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The Racial Divide… Black Hispanics In US Worse Off Than Other Latinos, Study Says

The Racial Divide Among Hispanics

Max Castro

July 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

Today in the United States, within the hearts and minds of the people variously known as Hispanic or Latino, a new racial identity is being forged. Its birth could have major implications for the future of U.S. politics and race relations -- and for the fate of the Hispanic community.

My evidence for this bold assertion is both anecdotal and statistical. Recently, I observed a series of focus groups conducted in a northeastern state as part of a research project. I was struck by the consistency with which participants -- both Hispanic and non-Hispanic -- cast the differences between the two groups in racial terms.

The Census Bureau considers race and Hispanic/Latino origin to be separate. It says that ''Hispanics can be of any race'' -- white, black, Asian or Native American. But for many of the participants in focus groups, Latinos are a race separate and distinct from the traditional four.

Census data confirm what I observed: a tendency toward a racialization of Latino identity. In 1970, the vast majority of Hispanics reported their race as white. By the 2000 Census, nearly half (47.4 percent) were reporting their race as ''other'' (many adding ''Latino'' or ``Hispanic''), 2.7 percent as black and 49.9 percent as white. For the first time in history a (bare) majority of U.S. Latinos described themselves as ``people of color.''

What are the implications of this progressive ''browning'' of the Latino population? Does it signal increasing alienation from the white majority leading, perhaps, to alliances with blacks? How will it affect the balance between the political parties and their quest for the Latino vote? How far will the shift go?

Analysts will debate these questions, but there is one clear implication of the new Hispanic race numbers: The Latino community is now divided in half between those who identify as white and those who don't.

Does racial identification make a difference in the Latino community in tangible terms? A new report, How Race Counts for Hispanic Americans, by John R. Logan of the Lewis Mumford Center at the State University of New York-Albany says it does. It found systematic socioeconomic differences among Hispanics according to race.

The study highlights the oft-denied racial dimension of Latino life. Still, the data also show that what unites Hispanics is more than what separates them. The difference in income between Hispanics and non-Hispanics is more than three times greater than the racial income gap between black and white Hispanics.

Yet the gap exists and could grow, raising the question: Will race divide Hispanics or will a new Latino racial identity overcome the differences?

Black Hispanics In US Worse Off Than Other Latinos, Study Says

July 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
AFP. All rights reserved. 

NEW YORK (AFP) - Black hispanics living in the United States have more in common with African-Americans than their fellow latinos when it comes to lower wages and higher rates of unemployment, a new study said.

The study "How race counts for Hispanic Americans" was conducted by the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research at the University of Albany using data from the 2000 census.

The study found, however, that black hispanics are in some ways more integrated into US society than latinos.

Some 28 percent of black hispanics are immigrants, compared with 41 percent of other latinos, while 61 percent of black hispanics speak another language other than English at home, compared with 79 percent of other latinos.

"Their individual characteristics such as income and unemployment make them in many ways more similar to non-hispanic blacks than to other hispanic groups," the study said.

Of the 38.8 million hispanics living in the US, approximately one million are black, according to the study.

Using the 2000 census data, the study found the average annual income for white hispanic families was 41,037 dollars, compared with 36,479 dollars for black hispanic families and 36,200 dollars for a African-American families.

Hispanics not included in the two categories had a average income of 37,806 dollars.

The researchers also found that black hispanics had the highest unemployment rate, compared with latinos, at 12.3 percent.

The census groups individuals and their incomes according to peoples' own definitions of their race and earnings.

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