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Problems with nationality labels

Problems with nationality labels

The US Government often uses the terms ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ to group together people who speak Spanish. Officially these labels describe regions of origin and not a person’s race. The term ‘Hispanic’ is derived from ‘Hispania’ which was the area conquered by the Spaniards. According to the US Census Bureau ‘hispanic’ refers to any person, regardless of race, creed, or colour, whose origins are of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or of some other Hispanic origin. Latino generally refers to countries (or cultures) that were once under Roman rule. This includes Italy, France, Spain, etc. Brazilians are considered to be Latino, but are not considered to be Hispanic. (Wolfe L, 2013)

Surely it is insensitive to lump together people by stating which countries conquered them many generations ago? The term Hispanic is criticised by some nationalities from southern America as they feel their national identity is being ignored and they are lumped together purely on the category of language and previous conquerors. There are standardised ethnic groupings that are used in each country. Generally in the UK the categories described in the 2001 census are utilised. If asking questions about ethnicity it is important to be transparent about the reasoning behind the asking of the question, and also what will be done with the information obtained.

Wolfe L, Which is Politically Correct: Latino or Hispanic? 01/03/13)

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