciation for my cultural heritage. And while I don’t claim to speak for all Latinos who were raised in the Midwest, you might be able to relate to some of the experiences I recount below.
People would try to feed you your own culture’s cuisine instead of just sticking to what they know.amazintacos / Instagram
You’d go over to a friend’s house expecting to eat some good ol’ fashioned American food, but their family would make (in my case) Mexican food — or at least attempt to — because they figured that’s what you were used to. And while that may have been the case, sometimes you just wanted some mac and cheese!
People always assumed you spoke Spanish.Televisa / Tumblr / alberab94
Yes, your last name may be Spanish, but that doesn’t mean you have an expert command of the language. In my case, I understand it better than I speak it, which often disappointed those who wanted me to play translator.
People constantly mispronounced your last name.Televisa / WiffleGif
It’s ree•VAHS. Not ree•VIS. Constantly having to correct people was downright exhausting, but alas, it came with the territory.
People assumed you had a huge extended family.Sony Pictures Classics
All Latino families have dozens of tios, tias, primos, and primas…right? Well according to popular culture, yes. But IRL that’s not always the case. All of my extended family is still in Mexico, so I didn’t have the big family functions growing up.
People thought you were Mexican instead of another Latino ethnicity.GIPHY
While I am, in fact, Mexican, that’s not the case for all Latinos. Seems obvious, but to many in the Midwest, it’s easier to generalize than to take a step back and try to understand just how diverse the term “Latino” really is. It can cover a lot of ground, and Mexico is only one small part.
You were likely the only Latino in class.MariMar / Televisa / @thalia_amoremio_latina / Instagram
While this would’ve depended on the size of your hometown, you probably didn’t have too many fellow Latinos in class. And if you were lucky enough to not be totally alone, odds are that you and the other Latino kid were grouped together often — whether you wanted to be or not.
You were likely the only Latino at work.Telemundo/YouTube/CanalChristinaUrgel’s Channel
The same can be said for work situations. It’s worse in the office when people will look to you to be the official spokesperson for all Latinos. Talk about pressure.
You were likely the only Latino in pretty much any social situation.Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
While we’re at it, why not just lump all social situations together? Because the chances of you running into another Latino (or even another person of color for that matter) in a place that’s majority white are real slim.
People would ask if you’re related to [insert Latino person here].Mitú
Again, going back to one of the points mentioned above: Not all Latinos have large extended families. And, moreover, we aren’t all related to each other. Do I know a Franco Rivas from Arizona? Well, do you know a Jim Smith from Arizona??
There was always that one Latino eatery you could rely on.philzdavis / Instagram
One of the things I love most about my culture is that we travel well. We bring our traditions everywhere, including the most delicious ones. Some of the best Mexican food you’ll ever have is in the Midwest — you just have to know where to look.
Your friends would get Lunchables while you got leftovers.lowkeynatural / Instagram
Speaking of food, can we talk about how your friends always got cool-looking Lunchables while you had leftover for lunch? You liked your mami’s cooking, of course, but you secretly longed for a Lunchable every once in a while.
People would figure that your family works at meat factories, farms, construction sites, etc.Televisa / WiffleGif
Latinos are notoriously hard workers who are often in roles that are highly undervalued. In the Midwest, those are commonly construction and farming jobs. But Latinos work in a variety of sectors and aren’t confined to limited definitions of what they can or should do.
None of your friends understood the importance of Sábado Gigante.
Your non-Latino friends just didn’t get it. Sábado Gigante was what the weekend was made for. If only you’d had more Latino friends to talk to about it!
Your family shopped pretty much exclusively at the one Latin grocery store in town.broylesa / Instagram
I mean, why go anywhere else? Your parents were on a first-name basis with the owners. Plus you could get treats you couldn’t get wherever, like De La Rosas and Takis.
Your parents’ homemade elote was always on point because you lived in the land of corn.fondadondiego / Instagram
There may not have been very many elote stands — *sheds tear* — but your parents made the best elote thanks to the local abundance of corn. It was a total win-win situation.
Your friends were confused when you referred to soccer as fútbol.Sony Pictures Classics
It’s called fútbol literally everywhere else in the world. It makes no sense to default to soccer when Americans are the only ones who use that word.
You got asked how you maintain your tan “year-round” a lot.Mitú
I, um, go about my daily life? Few things are more awkward than explaining to inquiring minds that your skin color is this shade, y’know, by nature.
None of your friends understood the healing power of Vicks VapoRub.ShortOldMe / Twitter
Got a cough? Vaporú. Headache? Vaporú. Stomach cramps? Vaporú. It really was/is a magical elixir for Latino families everywhere, but if you grew up in the Midwest and tried to explain it to your non-Latino friends…well, they just didn’t get it.
The motherland felt like a world away.Televisa
Without a strong sense of community, the motherland became less a tangible place and more so a figment of the imagination. You know it’s real, but it seems too distant to even comprehend.
You regularly felt like you stood out because you were Latino.The CW
This may ring true for many people on a variety of levels, and it definitely isn’t unique to those in the Midwest. But in a place like that, you’re more likely to stick out on a day-to-day basis by just living your life than you are in a place where there are more people who look and act like you.
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