As a young Hispanic girl in the United States, “the single story” of Hispanic Americans was a fallacious identity I was constantly running away from. To countless others, these cultural monoliths affect their perception of the world, impeding their ability to meet new people with an open mind.
What is a “single story”?
Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie came up with a term to describe the widely accepted, over-simplified narratives concerning certain cultures. Groups are typically reduced to their negative stereotypes, giving justification for discrimination and prejudice. Adichie says that “The problem with stereotypes is not that they aren’t true, but that they are incomplete.”
There’s an incomplete story out in the world about me, too.
According to almost every American news outlet, we Hispanic Americans are uneducated. From Mexico. Scammers. Non-tax payers.
We eat the same food, dance to the same provocative music, and speak the same form of ridiculously fast Spanish.
I have been told I meet all these requirements by people who do not even take the time to learn my name.
But, I understand. I understand how ingrained a stereotype can become, and how difficult it is to rid of the prejudices set before you could even think for yourself. I understand how these issues arise, but I also believe it is the mission of our generation to contest these single stories through education. In this article, I hope to do my part by teaching others where my family and 679,000 Hispanic Americans originate from: the charming country of Peru.
Location- Located in the Northwestern region of South America. Bordered by Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile
Capital – Lima
Population- 33,359,416 (as of 2021)
Official Languages – Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara
Popular dishes: Ceviche and Lomo Saltado
Music genres: Criolla (Creole), Andean, Afro-Peruano
Dances: Marinera and Salsa
Plaza de Armas:
A beautiful city square made up of the Government Palace, Municipal Palace, Archbishop palace, the Lima Cathedral, and other public buildings. The Plaza de Armas is best known for it’s delicious street food and busy life at night.
Machu Picchu was built hundreds of years ago by members of the Inca Empire. The ancient citadel stands today and brings many tourists to Peru each year.
I decided to ask my parents what they missed most about their country and they said:
Mami: “The Peruvian Creole culture. The delicious food, the music, the noise, the FUN of Lima. I miss my city. There is no other place like it.”
Papi: “The street food. You could taste the smoke, the carbon, the freshness of it. You could taste the “alegría” (happiness).”
Many American-born citizens are not aware that not all immigrants arrive by crossing the border illegally. In fact, the United States participates in a program that legally grants visas to individuals from countries with low immigration rates, known informally as the Visa Lottery. My parents were able to move to the U.S in 2007 due to this program. Read more about this government program here.
I hope my story challenges the possible flawed narratives you hold and propels you to further learn about the millions of other stories that make up the United States.
We must learn that the only way to grow is to listen and learn from each other.
Learn about the unique challenges faced by Hispanic Americans and other minorities during the height of the pandemic here.