The better question ought to be: Is Dulce Candy Mexican-American enough? Which the answer to this would be an absolute “yes”. Why is this the better question to ask? Dulce Candy emigrated to the United States at the age of 5 or 6 depending where you read; she’s essentially grown up in the United States all her life. So though her nationality may be Mexican, culturally she’s a mix of American and Mexican culture. Her less than perfect Spanish as well as rejection from some in the Latino/Mexican community for said lack of fluent Spanish is proof of how cultural duality shapes Latinos and how the rigid perception of what is considered Latino enough, which seems to exclude this duality sans español or limited español, causes division and isolation within our community-something that should not be because in unity and tolerance lies our strength.
About two weeks ago Dulce Candy was shamed by some of her fan base (which consists of a majority of Latinos) for not only not speaking Spanish in a Spanish TV network interview but perfect Spanish and accused of not being Latino enough. So intense was the reaction that I was motivated to return to blogging and talk about what constitutes being Latino enough and how the term Latino has evolved and will continue to evolve.
The term Latino has evolved to mean more than just speaking fluent Spanish only people’s perception, even Latinos’, of what it means to be Latino hasn’t and neither has the percepton of brands, mainstream media, Hollywood, etc. In 2016 being Latino has come to mean many things. Considering that about 64% of Latinos are born in the United States being Latino means or should mean what ever you want it to mean. But the constant that never changes is that being Hispano-Americano essentially means how well you integrated American and Latino culture into your sphere of life and how much Spanish this equation has is completely up to the individual. Sometimes this equation includes perfect Spanish, less than perfect Spanish, broken Spanish, or no Spanish. The degree of fluency in Spanish should not make a Latino any less Latino. Simply speaking Spanish isn’t the sole determinant of how Latino one is if that were so then anyone could be considered Latino by virtue of solely speaking Spanish! Being Latino is a matter of growing up in the culture and yes, language is a big part of any culture, but I can understand how living in two cultures where one lives a majority of the time in an English speaking sphere may cause one to forget some or even all of Spanish. It is only by conscious effort, of placing importance into all cultural aspects of Latino culture, that a Latino comes to dominate both Spanish and English and establishes common ground with people of both worlds. This is where Dulce Candy’s criticism stems from since her lack of Spanish fluency implicitly means that she maybe didn’t place enough importance in maintaining such a massively important cultural aspect that is the common thread that links all Latinos from all countries and all generations. Language very much keeps a culture alive from generation to generation and in Dulce Candy choosing not to maintain her Spanish fluency a huge part of her culture ceases to exist.
Going back to the original question: Is Dulce Candy Mexican enough? No, because being Mexican not only is achieved through nationality but embracing all aspects of its culture, which includes the Spanish language, and since Dulce Candy doesn’t speak fluent Spanish this disqualifies her from being labeled as pure Mexican. Is Dulce Candy Mexican-American enough? Yes, because her lack of fluent linguistic ability and cultural duality is what constitutes being Mexican-American or Latino-American in the United States in 2016.
Who Is Dulce Candy?
Dulce Candy Ruiz (née Tejada) is a Mexican-American U.S. Army veteran turned Youtube beauty/fashion blogger born in Mexico that illegally immigrated to the United States at the age of 6 with her family.
Why Should We Care About Dulce Candy?
Dulce Candy represents a microcosm of something that is happening among Latinos that no one in mainstream media is talking about but should: What does it mean to be Latino? What makes a Latino Latino enough? Is Spanish the only thing that qualifies Latinos as being Latino or is it a combination of other cultural aspects?
Dialogue about this subject should be encouraged in mainstream media to foster tolerance and empaty both among Latinos and non-Latinos.
So, in Dulce Candy’s infamous 29 minute video titled “When People Say I’m Not Mexican Enough…” she opens Pandora’s box to an avalanche of critiscm by judging all her fan base for judging her despite only a small handful of viewers writing snarky comments on her Instagram page questioning her Latino-ness. Was it a good idea to judge her fan base who essentially got her to where she is now? Not really. Was initiating dialogue about what it means to be a U.S. born Latino something that needed to be addressed? Sí. Did Dulce Candy do a good job at addressing said critiscm? Not really but I commend the effort as it was brave to place herself in such a vulnerable position.
In your video you asked your viewers to help you understand why you aren’t “worthy enough” to represent our community because of your level of Spanish. Well, this letter is to help you understand just that.
Do I think you are “worthy enough” to represent our Latino community? No. But I think you are worthy of representing the growing segment of Mexican-Americans segment or Latino cohort that are English dominant which is about 24% of the Latino population. It seems that you are fine with the fact you do not speak fluent Spanish and so am I but your inability to actually do something about improving your Spanish skills isolates you from a sizeable portion of the Latino segment. Sure, you can say that some of your fan base has rejected you because you refuse to engage them in Spanish but you have built a barrier between you and them; your desire not to simply polish up your Spanish is what isolates you.
Do I think your fan base has the right to be snarky? No. But you have to see underneath the surface of what they are saying. In accusing your fan base of insecurity, telling them that if they have “nothing nice to say to not say it”, and thinking that they can’t handle how much you love yourself you miss the true problem. The true problem beneath the snarkiness and immaturity is simply frustration and disappointment from your subscribers. Here you are on your perch of priviledge able to give Latinos a voice but chose only “represent yourself” despite Latinos getting to you where you are. You don’t even want to look into yourself and question if speaking Spanish is actually something you should do to further and better serve your commuity that is so vastly underserved-this is why you receive such hard criticism. Underneath this avalanche of criticism is a call from our community to engage and empower us in the language we feel most comfortable be it Spanish or Enlgish.
The mark of a mature person considers the opposite point of view in this case your subscriber’s point of view. It’s not only that you choose not to speak Spanish but the fact that you were born in Mexico, embark on the same dangerous journey to the United States as millions of other Latinos, speak Spanish for probably a good part of your childhood, have parents that most likely only speak Spanish or limited English then you suddenly forget how to speak fluent Spanish? I mean, what?? So many people have come under similar or identical circumstances as yours and have are bilingual which makes it even more difficult to believe but alas you owe no explanation to anyone.
You say that we have to break that box that people have placed all Latinos in that says we all have to speak Spanish and all have to behave a certain way; you are right, we should. However, though what it means to be Latino has evolved and will continue to evolve at this present time it is vastly important to be bilingual if you want to make any inroads with our community. So while it’s your prerogative to break that box in not speaking Spanish it’s very much our community’s prerogative to accept or reject you based on your willingness to engage all of us and how you make that a priority which by this video you don’t and that’s ok becuase other Latinos will come to engage us in the language we feel most comfortable in, serve our needs, and realize that being bilingnual is asset.
You say “we need to come together to support each other” as a community instead of tearing each other down-you’re right again. Latinos shouldn’t be so hard on you and accept that not speaking Spanish doesn’t make you any less Mexican…-American. But again, for the present it is critical for Latinos in places of influence to be bilingual. You fail to understand that in order for you to support your community in 2016 you have to speak the languge of those you are trying to help because this enables you to become infintely more relateable, approachable, and brings you down to our level. Supporting each other as a community is a matter of communication at a fundamental level. Being bilingual and speaking Spanish improves your communication skills which enables you to be more effective and serve our community better; it’s a matter of serving not just the 24% of Latinos who are English dominant but the 76% of Latinos who are Spanish dominant or bilingual.
And Dulce, you say you’ve always been a dreamer. You’ve always imagined yourself being successful, a boss, “powerful, like a boss woman”. Well for you to reach such dizzy heights you should make polishing up your Spanish a priority empezando ahora mismo. ¿Por qué ?Consider the following stats below:
•95% of Hispanics believe it is very important (75%) or somewhat important (20%) for future generations of Hispanics in the U.S. to be able to speak Spanish.¹
•The Latino population is projected to be 119 million or 28.6% of the toal U.S. population by 2060.²
•Presently, 76% of all Latinos in the United States are either Spanish dominant or bilingual while the cohort with Latinos like you who are English dominant is only 24%.³
•Current Latino purchasing power is $1.5 trillion and expected to increase to $1.7 trillion by 2019.⁴
You can find comfort in the fact that 71% of Hispanics think that not speaking Spanish doesn’t make you less Latino which highlights how the Latino identity has evolved to mean something more than language to something more complex and nuanced.⁵
But judging by the stats above Latinos deem preserving our culture from generation to generation important and Spanish is part of our culture. Being bilingual Dulce is a ma$$ive a$$et for those who want to be bo$$ women such as yourself. Speaking Spanish not only opens doors of opportunity domestically but abroad as well as español is the second most spoken languge IN THE WORLD after Chinese Mandarin, the official language in 21 countries, and after Mexico, the United States is home to the most Spanish speakers in the world. So, if you want to be “powerful, like a boss woman” the future of the United States is a Latino one, one that will be written in English y español por nuestra gente, and our dollars and people will determine who is the boss.
Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Understand Dulce that Spanish isn’t simply a matter of just an exchange between you and our community by which both communicate to simply understand what is being said; it’s about connecting.
Connect with only 24% of Latinos or 100%, the choice is yours.