October 28, 2013

Hispanic or Latino? Many don’t care, except in Texas

Are you Hispanic or Latino? It’s a question Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike have struggled with when deciding what to call the diverse community of 53 million Americans who trace their roots to Latin America or to Spain. Officially, both terms are used by the U.S. federal government to describe this population, and many organizations, including the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, use the terms interchangeably in publications.

However, among Hispanics themselves, many are ambivalent about the two terms. According to a new Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults, half (50%) say they have no preference for either term. But among those who do have a preference, “Hispanic” is preferred over “Latino” by a ratio of about 2-1.

But there’s one striking exception: Texas.

FT_hispanic-latino-texasAmong Hispanic Texans 46% prefer the term Hispanic, while just 8% say they prefer the term “Latino”—roughly a 6-to-1 ratio.

This pattern is different from that of Latinos in other parts of the country. For example, in California, the state with the largest Hispanic population, 30% say they prefer “Hispanic” and 17% say they prefer the term “Latino.” In Florida, results are similar—31% prefer “Hispanic” and 17% prefer “Latino.” The pattern for New York and all other states is nearly the same.

Of course, Latinos also have several other terms at their disposal to describe their identity—and these are often preferred over “Hispanic” or “Latino.” When asked which term they use most often to describe themselves, 54% use Hispanic origin terms such as Mexican, Cuban, or Dominican and 23% say they use the term American. Another 20% say they use the more broad terms, either “Hispanic” or “Latino.”

It turns out this is true of Hispanics in Texas as well: about half (47%) say that they most often use their Hispanic origin term to describe themselves, 30% use the term “American,” and 21% use the pan-ethnic terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” most often to describe their identity.

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Identity

  1. Photo of Mark Hugo Lopez

    is Director of Hispanic Research, Pew Research Center.

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39 Comments

  1. gary1 month ago

    lets be honest, ‘latino’ is just the popular term for anyone spanish speak. I, however, am not ‘latino’ and never will be. My Grandparents are from Guadalahara. I am mexican-American. Latin people have african blood in them-we don’t. that is why you have cubans, puerto ricans, dominican’s who look black but speak fluent spanish. If you look at maps from 1990′s and earlier, you’ll see latin america was cuban, puerto rico, dominican republic. why do hispanics (yea, its hispanic. its a word that brought on because the government wanted one work for spanish speaking people) call them self Latio? two reasons 1. they are more interested in being popular than being accurate 2. many people from mexican american or central american countries are ashamed of their background so they say latino. Its a shame that people have to rewrite history just to be politically correct.

    Reply
  2. Will2 months ago

    FACT: Hispanics are the white Europeans from the Iberian Peninsula. I hate the term Hispanic because it reminds me of the destruction caused by The conquistadores, from the Hispanic peninsula in Europe, in Latin America. . I prefer Latin-American. I am from South America.

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  3. Derek Flores3 months ago

    I think the best situation for someone to call themselves simply “Hispanic” or “Latino” is when their parent’s are of different origins. For example, my mom is originally from Mexico and my dad is originally from Guatemala. When people ask me, what do you consider yourself, I always respond with “Hispanic American”.

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  4. Alex Ybarra4 months ago

    If your a mestzo.I thought you had to me a mix.of spanish and American indian.only.and not any other mex.
    No other. Not Mexican or any other.

    Reply
  5. Andrea5 months ago

    Unfortunately, we did not call ourselves “Hispanic”. Some have used “Hispano” which means ancient Spaniard. “Hispanic” was created by the Nixon administration in July of 1971. This term is race specific and denies the Civil Rights Movement! The question is this term “Hispanic” oppressive? According to book written by Nelson Lane Miranda, “Hispanics in Nevada”, he wrote that Nixon strategically marketed the term “Hispanic” over Chicano. He also attempted to do the same to the African/Black community. Some will argue it does not matter, and it does matter because this is means denying history, or burning books. A perspective that does not allow us to be proud of our green chili’s or our red chilis, beans, and corn enchiladas which are primarily not Spanish. There was another term on the table in 1971, Latinos! Viva Los Latinos! Viva humanity! Paz, amor, entiendo! Andrea Duran-Carpenter, Chican, Latina Activist for the Greater Picture!

    Reply
  6. Wil Ensenat5 months ago

    Thanks for the survey. I am originally from New Orleans, first generation US, parents from Mexico in the early 1900′s Their parents from Spain.
    We usually refer to ourselves as being “Spanish”.
    As a matter of curiousity, why didn’t you include that designation in your survey. Also, if you did, what would be the results for the state of New Mexico where some families trace their ancestries to those of the Spanish Land Grants.

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  7. Tara Childress Lopez Hallmark5 months ago

    I am a native of Texas; my paternal lienage can be traced thru the church and family records illustrating a bloodline inhabiting Texas prior to the United States taking possession. Further traces show relatives in Spain. My maternal lienage is traced to the establishment of the original thirteen colonies via English controlled islands. It is discerning to see Mark Williams type the word fact without citation as his remarks hardly resonate educated credentials. Including his comment of “bastardizing” the language used in America that seems to have evolved over the years by many cultures withstanding the legal and medical based terminology of modern latin.
    It is my opinion that the obsession of strong lines drawn on a map has little to do with the natural evolution of our species but everything to do with the delination of our potential progression or individuals. One may call me what they wish, but address me with respect as I am proud of those that walked before me so I can stand here and share with all of you.

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  8. Mark Williams5 months ago

    This is what happens when the language is bastardized and for the purposes of manipulating people for political reasons. FACT: Hispanics are the white Europeans from the Iberian Peninsula, who spent centuries enslaving and exterminating the brown ancestors of LATINOS. Outside of the United States to call a “Hispanic” a “Latino” will is a massive insult. Rule of thumb in those societies…. Hispanics can own and live in the casa on the hill, Latinos can only clean the toilets in the casa on the hill.

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    1. Mario Giraldo5 months ago

      No, this is what happens when ignorant, racist, sick people like you bastardize your own kind and language for no purpose at all. Thank you though for bringing up the FACT of this matter: discrimination, history blindness, and utter ignorance. Your statement is very offensive and unfounded. It should have been stopped by this publication. But the nature of our democracy allows you and other people to vomit words and actions out to the public, even if they hurt or diminish other people or entire cultures. I am a Latino (prefer Hispanic) who went to Columbia University, own a house in the most expensive neighborhood in town, employ nice white people to do my lawn and my pool maintenance, work in a beautiful office, speak several languages, travel the world, and the most important thing, live in peace with the world, not from the button of the hill or from the top of it, but from the place you would never be able to be: from the soul. Go educate yourself and reshape your thinking for as it is, is very twisted.

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      1. Mario Giraldo5 months ago

        I guess I was not in peace with the world when I wrote this. Your statement is very confusing: I agree with you that there is a great level of discrimination towards South Americans in Europe, especially in Spain, but if you think that Spaniards were killing the “Latinos” ancestors when they came to the Americas, then you are dead wrong. Spaniards were killing the natives, the owners of these lands, raping, violating and then loving them and marrying them. Little by little, a new culture started to flourish and they were not Latinos, nor Hispanics back then in the early 1500’s, 1600’s, and even 1800’s, they were the citizens of the new world with their big schools, big universities, organized societies, and creators of their own fates. History tells me that the name “Latin” to indicate peoples and places started in Paris (France) in 1792, more to honor all those students of the most prestigious education establishments of the time (and now), and the place they lived in, who had to use Latin as the universal language for education purposes (like English is now), not to discriminate against people for their ethnicity. This is what today it is a must visit place in Paris: The Latin Quarter.
        It was in the late 1800’s when the term Latin-Americans was created by the then emperor of Mexico to separate French speakers and English speakers from the rest of the population (white, black, brown, mulato, mestizo) of the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. I can’t understand why the word latin was used, as if French, Italian and other romance languages were not rooted in this primary language. This was the beginning of the discrimination we see today and the sad part of it is that we, the people from South, Central and North America accepted and perpetuated the use of the term as a symbol of a culture. From here, the people from the south of Canada and the United States are Latinos, the people that came from those territories 1 minute ago or 200 years ago, are Latinos. Whether or not the Spaniards like it, my language is Spanish, my ancestors are from Spain, therefore, I am Hispanic, not Latino. I don’t think you have history right but your first point is accepted.

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        1. Rubén Galiani3 months ago

          Ok Mario I am going to tell you how it is buddy about the whole Hispanic and Latino issue and how to properly define things! 1st example if your black African mother immigrated from Africa to England and falls in love with a white Anglo Saxon from England and gets pregnant from him. The child from this union is born with lighter skin, green eyes but has the facial features of a black person then everyone in the world that is not of African decent will regardless of his light skin and colored eyes automatically associate him with being a lighter skinned black man. How this relates to the difference between Hispanic and Latino is let’s say your mother is from Spain and falls in love with somebody who is a direct Aztec decedent from México and they have a child together that child will be known as a mestiso, unless the child is born looking like his mother with his mother’s facial features and skin color the then could call himself Hispanic. This is what I like to call the physical racial ID because you were born this way and no matter what you do you can’t get rid of it so be happy with yourself cause your stuck this way for the rest of your life.

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          1. Mario Giraldo1 month ago

            I wonder what makes you believe that your examples could possibly “define things” related to the question of Latino vs. hispanic. I do not presume to have the answer, neither am I going to level with you in this discussion. I will say that your “physical ratial ID” idea is the basics of the lowest, most outrageous way of discrimination, now used in the United States and other countries in the world. I know who I am, I know what I know, and I don’t need someone like you to “define things” for me. If I need help in defining ideas, I will go to the proper authorities and I will listen to them, and learn. That is what you need to do, as well.

    2. Ari4 weeks ago

      Your statement is offensive to any Latino/Hispanic coming fromt the Caribbean. You have clearly not been to any of these counteirs bc you would otherwise know how diverse these island countries are and that everyone on them is not descended from the Europeans instead we descend from native indians, africans, and the Spanis. And to help you with some history, the natives of those islands were know as Taino Indians so they were the ones being enslaved and killed off. There were no Hispanics until the savage known as Christopher Columbus landed on the DR and immideately started to kill our native men and rape our native women. Get your facts straight buddy. At the end of the day that is what happend in every Spanish speaking country.

      Reply
  9. John6 months ago

    Why are Italians not referred to as Latino when actually all of the “Romance Languages” were spawned out of the Latin “tongue” of Gaul Italy. So with that aspect in mind, perhaps the Italians in the USA should be regarded as a minority group along with the Spanish, Portuguese, French, Greeks, etc.
    Hmm. Perhaps we are upside down with whom is a minority and maybe we can group the minority groups and simply regard them all as citizens. Then maybe we can call all Citizens Americans or US Citizens. Then maybe we could just put all the foolishness and labeling to bed for good. If we can remove prejudice at early ages and in school remove the labels of minority teach everyone to be proud of their ancestry and heritage, perhaps we could start healing and concentrate on the important things like God, Country, Family, Friends and making new friends while helping the less fortunate and making new friends. OMG, its that simple! WOW!

    Reply
  10. smorty6 months ago

    A friend of mine, whose family came from Mexico told me that Hispanic and Latino were offensive to him … the family is from Mexico, therefore he preferred to be referred to as a Mexican.
    Seems as though, in the PC world, people are saying they relate to people as individuals, while grouping them in a generic term to make themselves feel better.

    Reply
    1. Wil Ensenat5 months ago

      Thanks for the survey. I am originally from New Orleans, first generation US, parents from Mexico in the early 1900′s Their parents from Spain.
      We usually refer to ourselves as being “Spanish”.
      As a matter of curiousity, why didn’t you include that designation in your survey. Also, if you did, what would be the results for the state of New Mexico where some families trace their ancestries to those of the Spanish Land Grants.

      Reply
  11. Marta6 months ago

    What are you if your are from Spain? I always struggle with this question in the US since in my own country I am “white” as a race, but I guess here I am Hispanic???. What are we talking about here our race or our country of origin? Very confusing…

    Reply
  12. Ray Dubois6 months ago

    This profiling or not is silly. Since the Latin we know is most associated with the Romans (and Italy), why don’t we consider Italians to be “Latinos” ???????????????????????????

    I don’t see why we call either “latinos” or “Hispanics” as a separate race anyway.

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    1. gary1 month ago

      latino is different from say, mexico. Like i said in personal comment, latino people have african blood in them. most people from mexico, central america or south don’t. look at maps and encyclopedia’s from 1990 or earlier. latin america was like 3 or 4 countries. now, its any spanish speaking county. I am mexican american and i am not ‘latino’ i feel that because education is still not a top priority for Hispanics, latin’s,etc, they are more interested in being pc then in being accurate.

      Reply
  13. Mike Yoder6 months ago

    To me (retired sociologist) Hispanic means of Spanish descent and/or culture, while latino is a bit broader, including Italians and Brazilians, for example. Brazilians (I lived there for three years) are very latino in their culture, but most have no Spanish ancestry.

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    1. John S1 month ago

      These are the same definitions I have for these terms. My family has been in Texas from the Canary Islands on my mom’s side since 1731 and my father’s family is from Galicia Spain 4 generations ago. Still, some want us to call ourselves Mexican which while certainly in no way is offensive it does not describe us. Texas was only part of Mexico for 15 years or so, while it was New Spain for 300. Latino is the broad term for descendants of all of the Latin-tongued areas, and Hispanic simply means of or relating to Spain.

      Reply
  14. Joan in Houston6 months ago

    Ladies and Gentlemen: I am an American of Swedish ancestry. I am commenting because I disfavour the use of hyphenated-American terms. My friend, Michael, is an American of African ancestry. I have known very few Americans who were born in Africa. My friend, Amy, is an American of Chinese ancestry. I think we should think of ourselves as AMERICANS first, and our ancestries are beside the point. My friend, Teresa, is an American of Cuban ancestry. Anthony is an American of Mexican ancestry. My friend, Betty, is an American of Spanish ancestry. FOLKS!!! if we said “American of this-or-that ancestry” then we could also avoid the consternation about Latino versus Hispanic. Joan in Houston

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  15. Gonzalez6 months ago

    I’m so glad I live in Canada, nobody cares about that stuff up here.

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  16. Teresa6 months ago

    Pew must not be asking the right people. Yes, we normally identify with our specific country first (Mexican, Dominican, etc.), but if we have to use a broad descriptor, Latino seems to be the preferred term among those I know in Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Florida, etc., although it seems for those born/raised in the U.S. the preferred term seems to be Hispanic, especially if the family has been here for generations.

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    1. Gonzalez6 months ago

      The “right people”? What do you exactly mean by that?

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      1. smorty6 months ago

        Ones that speak English?

        Reply
  17. Greg6 months ago

    Did the survey differentiate Hi-spanic from Hispanic? ;)

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  18. Carol6 months ago

    Of course, the fact that many Latinos aren’t Hispanic gets overlooked….what would you call a person of Portuguese extraction?

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  19. Mario Giraldo6 months ago

    With all due respect Eusebia, if you study the origins of the term “latino/a” you would not be so proud at what you may find. i wrote this sometime ago:

    Does anybody out there know why we South Americans, Central Americans and Caribbean are called Latinos or Latin Americans? Go back to Mexico’s history when expansionist France under Napoleon III rule, commissioned Ferdinand Maximilian as the first emperor of the Americas, who for political reasons had to separate the French and the Anglo American speakers from the rest of America’s population. It was easy then to put us all under one name “Latino”, alluding to the way Napoleon III started the racial discrimination of his European empire. History also tells us how Maximilian ended and why.
    To me, Colombian by birth and a proud USA citizen by choice, to be called “Latino”, is to be discriminated against. It is to be classified as the group whose language came from Latin origin, but who was supposed to be the minority, the inferior, the oppressed, the slave, the plebeian. I personally like to be called “Hispanic “, should someone wants to put me in an ethnic classification. But, what is wrong with being called South American or Colombian, Brazilian, Argentine, etc? Please read history and don’t call yourself Latino or Latina. By doing that you are complying with the wishes of those who not very long ago started the repugnant racial discrimination we all experience today, not only in “America”, the continent, but all over the world.

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    1. Pearl Cawley6 months ago

      I fully agree with you. The term “Latino” is and sounds degrading. I referred to myself as a Hispanic, until the climate in America changed sometime in the mid 1970s – 1980s. It became suddenly highlighted that Spanish speakers are non white and therefore not as human as whites. I don’t know, my Colombian birth certificate has Caucasian checked off on it. This is a topic that upsets many because, let’s face it, prejudice and bigotry abound in every mind. “Hispanic” has a more benevolent connotation. Still, it is categorical, and therefore negative. Although our Hispanic population has risen to a level that is not actually such a minority, the mentality of many so-called “whites” has diminished thanks to a lack of education and downright bigotry. This mentality stems from ignorance and fear. This need to categorize people, particularly those fromSpanish speaking countries currently has to do with the present Tea Party temperament of the country. It is not done to Italians, Germans, Irish, or Asians of any country. Asian experience their own brand of discrimination, probably worse than Hispanics.

      The seeds of this thinking begins with those who feel their way of life is threatened by anyone who does not have blue eyes or speaks a different language. It also bothers them that many of us are actually quite beautiful than they are. I wonder if these same people are aware of how many in the Arab/Muslim world also have blue and green eyes. I was born in Colombia as well. I came here as a four-year-old toddler with my parents in 1955. We became naturalized American citizens. My mom married an “American.” I was socialized as an American. I’m married to an American, who refers to himself as Irish American. For me, this is the problem. American whites cannot let go of their European roots and identify themselves with hyphenations, yet are ignorant of everything foreign. There is nothing intrinsically bad about alluding to one’s ancestry, however, I believe that if your birth occurred in the USA, you are, first and foremost, an American regardless of what you look like. Ancestry is secondary. Getting away from cultural and religious oppression is what made this country great. the opposite of that is happening now because of religious white supremacist zealots who claim very much about Jesus but understand little about Jesus. A new kind of hatred and oppression never before seen, is in progress in America today. The election of a black president has brought the vermin out of the woodwork.

      One thing white America has to start realizing is how resentful South Americans and Spanish speaking nations feel towards the U.S. and it’s discriminatory policies. I have cousines who resent the personal imperialism. I, a native Colombian, got into an argument with a Colombian girl on Facebook for referring to myself as an American. She said: We South Americans prefer that you who live in the United States call yourselves “Estadounidences” instead of Americanos because everyone who lives in America, North or South, is an American. She’s right. We are all Americans.

      My children were born here and can refer to themselves as having Colombian and Irish roots. Nothing wrong with appreciating Ariquipe or Shepherd’s Pie. Having lived here since childhood, I consider myself more American than Colombian. My Colombian relatives and their South American personalities are completely foreign from mine. What keeps me tied to Colombia is my perfect Spanish. At the time we arrived, Hispanics were not as strongly discriminated against as they are now. My family looks white and perhaps because of that, we did not encounter discrimination. In the 1950s, we may have been a minority, but there was not that stigma attached. New York Hispanics population was mostly Puerto Rican. South America is populated with as many whites as indigenous peoples. Third world imagery categorizes people with olive skin as inferior. Today some white Hispanics are discriminated against just because they can’t speak English. These very same people consider themselves white in South America where a myriad of races exist. The mixes in South America can contend with those of the U.S.

      I think what irks me more about all this categorization, is that Italians, Portugese and French are all Latin-based languages as is Spanish. However the term “latino” suggests a lower quality of sub human, that I just won’t adopt for myself. Dont’ want to be swept by that broom. It’s a matter of sensitivity that those whites born here just don’t understand. This is a long broad topic that meanders into every aspect of human pride.

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      1. Pearl Cawley6 months ago

        The above comment was written off the cuff sometime after 1 AM, November , 2013. I am a writer and exhaustion is my only excuse for lack of clarity in some places. Thus, apologizing for grammatical, spelling and words left out of some sentences in error. Self-editing sometimes creates more errors.

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        1. Mario Giraldo5 months ago

          Mrs. Cowley, thank you for your response to my humble posting. I am truly honored. I should be the one apologizing for my grammar, for the unfinished sentences, and for the lack of expansion on some of my ideas. However, we both understand very well the social, economical, and anthropological effects of the current discrimination in The United States and in the world. My only hope is that my American born son (now 25) and all the new generations, not only here but everywhere in the face of this planet, are treated as human beings, regardless of race, color, religion, and socio-economic status. I know very well my hope falls flat in the world of denial because history doesn’t lie, but one can only dream of all the best for fellow man kind. From a Colombian to a Colombian, un abrazo.

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  20. paul6 months ago

    How many used the term favored by 1970′s activists – “chicano”? At one time in Texas at least surveys showed 10 to 20% identification with this term. Also absent from your survey were the terms “Tejano” and “Spanish” (favored by many Hispanic New Mexicans).

    Reply
  21. Eusebia Aquino-Hughes6 months ago

    We cannot call our community “Hispanics” we are not from Spain or “white” in Anti-Latino
    America 2013. We however are “Latinos” we are the by products of a pain racial injustice History in American history. Our people were and continue to be “historically Native” to this Nation. We are “ALL” Latinos we are all in the struggle together in modern day primary center “white&Black”only USA. Whites nor Blacks are Native to this Nation. President Lincoln took our ancestors “citizenship”in 1800′s and give it to “white&Blacks”only now they both ID us all as “Obama/Bush” “criminal Immigrants”for prison$$ and “Ethnic Latino Cleansing”Massive Deportation”Obama has deported 2.9 Million Latino Natives out of the USA .America’s first Afro-President:-( CALL ME “Street Latina” Not “House Hispanic”.PROUD AS HELL:-)

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    1. Pearl Cawley6 months ago

      It is one thing to speak in actual Spanish using the term Latino or Latina in conversations that reference i.e. such as “ella is Latina?” When we use it IN SPANISH in that context, it is perfectly fine. Spaniards are from Spain. Hispanics are people who come from ANY of the Spanish speaking nations. Also, the word “Latin” defines all who speak a romance language. These would include Italians, French, Spanish, Portuguese and all Spanish Speakers in the world. Thus Hispanic is more accurate for those of us who speak Spanish, regardless of origin.

      HOWEVER, when Anglo Saxon Americans turn it into a politically correct term that they themselves don’t understand, the word “Latino” become insulting. There’s nothing to be proud of in allowing one’s self to be swept into a category by people who’ve decided to make a certain part of the population check off boxes on forms, when everyone else doesn’t have to do such.

      There is nothing wrong with pride in Latin-American, island or Hispanic or Spanish heritage. BUT, there is very much wrong in accepting labels that German, Irish, Italian, Polish and other nationalities don’t have to contend with. Now I’m not saying they haven’t suffered bigotry, everyone has been picked on.

      The sad part is that American blacks, who’ve experienced all of this and worse, more often than not have the same attitude towards Hispanics as whites do.

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    2. Pearl Cawley6 months ago

      the reason we speak Spanish is because the Spanish colonized South America, much of the Carabean etc. The only real natives are the indigenous peoples who occupied every inch of the Americas, North to South before Colombus. South Americans are more mixed with “indios” than North Americans. The prevalence of our current Latin culture comes from a mix of both native tribes and Europeans, then mix in the African slaves who were transmigrated by force. We are a mix of white and various tribes and peoples in each respective region. It can be said that all tribes, as for example, north American Apaches to the south American Aztecs are one and the same race. Thus, I hope your pride incorporates both indigenous and European blood that runs through you.

      Reply
      1. Miffyseal3 weeks ago

        Please be aware that the Aztecs are from North America! Not South America. There are Uto-Aztecan language tribal groups in Mexico, and the U.S., all the way to Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, and Montana. I think you need to study the locations of various North American and South American indigenous tribal groups before you post. As you are aware there are many who might take offense (Mexicans, Hopis, Paiute, Peruvian, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, Aymara, Quechua people) to your casual non-attentive reference mistake, especially you being a Colombiana. Most will say, you off all people should know better. Especially you… in the light of your detailed educative post on the plight of Latino discrimination since the 1980′s.

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    3. Joe Lopes6 months ago

      I’m so glad to hear a conscious voice amid the delusional “Hispanics” who for the most part have no respect for our native roots!!!!

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    4. Jason3 weeks ago

      Illegal Aliens were deported not Hispanic Americans. I’m so tired of people like you that act as if it’s just fine to illegally enter a country and then get pissed when the law breakers are caught and deported to their countries of origin. Illegal is illegal no matter the race or ethnicity. Also Obama inflates those deportation numbers and does nothing but tie the hands of the border patrol. Illegals need to get in line and enter legally like the rest of the world. No one deserves American citizenship it should be earned by doing it the right way.

      Reply