I've always wondered which label is correct, and lately I've decided that I truly don't identify with any of those. I have taken several classes about race that have led me to believe that I simply don't see myself under any of those categories. The word "Hispanic" derives from a Spanish-speaking country and thus identifies a person as a Spanish-speaker. It also has ties back to Spain. To me, this label has an oppressive connotation to it. Historically, the Spanish oppressed the indigenous people in Mexico, and somehow the term of Spain and what it owns got tacked on Mexicans. The word Latina/o also has similar backgrounds. Originally, the term was "Latinoamericana/o" which gave credit to the Latin (as in Rome) roots, but it also accredits the indigenous with the term "Americana/o". Lately, the word "Americana/o" has been dropped and shortened to "Latino/a". Personally, I don't like that the part of the word that gave credit to the indigenous is no longer used. I'm proud of that part of my background. Honestly, I don't identify with any Spanish roots even though I know that historically someone in my family way way back had to have been Spanish. As far as I know, though, my parents are Mexican and their parents were Mexican and their parents were Mexican and so on. I don't know any family members that are actually from Spain. Because of this, I don't feel comfortable calling myself Hispanic or Latina. I guess if I put this all into perspective, Chicana should be the word that fits me best, but even so, I feel weird using it to describe me, just because I associate it with the social movement in California, even though that is not exactly accurate.
I think race and ethnicity are weird to define. To me, it doesn't make sense that Black and White are races, but there is no such thing as a "Brown" race. Why is it that the American census has a category as "Black" and another as "Native Hawaiian"? If "Native Hawaiian" is a thing, why isn't "Native Texan" one, too? Dr. Hinojosa, my Mexican-American History professor, likes to say that race is a myth, and I totally agree. There are so many definitions of race and I think that the only reality of race is the existence of racism. I don't think there are certain races that can be defined; you are who you want to be, but we definitely experience racism according to how other people see us.
I see myself as Mexican-American. That label is the closest one to what I see myself as. I'm a proud American and I am very proud of being Mexican, too. Sure, this is a nationality, but to me, it describes my "race" perfectly. By describing myself as Mexican-American I am acknowledging both countries that make me who I am. I am not Hispanic and part of Spain. I am very much a part of the Mexico and United States of today.