FROMA HARROP: Latinos are actually just another ethnic group | Opinion


Latinos can be from the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Cuba, Spain, and of course, Mexico. They can be any skin color, although social activists and other counterchiefs often refer to them as “brown.” The number of people claiming Hispanic ancestry increased 23% between 2010 and 2020, according to new Census Bureau figures. The group now represents nearly 19% of the total population.

The preferred title of the census report, however, is that the white population actually declined slightly between 2010 and 2020. However, dig deeper and you will see that the number of people identifying as mixed race has exploded over the past 10 years. There is no doubt that there are more Métis Americans today, but a 276% increase undoubtedly includes many who identified as simply white.

It may reflect, as University of Texas demographer Rogelio Saenz said, “a greater appreciation for people’s multicultural and multiracial roots.”

To complicate matters, Latino immigrants are often of mixed heritage on the day they arrive. Why then can we not stop this racial count as the French did? If we are to group people into categories, let’s stick to ethnicity, defined as a common cultural tradition.

Nebraskans of Czech origin still make kolaches for the good old days. Italian Americans in New Jersey serve lasagna. Likewise, Latinos born in the United States can prepare fajitas if their ancestors were from Mexico or, if the Philippines was the country of origin, adobo.

“Foreign” foods don’t stay foreign here for long anyway. Tacos now rival burgers and pizza as America’s staples.

The census report has predictably turned into a discussion of immigration, but even here the numbers lead to flawed conclusions. Historically, Mexicans Americans are the only group that began to become U.S. citizens not because they immigrated, but because the border shifted to include them.

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded California and much of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Colorado to the United States. He fixed the border with Texas at the Rio Grande.

In 1854, the Gadsden Purchase enabled the United States to acquire an additional 30,000 square miles from Mexico, roughly the size of Scotland. This area is now southern Arizona, including Tucson, and southwestern New Mexico.

This is by no means an endorsement of the Reconquista, a radical movement that seeks to bring parts of the American Southwest back to Mexico. The border is where it is now, and we should want an immigration program that is humane but also respects the law. I’m just saying Latinos aren’t really “newcomers” to the American scene.

It is evident that the children of immigrants today who work, speak English and pay rent are more like the children of past waves of immigration than they are different. Many Latinos may be browner than Americans with roots in Europe, but then. Americans whose ancestors came from southern Europe tend to be darker than those from northern Europe.

The census also reports a doubling of the Asian American population. Many of this group have deep roots in North America, but the recent influx of Asian immigrants is producing children who fit in perfectly.

As the generations progress, who knows how many racial mixtures will be reported to the Census Bureau? But that’s if they always ask the same questions. America was founded as an idea, not on the basis of DNA. As long as Americans believe in the democratic ideal, their pigmentation shouldn’t matter

Thus, we should urge both the left and the right wing to let go of their obsession with racial identity. Start by correcting some elements of future census questionnaires. As for “Latino”, let’s recognize that it’s a very imperfect descriptor.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop.


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