Contrary to what some people believe, Latinos are probably the most ethnically diverse group of people in the world. That diversity, unfortunately, comes with its fair share of inter-Latino rivalry and competition. Country of origin rivalries are perhaps the most prevalent yet the least understood. Many of these rivalries are rooted in history — past wars, territory and border disputes. You’ll see them manifest themselves in soccer games at times, where the rivalries find new energy in the quest for a trophy. Most of the time it’s healthy enough — root for your team, hoping for a rain of fire on the opposing players.
Sometimes it shows itself in a less productive way. Often Latinos place stereotypes on their own people of different Latin American ethnicities. I’m sure we’ve heard some, if not all of these:
- Puerto Ricans are ghetto. Dominicans are hicks. Argentines think they’re European whites.
- Cubans are con artists. Colombians are gangsters. Mexicans are probably illegal.
Without spending more time cataloging (and thereby perpetuating) examples, the point is made. Almost all of us have heard some version of these ridiculous characterizations. In the U.S., sometimes the rivalries come to a boil as communities live closer and closer together, especially in the urban areas, and often compete for the same resources like jobs, housing and political power.
But why would we speak about our own people from another land in such a negative way? The fact is, much of the rancor is cyclical and totally normal. It’s about first come first serve, and it’s been happening in the U.S. since the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.