Who is considered “white Hispanic/Latino?”


This question was asked 9 years ago, but there were only a few comments with mixed answers, so I was hoping for an “updated” definition/explanation because I am noticing it being listed more and more often on surveys/documents.

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Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. White is a race. There are plenty of racially white people who are from culturally hispanic areas.

Generally, people from mainland Spain and Portugal are white Hispanic. Some Mexicans are also white Hispanic, but that varies a lot – many have darker skin.

People from the Spanish speaking parts of Latin America and the Caribbean are, I guess you’d say, brown Hispanic.

“Hispanic” is a cultural group, it doesn’t correlate directly to skin colour.

Like there are white British people and black British people. “British” doesn’t correlate to a skin tone any more than “Hispanic” does.

As far as how a person would define themselves on a census, they’ll likely decide based on their parents, how they “feel”, or just by looking at themselves in a mirror.

Thank you so much – all of you!!! I really appreciate everyone’s input. It definitely makes a lot more sense than when people were answering the same question 9 years ago.

In the US, the terms are mostly interchangeable but technically people from Latin America (Mexico, Central and South America) are Latino. Hispanic are people from Spanish speaking countries, so most of Latin America (other than Brazil) and also Spain technically, although the term is typically meant to apply to Spanish-speakers from Latin America.

There are a lot of crossing the streams here. I’ll give an answer, and I’ll also give my own opinion in a way.

Hispanic – “of Spain” – typically related to a place that speaks Spanish, or a person who speaks Spanish or comes form a place that speaks Spanish. Most often it means someone from a place (country or otherwise) in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, or South America where Spanish is spoken. Also used to reference people from Spain, but they are far outnumbered by the aforementioned populations. At least in the US, not used as much for people from other places that speak Spanish.

Latino – this is a bit different, and at least many people will say that it means the places and people of North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America which speak a “Latin based language.” To me, this doesn’t hold water, because people are trying to make in group and out groups with wonky descriptive boundaries. So let’s start with all the Americas applications of Hispanic, plus specifically Brazil which speaks Portuguese. People will argue about the French speaking places such as Martinique, Haiti, and French Guyana. Are they Latino? Some will say yes, some will say no. So then you throw in a place like Quebec into the mix and they will say absolutely not and it’s either because Quebec isn’t it’s own country (never mind Puerto Rico isn’t but many people include it on a list of Latin American countries) or it’s because the people tend to be white, or it’s because the people “were the colonizers rather than the colonized.” None of these ideas hold water to me, but then people go on and on about climate or about import/export models and how whatever Quebec is, does’t match their attitude about what Latino is supposed to be. But they insist it’s not about skin color, but about language, and maybe climate, and class, and economics. But they still want to draw the boundaries based around language. So then you ask about Belize, is it Latin American? They look at a map and conclude that it is. And then you tell them that they speak English there and they will say no it’s not. Then you say that Guatemala claims half of Belize as its own, so then they don’t know what to say.

The term Latin America was used by the French to justify an imperial misadventure in Mexico “we are really all one people, you speak Spanish, we speak French, we’re all just Latin people, therefore let us rule over you.”

But if you bring up issues like Guarani and maybe the indigenous peoples speaking Quechua or Zapotec, etc etc you will get mixed answers. They could be Latino if they are indigenous because they are ruled by countries which were colonized by Spain. Even if they don’t speak a Latin based language. So the term Latino just falls apart real quick.

You have to realize that identify politics are all about power, and making in groups and out groups. People all over the world will fight with their immediate neighbors, and then when they leave their home country and go to the UN or go to the US, they or others want to make them look like they are in solidarity even if they can’t stand one another, and never asked to be boxed together.

White – that’s a funny one. Benjamin Franklin said the only white people were the English. These days though it’s anyone that can convince someone that they are white. Obama is “half white and half black” but everyone just calls him black. You have two brothers who left Germany around 1880, one for the US and one for Mexico. Their great grandkids – one will be just a “regular white American” but the other will be “brown, POC, Latino, Hispanic” whatever. I’ve seen it happen.

So you have a lot of assumptions and a lot of color and culture and language taken into account. But these days, kids in England are getting chewed out because they question the fact that their classmate wants to identify as a cat.