Race In DFW: Who Is Latino?

Hispanic in DFW means more than Mexican-Americans

Eva Longoria.. Enchiladas.. English as a second language.  If you think those things define what it means to be Latino in Dallas/Fort Worth, think again.

Hispanics in DFW represent a variety of cultures in skin tones.

One example is Cuban-American Beverly Cardenas, who was born and raised in Dallas.  From childhood Halloween and birthday parties to working in real estate, Beverly had an all-American upbringing.  But her dark skin complexion and Cuban roots sometimes confuse people.

"When I was young, people would always ask 'why are you trying to be Mexican?," said Cardenas. "I was like, 'I am not trying to be Mexican. I am Cuban!"

"Latinos come in every spectrum," she said. "I've seen people that look Asian and they're Cuban. I've got an uncle with red hair and freckles and he's Cuban."

Antonio Sanchez may also not fit the "typical" Latino look in DFW.  The California native is Mexican-American.  He reports for Telemundo 39, the Spanish language partner of NBCDFW.

"People usually ask me if I'm other than Mexican," said Sanchez.  "Never do they guess [I'm Mexican] because I'm fair skinned."

Sanchez's appearance even catches some Latinos off-guard.

"When people don't know your name they just call you by your skin color," he said. "In this case, usually refers to the fair skin. They call them gueros."

According to DFW International Community Alliance, more than a million Hispanics in North Texas are foreign born or the children of immigrants:

Mexico: 1 million

El Salvador: 100,000

Colombia: 25,000

Guatemala: 11,000

Honduras: 10,000

And 22,000 North Texans were born in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, like attorney Baltazar Cruz, who moved to Dallas 20 years ago.

"I think there's an assumption that most Hispanics are Mexican-American or Mexican," Cruz said. "I've met Spanish people from Spain and people from all over South America."

Aldo Quevedo is part of Dieste, a Dallas advertising agency that helps companies reach the Hispanic market.

"I think Dallas has become very sophisticated in the mindset of the Latinos," Quevedo said. "I think one of the mistakes is to think Mexicans are all about soccer, hot spicy food and Mariachis."

Dieste works with companies to make sure advertising focuses on lifestyle. For example, studies show Latinos use smart phones and Social Media at higher rates than other ethnic groups.  And sometimes, English is the best way to reach Latinos, not Spanish.

"In order to connect with somebody, you need to know what that person likes," Quevedo said.

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