Changes In Hispanic & Latino Identity

The identity views of Hispanic and Latino communities in America are changing, but that as such is nothing new. It’s been going on decades. Some fifty years ago, the term ‘Hispanic’ was merely used in government statistics for identifying groups of people of Cuban, Puerto Rico, Mexican, or some other Latin American ancestry. This post is about the changes in Hispanic & Latino identity.

But whereas some Hispanics are considering their background to be of one race, they increasingly would prefer to be identified with a specific nationality, for example, Cuban, Dominican, or Mexican.

Today we see that both the terms Hispanic and Latino are commonly and widely used. The Washington D.C.-based Pew Research Center has conducted studies that indicate that most Hispanics would prefer if they were identified in terms of their original nationality instead of than pan-ethnic monikers (Latino, Hispanic, or even American).

It hasn’t always been like this, though. American social attitudes have strongly affected how Hispanics view their identity. Things like intermarriage, diversity, and major demographic trends like the recent wave of immigration from Mexico, have had their effect on how they sense their identity. Statistics count, whether for journalism or in general.

I’ll give you an example: these days, young Latinos are told by their parents to be ‘proud of their Hispanic identity’ and to speak Spanish wherever they can, whereas Hispanics who came here or were raised here in the ’50s and ’60s emphasized to speak English and be as American as possible. In those days they wanted to adapt, now they more want to emphasize their Hispanic identity.

On the other hand, nowadays 1 in 4 Latino newlyweds are marrying a non-Latino person, only to be surpassed by Asians who are marrying out at an even higher rate. And from all Latino newborns living with their parents, almost 30% are having a non-Latino parent. These current trends may have an effect on how Hispanics view and call themselves in future times, if they already consider themselves being Hispanic at all and this also shows in Anglo-Hispanic bilingual reporting nowadays.

There are more than two million Americans who are saying that they’re not Hispanic, though they are indicating ancestry roots in a Spanish-speaking region. Probably they belong to that demographic of children and grandchildren of couples that include a non-Hispanic and a Hispanic parent.

But there are more changes taking place these days. In America, immigration no longer is the thriving force behind the growth of Hispanic communities. Today, the growth of the Hispanic populace is caused by American births. This drives down the number of U.S. citizens of Hispanics ancestry were was born outside America.

Today we see that just slightly over 35% of Hispanics are immigrants, and this affects the Hispanic identity as well. The Pew Research Center surveys are clearly showing that among 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics, far smaller shares are identifying themselves by the home country of their ancestors, and the probability that they’ll speak Spanish is also fading with each new generation that’s born in the U.S. Read also this post about Miami and its Hispanic population.

The U.S. Census Bureau is currently not regarding Hispanic to be a specific race, the term is rather used to identify ethnicity. However, recently published Pew Research Center studies demonstrate that more than 60% of all U.S. Hispanics feel that their Hispanic roots may be identified at least as partially racial. Over the past decades, we have seen the Hispanic identity change considerably, and as the number of inter-ethnic and inter-racial will only increase, there is a chance that in the future, the terms ‘Latino’ and ‘Hispanic’ will be used less frequently.