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Hispanic or Latino?


Is there a difference between Latino and Hispanic? This question was first introduced in the 1970’s by the U.S. Census. Is this person of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?

This question was asked of individuals living in the United States and their response was based upon self-identification. Additionally, the Census clarified the fact that race and ethnicity are separate and different concepts, and therefore two different questions were asked. To be Latino or Hispanic is a matter of ethnicity not race.

The Hispanic or Latino origin question is not a question about place of birth. For example, people of Mexican origin may be born in Mexico, the United States or other countries, and this is true for all of the distinct groups. This question also excludes people from Brazil and aims specifically at people’s origin from Spanish- speaking countries.

Even though the terms Latino and Hispanic are usually used interchangeably, many people have a stronger preference of one over the other. The term Hispanic may refer more to the heritage, nationality group or lineage. It can also refer to the person’s country of birth or that of the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. A person who identifies him or herself as Hispanic may be of any race.

Which term should we use, Hispanic or Latino? Since it is a matter of self-identification, it can be difficult to choose what term to use when referring to this population.

At the end of the day, don’t worry too much about these terms, as long as you come from a good place with good intentions, you will not offend someone by referring to them as Hispanic or Latino. We all know these terms are confusing. That being said, if you really feel conflicted about it the best advice I can offer is to ask the person what term he or she prefers, and then you’ll know.

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