Saturday, January 14, 2012

For Many Latinos, Racial Identity is More Culture than Color

From the New York Times, an interesting exploration of race versus ethnicity versus culture among Latinos:
Every decade, the Census Bureau spends billions of dollars and deploys hundreds of thousands of workers to get an accurate portrait of the American population. Among the questions on the census form is one about race, with 15 choices, including “some other race.”

More than 18 million Latinos checked this “other” box in the 2010 census, up from 14.9 million in 2000. It was an indicator of the sharp disconnect between how Latinos view themselves and how the government wants to count them. Many Latinos argue that the country’s race categories — indeed, the government’s very conception of identity — do not fit them.
The main reason for the split is that the census categorizes people by race, which typically refers to a set of common physical traits. But Latinos, as a group in this country, tend to identify themselves more by their ethnicity, meaning a shared set of cultural traits, like language or customs.


Anonymous said...

malinda - don't know any other way to send this to you… curious… what do you think of this woman getting her child back?

oneinchofgrace said...

Interesting - I don't think most of us (caucasians) differentiate between race and ethnicity.

Anonymous said...

You did not take into account that there are a LOT of illegal Latinos/hispanics in the US. Cubans as well as Guatemalans, and Mexicans, just to name a few. Most likely, Latinos account for most of the illegal immigrants in all of the US. I know in California, we are overpopulated with people crossing the boarder illegally, and even though they can receive free health care, and many of them have children born in the US so their children are legally here, they might possibly put "other" to detract that they are here illegally. I don't really know's not likely they'll be deported (even if they commit crimes) once they're here, and most of them seem to know that.

marie said...

To Anonymous- Cubans are not here illegally. They came and come as political exiles.

Remember many parts of the US was once part of Mexico. So many Mexicans are living in parts of the SW that they have always lived in.

The reason that many Latinos jot down "other" is because being Latino is NOT a race. It is racist to categorize Spanish-speaking people into one group.
Latinos come from many parts of the world that came to Central and South America and parts of the Caribbean, their ancestry can be traced to European countries, Indigenous peoples of Central and South America, Africa and/or Asia.

It is a VERY scary thought that some people might see some of our adopted children as teens/adults from Latin/South America and automatically think they are illegals.

Many Latinos have been born in the US, as have many of their ancestors, going back 5 generations. When will we just be known as...Americans?

Anonymous said...

"Remember many parts of the US was once part of Mexico. So many Mexicans are living in parts of the SW that they have always lived in".

OK, and I used to own an MG Midget. I sold it. But hey, since I used to own it, I guess my son now has squatters rights to it?

Just because part of the US USED TO BE MEXICO, does not mean it IS MEXICO now. And if anyone is going to squat in the US, shouldnt it be someone from, ohhh I dont know, 5 or 6 generations ago, when they lost that part of the US to something commonly referred to in ANY COUNTRY as a war over land rights? You and I both know, they are coming over illegally, and crossing an obvious border, regardless of how you want to define it.

I'm not saying ALL Latinos are ILLEGALLY here or that all Mexican Americans are illegally here. That would be foolish and unfounded. I am saying PERHAPS that is why some choose "other".
In fact, there are a few questions to ease the minds of many. One question is "are you hispanic" and another is "are you Latino". and yet another is "are you spanish origin? THEN it asks "What is your race?"
I don't assume people are here illegally based on the color of their skin, but I'm certainly not going to turn a blind eye to the fact that it happens either.