Latin America has long had White people. Like in Anglo America, they came from Europe, took Native land, brought in Black slaves and built their societies on racism. But the term “White Hispanic” was rare in English before 1977. It was then that the US government came out with Statistical Policy Directive #15. It said in part:
“Hispanic. A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.”
From that came the terms “White Hispanics” and “non-Hispanic Whites”.
In 2012 the term “White Hispanic” became more widely known when the New York Times called George Zimmerman a “white Hispanic”. It had rarely used that term before.
Hispanics who identified as White on the US Census in 2010:
- 85% Cuban Americans
- 53% Puerto Rican Americans
- 53% Mexican Americans
- 40% Salvadoran Americans
- 39% Guatemalan Americans
- 30% Dominican Americans
It comes to 53% overall.
Compare that to how many identify as White in Latin America (numbers according to Latinobarometro and, for Puerto Rico, Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, PhD):
- 71% Puerto Rico
- 17% Guatemala
- 15% Mexico
- 12% Dominican Republic
- 10% El Salvador
In some cases, like Cuba, it does seem that it was mainly Whites who came to the US. But in other cases, like Puerto Rico, the mix of races seems to be pretty much the same.
“White” does not mean the same thing from place to place. People who are “White” in Puerto Rico are not necessarily “White” in New York. In Latin America, Whiteness can be affected by class. How “White” a given Latin American country is depends on who you ask.
Compared to other US Latinos, White Hispanics are more likely to be:
- lighter skinned,
- better paid,
- better educated,
- better represented in the media.
They also experience much less prejudice from Anglo Americans. Some, like Louis C.K. (pictured), even enjoy White privilege. Many White Hispanics are racist against darker Latinos. Crossing the US border is hardly a cure for racism.
Assimilation: Some say Hispanics are moving towards becoming Anglo Americans, like Italians once did. Others say the numbers on segregation, intermarriage, etc, do not support that. It may be too soon to tell. Sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva says that some White Hispanics will assimilate, but most will become Honorary Whites along with most Asians and mixed-race people.
Enlargement of Whiteness: Unless the US sinks into banana republicanism or worse, Anglos will be politically driven to enlarge their idea of what “White” is to take in at least 75% of White Hispanics by 2100. They did it in the 1800s to take in poor Irish Catholics. They did it again in the 1900s to take in “alien races”, like Jews and Mediterraneans. By 2075 few White Hispanics will be foreign-born, many will have an Anglo mother or father. By that time Africans will be pouring into the country. The anti-Black racism that the US is built on will do the rest.
- Welcome to Hispanic Heritage Month 2014
- The term “Hispanic”
- Race in the Dominican Republic
- growing up Latino in the US
- The Third Enlargement of American Whiteness
- George Zimmerman
- banana republic
- racial futures for the US:
- Racial Future #1: Painter: The Fourth Enlargement of American Whiteness
- Racial Future #2: Bonilla-Silva: The future of racial stratification in the US
- Racial Future #3: Smedley: The future of American racism
- Racial Future #4: Feagin: Toward a Truly Multiracial Democracy
- The clash of civilizations
- The end of white America?