*Mexikaresistance.com Note: A good example of how colonialism and racism have confused the very identities of our people. The terms "latino" and "hispanic" rob us of our Nikan Titlakah cultural inheritance.Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Helen Iris Torres responded to questions about her identity by telling people she was Puerto Rican. It didn't matter that schoolbooks referred to her as Hispanic.
Now, as head of an organization that supports women of Latin American heritage, Torres still says she’s a “proud Puerto Rican” but prefers the term Latina, which she says encompasses the larger community of Spanish speakers in the country.
Torres’ quandary is reflected in a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center, which suggests that the majority of people of Latin American descent choose to identify themselves by their countries of origin, over either Latino or Hispanic. When choosing between the latter terms, the majority, 51%, were ambivalent.
The findings shed light on the social and political complexities of identity in a community that is growing but includes dozens of nationalities.
“The notion of a pan-ethnic Hispanic identity is uniquely American,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, a lead author of the report. “Latinos have not fully embraced the terms Hispanic or Latino when it comes to describing themselves.”
Only one-quarter of those polled used the terms Hispanic or Latino most often, while about 21% said they predominantly use the term American. Most of those polled did not see a shared common culture among Latinos — as sometimes is assumed by politicians courting a voting bloc.
The survey of 1,220 Latino adults was conducted in English and Spanish during November and early December.
The term Hispanic was adopted by the government in the 1970s in an attempt to count people from such countries as Mexico, Cuba and the nations in Central and South America. But many whose lineage traces to those countries, particularly in Southwestern parts of the United States, have never felt an affinity for the term.