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Episode 4: Hispanic Versus Latino

Thu, Aug 27, 2009

Episode 4



by Dan Grech (Jose Maya contributed to this piece.)

Top row: Cesar Guida (parents are Cuban), Kim Lewis (mother is from Peru), Vania Campos (Peru)  Bottom row: Michael Lombrozo (European, lives in Miami), Rubi Rosado (Mexican tourist), Carlos Reyes (Honduras)/ Jose Maya

Dan Grech gets a government form in the mail and he’s asked to decide: Is he Hispanic, or “a big white guy?” He’s pretty sure he’s not Latino.

To sort it all out, he invited demographer Maria Aysa to the studio.

In this piece, she explains the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino, and why some people are so adamant about using one instead of the other.

She also explains how the labels came about in the first place.  The government introduced the Hispanic label, to help gauge whether minorities had equal rights.  Then Latinos pretty much invented their own label, based on their Latin American origins.

That means there are Latinos who don’t speak Spanish, and Spanish-speakers who aren’t Latino…

In the end, says Aysa, the definitions go beyond language.  It’s about ethnicity, identity and political muscle.

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