PUERTO RICAN CHICAGO native Johnny Rodríguez, 60, lives in Logan Square and works as a real estate home inspector. He identifies as Latino or Puerto Rican because there is no one race that identifies him. “My father has both Black and Native American blood in him while my mother is Spaniard,” Rodríguez said. Within the Latino community and for over 30 years he has been performing with various Latin American bands as a trombone player.
Rodríguez plays music ranging from cumbia to salsa to merengue all over Chicago and the Midwest. He also produces his own Latin jazz music albums.
What do you think of the term Latinx to identify people of Latin American or Spanish background?
I feel like it just generalizes all Latinos and Latinas from South and Central America and Caribbean countries.
Do you feel like Latinx is just an excuse for corporations to lump all Latino cultures together?
I’m wondering who started the phrase. It could be possible that corporations could do it as such.
“I’m wondering who started the [Latinx] phrase! It could be possible that corporations could do it as such.”
Has your experience as a Latinx person isolated you to the way you grew up, or have you been able to branch out culturally?
Being Latino, we do try to branch out as much as possible and it’s hard especially when you’re comfortable with your own Latin community.
Do you speak Spanish? How do you view Spanish as an attribute of your identity? How important is it?
Yes. I’ve learned to enjoy the different Latino cultures and help provide business services.
Would you say your culture is “better” than someone else’s who is of a different ethnicity or country?
No. I feel that we are all the same … our culture and music may be different. But if you really look, we are all very similar.
Does cultural appropriation bother you?
Yes. If done inappropriately it is insulting. I prefer cultural appreciation.