Hyphen

Like many in the United States I identify as Latino. Yet, if we put slight pressure on this identity category, it falls short. I’m Mexican-American, Guatemalan-American, and Irish-American. I’m GuaMex-Irish U.S. American. I’m of the hyphen. I create the hyphen. I activate the hyphen—a hyphen that signals how Latinas/os actively and constantly transform U.S. American identity categories themselves.

Millions of Latinas/os in the United States are the product of multiple cultural identity categories (Allatson 2002; Caminero-Santangelo 2013). Whether one identifies as Latina/o, Hispana/o, Chicana/o, Nuyorican, Cubana/o, Juban (Jewish Cuban-American), and so on, one way or another Latinas/os inhabit in-between identity spaces. We inhabit the hyphen as Mexican-Americans, Dominican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and as Central American-Americans,  to use Arturo Arias’s (2003) term. And these hyphens splinter and multiply: Porto-Mexes, Cubo-Bolivians, Mex-Pakistanis, Black-Latinos, Luso-Latinos, among others. Each has a seeming infinite number of further variations. Each has its own history as a term. Mexican-Americans …

This essay may be found on page 89 of the printed volume.

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