Latino friends are like any others: A response to Alex Levine’s post on Being Latino

First,  much respect to Alex Levine for writing about her feelings.  It takes guts and vulnerability to express yourself and put those thoughts out into the world.  This isn’t meant as a dis or anything combative towards her as a person or writer.  This is just a response.  Maybe that’s the best part of writing, the part that gets people to open up.

So in a post entitled “Latino friends on the gloomiest days“, Levine writes about the responses she received from her Latino friends and her “Anglo” friends when she went through a break up.  Long story short, her Latino friends covered her in sabor and love while her “anglo” friends left her out in the icy nordic cold.

According to Levine, Latinos by nature manifest “genuine, transparent expression of feelings” and all other cultures should try to be more like us.  (which is a statement that under other circumstances I would agree with wholeheartedly.)

Listen, a break up is horrific.  I’d hug you myself if I could but let’s be real.  Would I hug you because it’s intrinsic to my  nurturing Latino blood or would I hug you because I’m Gabby and that’s what I do?  The article is well intentioned and shows that  in her life experience her Latino friends are just nicer than her white friends.  But is it ok to turn a personal tragedy into a Latino versus Whitey love showdown?  Being Latino cannot be the defining factor as to why we/her friends are compassionate.  As if all Latinos are there waiting with a plate of pasteles, some rum and open ears waiting for you to spill all your guts to them.  As if all white friends would rather be watching Friends, drinking milk and ignoring your pleas for emotional help.

To generalize people by race or ethnicity, even if it makes one ethnic group look even more awesome is kind of embarrassing.  Is this where we’re going as a people?  Like is this what Being Latino is? Are these the type of posts that uplift any of us?  It so EASY to say “Oh well you know those unemotional whites, they just don’t get it.” And fine, sometimes that can be true I guess in specific situations, but when you’re talking about your friends, how can you make those simple generalizations?  Maybe the issue isn’t in their race, maybe it’s in how you share yourself with them.

I have friends of all races and when I’ve been dead, down, ready to take my own life even, they were there for me regardless of race or ethnicity.  I have no pie chart to express the ratio between levels of sympathy from one color group to another.  All I know is that my friends kept me alive, the whites, the blacks, the browns and all the other ones in between.

Yes, there are huge cultural differences between us all but remember, you chose your friends.  So, choose wisely and let’s not forget what happens when you make generalizations about an entire group of diverse peoples:


“The people are loving and gentle and fit to be Christians. They are docile and will make good slaves.”
– on Native Americans – Christopher Columbus, April 1493, in Foss, Undreamed Shores 1974: 18.

13 thoughts on “Latino friends are like any others: A response to Alex Levine’s post on Being Latino

  1. As I said before…
    I LOVE it!
    You are dead on miss! I have plenty of white friends who are currently loving me up big time through my whole situation. It’s not an ethnicity thing, it’s a “Do you pick douchebags for friends?” thing.

    If your friends are cold, maybe you should be a little more selective during the befriending process.

  2. LOL@those unemotional whites. Alex Levine has obviously never been to an Irish wake.

    douchebaggery transcends ethnicity. Levine has just been lucky enough not to be cursed with douchebag hispanic friends.

  3. Hmmmm. where to begin??? As usual, Gabby, you are very insightful and beautifully expressive. You brought up great points and I fully agree that: 1) There are wonderful friends to be had from all backgrounds and 2) The author will have to carefully choose her friends.
    However, I also agree with Alex that our culture, for the most part, raises us to be more open with our love and our expression of emotion. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m Latina who was mostly raised in a non-Latin area and I don’t fit what many people identify as a “Latin look” so I’ve had a unique place from which to gain perspective in this arena. Part of what makes the “white” reference off is the fact that society uses “white” for almost everybody (except, ironically, for Latins who come in all colors).
    Latin cultures have long been called “hot-blooded” for good reason. Many of what I prefer to call “Mediterranean cultures” love and hate with a passion. We kiss and hug and say what’s on our minds whether people want to hear it or not. There are plenty of cultures where that is considered distasteful- not all of them are “white”. I’ve met people from different backgrounds who had to get used to me like an acquired taste. Most of them have since been “converted.” HeeHee! 😉
    As for those who are less “open” or “involved” emotionally…they aren’t always what they seem either, some may be more effected than they appear. People who were raised a certain way just have different habits and expectations. As a friend, you can let those people know what you need in that friendship. Some will rise to the occasion and others will not. That may have a little something to do with their place in your heart and your life. I love a lot of different kinds of people (background aside) who I CHOOSE to keep in my life and choose to love with all of their strengths and short-comings. Some of them are great for some things and some great for others. We all learn who to call depending on what we need or want.
    I also noticed that Alex is not Latina, so her observations will obviously be different as well. She has obviously embraced our culture and identified with it and her observations reflect the changes that she is experiencing as a result. That’s one of the most beautiful parts of this great country…we get to be a part of The Melting Pot…we get to experience so many different cultures and people and pick the best from all of it.
    So…I recognize what Alex is referring to while still reserving that it is much less a “White v Latin” thing and much more the recognition of the warmth that she feels within our culture. I would caution her not be insulting to her non-Latin friends, but rather to be open with them about her needs and encourage them to try something new. Because of where I grew up, more than 1/2 of my friends (including my husband) are not Latin and I’ve dug myself into their hearts like a worm. Some fit my needs and I fit there’s…others not so much. She just needs to keep in mind that you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. 😉

    • thank you. and i’d love to know what she thinks about my response. it’s militant in a way but i just like opening up dialogue, not burning people i dont know or anything like that. again thanks for checking it out.

      • Hey! Just got back from a day-long meeting and this was the first thing I saw! Is it odd that I actually agree with you wholeheartedly too? It may seem contradictory, but it’s somehow true. I believe that blanket statements (like the one I made) are never reliable or true; It was definitely meant as a “here’s a weird pattern I’ve noticed in my own experience” and not as a “this is how it is,” though I see now that isn’t necessarily what came across!

        I am so glad you wrote this. Any discussion and dialogue that happens is a good thing, in my opinion, even (especially if) we don’t agree. That forces us to be introspective, so it’s an all around win as far as I’m concerned. I am glad you weren’t offended by my perpsective and I would be heartbroken if you were!

        Again, thank for writing this!!

  4. Hello!
    I stumbled upon this blog while surfing around and first I want to say that I LOVE IT!
    Second, I’d like to comment on the “Hot/cold friends” post.

    Like Tracy, I too am a Latina (Puerto Rican heritage) raised in a non-Latin neighborhood. And I can say that there are emotionally supportive and non-supportive people across all races, ethnicities, cultures and genders. One thing I’ve found to be true however, is that when you are in a crisis, often the people you think are going to be there for you, aren’t and those who you thought were peripheral are the ones who step up to the plate. I’m sure both my abuelas would have had a dicho for that, haha.

    Tracy, I’m a light skinned redhead with a face full of pecas, so I can totally relate. In fact, I wrote a book about it. It’s called “Fish Out Of Agua: My life on neither side of the (subway) tracks,” and it was published last fall. If you like, you can find out more about it here:

    Thanks and I will definitely keep coming back.
    Happy summer!

    • I LOVE it!! Awesome! Just checked out your page and cracked up at the mention of the Puerto Rican Parade! There’s a picture of me there looking distinctly out of place. 😉
      Can’t wait to read your book! Kudos!

  5. i always enjoy reading your editorials and once again, i agree with you. it’s awesome that she loves her latino friends and they love her back, but how is saying that they’re warmer than her white friends beneficial to anyone? not only is that divisive, it gives me the impression that she doesn’t know enough latinos to get a good average. some of my white and black friends have loved me up good during my recent breakup while i was told “it’s none of my business” by a latina friend who i’d previously been able to confide in. people are people. how they handle things has everything to do with where they are in their lives & what the situation is, not race. as always, witty, well written and very interesting. thank you for sharing it, gabby.

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