Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education hosted a Mexico-centrism keynote speaker event earlier this month showing how unrecognized Central America is in Southern California.
“The Mexican culture is the center of the latinx experience,” Salvadorian Emily Loreen graduate assistant at the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education and Office of Student Life and Cultural Center said. “It is like Mexican imagery, art and culture is centered and visible.”
Out of 51.9 million Latinos in the United States, about 34 million Latinos are from Mexico, making up 65 percent of the Latino population according to the Pew Research Center tabulations of the 2011 American Community Survey, which defines Latino in general as Mexican.
The underrepresentation of the Central American and Caribbean cultures creates the word Mexico-centrism, which is believed to have originate about 10 years ago.
The term also known as ethnic-centrism is used to identify the dominant Mexican cultural practices in Southern California, caused by the sheer amount of Mexicans who reside in Southern California.
Third-year cultural anthropology student Audrey Covarrubias’ parents originate from Mexico, and she expressed how she never realized Mexico-centrism existed because she never experienced at a personal level since she is part of the majority in the Latino community.
“I never noticed how centralized Mexican culture was in California,” Covarrubias said.
“There is a clear Mexican homogeneity that suppresses cultures that do not identify as Mexicans.”
Also, the speaker at the event, Loreen, spoke upon the domination of the Mexican culture in the Latino history.
The history usually circle back to the Mexican culture and how their history is the dominant information many people of other ethnic backgrounds learn about, not realizing it does not represent all of the Latino communities.
According to the survey, all other Latino population is a total of 8.1 million, making up 16 percent of the Latino population in the United States.
With the low percentage of the other Latino communities in the Latino population, the cultural cuisines that represent each country, the music and dances are quickly assumed to be part of the majority Latino population, Mexican.
“Especially with the food, because everyone assumes that all Latin food is Mexican food and vice versa. Not all Mexican food is Latin food, but it’s still all included into one,” third-year anthropology student Candace Martinez said.
“Also music reiterates the domination because a lot of times all music is labeled under Mexican and automatically makes everything Latin.”
The most well-known Independence celebration is not only known by Latinos, but by people of other ethnic backgrounds. It is Cinco de Mayo, May 5, which isolates the independence days of other countries.
Loreen said the domination tests people’s geographic knowledge because many believe countries within Central America are countries within Mexico.
The lack of recognition demonstrate how unnoticed the domination goes and advices for people to educate themselves by starting off with twitter handles, reading on central American history and reading through conversations between Central Americans talking about issues affecting those communities.
“I want people to continue to challenge yourself on confronting Mexico-centric practices and attitudes, so if you an image that is not representative of the latinxs we can talk about it and see how we can fix it and make it more inclusive,” Loreen said.
“I want people to start questioning a lot of the art, culture history and seeing who’s its including and who’s its excluding because latinx culture is so much more than Mexican culture.”
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