Juntos y Revueltos: The U.S. Latino Population at the End of the Twentieth Century

Arturo Madrid
Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities
Trinity University
San Antonio, Texas
April 4, 1996

I. Mirande’s Dilemma

Shortly after joining the faculty of Trinity University I taught a pilot seminar on the Latino population of the United States. It will serve as a testing ground for a course that I plan to introduce into the core curriculum. Mirande (not her real name) has signed up for the seminar. Her familial name is classically Spanish. Her first name could be too, except that it has an unusual spelling: Mirande. She is quiet, yet has firm opinions. When a male enrolls, almost two weeks late, into what has been an all- female class composed of four Mexican Americans and two Euro-Americans, she registers her unhappiness with me. The dynamics of the class will change, she says. And as I come to see, they do. My lone male student, a Latin American, ventures answers and opinions, informed and uninformed, with respect to the issues I raise and the questions I pose. The women fall silent and disapproval is visible on Mirande’s face.

I notice her facial responses during my presentations, infrequent given the seminar format of the course. I interpret them as lack of comprehension. My response is to restate my argument, refine my logic, underline my conclusions. Only at the end of the course, in her evaluation and in a follow-up conversation, does she reveal the reason for her grimaces. She has understood where I am going, but has not always agreed with my premises or my conclusions, in particular those having to do with names. And she has not felt comfortable in challenging me or in pursuing issues of concern to her in the presence of either non-Hispanics or a Latin American. Moreover, although she has enjoyed and learned a great deal from the course, it has not resolved her issues. I still don’t know what I am, writes this young woman whose features are undeniably Mexican, whose parents own a Mexican restaurant, whose grandparents and relatives live in Mexico, who has lived her life in a community far from Mexico, from most Mexican Americans, and from all other Latinos.

Anyone’s reaction to her statement would be disbelief. The expected response would be to say, “you are Mexican, or at the very least Mexican American.” But she is not denying who she is. She is not running away from her otherness. She knows she cannot. Her name, her physical appearance, would betray her, even if her speech patterns (unlike mine) would not. She knows Mexicans and Mexico, and she is not Mexican. Moreover, she has not grown up in a Mexican American community. Her generation does not use the label Mexican American and given her life experiences, she does not identify with the Chicanos with whom she has come in contact. She has little in common with the Latinos she has met and the term Latino is not one she uses. My interpretation of the competing denotations and connotations of Latino and Hispanic has not convinced her, although it has raised doubts in her mind about her understanding of the uses and meanings of her preferred term: Hispanic.

Mirande is one of 24,000,000 persons classified as Hispanics by the 1990 U.S. Census, one of the 15,000,000 persons born in the United States. She is one of 15,000,000 persons of Mexican-origin counted by the 1995 Current Population Survey. Born in the U.S. of Mexican-immigrant parents, she is a mono-lingual English speaker. Her age is close to the median age for the Mexican-origin population: 24.6 years. Otherwise her demographics are at variance with those of the majority of Mexican-origin persons in the U.S. Home is a small midwestern community, with a minuscule Mexican-origin population, where she completed high school. After graduation she will pursue a professional degree somewhere in Texas.

I do not propose that Mirande, her views, or her realities are representative of the majority of persons of Mexican origin in the United States or even of that larger population classified as Hispanic by the U.S. Census. Most Latinos, whether of Mexican-origin or not, do not live in small towns, and only a minuscule number attend selective institutions of higher education. Moreover most Latinos have a very clear sense of their national-origin, even if they use the term Hispanic. But our world, the world of the Latino population of the United States has changed dramatically in the last quarter century, and the verities of the 1960’s and 1970’s no longer hold.

II . Juntos y Revueltos

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, we, the majority of the population today denominated Hispanic or Latino, were discrete populations---Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans--- separated by geography, cultural modes, historical experience, civic status, even language. We did not come together very much, and when we did we treated each other delicately, politely, perhaps even patronizingly (“los cubanos sobresalen en el aula; los puertorriqueños en la sala” or “ustedes los mexicanos son muy folclóricos”). We had our own customs, music, food, ways of being. As a consequence of our different histories, we interacted with the Anglo-American population in different ways. Our numbers were small and we were so widely dispersed that we were, for the most part, invisible. Our presence in American institutions was negligible.

Today we come from every Spanish-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere (See tables 1 and 2). It is an unprecedented phenomenon, this “...coming together in one nation of millions of representatives of all the pueblos americanos,” writes Suzanne Oboler in her book, Ethnic Labels, Latino Lives. (1) Our numbers have grown dramatically and are superseded only by Mexico’s 88 million, Colombia’s 33 million, and Argentina’s 32 million. We have also become exceedingly diverse in our national origins: over half a million Salvadorans; half a million Dominicans; almost 400,000 Colombians; over 200,000 Guatemalans and Nicaraguans; almost 200,000 Ecuadorians. (2) We have become a national population, no longer geographically defined. We live in the Northeast, the Southeast, the Southwest and the Northwest. We have transformed entire communities: South Central Los Angeles; San Francisco’s Mission District; Miami’s Southeast ; San Antonio’s Northside; The District of Columbia’s Adams-Morgan; Boston’s Roxbury; New York’s Barrio; Chicago’s Pilsen District. What once were Mexican or Puerto Rican or Cuban communities have become communities composed of persons of diverse national and regional origins in the Americas.

Our dramatic growth, moreover, has propelled us into the consciousness of the U.S. public and our numbers have spawned both markets and products. Many industries have an advertising, sales, and public relations staff dedicated specifically to the “Hispanic” market. “Hispanic” public figures, professionals, politicians, and personalities are now featured prominently in mainstream media. Spanish-language television is available through cable nationally, and every sizable U.S. community has a Spanish-language radio station and frequently a Spanish-language weekly as well. The “Hispanic” vote is a reality, if frequently mis-interpreted and overstated. “Hispanic” artistic and cultural expression now command attention and a market. While we may still not claim ownership in America’s institutions, we occupy corners and occasionally, rooms in them. I am reminded here of Julio Cortazar’s masterly short story, Casa ocupada, in which an apparently ferocious beast, never seen, stealthily takes over a family home, room by room. In the (non-ethnic, non-familial sector of the) restaurant industry, to take a small example, 25 years ago Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, if employed, were dishwashers; 20 years ago they became visible as busboys; 15 years ago mexicanos entered the ranks of short-order cooks; Latino waiters started appearing a decade ago; today Latinos are frequently maitres d’s and chefs, and sometimes even managers and owners.

We find ourselves --- whether caribes, centroamericanos, latinoamericanos, or mexico-norteamericanos --- living, working, and studying side by side (juntos), lumped together (agregados) arbitrarily by bureaucrats, marketers, journalists, policymakers and politicians; increasingly joined together (enlazados) by marriage and, inevitably biologically and culturally commingled (revueltos). “The objective boundaries that separate one group of Latinos from another,” writes María Eva Valle, “are not as clearly defined as they were before. These changes are influencing how Latinos are perceived by the public, and how they perceive themselves.” (3) What has occurred as a consequence, what is increasingly occurring, is a search for an appropriate public identity, one that supersedes (but does not supplant) our national, regional, and cultural identities, and a corresponding political praxis, one that bridges (but does not ignore) our many differences and permits us to struggle together so that we may take our rightful place in U.S. society.

III. The U.S. Latino Experience(s)

My pilot seminar is now a course titled The U.S. Latino Experience, and is part of the Common Curriculum of my institution. The course title is, in large measure, a misnomer. In fact there are many Latino experiences, because there are many Latino communities with different experiences. Twenty-five years ago I would have taught a course with a different title and focus. The students who would have enrolled in such a class would have identified as Chicano and their demographic profile would have matched that of the majority of the Mexican-origin population of the U.S.

My current students, despite the location of my university, reflect contemporary reality and can be mapped across the entire Latino spectrum: class, culture, ethnicity, geography, nationality, and race. Sam is from Colombia; Pablo was born in Ecuador; Juan has a Salvadoran mother and a Nicaraguan father; Carlos’ mother is Paraguayan; Cristina’s parents are Argentinean; Sara’s are Guatemalan, despite the Chinese last name; Linda is Puerto Rican. Jaime’s grandfather migrated to Mexico from Lebanon, then moved to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas; Reyna’s parents are Mexican citizens who live in the United States. Erlinda was 12 when her parents crossed the U.S.-Mexico border; Kimberly’s parents were born in Mexico but grew up here. Xochitl is third-generation Mexican American. Glen is from New Mexico, and can trace his Spanish-Mexican ancestry to the 17th Century. Several Latino students have names such as Jones, Lyons, Miller, et. al. They are rich and they are poor; they are citizen and resident alien; their phenotypes range across the entire spectrum. There are also a sprinkling of non-Latinos, some looking to fulfill a curricular requirement, others curious, still others deeply interested in the subject. The word, moreover, is getting around. I have been asked to schedule the course at an hour convenient for the Puerto Rican engineering majors. Students stop by my office to ask when I’ll teach the course again---they are Chilean, Cuban, Dominican, Panamanian, Peruvian, et.al. in addition to Mexican American.

The U.S. Latino Experience is a course more about questions than about answers. The catalogue description of the course provides an initial and shorthand answer to the question: What is this course all about? The answer---the historical experience and development of the Hispanic/Latino population of the United States--- in turn leads to other sets of questions that underline that particular statement: Who comprises the Hispanic/Latino population of the United States? Why study this population? Why is its historical experience and development of significance? What are the fundamental premises or assumptions that govern the approach to the subject matter? And of course, the most important one: so what?

IV. Why So Many Names?

I start with names. They are curious about names, as is confirmed by a questionnaire in which I ask them to list issues that are of concern or interest to them. What does Hispanic mean? Where does it come from? What is the basis of the opposition to Hispanic? Who does it include/exclude? Why call ourselves Latinos? Why can’t I just be Argentinean, or Colombian, or Ecuadorian, or Peruvian? Who is Boricua? Who is a Nuyorican? Who is a Chicano? What is the difference between Chicano and Mexican American? Why do people not want to be called Mexican? What does raza mean? What is a cholo? a pocho? a pachuco? Why the demeaning, disparaging, derogatory names? Why this obsession with names? Why so many names? Can’t we all agree on one?

I explain that that names are fundamental to our individual and group identity; that although we name ourselves, we are also named; that naming both confers and/or denies status; and that the history of the Latino communities of the U.S. is reflected in the nomenclature (4). We go back into history and examine the designations -- castellanos, criollos, cristianos, españoles, españoles-mexicanos, gente de razón, indianos, la raza, mexicanos --- as well as the names given to the “other”: indios, gente sin razón, mestizos, mulatos, coyotes, salta-atrás, etc. In the course of time, in the part of the universe that my ancestors occupied, we became arizonenses, californianos, nuevo mejicanos, tejanos: regional labels. In other relevant geographical spaces the population took on national names: cubano, dominicano, puertorriqueño, etc.

I use the handle of names to lead into a discussion of the role of U.S. foreign policy in the creation of the Latino communities of the United States over two centuries, beginning with the Mexican American community in the middle of the 19th Century, followed by the Puerto Rican and Cuban communities at the end of the 19th Century, and the Caribbean and Central American communities in the second half of the 20th Century. They contextualize, for the first time, events and concepts they have vaguely heard before: the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Cold War, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, imperialism, conquest, colonialism, filibusterismo, neo-colonialism, the Reagan Doctrine. I explain how the original Mexican and Puerto Rican population and their descendants were racialized --- that is, how they were classified, by U.S. society and the U.S. government, as non-white--- and thus systematically excluded from the imagined American community even as the U.S. expanded its borders to include them. They read about the consequences of a century-long process of racialization, namely dispossession, displacement, exploitation, exclusion, and segregation. (5)

I explain that when the “Americans” conquered what is now the U.S. Southwest in the middle of the 19th Century, we acquired new names: the ones the Americans gave us and the ones we used ourselves in response to theirs. They called us Mexicans in a variety of pronunciations, and it was not our nationality but our racial, cultural, and class make-up that they were labeling. Because when it was in their interests to make distinctions between rich and poor, powerful and weak, desirable or undesirable, acceptable or not-acceptable, we became Spanish. There were other and many names, all meant to demean and diminish us, as if their use of the label “Mexican” was not already amply degrading. As English imposed itself, we were forced to take on other names --- Spanish, Spanish-Americans, Latin-Americans -- - in response to appellations that demeaned us or that denied us civic and social status. Our experience in this regard was not unique. It was shared by other American populations---Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Central and South Americans ---- who experienced U.S. imperialism directly, as well as by non-European immigrants --- Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, et. al. --- who were also affected by the same phenomenon in their own countries and as they were drawn into the developing nation. I tell them that we also had other names, given to us by recent immigrants, who were dismayed by our cultural and linguistic lapses and were resentful of the slight status that our knowledge of English gave us. To them, we who had been part of the other Mexico (el otro México), the Mexico taken over by the United States, became personas non grata, labeled cholos, pochos, pelados and considered gentuza, traidores, vendidos, et. al.

V. Do I Want To Hear This?

These are not comfortable sessions, not for the Latino students and especially not for the non-Latinos. Our national history is a raw and only slightly-closed wound. My non-Latino students become uncomfortable. So much of this history is centered in the Western U.S., the land of their ancestors and a region they inhabit. It is therefore difficult for them to distance themselves from that history. They raise questions about the detail, but unspoken is the larger issue of interpretation: was it really that brutal and calculating or is this a biased view? What about the other side? Didn’t we bring democracy and progress to them? The majority of the Latino students, practiced in their accommodations to a dominant culture, grow quiet. Evident on their faces is anxiety. They also find it difficult to distance themselves from matters that affected their forebears and continue to affect their families, their friends, their neighbors, even if their experiences have been otherwise or their circumstances different. Their questions are: Do I want to hear this? In mixed company? They do not want to give offense. Their non-Hispanic classmates are frequently their friends. Others, sensitive to the contemporary discourse of victimization, ask: Was there no resistance? Still others, my Latin American students, think: Does this have anything to do with me?

I move to a second topic of interest to them, the “Movement,” as manifested in the multitudinous essays, journal issues, books, novels, poems, songs, plays, videos, films, documentaries produced during the 1960’s and 1970’s and following. The texts --- print, aural, visual --- describe the struggle of Chicanos and Puerto Ricans for civil, economic and political rights and for full participation in the institutions of U.S. society. Above all , the “Movement” affirms the cultural and racial complexity of Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, which U.S. society had disparaged and which had excluded these populations as a class from the imagined American community.

History takes on a very different character for my Latino students. It is no longer intangible or something to distance themselves from. I contextualize the “Movement”, imbed it in a long history of resistance (social banditry, armed rebellion, labor unionism, mutualism, electoral participation, political advocacy, community organizing, defense of civil rights, et. al.) and of the larger social and political struggles, both national and international, of the period (the Civil Rights Movement, Third World liberation movements, the Anti-Vietnam War Movement). They grasp the relation of ethnic and racial pride to full participation in the institutional life of the U.S. society. They see the significance of the inversion of the naming process realized by the use of names or labels with low status: Chicano, Nuyorican. For my Latino students, whatever their national origins or identity, the knowledge is affirming and empowering. My non-Latino students, on the other hand, while fascinated by the dynamics of the “Movement”, become defensive as the rhetoric becomes increasingly more radical and nationalistic.

VI. Demography and Nomenclature

I cut the tension by moving to a consideration of the demography of the various Latino communities. My non-Latino students sit up and take notice. The differences between and among the groups revealed by disaggregating census information startles them, whether the data has to do with the demographic characteristics (age, gender, national origin, race) or with the demographic composition (education, fertility, income, occupation, et.al.) of the various Latino groups. The contradictions become evident, sharp, and for the Mexican American students, even painful.

I move them back to names, this time to the scholarly discussion of the implications of nomenclature in the context of demographic studies. (6) A principal goal of that discussion is clarification, is an insistence on explaining to an uncomprehending audience who it is that is being discussed---not just resident aliens and recent immigrants, but citizens whose history is inextricably tied to the evolution of the U.S. The discussion, however, is also about identity, given the historical exclusion of these populations from the imagined American community as well as of major changes in the make-up of the Latino population. The debate is a charged one, and although it has been going on for over two decades, its intense phase is recent. The earliest literature has to do with the search for political and historical identities that reflect a conflictive U.S. experience. The most recent addresses the tension between the affirmation of historical, political, and national-origin identities in the face of nomenclature that would erase them. There are reports on surveys which seek to determine what people prefer to call themselves. There are essays that discuss the competitive advantages and disadvantages of the universal terms Hispanic and Latino, with most weighing in on the side of Latino. The most intense discussions have to do with the distorted portrait of heterogeneous communities resulting from the aggregation of data and with the creation of an artificial, homogeneous community through the use of a universal label: Hispanic. The label, most opine, conflates national origins, differing historical experiences, and cultural, ethnic, social, and racial differences, and in so doing liquidates the history of the longest-term and largest Latino communities.

VII. Hispanics: A Self-Inflicted Wound

The appellation is in part a self-inflicted wound, the result of efforts by middle- class Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans to dull the radicalizing edge of Chicano and Nuyorican ideologies, to find an encompassing label that will for policy purposes gather disparate groups into one fold; it is an empowerment strategy in the context of ethnic politics. (7) Despite its long-standing status as a legislative (and liberal Democrat) proposal the label, ironically, acquires official status through presidential initiative, when Richard Nixon proclaims “Hispanic Heritage Week” in 1969, a date which was to include September 15 and 16, because it was when (according to the text accompanying the proclamation) “...five Central American nations ---- Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Mexico (sic) celebrate independence days.” The 1970 U.S. Census incorporated that designation, and the label spread like a virus. In Suzanne Oboler’s words:

“A century after the war against Spain, which established U. S. political hegemony over the Western Hemisphere, ...the racialization and ethnic homogenization of the [Mexican-origin and Puerto Rican]...population [was]... publicly and officially endorsed and reinforced in terms of an ethnic label, Hispanic” (p. 161).

Martha E. Giménez, arguing against standardized terminology in general, categorizes the various Latino populations into minorities who have been historically excluded and exploited (Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans), political refugees, and economic immigrants, whose economic and human resources differ. “[T]he Hispanic ‘label,’---she writes---fulfills primarily ideological and political functions...[I]ts presence in scientific and popular discourse adds nothing to knowledge while it strengthens racist stereotypes (p.560)” She goes on to say that the label makes culture the determining factor in whether members of a group succeed or don’t in U.S. society, rather than the economic and or human capital at their disposal. “ ‘Hispanicity’ “, she concludes, “..seems to be equivalent, at best, to ‘traditional culture’ and, at worst, to the culture of poverty (p.560).”

Suzanne Oboler is even more damning. “Hispanic,” she says, “is a stigmatizing label.” It denies, confuses, and misrepresents its referents, even when they might use it to shield them from other and debasing appellations. It is a way, she continues, “...of not dealing with differences or with the unpleasantries of history,” (p. 81) namely the process by which Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans were made second-class citizens. Notwithstanding the different nature of the entrance of later Latino populations into the U.S. or differences in their individual or collective national origin, racial, make-up, material resources, or human capital, Oboler argues, subsequent immigrants are inevitably racialized and homogenized ethnically.

What also occurs in the process is that the latest migrants both accept and reject the label, but resist the labeling process, as they become aware of its implications. Oboler and others have recorded the ambivalence of their responses. (8) In the case of persons of middle-class origin, the label demeans them. It takes their identity from them and replaces it with a less valued one. They are not Hispanic, but here they are so classified. They do not take it personally. It is a social category they have to work with. They have their status, which derives from who they were in their society of origin. And it also has its advantages. Being classified Hispanic makes them eligible for opportunities (employment, education, economic) that otherwise might not be available.

Working-class immigrants, on the other hand, are not disposed to accept the term. To be sure they believe that they are better-off in the U.S. than in their own country, and measure their lives in those terms. The label Hispanic has negative connotations and is to be avoided. It refers to persons and groups that have little or no status in U.S. society, and from whom they seek to distance themselves. They take being called Hispanic personally. It affects their status in U.S. society. And it does not offer any advantages.

VIII. Born in The U.S.A.

Notwithstanding widespread ambivalence about or outright rejection of the use of a universal label, we now have a generation of persons born in the U.S. who have grown up hearing and using the term Hispanic. In many cases the use of Hispanic may be situational; that is, the label is used to identify oneself in circumstances where the subject chooses not to explain her/his private or familial or even political identity. There are, however, increasing numbers of persons not unlike my student, Mirande, whose connection to their ancestral culture of origin is remote, and/or who in many cases have not grown up in circumstances that defined them in terms of their parents’ national origins. Their life experiences in U.S. society, moreover, have brought them in contact with persons who also prefer Hispanic to other appellations. The name Hispanic is used also by many in reaction to a century-plus-long disparagement of their very being as Mexicans or Puerto Ricans. For all, however, Hispanic is principally a descriptor of a recognized if not accepted “otherness,” preferable to other appellations, which can serve to bring people together around shared professional (National Society of Hispanic Engineers) or economic (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) or “cultural” (Hispanic Arts Administrators) interests. It has not evidenced any galvanizing political force, whether electoral or otherwise, and thus it is not likely that the multiple Latino populations can or will develop a pan-ethnic Hispanic identity. For starters, the dynamics of race and ethnicity as they manifest themselves in the United States mitigate against such an occurrence. Secondly, our class and cultural differences are great and run deep (See Tables 3 and 4 for measures of those differences), and they are continually reinforced as a consequence of modern technology, which not only makes possible instant and constant communication with one’s place of origin, but also facilitates continuous movement back and forth between the country of origin and the U.S. of both citizens and non-citizens alike. Third, and perhaps most compellingly, the myth of the American dream resonates powerfully not only among all sectors of the immigrant communities, but especially among the upwardly mobile sectors of the Mexican American and Puerto Rican communities. The latter in particular perceive the changes U.S. society has been undergoing over the past several decades as leading to the formation of an imagined multi-cultural American community which includes them, and attribute the inability of other Hispanics to succeed academically, economically, socially, or politically to “cultural” factors. Needless to say, affirmative action and immigration have increased significantly the amount of “Hispanic” human capital present in U.S. society and as a consequence, the numbers of “Hispanic” corporate executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, etc. are large and growing significantly. We can thus expect a continuation of business as usual.

IX. Towards An Imagined Latino Community

We still have with us, however, the descendants of the original Mexican American and Puerto Rican communities, for whom there is no recourse, who are caught betwixt and between, neither part of the imagined American community on the one hand, nor members of a national community left behind, and who are only passively Hispanic. For those who cannot realize the American dream, what options are there? Is an oppositional Latino identity an option? Could it incorporate those persons who in another moment had the option of affirming their identities as Chicanos or Nuyoricans?

While the number of persons who identify as Hispanic has grown dramatically since 1970, so too has the number of persons for whom Latino is the preferred term of reference and the principal mode of identification. This phenomenon has been mainly if not exclusively an urban one, the result of the intermingling of communities of diverse national origins, whether residentially or institutionally. If the use of Latino by members of said communities initially represented a means of bridging cultural or national difference, it has become a way of coming together around shared interests and concerns. (9) In addition, says Suzanne Oboler, Latino is also being increasingly used by persons of Latin American origin “who are aware of and are affected by discrimination and prejudice against them as Latinos (p. 20).”

We may be thus witnessing the development of an imagined Latino community, one that cuts across differences in national-origin, socio-economic status, cultural modes, and even racial make-up. Its manifestations may be seen in artistic, cultural, and intellectual expression in which the “character” of the “product(s)” and/or of the “producer(s)” is/are not specific to a culture, or a region or a nation. Conceivably it can be found in political organizing that transcends national origins, whether around the conditions of workers, immigration policy, economic policy, or social policy deemed deleterious to Latinos. The former is intangible, idealistic and theoretical, while the latter is concrete, pragmatic and situational. While they might have some ideological points of contact, they have not been made explicit. As our numbers grow and our origins become more diverse and diffused, is an imagined Latino community possible? If so, who will define it? Who will constitute it? Who will not be part of it? And on what basis? What role will language and by extension culture play in determining that community? Will Latin American class mentalities replace U.S. racial ones? In the end we are left with more questions than answers. The history of the development of imagined national communities does not offer much encouragement, since (to paraphrase Renato Rosaldo) their “...solidarity emerge[d] more from homogeneity than from diversity.” (10) We find ourselves at the end of the 20th Century thus looking for new models with which to enter the 21st Century.


1. Oboler, Suzanne, Ethnic Labels, Latino Lives: Identity and the Politics of (Re)Presentation in the United States. University of Minnesota Press, 1995, p. xiii.

2. Hodgkinson, Harold L., Hispanic Americans: A Look Back, A Look Ahead. Center for Demographic Policy, 1996, p. 33.

3. Valle, María Eva, "The Quest for Ethnic Solidarity and a New Public Identity among Chicanos and Latinos," Latino Studies Journal , v. 2, n. 3., 1991, p. 75.

4. Gutiérrez, Ramón A., " Unraveling America’s Hispanic Past: Internal Stratification and Class Boundaries," Aztlán, An International Journal for Chicano Research, v. 17, n. 1, 1987, 79-101.

5. Barrera, Mario A., Race and Class in the Southwest. A Theory of Racial Inequality. University of Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame-London, 1979.

6. Arce, Carlos and Aida Hurtado, "Mexicans, Chicanos, Mexican Americans, or Pochos, Que somos?" Aztlán, An International Journal for Chicano Research, v. 17, n. 1, 1987, 103-130; Calderón, José, " ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’: The Viability of Categories for Panethnic Unity". Latin American Perspectives, Issue 75, v. 19, n. 4, 1992, 37-44; Giménez, Martha E., " ‘Latino/Hispanic’-Who Needs a Name? The Case against a Standardized Terminology," International Journal of Health Services, v. 19, n. 3, 1989, p. 557-571; Hayes-Bautista, David and Jorge Chapa, "Latino Terminology: Conceptual Bases for Standardized Terminology", American Journal of Public Health, v. 77, n. 1, 1987, 61-71; Maldonado, Lionel A., "Latino Ethnicity: Increasing Diversity," Latino Studies Journal, v. 2, n. 3, 1991, 49-57; Survey and Analysis, New Mexico Historical Review, v. 49, 1974, 49-73; Murgufa, Edward, "On Latino/Hispanic Ethnic Identity", Latino Studies Journal, v. 2,n. 3, 1991, 9-18; Nostrand, Richard L., "’Mexican American’ and ‘Chicano’: Emerging Terms for a People Coming of Age," Pacific Historical Review, v. 42, n. 3, 1973, 389-406; Rodríguez, Clara E., "Race, Culture, and Latino ‘Otherness’ in the 1980 Census," Social Science Quarterly, v. 73, n. 4, 1992, 930-938; Trevino, Fernando M., "Standardized Terminology for Hispanic Populations," American Journal of Public Health, v. 77, n. 1, 1987, 69-72; and Villanueva, Tino, "Sobre el termino ‘chicano,’" Cuadernos Americanos, v. , n. 1978.

7. Forbes, Jack D., "The Hispanic Spin: Party Politics and Governmental Manipulation of Ethnic Identity," Latin American Perspectives, Issue 75, v. 19, n. 4, 1992, 59-78; and Gomez, Laura, "The Birth of the 'Hispanic' Generation: Attitudes of Mexican-American Political Elites toward the Hispanic Label," Latin American Perspectives, Issue 75, V, 19, n. 4, 1992, 45-58.

8. In addition to works cited above see also Rodolfo de la Garza, et.al., Latino Voices: Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban Perspectives on American Politics, Westview Press, Boulder, CO., 1992.

9. Padilla, Félix M., Latino Ethnic Consciousness: The Case of Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans in Chicago. University of Notre Dame Press: South Bend, Indiana. 1995; Sáenz, Rogelio and Benigno E. Aguirre, "A Futuristic Assessment of Latino Ethnic Identity," Latino Studies Journal, v. 2 , n. 3, 1991, 19-32; and Sommers, Laurie Kay, "Inventing Latinismo: The Creating of ‘Hispanic’ Panethnicity in the United States," Journal of American Folklore, Winter 1991, v. 104, n. 411, 32-54.

10. Rosaldo, Renato, Re-Imagining National Communities, Stanford Chicano Research Center Working Paper #36, Stanford University, 1991. Rosaldo’s working paper is a commentary on Benedict Anderson’s study, Imagined Communities.


Table 1: Demongraphic Profile of Persons of Hispanic Origin

(Note: Data are for 1993 unless otherwise indicated)
Total population, 199322,752,000100.0
Total population, 199021,900,089100.0
Change, 1990-1993851,0893.9
Projected population, 2000,percent change 1993-200031,166,00037.0
Number/Percent of total population under age 52,525,47211.1
Number/Percent of total population < 18 (est.)7,940,44834.9
Number/Percent of total population age 65 and over1,228,6085.4
Median age---26.7
Number/Percent of the population who are foreign born7,841,65035.8
Arrived 1980 to 1990, as a percent of total foreign born3,974,98050.7
Arrived before 1980 as a percent of total foreign born3,866,67049.3
Number/Percent of the population who do not speak English "very well," 1990/as a percent of total population age 5 and over7,716,79539.4
ORIGIN (most populous groups)
Mexican, as a percent of total Hispanic population14,628,00064.3
Puerto Rican, as a percent of total Hispanic population2,402,00010.6
Cuban, as a percent of total Hispanic population1,071,0004.7
Central and South American, as a percent of total Hispanic population3,052,00013.4
Other Hispanic origin, as a percent of total Hispanic population1,598,0007.0
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, The Hispanic Population in the United States: March 1993; Population Projections for States, by Age, Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin: 1993-2000, and the 1990 Census of Population: Persons of Hispanic Origin in the United States, Washington D.C>: Government Printing Office.

Talbe 2: Hispanic Diversity, 1990

.PopulationPercent of total
Total Hispanic21,900,089100.0
Puerto Rican2,651,81512.1
Other Hispanic*4,801,86921.0
Dominican (Dominican Republic)520,1512.4
Central American1,323,8306.0
Costa Rican57,2230.3
South American1,035,6024.7
Spanish American93,3200.4
*Includes other groups not shown separately.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of Population, Persons of Hispanic Origin in the United States. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.  

Table 3: Education Characteristics -- Persons of Hispanic Origin

Persons age 3 and over enrolled in preprimary through high school, 19905,653,702100.0
In public school as a percent of total enrolled5,173,07891.5
Number of persons enrolled in college, 1990/percent of total enrollment1,493,3645.5
Persons age 5-17 in linguistically isolated households, 1990/as a percent of all persons 5 years and over in households1,150,2036.0
Total population age 25 and over11,226,793100.0
High school graduate only as a percent of population age 25+2,419,62321.6
Bachelors' degree or higher as a percent of population age 25+1,027,7599.2
Median earnings for all full-time, year-round persons age 18 and over, 1993$22,307
High school graduate only, 1993 $19,091
Bachelors' degree only, 1993 $29,828
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Educational Attainment in the United States: March 1993 and 1992 and 1990 Census of Population: Persons of Hispanic Origin in the United States and Social and Economic Conditions, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.  

Table 4: Demographic Profiile: Hispanic Ethnic Groups and Total US Population

American Other
Total (in millions)
Percent (of all Hispanics)64.310.64.713.47.0--
Percent under age 57.812.
Percent age 65 and over12.14.25.820.43.98.5
Median age33.624.626.943.628.632.5
Percent of population 5 and over that 
do not speak English "very well", 19906.138.933.548.555.130.2
Educational Attainment
American Other
Total population age 25 and over
(in millions)
Percent high school graduates or more80.246.259.862.162.968.9
Percent bachelor's degree or more21.
Families with children (under age 18 by type, 1990)
American Other
Married couples with children 
as percent of all families37.251.434.733.147.237.9
Mother only with children 
as percent of all families9.
Percent under age 18 
living with both parents73.069.846.871.568.264.7
Labor Force Status/Occupation
American Other
Total population age 16 and over 
(in millions)
Percent in labor force65.566.656.157.570.565.7
Percent unemployed7.411.715.520.313.210.8
Total employed males age 16 
and over (in millions)
Percent managerial and 
professional specialty26.58.715.520.315.319.5
Percent service occupations10.615.222.412.517.815.4
Percent precision production, 
craft, repair laborers and operators37.950.442.444.444.743.0
Total employed females age 16 
and over (in millions)
Percent managerial and 
professional specialty28.813.618.518.415.722.2
Percent service occupations18.024.919.920.131.619.1
Percent precision production, 
craft, repair, laborers and operators9.618.013.212.621.014.1
American Other
Percent of total population with incomes
below poverty level14.530.136.518.126.723.1
Population under age 18 in poverty/as a 
percent of all persons below poverty39.649.152.919.238.538.5
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, The Hispanic Population 
in the United States: March 1993 and 1990 Census of Population: Persons of Hispanic Origin in 
the United States, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.