Sunday, November 27

Latino or Hispanic: What's in a name?

Interesting article. Informative, but not conclusive in any major way. I found it interesting mostly because I have never had an issue with people calling me Latino or Hispanic. Truth is, I think I find it to be a label with which people can grapple with my heritage. I am a US Citizen, and consider myself an American, but the fact remains that I speak Spanish fluently, and my parent's come from Cuba. We live in a culture where this needs to be "tagged" and identified in some sort of way, so if the government wants to call me something, I don't care. As long as it does not infringe or minimize my rights and responsabilities as a citizen, I'm fine. Something to think about.

Here is a little side bar from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists:
LATINO

An umbrella ethnic term describing people in the United States who are either themselves from a Spanish-speaking country or whose ancestors were from a Spanish-speaking country. The U.S. Census Bureau in the 2000 Census applied the terms Latino and Hispanic interchangeably, although Hispanic is a controversial term among some Latinos who view it as a government-imposed label. The term Latino is an ethnic label, not a race of people.

Latino tends to be used more frequently on the West Coast, while Hispanic is more common in the Northeast and Southwest.

HISPANIC

The catch-all ethnic label describing people in the United States who are either themselves from a Spanish-speaking country or whose ancestors were from a Spanish-speaking country. The term Hispanic is controversial among some Latinos who view it as a government-imposed label. The U.S. government created the term and first used it in the 1980 Census to ensure a more accurate count of people in the United States who are of Latin American or Spanish heritage. Because the term strictly applies to those who trace their ancestry to a Spanish-speaking country, the U.S. government does not view individuals from Brazil and Caribbean nations as Hispanics, even though some point out that Brazil and Caribbean nations are geographically located in Latin America. Although Spain is not in Latin America, individuals from Spain are Hispanics, according to the U.S. government. Also, the term Hispanic is an ethnic label, not a race of people.

Source: National Association of Hispanic Journalists
I think this is fine for the purpose of census and administrative issues, but I don't feel it speaks to the issue of identity. I would hope this would be true for other US citizens of Latin American descent.
Lisa Navarrete of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic activist group based in Washington, D.C., said a 2004 poll by the group found the majority of people did not prefer one label over the other.

The labels attempt to unify "a group of people who are not homogeneous, but are connected in very profound ways," she said. "Whether you use Latino or Hispanic, for our purposes, we're referring to exactly the same group of people."

However, regional preferences exist, she said.

"There's places where Latino is the term preferred and you're not well regarded if you don't use that term," she said. "If you're in California, you need to use Latino. If you're in Texas, you use Hispanic."

Fifteen years ago, most people preferred to be identified by their country of origin, but that has changed somewhat as Latino and Hispanic become more widely used, she said.