[Marxism] Class and Latino American "racial" identities...

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Tue Dec 7 03:10:20 MST 2004


What's in a Racial Identity? American Latinos All Over the Map, 
Study Finds

Mon Dec 6, 7:55 AM ET   Top Stories - Los Angeles Times 

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Times Staff Writer 

WASHINGTON — Latinos who view themselves as white are more 
likely to be better-educated, earn more, register to vote and vote 
Republican, according to a national study to be released today on 
how Latinos identify racially. 

The study by the Pew Hispanic Center also found some notable 
regional differences not yet fully understood. For example, in 
California, 42% of U.S.-born Mexican Americans identified 
themselves as white, compared with 63% of their ethnic 
counterparts in Texas. 

The analysis of Census data and recent surveys is perhaps the 
most detailed in a relatively new field of research on how Latinos 
adapt to the rigid racial categories they encounter in the United 
States. It is the first to probe the differences between Latinos who 
consider themselves white and those who say they are of some 
other race. 

In many Latin American countries, race is a flexible concept and 
can change with a person's status in society. Historical and 
contemporary evidence shows that a Latin American strain of 
racism favors lighter-skinned over darker-skinned people, but as an 
old Caribbean proverb says, "Money bleaches." 

In the United States, Latinos are an ethnic group made up of 
people of different races, often mixed, and with a variety of 
ancestral homelands. In the 2000 Census, they mainly selected 
two racial categories to describe themselves. Forty-eight percent 
identified themselves as white, and 42% chose "some other race." 

Latinos who perceive themselves as white appear to feel that their 
place in American society is more secure, the report found. 

"Latinos are taking a broader view of race — one that extends 
beyond physical features and also encompasses degrees of 
achievement, belonging and inclusion," said demographer Sonya 
M. Tafoya, the report's author. 

The Pew center is a nonpartisan research organization based in 
Washington that studies the U.S. Latino population, focusing on 
public opinion as well as social and economic issues. 

The report reinforced earlier research that found surprising 
variations in racial self-identification according to where Latinos 
lived in the United States. Apart from the distinction between 
Mexican Americans in California and Texas, regional variations 
prevail among other Latino groups as well. 

For instance, 81% of Puerto Ricans living in the island 
commonwealth identified themselves as white in the 2000 Census, 
while 46% of those living on the U.S. mainland did so. And among 
Cubans, those living in Florida were much more likely to say they 
were white than those living in California. 

The Pew study found that Latinos who said they were white were 
more likely to describe themselves as American than those who 
said they were of some other race. 

When given the choice of identifying themselves as American on 
the one hand or Hispanic, Mexican or some other national origin 
identifier on the other, 55% of the Latinos who said they were white 
picked American. Among the rest, 36% did so, according to Pew 
survey results. 

One-quarter of Latinos who said they were white cited 
discrimination as a major problem, compared with one-third who 
said they were of some other race. They were also less likely to be 
high school dropouts, live in poverty and be unemployed. 

Among U.S.-born Latinos, 85% of those who said they were white 
were registered voters, compared with 67% of those who said they 
were of some other race. And 22% of those who said they were 
white also said they were Republicans, compared with 13% among 
Latinos of some other race. 

"The growing Hispanic population may compel a reassessment of 
the common view of a racial or ethnic group as a readily identifiable 
category of people who share a common fate and a common 
identity," the report said. 

Tafoya said it was not clear why Mexican Americans in Texas 
would be more likely to identify themselves as white than those in 
California. One possible explanation could be a defensive reaction 
by Latinos in Texas to that state's history of Southern-style 
segregation, she said. 

Another explanation could be that many Latinos in California see 
themselves as outsiders as a result of the divisive battle over 
Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot measure that sought to deny 
some public services to illegal immigrants until the courts struck it 
down. Or perhaps California is more tolerant of diversity and people 
are more comfortable about identifying themselves as nonwhite. 


"It is doubtful that skin color is the entire explanation," Tafoya said. 



Latino divide 

Latinos in the U.S. who consider themselves white are more likely 
to be better-educated, have higher incomes and speak English 
only, compared with those who consider themselves some other 
race. Here is a breakdown for U.S.-born Mexican Americans in 


Less than high school 

Say they are white: 26% 

Say they are some other race: 30% 

High school 

Say they are white: 23% 

Say they are some other race: 28% 

Some college 

Say they are white: 35% 

Say they are some other race: 32% 

Bachelor's degree plus 

Say they are white:16% 

Say they are some other race: 10% 


Income (men only) 

$35,000 or more 

White: 31% 

Some other race: 23% 


Language spoken 

English only 

White: 40% 

Some other race: 28% 


White: 59% 

Some other race: 71% 

Remainder speak Spanish only 


Source: Pew Hispanic Center 

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