Skip to comments.Hispanics are not a race - I know it's hard to believe, but...
Posted on 10/03/2002 8:53:31 PM PDT by free biscet
It's strange, because really, when you think about it, Hispanics are an ethnic/ cultural group, not a race. Racially, Hispanics can be either White, Black, Asian, Native American...and a mixture of one or all depending on their background. Actresses Rachel Welch, Penelope Cruz are white, as is Republican Congresswoman Ileanana Ros Lehtinen, and Florida Republican Congressman Lincoln Diaz Balart, Sammy Sosa is black. Handyman Bob (This Old House) Villa (He is Cuban American) is white. Jennifer Rodriguez USA - Speed Skating bronze medal 2002 White, Cuban American, http://cbs.sportsline.com/u/olympics/2002/athletes/rodriguez_j.htm
Latin music great, Celia Cruz, Cuban American, Black
But, they're are all Hispanic culturally.
Now, repeat after me: "Hispanic is not a race." Disregard nearly every U.S. Government form which asks for race and shake your head in dismay at the cultural ignorance of nearly every writer in practically every newspaper in the United States, yes! the United States, because the term "Hispanic" or the equally misused "Latino" is nowhere used in so many wrong applications as it is in our politically correct, but sometimes culturally incorrect nation.
Go ahead, pick any random issue of the Washington Post, or the latest book of essays by the great Camille Paglia or the wording in some of our 50 states' Equal Rights laws. You will also find countless medical surveys or economic studies where "races" are broken into Black, White, Asian and Hispanic; Congressional Black Caucus members complain that U.S. Government policy is different for Cubans because they are "light-skinned Hispanics." The samples go on and on.
For the last time: Hispanicism is NOT a race! Hispanicism is the cultural legacy which sometimes unites nearly every country in the New World south of California into a diverse group of peoples and races joined by a common language. Oh, by the way, I suppose one must throw in Spaniards, although I was shocked and amazed to listen to a San Francisco Mexican-American politician declare a few years ago that " Spaniards were not Hispanic because they were Europeans and white."
There are white Hispanics (Cuban-American actress Cameron Diaz and Leftist Spanish / Irish American actor Martin Sheen a.k.a. Guillermo Estevez and his warren of sons come to mind), Black Hispanics (the late great Puerto Rican baseball player (and one of my childhood heroes) Roberto Clemente), Asian Hispanics (Peru's former President, Señor Alberto Fujimori), Indian Hispanics (sorry, but the term Native American is not widely used in Latin America and somehow the term "Native American Hispanics" just seems odd) and the 46,656 possible permutations found in colonial Spain's attempts to codify the races into 16 possible marriage mixtures. Since many Hispanics or Latinos are white (especially in Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and of course Spain) and some are black (also Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama, etc.) and a small number Asian (Central and South America) and a large number are mestizo (most of Central America and Mexico) it is complete nonsense to categorize them as one race.
Given the huge cultural diversity among the people we call Hispanic in this country, it must be understood that the term comprises many ethnic groups and it is an arrogant and ignorant error to classify them, in race-obsessed America, as a "new" race. The key here is to recognize that there is ethnic and cultural diversity not only in our nation as a whole, but also within Latin American Hispanics as well. While Cubans may be culturally and historically closer to Spain and the United States, Mexicans are fiercely proud of their Indian heritage and Argentines share strong cultural and blood ties not only to Spain but also to Italy and Germany.
It is then no wonder then that we Hispanics shake our heads in disbelief when we read that Coppola initially wanted to film "Evita" in Mexico City. For anyone who has taken a stroll in the wide, elegant avenues of sophisticated Buenos Aires or has shopped in the wonderfully colorful markets of overcrowded Mexico City , the differences are as clear as black and white (yes, yes, pun intended).
Stereotypes and misinformation about Hispanics still prevail in our society despite the amount of information available. We hope to dismantle some of those myths here.
The term Hispanic was coined by the federal government in the 1970's to refer to the people who were born in any of the Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas or those who could trace their ancestry to Spain or former Spanish territories. Obviously, this represents a wide variety of countries and ethnic groups with different social, political and emotional experiences.
Most Hispanics see themselves in terms of their individual ethnic identity, as Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc. instead of members of the larger, more ambiguous term Hispanic or Latino. Precisely because the term Hispanic originated as a bureaucratic designation, many saw it as an artificial imposition. The fact that the word itself was coined by the Romans in 204 B.C. to identify the inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula (today Spain and Portugal) conveys a Eurocentric view despised in some Latin American countries. The word Latino is more appealing to some since it conveys a wider sense of ethnic and racial reality, plus it is already used throughout Latin America for similar purposes.
Despite the differences, most Hispanic Americans are affected collectively by concerns for bilingual education, employment, housing, poverty, and political representation, making Hispanic coalitions a viable tool for progress.
People think of Hispanics as the latest, most recent group to enter the so called "melting pot". This erroneous perception is mostly due to the media attention given to Hispanic groups in the 1980's, after the Bureau of the Census published their 1980 results. Their report revealed that Hispanics were the fastest growing group in the U.S., soon to become the largest minority group. People associated the growth with immigration, ignoring the long history of Hispanics in the United States.
Hispanic heritage in the U.S. goes back a long time. When Plymouth was founded in 1620, Santa Fe was celebrating its first decade and St. Augustine its 55th anniversary. Spanish settlements developed in the southwest of today's U.S. and also in the Gulf coast and the Florida peninsula. Some Latinos can trace their ancestors back to those days.
Other Hispanic groups, like the Puerto Ricans, did not migrate into the U.S. but instead were absorbed into it during the American expansions of the late 19th century. Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship in 1917. Economic depressions and two world wars forced many Puerto Ricans to migrate from the island in search for better opportunities. Their current political situation still confuses many who think of Puerto Rico as a foreign country.
Cubans and other people from Central America and the Caribbean found in the U.S. political asylum to escape persecution in their countries of origin during the Cold War. Civil wars and economic instability in some Latin American countries have contributed to recent migration trends, expanding the number of ethnic and national groups that now fall under the definition of Hispanic.
Hispanics have played a significant role in all American armed conflicts since the War of Independence. Hispanic troops guided by Spanish officials like Bernardo de Galvez fought the British troops at the Gulf coast and provided money and supplies to the American rebels. Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, a Civil War hero, was also a Hispanic. More than 200,000 Puerto Ricans have fought under the American flag since World War I and the Vietnam Memorial includes many Hispanic names, proof of their commitment and courage.
During the 1970's, some scholars and political activists refered to the people of Latin America as the "Cosmic Race" to convey a sense of biological unity. Others still call Hispanics the "Future Race", implying that Latin Americans were a new emerging race, the result of the mix of all the other races. This new race is still an ideal.
Hispanics are not one race, nor do they represent a single ethnic group. The racial and ethnic composition of Hispanics has three major elements: European, African and Native American. These elements manifest in different ways, according to geographic, economic and social factors.
The Caribbean regions of Central and South America show a similar racial and cultural mix with the Antilles, where the three elements are evident. Meso-America and the Andean countries of South America show a strong mix of the European and Native American elements, with little or no African influence. In the Southern Cone of the continent (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay) the racial and cultural mix had little impact on the mostly European element. In this particular region, the European influence is not only Spanish, but also Italian, German and Jewish.
There is greater genetic variation within a "race" than there is between "races".
If a bunch of alien conquerors took over and only saw in the infrared light frequencies, they wouldn't have clue what the heck a racist would be talking about.
You are being too modest. It is believed by some that Spain's involvement in the War of Independence was the deciding factor in the outcome of that war. An excellent book recently published documents many stages of the the war, explaining the intracacies of the Bourbon Compact with France during the years leading up to the American Revolution. Spain's battle with Britain did not end until the Briitish were driven from central America -- long after the Colonists stacked their weapons.
Thanks for the essay, free biscet. Very interesting.
It is convenient, but defamatory to promote that we are all a brown skinned, "mutt" race with one common third world culture.
I did not assert that Hispanics are a brown-skinned mutt race. However, I doubt that you can point to any ethnicity that is purely anything, beyond an occasional tribe of indigenous people deep in Africa or South America.
The Moors never occupied northern Spain, including Barcelona.
Not true; the Moors conquered the entire Iberian Peninsula, although for a shorter time in the North.
The Germans ruled southern Spain for 400 years before being repelled by the Moors. That is why ethnic Spaniards appear white.
Ethnic Spaniards are mostly white because of their Roman and Visigoth background; but having been there and seen many Spaniards, I can tell you that there are dark-skinned ones as well.
The U.S. Government would consider the Moors themselves Caucasian since they were comprised of Arabs and "the indigenous Caucasian peoples of northern Africa" known as the Berbers.
I have no argument with the assertion that Arabs in general are Caucasian; however, the Moors of antiquity were black.
There was very little intermixing with the Moorish occupiers in Southern Spain.
I will not accept the premise that there was little or no mixing of the races. Thats a highly unlikely scenario for an 800-year occupation.
Does this fact make Governor Schwarzenegger a Spaniard? Are all Californians Iberian?
One isnt a Spaniard because he lives in California; but one born of an ethnicity whose native language is Spanish is Hispanic.
Why then would the influence of Arab naming and architecture in Spain over 500 years ago make modern Spaniards Arabesque?
noun: A complex, ornate design of intertwined floral, foliate, and geometric figures.
Spains architecture and design motif show obvious influence from the Moors.
I live in a high-density Hispanic population, and I happen to respect these people very much. You might like to think that Im prejudiced against one ethnicity or another, but like most right thinking Americans, it isnt contrasting flesh tones that cause me grief, but aberrant behavior and attitude. Thus, any Mexican-American that I encounter who tries to revise history, i.e., Aztlan, Texas as Mexicos property, Mexico ripped off by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, etc., will have none of my respect. This also applies to groups who try to enrich themselves because of a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua or a Frito Bandido.
Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula just like Britannia was the Roman name for the British Isles.
Gold aureus of Roman Emperor Hadrian honoring his birthplace, Hispania
In regards to Brazil not having any Moorish influence because it weas settled by Portugal, that is putting too much stock on modern borders. Asturias in northern Spain was never conquered by the Moors and Galicia was briefly conquered but central and southern Portugal were under Moorish rule for quite some time.
The 1973 Websters Dictionary defines Hispanic as: Adj [Latin hispanicus from Hispania Iberian peninsula, Spain]: of or relating to the people, speech or culture of Spain, Spain and Portugal or Latin America.
In the Iberian History Mailing List ESPORA-L a few years ago, (a trilingual**English-Spanish-Portuguese** forum composed not only of Americans but also Spaniards and Portuguese) a thread discussed the "Spanish Armada". A Portuguese history professor, living in Portugal and writing in Portuguese, argued that the proper title should be the "Hispanic Armada" since Portugal and Spain were under the same Crown at the time and many Portuguese ships were involved. The Portuguese professor correctly pointed out that "Hispania" is the classic term for the entire Iberian peninsula and not just what is now Spain.
When a Portuguese uses the term "Luso", he is referring to Lusitania which was one of the Roman provincial division within the whole of Hispania. When a Portuguese uses the term "Hispano", he is referring to the entire Iberian peninsula.
When a Castillian uses the term "Hispano" he is usually claiming the name solely for modern-day Spain in general and Castilla in particular much to the annoyance of the Portuguese, Catalans, Galicians and Basques.
When an American uses the term "Hispanic", he is usually referring to a Mexican of predominantly Meso-American Indian ancestry and will go so far as to say that white Spaniards are not really "Hispanic".
When a Mexican in Mexico uses the word "Hispano", he is referring to a European Spaniard.
If anyone has a claim to the name Hispanic it is a Spaniard or Portuguese from the Iberian Peninsula and, in Latin America, that is exactly what the term Hispano mean, something with a direct relationship to Iberia. A European Spanish bank doing business in Mexico or elsewhere in the world would call itself Hispano. For example: Santander Central Hispano.
In Mexico, individuals who still bears a huge chip on their shoulder that his Indian ancestors were conquered by Spain would go ballistic if you called them Hispanos just as Irish Republicans would go ballistic if you called them British.
Hispania, like Britannia has a proud history. Hispania was part of Roman civilization 200 years before the British Isles were ever civilized. Hispania produced the two Good Emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Yet, Politically Correct speech has stripped the ancient title of Hispania from Iberia.
There is no Hispanic race any more than there is a Britannic race.
My own family has its roots in Galicia and Asturias the ancient Celtic areas of northern Spain by way of Cuba for a few generations. My great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father, myself and my children were all born blond and blue-eyed as were their ancestors since before they ever came in contact with the Romans 2100 years ago. However, so-called Anglos now label me Hispanic because I was born in Cuba and have a Spanish surname and declare that I am no longer white.
Whats up with that?
If you note, in I Love Lucy, Ricky Ricardo never referred to himself as Hispanic. He referred to himself as Cuban.
Much confusion would be avoided if so-called Anglos adopted the Politically Incorrect Cuban habit of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
For example, Cubans would ethnically and racially classify the following individuals as follows:
Celia Cruz: Cubana Negra (Cuban Black)
Daisy Fuentes: Cubana Blanca (Cuban White)
Jennifer Lopez: Puertoriqueña Mulata (Puerto Rican Mulata)
Edgar Martinez: Puertoriqueña Blanco (Puerto Rican White)
Cesar Chavez: Mexicano Mestizo (Mexican Mestizo)
Peruvian ex-President Alberto Fujimori: Peruano Chino (Peruvian Asian) Yes, I know, he is Japanese and not Chinese. But, in Politically Incorrect Cubanese, every Asian is a "Chino".
Well having had very unpleasant meetings with some Spanish folks, I'd say they wear their whiteness on their sleeve when they come here to the US. Reminds of the Vicente Fox mentality and how stratified some people's mentality about color is. I disagree. I don't think the US needs to adopt the color struck attitude of some who think being called Mexican when they're Spaniard is an insult.
I noticed this thread on "Recent Posts" yesterday. I never checked the Post date..
The problem is not the color but the mixing up of everybody who comes from a Spanish-speaking country into one "Hispanic Race" and then having that term used as a code word when anything negative needs to be said about one particular group that nobody wants to specifically mention by name.
You will never see a headline in a newspaper about "Mexican" or "Chicano" social pathology in the U.S. The Politically Correct codeword is "Hispanic".
So, we are constantly bombarded with news about "Hispanic" crime rates, "Hispanic" teenaged pregnancy rates, "Hispanic" school drop-out rates, "Hispanic" gang membership stats, "Hispanic" poverty rates, "Hispanic" unemployment rates and "Hispanic" (insert any other social pathology that has been left out here).
As a Cuban American with a Spanish surname, I am then labelled "Hispanic" and become the unwilling co-owner of all the "Hispanic" headlines listed above that were earned by an ethnic group that I have no more in common with than French Canadians have in common with Haitians.
That is why I am in favor of using ethnic groups and not an imaginary "race" as an adjective. That way, if Mexicans have a high school drop-out rate or high teenaged preganacy rate or a high crime rate, then Mexicans get the specific blame instead of sharing it with the rest of us.
Fixation with race is a U.S. phenomenon. Why invent an imaginary "Hispanic Race" and then use it in newspaper headlines and Police reports?
If Daisy Fuentes, Celia Cruz, Cesar Chevez and Alberto Fujimori look-alikes all commit crimes in the same city, what useful purpose is served by having the Police announce that each suspect was an X year old, "Hispanic", (male/female) who is this tall and weighs this much?
The fact is that "Hispanic" will be rereved for the Chavez look-alike and "black", "white" and "Asian"will be reserved for the other three.
Thus, the white, black and Asian crime rate will take the blame, the generic "Hispanic" crime rate will take the blame and the Mexicans don't even get mentioned.
What useful purpose is served by mixing up Mexican crime rates and other social pathology rates with my ethnic group and my family?
The only purpose is to spread the blame and not single out Mexicans for their own social problems and therefore be Politically Correct.
Mitocondrial analysis of modern Spaniards shows that the mixture with moors is very, very little. This is something that has been clear for most of the specialists in Spanish History. Arabs dominated a vast extension of the world being very little. They based their domination in the previous population almost in every country they occuped. Thats way in Iran they remain being persians and in Turkey, turkish. Spanish genetical analysis shows that Spaniards is one of the most ancient population of Europe and than more than the 80% of the genetical background of Spaniards comes from the Cromognon group IX, more than 60.000 years old. So, even Celtic, and Roman inheritance for the Spaniards is mostly cultural and no racial. Surprinsingly, after studying relasionships between genetical background of the Spaniards with other countries in Europe and Nothern Africa, the populations that shared most commons ancestors with Spaniards, were Scotish and Irish. But that, as explained before, does not make Spain as the 7Th Celtic country as it has been named in some celtic forums.
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