Hispanic Heritage Month: Latino? Hispanic? Both? Neither?

by Danny Turkel, Digital Coordinator, NCLR




Colombian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Chilean, Salvadoran, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Cuban, Bolivian, Costa Rican, Brazilian, Honduran, Venezuelan, Mexican, Paraguayan, Nicaraguan, Argentine, Guatemalan, Ecuadorian, Panamanian.

How we identify ourselves, and how others identify us, comes to define us as a people. Because our culture and heritage are so significant in providing us with the lens through which we see and interact with the world, the debate surrounding identification is fueled by a deep passion, and we at NCLR recognize and celebrate that passion.

“Hispanic” was originally derived from the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula, Hispania, which is the root of “Spain,” “Spaniard,” and “Spanish.” The United States government officially adopted the term during the Nixon administration as a new option for the 1980 census. Today, it is predominately used in the Eastern United States.

“Latino” became an official census term in 2000, but was actually coined by the French in the 1860s during their alliance with Mexico. They referred to the region as Amérique latine, meaning “Latin America.” “Latino” has at various times been seen as a term of power and solidarity, or an imposed categorization. It is more commonly used in the American Southwest and California.

In modern parlance, “Hispanic” has come to mean someone descended from a Spanish-speaking region, while “Latino” is seen as representing a person from the region now known as Latin America, thanks to the French. Within these definitions, someone from Spain would be Hispanic, but not Latino, while a person from Brazil would be Latino, but not Hispanic.

PHC-2013-06-young-latinos-01-05 (1)A study by the Pew Research Center found that “more than half (52%) of Latinos ages 16 to 25 identify themselves first by their family’s country of origin, be it Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, or any of more than a dozen other Spanish-speaking countries. An additional 20% generally use the terms ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino’ first when describing themselves. Only about one-in-four (24%) generally use the term ‘American’ first.”

Organizationally, NCLR uses “Latino” and “Hispanic” interchangeably because it follows the use of the terms by the U.S. Census Bureau. That isn’t to say that we don’t recognize the differences in definition and usage of the terms. NCLR supports self-identification of all. If you identify as Hispanic, Latino, Peruvian, Cuban, what have you, we love knowing that you find strength and inspiration in your ancestry. If you follow in the footsteps of Cesar Chavez and are committed to reclaiming “Chicano,” we’re all for it. Maybe you want to empower all Hispanics, regardless of gender, and use Latin@ or Latinx instead? At the end of the day, NCLR stands for everyone in the United States who claims some part of that shared heritage.

This Hispanic Heritage Month has been an especially exciting one, with Hispanics (or
Latinos) having been in the forefront of so many national debates. While some of the rhetoric has been particularly toxic, it has raised the awareness and profile of Latinos (or Hispanics). Our community continues to progress and grow in exciting ways. We hope you’ll join us on this journey, no matter how you choose to describe yourself.

A Message from Don Francisco on Your Retirement

The U.S. Social Security Administration is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this year with some informational retirement resources for Latinos in both English and Spanish.

It’s never too early to start saving for retirement, yet as a group, Latinos have historically low participation in retirement savings plans. Hispanics overall tend to have less access to employer-sponsored retirement plans; in fact, about two-thirds of Latinos work for companies that do not offer a retirement plan.

Saving for retirement from an early age helps retirees put themselves in a stronger financial position, and because it’s never too early to start saving for retirement, the new retirement estimator from the Social Security Administration provides an estimate of your Social Security retirement benefits to help you plan.

The Social Security Administration also teamed up with Don Francisco from Sábado Gigante to help spread the word about the importance of saving for retirement and the Spanish-language resources the Social Security Administration has for Latinos.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, do the smart thing and start planning for your retirement!

Hispanic Heritage Month: Dedication to Civic Duty

by Danny Turkel, Digital Coordinator, NCLR

From helping defeat the British during the Revolutionary War to sitting on the Supreme Court, Hispanics have been an important presence in the civic fabric of the United States since before its founding. Part of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is recognizing Hispanic work and contributions to American society and government. Despite repeated attempts to smear and mischaracterize the Latino community as lazy or as interloping freeloaders, it would be a mistake to deny the instrumental role Latinos have had in the creation and support of the United States as we know it.

As the Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez would go on to play a major role in the fight for American independence from Great Britain. Providing much-needed supplies to the American colonies, which were under a British blockade, Gálvez helped prolong the American cause and prevented the British from surrounding the revolutionaries. Gálvez would later help draft the Peace of Paris, the formal end of the American Revolution. Afterwards, President George Washington honored him before the newly established American Congress.

For most children, growing up in a housing project with a single parent would be a major hindrance, but Sonia Sotomayor was determined to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer, famously saying, “I was going to college and I was going to become an attorney, and I knew that when I was 10. Ten. That’s no jest.” She did much more than that, becoming the first Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic descent on August 8, 2009. Since then, Sotomayor has been a staunch advocate on the bench for equality, civil liberties, and immigration reform.

Although these two people are separated by almost 170 years, their contributions to the United States illustrate the millions of Latinos who have worked to strengthen this country since before its founding. While some may try to deny it, Latinos are as much a part of the American story as Benjamin Franklin, Babe Ruth, and apple pie. To overlook that heritage is to ignore an integral part of what it means to be American. NCLR thanks all who have made positive impacts on the United States and we dedicate this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month to them.

Hispanic Heritage Month: A Look at Demographics

by Danny Turkel, Digital Coordinator, National Council of La Raza

FT_15.06.25_hispanic_trendLatinos are the fastest-growing minority in the United States. According to a recent Census Bureau study, 55.4 million people—or 17.4% of U.S. residents—are Latino. By 2060, Latinos are expected to account for 31% of the population, an estimated 129 million people. While some may attempt to attribute this growth to immigration from Central and South America, rates of immigration from Latin America are actually dropping. In 2007, foreign-born Latinos accounted for 40% of the Latino population in the United States. That number dropped to 36% in 2012. The Hispanic American community is growing within the United States and stands poised to become a major player in American culture, politics, and economics.

In addition to the population figures, the average age of Hispanics in the United States is 29 years old, and while it has risen from an average of 26 in 2000, the average Hispanic American is still younger than the average for African-Americans at 34, the average Asian at 36, and the average for Whites at 43. While the Hispanic population is maturing, Latinos will have a greater share of influence as other groups age.

Although the recent presidential primaries have presented a considerable amount of toxic rhetoric directed at Latinos, we will soon begin seeing Latinos courted on both sides of the aisle as they become an ever more important voting bloc. Almost one million Latinos reach voting age every year. In 2014, 25 million Latinos were eligible to vote. Although the voter turnout rate in 2012 among Latinos stood at 31%, this stems more from a lack of registration than a failure to vote. As more Latinos register to vote, the voting power of Latinos will become too powerful for politicians to ignore. Heavy political outreach to Hispanic communities will soon become a priority for both parties. As more Latinos become involved in the political process, the United States will become stronger as a whole.

Latinos are less represented in film today than in the 1950s, which is discouraging, but there is reason to hope Latino representation in popular culture will improve. Hispanic women are more likely to be featured in popular movies than both White and Asian women. Latinos also account for one-quarter of all movie ticket sales and control approximately one trillion dollars in spending power. As cultural influencers recognize the untapped potential of Latino audiences, it is reasonable to suspect they will target more entertainment toward Latinos.

Hispanics have made great strides asserting themselves in the United States. While there is still much progress to be made, it is safe to assume the Latino community will see greater representation in all facets of society and wield powerful influence as well. It’s exciting to see that progress build every day and NCLR is dedicated to helping guide that progress in order to improve the lives of all Latinos.