Latino Life: Are We Tolerant Of Our Own Hispanic Diversity?

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-12-01 01:21Z by Steven

Latino Life: Are We Tolerant Of Our Own Hispanic Diversity?

NBC News

Raul A. Reyes

Being Latino means being part of a rich, diverse culture. Or does it? Some Latinos feel removed from their peers because of their skin color, language ability, or mixed-race heritage. Others have faced criticism for holding political views at odds with the Hispanic mainstream. In fact, many Latinos know all too well what it is like not to fit in with their own community.

“Most people believe that all Latinos look like the stereotypical Puerto Rican or Mexican,” said Mirna Martinez-Santiago, 43, a New York attorney. “I am from Honduras. I am black, racially, but I identify as Latina.”

The host of The Opinion Talk Show gave some examples of how her skin color has caused confusion – and awkward moments.

“I walk into a Dominican hair salon and the employees are talking about me,” Martinez-Santiago said. “I can hear them talk about my pelo malo (bad hair). I tell them there is nothing wrong with my hair, and they are shocked that I can understand them. I try to educate people, but the best way to educate people is just by being,” said Martinez-Santiago…

Julie A. Dowling, associate professor of Latina/o Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said Latino identity depends on many factors, including regional differences, national origin, physical features and language ability.

“There are wide, diverse experiences in competition with the stereotypical images. So people are constantly judged by these images,” Dowling explained.

“The stereotype of Latinos is that they are Mexican, Spanish-speaking immigrants, and possibly undocumented,” Dowling said. “And because it is such a strong stereotype, people often define themselves in relation to it.”

The author of a new book on Latino identity, Dowling added that “even the U.S. Census Bureau is still trying to figure out who Latinos are.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On The Census, Who Checks ‘Hispanic,’ Who Checks ‘White,’ And Why

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-06-18 17:16Z by Steven

On The Census, Who Checks ‘Hispanic,’ Who Checks ‘White,’ And Why

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Gene Demby, Lead Blogger

We’ve been talking a lot lately about how who fills out the Census in what way. It’s an ongoing preoccupation of Code Switch, and one shared by Julie Dowling. Dowling, a University of Illinois sociologist, whose book, Mexican Americans and the Question of Race, came out earlier this year. (As the daughter of a Mexican-American mother and Irish-American father, Dowling knows all about the complexities of filling out the race question on the Census form.)

I interviewed Dowling about her research, and she shared some fascinating insights about the gap between how people fill in Census forms and how they think of themselves.

On the history of ‘Hispanic’ on the Census Questionnaire

In 1930, “Mexican” was put on the Census [questionnaire] as a race. This was during the Depression and it was a time period when [the government was] rounding up people. They used the Census in the 1940s to locate Japanese-Americans for internment camps. So people didn’t want to be identifiable on the Census because they were afraid of the government.

Today, everyone wants to be counted. Now everyone wants representation. But at that time period, people did not want that. And they also did not want to be racialized. This was a time where the best avenue for people to fit in was to claim whiteness.

In 1929, the League of the United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Mexican-American organization, formed in Corpus Christi, TX. One of their main organizing efforts was to get “Mexican” off the 1930 census. They protested: we are white race, we are Americans.

The Mexican government itself protested the category, because the entire Southwest used to be part of Mexico, and when it was taken over by the United States, they promised Mexico that the Mexican residents there would be treated as full citizens. Well, at the time, you had to be white to be a citizen. So that’s where the whole issue came about of Mexicans, specifically, identifying as legally white but socially not-white.

It worked against them in some ways, because they claimed segregation and discrimination, the parties being accused of discrimination could say, Well, no, you’re white. So this history of claiming whiteness has been a strategy that Mexican Americans and other Latino groups have used to try to lobby for acceptance — claiming Americanness, claiming whiteness…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Mexican Americans and the Question of Race

Posted in Books, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-05-23 11:55Z by Steven

Mexican Americans and the Question of Race

University of Texas Press
March 2014
184 pages
3 charts, 1 maps, 1 tables
6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-292-75401-0

Julie A. Dowling, Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This groundbreaking and timely study explores how Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants develop their racial ideologies and identifications and how they choose to present them to others.

With Mexican Americans constituting a large and growing segment of U.S. society, their assimilation trajectory has become a constant source of debate. Some believe Mexican Americans are following the path of European immigrants toward full assimilation into whiteness, while others argue that they remain racialized as nonwhite. Drawing on extensive interviews with Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in Texas, Dowling’s research challenges common assumptions about what informs racial labeling for this population. Her interviews demonstrate that for Mexican Americans, racial ideology is key to how they assert their identities as either in or outside the bounds of whiteness. Emphasizing the link between racial ideology and racial identification, Dowling offers an insightful narrative that highlights the complex and highly contingent nature of racial identity.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. The Question of Race
  • Chapter 2. “I’m white ‘cause I’m an American, right?”: The Meanings of Whiteness for Mexican Americans
  • Chapter 3. “We were never white”: Mexican Americans Identifying Outside the Bounds of Whiteness
  • Chapter 4. “In Mexico I was . . .”: Translating Racial Identities Across the Border
  • Chapter 5. “That’s what we call ourselves here”: Mexican Americans and Mexican Immigrants Negotiating Racial Labeling in Daily Life
  • Chapter 6. Re-envisioning Our Understanding of Latino Racial Identity
  • Appendix: Notes on Methodology
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

Read chapter 1 here.

Tags: , ,

The Lure of Whiteness and the Politics of “Otherness”: Mexican American Racial Identity

Posted in Census/Demographics, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Texas, United States on 2012-09-13 00:30Z by Steven

The Lure of Whiteness and the Politics of “Otherness”: Mexican American Racial Identity

University of Texas, Austin
185 pages

Julie Anne Dowling

Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the The University of Texas at Austin In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Using a “constructed ethnicity” (Nagel 1994) approach, this project employs multiple methods to explore the racial identification of Mexican Americans. The U.S. Census has grappled with appropriate strategies for identifying the Mexican-ancestry population for over a century, including the use of a “Mexican” racial category in 1930. I examine historical documents pertaining to the 1930 Census and the development of the “Mexican” racial classification, as well as how Mexican Americans in the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) constructed “White” racial identities in their efforts to resist such racialization. I then explore contemporary Mexican American identity as reflected in current racial self-reporting on the U.S. Census. Finally, I conduct fifty-two in-depth interviews with a strategic sample of Mexican Americans in five Texas cities, investigating how such factors as socioeconomic status, racial composition of neighborhood, proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, social networks, nativity/migration history, Spanish language fluency, physical appearance, and political attitudes affect their racial and ethnic identifications. Results indicate a complex relationship between personal histories and local community constructions of identity that influences racial identification.

Table of Contents

  • List of Tables
  • List of Figuresxii
  • Chapter 1: Latinos and the Question of Race
  • Chapter 2: Modernity and Texas Racial Politics in the Early Twentieth Century, LULAC and the Construction of the White Mexican
  • Chapter 3: The “Other” Race of Mexican Americans: Exploring Racial Identification in the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Censuses
  • Chapter 4: “Where’s Hispanic?” Mexican American Responses to the Census Race Question
  • Chapter 5: What We Call Ourselves Here: Mexican American Racial and Ethnic Labeling in Texas
  • Chapter 6: Just An(other) Shade of White? Making Meaning of Mexican American
  • Whiteness on the Census.
  • Appendix A: Census 1990 Race Question
  • Appendix B: Census 2000 Race Question
  • Bibliography
  • Vita

Chapter 1: Latinos and the Question of Race


The roots of this dissertation can be traced to a qualitative study I began as an undergraduate, interviewing persons of “biracial” mixed Mexican-Anglo heritage like myself. During the course of this research that became the basis for my master’s thesis, I discovered that according to the U.S. Census, Latinos are not a racial group. This did not fit my experience growing up in Texas where I found myself torn between two different worlds, one white and one brown.

This disjuncture between government classification and self-identification, between federal definitions and regional definitions of race, is at the heart of my project. The goal of this dissertation is to explore the historical roots of the census classification of Mexican Americans as “White,” and to examine who rejects this classification, identifying as “Other” race. Are there significant differences between these groups? What factors play into how Mexican Americans label themselves? And what are the meanings of these labels?

The most common “other race” response given on the racial identification question of the 1990 U.S. Census was a Hispanic identifier—Hispanic, Latino or a nationality such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban (U.S. General Accounting Office 1993). While approximately 51% of Mexican Americans in the 1990 census identified as “White” on the racial identity question, an almost equal proportion (47%) identified as “Other.” In 2000, the numbers were similar with 48% of Mexican Americans identifying as “White” and 46% as “Other.” It is clear that a substantial number of Mexican Americans view themselves as a racial group outside of the current census classifications of White, Black, Native American, and Asian American…

Read the entire dissertation here.

Tags: , , ,