Not all Latinos are Hispanic

“People often state that Portuguese and Spanish are similar languages, ignoring the clear differences in the alphabet, syntax, and vocabulary between the two.”

The generic way of describing a Latino would be to say they are “Hispanic.” However, that does not apply to all cultures. More specifically, Brazilians in our community are Latinos, not Hispanics, but sometimes we are not represented that way. People tend to ignore the fact that most Brazilians do not speak Spanish, which differentiates them from Hispanics. Unlike other countries in Central and South America, Brazil is the only nation that was colonized by Portugal. Therefore, Brazilians speak Portuguese, though with a very distinct dialect. 

Brazilians growing up in America are viewed differently. Depending on which community you ask, whether it be Black, Asian, or Hispanic, most of the time their first impression of a Brazilian would be phrases such as, “oh you’re Hispanic” or “oh you’re white.” What is important to recognize, however, is that Brazil is diverse, encompassing a myriad of cultures from Africa, Asia, and Europe, which has contributed to its unique culture. For example, while popular dances in Hispanic cultures include the Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata, we have the Samba, Capoeira, and Forro.

Another aspect to understand is that whenever Brazilians have interactions with Hispanics, the language barrier is very difficult. People often state that Portuguese and Spanish are similar languages, ignoring the clear differences in the alphabet, syntax, and vocabulary between the two. However, of course, anyone is capable of learning and understanding a new language, whether it be Spanish or Portuguese, as long as they put in the effort. 

Misrepresentation is also often seen in the entertainment industry. Actress Camila Mendes stresses the importance of greater Brazilian representation, saying, “…this idea of a Latina that a lot of people expected me to be. Being Brazilian is nuanced and it’s, like, we’re, not even Spanish speakers, so like a lot of the times they want Latinos that can speak Spanish, and I’m like, I speak Spanish-ish, but not fluently…there are no Brazilian characters, no Brazilian roles.” 

This can also be seen through music. Oftentimes, when a Brazilian song becomes successful, popular Hispanic artists tend to make a Spanish version of the song and do not give credit to the original. For instance, a popular song released by Colombian singer Maluma five years ago called “Corazón” was originally a song produced in Portuguese a year prior by Brazilian artist Nego do Borel called “Você Partiu Meu Coração.” Although Nego do Borel was featured in Maluma’s rendition, it is still disheartening to see another aspect of Brazilian culture shafted away by the media for it to only be rebranded as something foreign from the original. 

Overall, it is integral to recognize these unique differences between Hispanics and Latinos. This way, we can pave the way for greater representation, recognition, and understanding.