Incase any of my Lapsed Catholic readers out there have been under a rock and haven't heard, there's a new Pope. Did you know he's from South America? By the way, he's Latino...or is he?
I happened upon this opinion piece today about the relevancy of debating if Pope Francis, born and raised in Argentina from Italian immigrants, should be claimed as Latino or not. In a way it's kinda like Chapelle's Racial Draft skit playing out in real life.
Are you Latino and would be proud to claim the new Pope as one of yours? Then regardless of where his family originated from, he was born and raised in Argentina so feel free to call him a Latino.
Latino and opposed to the Catholic Church for any-number-of-reasons-that-are-irrelevant-to-this-particular-discussion? Well then regardless of where he was raised his family came from Italy so have no guilt when you don't acknowledge him as being fully Latino.
The article itself looks at this from an American point of view, specifically about why "American society is so obsessed with the need to categorize people into ethnic groups". I don't know if this is an entirely American thing, but I do know that as someone who grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood here in Chicago it wasn't uncommon to try and find someone to look up to that was "like us".
For myself I think it's got something to do with finding and ultimately defining what your identity is. Coming from an immigrant family in a neighborhood full of other immigrant families, I know that I thought through different priority orders (Am I Filipino first, then American? American first? Chicagoan?) at different times growing up. Whatever priority order I happened to be in at the time guided who I sought out as influences or role models.
In a lot of ways it's never stopped, except that now it's not so much about me. These days I look at it from the perspective of how my views influence how my kids end up defining themselves.