Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hispanics and the Census

Article: More Hispanics tell Census Bureau they're 'white'

Hispanic or white?
Over the past 10 years, a growing number of Hispanics have changed their race and origin to “white,” according to top Census officials.

While whites, blacks and Asians generally kept their status between the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census review of the population, Hispanics, especially among younger immigrants, were quicker to change.


In a working paper titled “America’s Changing Races: Race and Ethic Response Changes between Census 2000 and the 2010 Census,” the authors found that at 9.7 million Hispanics changed their racial and origin status.

Of those, 2.3 million changed from “Hispanic-some other race” to “Hispanic white,” and 417,855 just declared themselves “white.”
Thought experiment: What if, 100 years ago, Italian immigrants were offered the choice of being "Italian" or being "white" or being "Italian white?"

To us, today, this seems absurd. Like "Hispanic," "Italian" is not a race, it is an ethnic group. It is an ethnic group that has so integrated into American life as to be almost invisible.

"Hispanic" is an interesting term. Generally, it refers to people whose ancestry traces to either Spain or Portugal. It would include many (not all) of the inhabitants of South America, Central America, the American Southwest, the Philippines, and the Caribbean. However, it is not universally popular, and many "Hispanics" object to the label.

People of Mexican descent, whose ancestors lived in the American Southwest, prefer "Chicano." Americans of Cuban ancestry (or immigrants) prefer "Cuban-American."
New immigrants sometimes undergo a transformation of their self-identified race as they come to understand, and perhaps accept, how the American public sees them.
As in the example above for "Italian whites," perhaps Hispanics are in the process of accepting being simply American like the Italians have.

I have read several articles recently discussing a proportional lack of identified Hispanics in movies and TV. One of the articles lamented the absence of outraged offense among Hispanics. But if Hispanics are viewing themselves as American, or white, this may not be a problem. It may be a success.

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