[Marxism] Class and Latino American "racial" identities...
davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Tue Dec 7 03:10:20 MST 2004
What's in a Racial Identity? American Latinos All Over the Map,
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
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
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.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
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%
Say they are white: 23%
Say they are some other race: 28%
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
Some other race: 23%
Some other race: 28%
Some other race: 71%
Remainder speak Spanish only
Source: Pew Hispanic Center
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