We all love soccer and play like Messi.

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Yes, futbol is the preferred sport in Latin America. That doesn’t mean every Hispanic man is going to become your team’s Messi or Maradona when he steps on the field. It’s like picking a Black dude for your YMCA basketball team and expecting him to play like Lebron. That being said not all Latinos follow the sport like that either. Back in the day a coworker of mine constantly chatted me up about MLS games and players. I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. Still I’d humor him like “Word?” and “Word!” The lesson there: find real points of connection, don’t assume you know what they are.

We are all machistas

No, we don’t all think women should stay home taking care of kids and cooking while we bring home the tocino. We’re not always looking to be in charge. Not all of us need to prove we’re the “baddest” either. This does not mean we want to emasculated though. If you try to talk down on a Latino man expect big blowback one way or another. We’ll keep it humble–to a point. Never take our kindness for weakness even if a call to la migra is an option for you. That’s a gamble that you might not want to take especially if you’re not ready to pay that price.

We are all gangsters 

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Again, West Side Story really painted a negative picture of Latinos and that perception is just stuck. Then came Scarface and the next thing you know we went from simple thugs with switchblades to drug lords with an appetite for white women. The American obsession with gangster movies and cartel kings (and queens) hasn’t helped the cause. Throw in gangster rap from the 1990s and it is a song that has stayed on repeat. The truth is, Latinos are great at a ton of things like acting, singing, poetry, science, medicine – we do it all.

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