recently-released study by the American Sociological Association reveals something a bit disturbing: 79 percent of Latinos who took part in a specially-designed survey identified themselves as “white,” no matter their skin color.

Of course, the key words there are “specially-designed.” The New Immigrant Survey, as the study was called, specifically denied participants the chance to identify themselves as “Some Other Race,” as they can on the U.S. Census. According to the study’s co-author, Reanne Frank, this demonstrates a willingness by Latinos to recognize white privilege.

“Most are attempting to push the boundaries of whiteness to include them, even if their skin color is darker,” said Frank, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

Frank also said the ASA has received feedback saying the race question “doesn’t fit” many Latino respondents: 50 percent of Latinos who took the 2000 Census identified themselves as “Some Other Race.”

Full disclosure: I have done this in both the 2000 and 2010 Census. But it wasn’t because I wanted to attempt to assert “an alternative Latino racial identity,” as Frank suggests; “Race,” as defined in both the Census and the NIS, is more closely related to phenotype, whereas I always interpret it as something more closely related to nationality.

Of course, that aspect is also covered specifically in Question 8 of the Census: Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? Among the answers:

  • Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano
  • Yes, Puerto Rican
  • Yes, Cuban
  • Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish Origin

However, it’s interesting to note that Question 9, while covering phenotype (White, Black/African American/Negro), also addresses nationality for other ethnic groups: American Indian and Alaskan Native, while grouped together, are listed apart from other groups, and various Asian nationalities (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc.) are listed as racial options. The ASA study doesn’t ask why Latinos don’t get that same treatment.

by Jay Galvin via Flickr/Creative Commons
by Racialicious Special Correspondent Arturo R. García


Colleen F.
Colleen F7 years ago

It would probably be easier for everyone to simply stop measuring race. What difference does it make, nowadays, anyway?

Janice P.
Janice P7 years ago

What is most disturbing about this for me is that, in 2010, we are still so concerned with race. We are such a mixture of so many things, that it is becoming irrelevant - or, at least, it should be. The categorizations do not even mean much any longer. I once knew a woman who designated herself as "African-American" because it sometimes gave her an edge in employment and for other social benefits. However, she was South African and whiter than I am. How can such designations be meaningful, really? Why should it even be important?

Vennitta C.
Vennitta C.7 years ago

Consider that in job surveys they ask if you are of African descent are you a black African or the white South African student that got flack for stating that he was African folks, he's African American.

Joe M.
Joe M.7 years ago

Only in the USA citizens have labels. This is a throw back from the oppressor the Bristish Empire. Our governement controllers still have not changed this is obvious by the questions on the census form. Totally oblivious to the fact that experts,(Ethnologists) declarations that there is only three(3) primary divisions the Caucasian(loosely white race),Negroid(loosely Black race) and Mongoloid(loosely Yellow race). Hispanics are Caucasians for the record. Sad that as long as these labels presist they create the division that exist in our country. But fear none,evolution will prevail in the future the majority of Americans will be one color olive HISPANIC looking. This is sad because I love blue eyes, the opposite attract.

Andrea M.
Andrea M7 years ago

I've never understood why the media has to point out that a person is black when doing a news story, but they never come out and say "This person is white". Seems that whites are still being considered prominent in this world.

joseph augustus
joseph augustus7 years ago

Lika S. are you serious?--("Mexican means mixed race. There is about equivalent mix between Spaniard, Native American and African blood. The curly hair came from there." )
Where exactly did you get this information from? Mexican does not mean mixed race.There is not an equivalent mix. and In addition Curly hair exists in Europe and does not suggest any African ancestry. I've meet many blond haired blued eyed nordics with curly hair. so I guess according to you they most also be considered bi-racial and in that regard ever living person most also have an equivalent mix of black, white and Asian. what a over-simplistic view.Most Mexicans are of native American ancestry (Mongoloid, like Asians). Very few have any African blood in them and a minority are Caucasian. some are bi-racial. So even in Mexico there exists different ethnicities .

Meritxell R.
Meritxell R7 years ago

The major part of spaniards are white. I know it, I'm one. I have latin american friends and some of them are white, mostly from Argentina and Chile. All hispanics don't have brown eyes, dark hair and dark skin, there's variety.

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

What I consider interesting is that Asia spans from Israel all the way east through Japan. So the Middle Eastern countries are considered to be "near east Asians", Russia is "north Asia" and India/Nepal/Bangladesh is "south Asia", and of course the rest is pretty much considered Oriental Asia, unless you want to specify the South East peninsula. That's a lot of Asia, and MANY different Asians, yet we don't specify what kind.

I once knew a few Americans of Chinese descent that didn't like being called "Oriental", because they didn't want to be categorized with items like the rugs. Of course the Japanese like being different from the Middle Eastern people, and what not.

I am bi-racial. And no, I am not half black. I am half Japanese, so I'm not sure how Japanese that is, vs. being Pacific Islander, but I'll stick with Asian. I am also half white/Caucasian. So, what color does that make me? There is the black race, the red race (indigenous people of the Americas), the white race and the yellow race (Oriental people). So that makes me half white, half yellow, so my official color is what? Off white? So I don't fit the official PC term of being a "person of color" either... I've lived in this country so long, and culturally speaking, I'm white, yet I look Native American. Go figure.

Also, Mexican means "mixed race". There is about equivalent mix (in different denomination) between Spaniard, Native American and African blood. The "curly" hair came from there.

Gloria H.
Gloria H7 years ago

I knew a guy whose ancestory was from Portugal. He was darker than any "black" I've met. Would he be "black" or "white"? What are East Indians?Pakistanis?Italians? Some are very dark skinned--but with Caucasian features..are they "black"? The racial question may be to get votes(?) as in 80% Latinos favor democratic over republican or city living over country? is it so advertisers can target special groups ( as if they don't already do that!)?

Nellie K A.
Nellie K Adaba7 years ago

Interesting study, but it's probably not accurate.