BORN AND RAISED in Chicago, Ricardo Pérez is a part time student living in Gage Park who identifies as “19-year-old Mexican American male,” as well as Hispanic.
What do you think of the term Latinx to identify people of Latin America or Latin American or Hispanic background?
I think it is a blanket term to generalize. Everyone within Latin America, I am totally fine with it. But I understand that for some people it takes away the importance of the individual countries. Some people are like, well, I am Puerto Rican, I identify as Puerto Rican. So they are not super big fans of the Latinx term, but I am OK with it.
Do you feel like Latinx is just an excuse for corporations to lump all Latino cultures together?
Yes. The only times I’ve seen it is when a corporation or something like that uses it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a singular person refer to themselves as Latinx; they usually use the specific region that they’re from, like my friend, Briana would say she’s Puerto Rican. She wouldn’t say she’s Latinx.
Has your experience as a Latinx person isolated you to the way you grew up, or have you been able to branch out culturally?
I’ve been in a Hispanic/Latinx community for my entire life. But I have had the opportunity to expand and interact with other cultures. I just don’t take those opportunities, mostly because I’m socially awkward.
As a U.S. born citizen, does it bother you to be labeled?
No, I’m not super against or for labels. I do not really care if someone is like, “Oh, you’re American,” or someone’s like, “Oh, you’re Mexican.” I’m like, I’m both buddy. Let’s go. I don’t care.
“It’s okay if you’re trying to learn, if you do understand it and you want to partake in it. It’s not okay if you’re just doing it because it’s cool or a trend.“
Do you speak Spanish? How do you view Spanish as an attribute to your identity? How important is it?
I do speak Spanish. I speak it a lot more now. As far as if it’s part of my identity, I think it is. But it’s a very small part of me. [If] I was introducing myself to someone it’s not one of the main things I would say. Spanish as a language is important. Knowing any second language is important. It’s really important to be bilingual. Because it helps a lot. For me, it’s important mostly because that’s how I communicate with my family.
Would you say your culture is better than someone else’s? Who is different? Who is of a different ethnicity or country?
No, I wouldn’t say it’s better. I don’t think there’s one culture that’s better than the others. I think that’s all kind of subjective at the end of the day. I will say though, the Día de los Muertos go hard. No comment. [Laughter.]
Does cultural appropriation bother you?
So cultural appropriation is when someone not of the culture partakes in their, like, cultural events, right?
It’s inappropriate adaptations or doing something unacknowledged.
Key word there is inappropriate. I’m not okay with that. If you don’t understand what the tradition or the event is about, I don’t think you should be partaking in it. If you want to learn, cool, go ahead buddy. But bringing back the Día de los Muertos, those who were just trying to eat sugar skulls and do all that, no. You got to understand that that’s a day where we [pay] respects to the dead and acknowledge our loved ones that have died. I think it’s okay if you’re trying to learn, if you do understand it and you want to partake in it. It’s not okay if you’re just doing it because it’s cool or a trend.