That is the question! Many people feel very strongly about being identified with one or the other term.

Hispanic is a term created by the U.S. federal government in the early 1970s in an attempt to provide a common denominator to a large, but diverse, population with connection to the Spanish language or culture from a Spanish-speaking country. It has been used by the U.S. Census since 1980. It often reflects the origin of Spanish-speaking people from Mexico, Central America, South America, or the Dominican Republic. Many people from the eastern region of the United States identify themselves as Hispanic.

The term Latino reflects the origin of people from Romance-language countries such as Spain. But there are many people from the western region of the United States that identify themselves as Latino. In the year 2000 U.S. Census, the government also started to use the term Latino after it was commonly used in the community.

What exactly does “origin” mean? It refers to the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States.

People who identify their origin as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race, and so the U.S. Census categorizesHispanics/Latinos with an ethnic distinction.

Although the terms Hispanic and Latino are often used interchangeably, neither label is universally accepted by the community.  A 2006 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 48% of Latino adults generally describe themselves by their country of origin first; 26% generally use the terms Latino or Hispanic first; and 24% generally call themselves American on first reference. As for a preference between Hispanic and Latino, a 2008 Center survey found that 36% of respondents prefer the term Hispanic, 21% prefer the term Latino and the rest have no preference.

What are your thoughts about using Hispanic or Latino? Is a label necessary? Can we be one happy family with a common language and culture that links us?

Hispanic or Latino?