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Are Hispanics A Racial Group, Ethnicity Or Both?

Are Hispanics A Racial Group, Ethnicity Or Both?


Laura Gómez, author, "Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican-American Race"


Photo caption:

Photo credit: NYU Press

The cover for "Manifest Destinies" by Laura Gómez.

Are Hispanics a racial group, along with white, black, Asian, American Indian or Pacific Islander?

According to the U.S. Census, no. The census currently asks people whether they are Hispanic and then separately asks for their race, without Hispanic as an option. Federal officials considered changing that for the 2020 Census, but scrapped the potential revision last month.

About 45 percent of Hispanics self-identify as white, according to UCLA law professor Laura Gómez, but that is not likely how others see them.

“These ‘white’ Mexican Americans are not generally recognized as white by others,” Gómez wrote in the new edition of “Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race.”

Gómez’s book traces the history of the first Mexican Americans—Mexican citizens living in what is now the American Southwest and suddenly became Americans after the U.S. took control of the area following the Mexican-American War. Mexican Americans became a sort of “off-white” race, according to Gómez, noting they faced discrimination but were given U.S. citizenship, something only available to whites at the time.

Gómez joins KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday with more on whether Hispanic should be considered a race.


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