The other day, I was walking home from class and caught a glimpse of a couple arguing. The man had apparently made a comment which had enticed the female to reply "you are such a racist." That comment remained in my mind as I pondered the dispute. As much as I hate eavesdropping, I could not help but overhear the gentleman respond "you should tell that Mexican, Jose, that he needs to come and mow my lawn." Being Costa Rican myself, and due to the fact that many people consider anything south of Texas to be Mexico, I understood this very common stereotype. However, I wondered if the remark made by this gentleman was indeed a racial slur or merely a stereotypical depiction of a culture. .
The point that I am trying to get across is that there is a distinct difference between race and culture. No matter how many times you here a Mexican say "la raza" that terminology is incorrect. Mexican is not a race, it is a culture. I define culture to be a group of people with similar habits or ideology. All races depend on culture, but not all cultures depend on race. Let us take the previous example, for instance. The gentleman made the assumption that all Mexicans mow lawns. This is a cultural stereotype. Although there are many prominent upper class Mexican people in our nation, lawn mowing is an activity with which people born in Mexico are associated by many ignorant people. A racial slur would be a derogatory term directed towards a group of people independent from their origin of birth such as African or Hispanic Americans.
Now that I have cleared up the confusing differences between culture and race, I wish to go a little further by describing my specific feelings towards culture. As I stated before, I believe that a culture is a group of people with similar characteristics regarding faith, language, morals, political ideology, lifestyles, etc. The size of the group has no significance.