‘Hispanic’ is Now a Race

As recently reported in Latin Post, as of February 16 the US Court of Appeals has ruled that “Hispanic” is now officially considered a race.

Generally, the federal government treats Hispanic as a national origin and not a race. Definitions of “race” include:

  • Merriam-webster.com: a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock; a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits
  • Dictionary.com: a group of persons related by common descent or heredity; a population so related
  • TheFreeDictionary.com: A group of people identified as distinct from other groups because of supposed physical or genetic traits shared by the group. Most biologists and anthropologists do not recognize race as a biologically valid classification, in part because there is more genetic variation within groups than between them; A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution.
  • Census.gov: The data on race were derived from answers to the question on race that was asked of individuals in the United States. The Census Bureau collects racial data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and these data are based on self-identification.The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include racial and national origin or sociocultural groups. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian” and “White.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race. OMB requires five minimum categories: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
  • WhiteHouse.gov: The White House has information on “Interim Notice of Review and Possible Revision of OMB’s Statistical Policy Directive No. 15, Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting: Summary and Analysis of Public Comments and Brief Discussion of Research Agenda”


Questions to consider

Is the new designation of “Hispanic” as a race a positive or negative? Why/how?

How does this change the government’s definition of race?

How does this impact people who come from colonized areas and who are White/Hispanic, Black/Hispanic, Asian/Hispanic? NOTE: A while ago, after watching the video linked below, I did an informal poll of Filipino friends to see if they identified as Hispanic. All of them said they did not, even though the Philippines was once colonized by Spain. How will this new ruling effect Filipinos?

How does all of this relate to this video?



“Unless we’re going to do away with the classifications altogether, i actually support this. I cannot describe the expressions on some of my students’ faces when trying to explain to them that they are white (for the purpose of filling out paperwork)…Many native New Mexicans simply do not identify that way and I am sure that there are other Hispanic people who feel the same. Que viva la raza.” – Dusty

“Race is a [biological] fallacy… but as long as the government is operating from that fallacy it should make it more precise, so to distinguish Hispanic from White is a good thing.” – Cecile

“Growing up in NM, navigating how people identify has been difficult, because the Spanish were the oppressors but in modern terms Hispanic is considered a minority. When I say “difficult” I mean contentious and nearly impossible to get a common understanding. I don’t think this ruling will help.” – Alexis

“Being Brown, Latino Xican@, Latino Americano, etc., is too complex (and we don’t need to be defined, or identified, or categorized with their blunt taxonomy tools); also, we are not a “race”. We are many cultures and experiences and stories and languages and rituals and healing practices, dance, song, magic, medicine, architecture, and spiritual energies… To be lived, not explained.” – Jessie

Please join the conversation and add your comments below!


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