Identity is tough, especially when you're Latino, meaning you could have a totally different cultural identity and race than other folks who share your ethnicity.
In the latest installment of "Conversations on Race," the New York Times' short documentary series, Latinos of various nationalities, skin tones and phenotypes grapple with defining their identities, especially their race.
"The Latino identity is pretty confusing to me because oftentimes I find it in a little check box form and I'm confused on whether I should put Latino or Hispanic, but I'm Mexican," says one man in the beginning of the 6-minute video, sharing many Latinos’ preference to identify with their cultural identity versus the obscure “Hispanic” or “Latino” labels placed on them in the U.S.
Being racially white or black can bring even more confusion.
"It's like navigating three identities: If you're from the States, you're American, you're black and you're Latina. And furthermore whatever country you identify in coming from," says Janel Martinez, the Afro-Latina behind Ain't I Latina? "And that's a lot to navigate."
The conversation on Afro-Latinidad is further complicated by language, with one man saying, “unless I speak Spanish, people assume right away that I'm African American."
Light-skin privilege was also a topic of discussion.
"If you are closer to being white, you are supreme. If you are not, you are less than," says one light-skinned Latino with green eyes. "That's why I think it's important for Latinos who look like me to say, 'you identify as Latino, cool, colombiano, cool, whatever else, but you benefit from light-skin privilege … understand what that means."
As the New York Times reports, the ways in which Latinos identify are wide-ranging. For some, it’s a big question mark, and for others it’s definitely about race or absolutely on politics. For one woman, however, it’s “phenomenal.”
"In you is everything. Being Latino, in an American kind of New World way, is basically a physical embodiment of how America began as we know it," says journalist and filmmaker Raquel Cepeda. "You're every woman. So, for me, being Latino is being phenomenal."
Watch this necessary discussion on race above.