I come from a Latin American country, Venezuela. Down there, we all speak spanish as well as most of the Latin American countries for the exception of Brazil which is a portuguese speaking country. We have our sayings and our "slang". There is one word that is known by every Spanish speaking country that is often misunderstood by the American community. This word is gringo. If you just felt offended by that, you must keep reading this article.
As stated before, the word "gringo" is often misunderstood by people from the States. It is NOT an insult, hear me out, NOT an insult. It is just a way to refer to people from the United States, just the same way you call us Latinos. Latinos is not an insult, its an identity. The word actually has many stories about how it came to be, but the most credible one is that the word was actually born in Spain, and it means "foreigner", or someone who does not speak Spanish. It has a neutral connotation to it. It is true that some people use it as an insult, but most don't.
At this point you may be asking yourself, why do you need to call me gringo? Why don't you just call me American? Here is where the embarrassing part comes. Honestly, we don't call you Americans because it hurts us a little. A lot. We are taught in school that America is the whole continent (for you what the three Americas are: North, Central, and South). For us there is no distinction between them, I mean we also differentiate north from central from south but we still consider them all from one big America. So we are American as well, in theory. People from the United States use the term American to refer only those from the States. In the rest of the continent, people use the term American to refer to anyone from the whole continent. I know it sounds repetitive, but you understand what I mean? Spanish speakers from Latina America use the alternate word gringo to differentiate those from the United States from the rest of the continent.
It sounds complicated, but it isn't. The point is that it is NOT an insult, most of the time the word is just used to point out that a person is from the United States, its like saying I'm Venezuelan, or that other person is Canadian. Also, saying "United Statedian" is extremely long and that word does not exist. "Gringo" is a short way of saying it, and regardless where the word came from or how some people use it, it is important to point out that a good 90% of people don't use it as a negative non racial term.
So, if you ever hear someone call you a gringo and you see that there is no malice in their eyes, don't feel offended. For them, it is probably normal to call you that and they never thought it was considered an insult in the States. If you still don't feel comfortable with the term, tell them. They will understand and call you something else. Don't take it personally and don't feel bad. I feel it is important to say this to the world, because conflict can start from the most minimal thing, and if I have the power to possibly stop one from starting, I must do it.
On another note, I want to apologize in the name of the Latino community to those who ever felt offended by this term, I hope now you understand what we meant.
If you have any comments please feel free to post them, I want to know what YOU think about this!