What Defines Being Latin?

The MTV Video Music Awards recently brought up a topic of discussion that sometimes “grinds my gears.” It’s the use of Latin when referring to people who are Latino or Hispanic…or basically are native Spanish speakers. The “Best Latin” category is pretty much a weird way to categorize the videos.

My other question is what exactly determines a “Latin/a/o” video? While I absolutely do enjoy the “Dinero” song and video, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be in this category.


So. According to dictionary.com, the term Latin is defined as:

  1. an Italic language spoken in ancient Rome, fixed in the 2nd or 1st century b.c., and established as the official language of the Roman Empire. Abbreviation: L
  2. one of the forms of literary Latin, as Medieval Latin, Late Latin, Biblical Latin, or Liturgical Latin, or of nonclassical Latin, as Vulgar Latin.
  3. native or inhabitant of Latium; an ancient Roman.

So why is it that I notice some organizations use Latin when describing people of Latino/Hispanic descent. Sure we can argue the use of Latino and Hispanic, but let’s strike Latin off the record. Then there’s the question, “Are you Spanish?” But that’s an easy one to fix because you can say, “No, I am not from Spain.”

So again. Where is being Latin coming from? It must stem from Latin America, which in my opinion does anyone really use it any more?  The J. Paul Getty Trust, a cultural and philanthropic institution, had the following description for Latin America:

“To begin, where is Latin America? Geographically, the term refers to a set of nations belonging to the regions of North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Culturally and linguistically, Latin America is defined as nations in the Americas and the Caribbean whose residents predominantly speak Spanish or Portuguese—two of the many languages descended from Latin.”

We are also in the midst of another word being used…Latinx. Why? Some people feel as though the terms Latino and Latina are not gender inclusion. This is another topic that I may or may not bring up in the future.

Sound off if you have ever considered yourself to be Latin. Why or why not?

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