Latino or Hispanic: Minority Group Say it Makes Little Difference
As Latinos transition into the largest minority group in Berks County and the nation at large, how that group is defined remains murky.
With the confusion, misuse, imposition and appropriation of labels such as Latino, Hispanic and a multitude of others, it may appear that Latinos are in the throes of an identity crisis.
And although the definitions can vary depending on what government or social agency is using them, many Latinos see the labels as interchangeable and even insignificant.
A Gallup Poll released in July showed that 70 percent of Latinos, or Hispanics if you will, have no preference about which term is used to identify them. In Berks County, for example, there’s the Daniel Torres Hispanic Center and also the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Patricia Foxen, deputy director of research for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group based in Washington, said her organization uses the labels interchangeably, though the issue of ethnic identification is a complex one for Latinos.
“Ethnic discourse is generally discussed in very black-and-white terms,” Foxen said. “But the Latino population is very diverse, constantly shifting geographically and linguistically.
“We are not a monolith at all.”
An ethnic patchwork
A 2011 Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project study suggested a blanket term may seem unfitting for some Latinos since the majority (69 percent) see the group as made up of many different cultures rather than one unified culture.
The survey also showed that if given the option, most Latinos (51 percent) referred to themselves by their family’s country of origin rather than “Latino/Hispanic” (24 percent) or American (21 percent).
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