Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Latinos and Hispanics

In my immigration class the question of how to define "Latino" or "Hispanic" pops up quite a bit. They are basically interchangeable but at the same time nebulous. In particular, they don't refer to race, even though I would guess that the vast majority of people associate them with "Mestizo" anyway. Mark Hugo Lopez at the Pew Hispanic Center has some survey results, which I found interesting.

This surprised me a bit, as I was under the impression that "Latino" was becoming more prevalent, but that was just an impression. I wonder if responses vary much according to age?

Either way, the article discusses respondents' views of whether the Latino/Hispanic community desires a "leader," which currently is lacking. But I think we need to connect the two dots--if this "community" is so diverse that even appellations are hard to pin down, then how do you develop a single leader who encompasses everything? For example:

  • The terms used to describe identity are linked to immigrant generation. Among foreign-born Latinos, two-thirds (66%) say they describe themselves most often by their Hispanic origin term (for example, Mexican, Colombian, Salvadoran). Among second-generation Latinos, 48% say the same, while among Latinos in the third and higher generation, just 20% do this.

The problem is that if there is no consensus on identity, then you aren't too likely to find consensus on a leader. This isn't necessarily bad--you could well get conflict if one type of leader tried to push a certain identity that was not shared by a significant chunk of the population. But it does mean that identity diversity and leadership can be tough to reconcile.


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