Identity Crisis: Most Hispanics Prefer to ID Themselves by Country of Origin
Hispanic? Latino? When it comes to describing themselves, most Hispanics prefer to identify themselves by their family’s country of origin rather than either of those two pan-ethnic terms, a new Pew survey finds.
Just over half (51 percent) say that most often use their family’s country of origin (such as Mexican, Cuban or Dominican) to describe their identity, according to the Pew Hispanic Center report. Just one-quarter (24 percent) use the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino.” Twenty-one percent use the term “American.”
The U.S. government mandated the use of the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” in 1976 after a number of years of lobbying by Mexican-American and Hispanic organizations, according to Pew.
“The use of the terms ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ to describe Americans of Spanish origin or descent is unique to the U.S. and their meaning continue to change and evolve. Outside of the U.S., these terms are not widely used (National Research Council, 2006) and may also have different meanings,” the Pew reported noted.
Despite the formal definition, the U.S. Census Bureau allows people to self-report their ethnicity - someone is Hispanic or Latino if they self-identify as such.