Hispanic vs. Latino? Survey says…

Back before the Internet, I worked in marketing for a publishing house and we were coming out with a dictionary of Hispanic culture in the US. During the marketing meeting, the issue of the title came up: Hispanic vs. Latino? We must have wasted a good hour on the issue without any firm conclusion. Boy would Google have come in handy then.

I think we settled on Hispanic but nobody was really sure what the right answer was.

According to a survey conducted recently, there still is no right answer, or, more precisely, no one answer.

Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Xicano, Mexican or Mexican American?

According to the survey, “most of the 8,600 respondents identified with multiple identities.”

The article quotes a few respondents:

Pepe Carrillo, 50, a naturalized citizen who came to the U.S. at 11, said he describes himself as Cuban, American, Hispanic, and then Latino — usually in that order.

Lorenzo Barcelo, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, said he uses the terms Hispanic and Latino interchangeably. “To me, they are the same.”

Louis Hollingsworth, an attorney, also said the way he identifies himself varies with the situation. “If I’m talking to people of Mexican or Latino descent, I identify myself as a Latino. If I’m talking to an Anglo I tend to say I’m Hispanic. If I’m asked what kind of Hispanic I am, I’ll say I’m of Mexican descent.

So it looks like we’re going to be doing the Hispanic/Latino two-step for the time being, although it does appear that Hispanic is gaining ground as the preferred term in business settings. I’m seeing a lot more job titles along the lines of “Director of Hispanic Marketing.”

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.