Hispanic or Latino? Survey offer insights to identity

Pew Hispanic Center survey about Hispanic culture, identity and the American experience

Excerpts from the ongoing converstations about identity are helpful for understanding and relating to one of King County’s fast growing populations. Read the full report at www.pewhispanic.org/2012/04/04/when-labels-dont-fit-hispanics-and-their-views-of-identity/

Hispanics and Identity

  • When it comes to describing their identity, most Hispanics prefer their family’s country of origin over pan-ethnic terms. Half (51%) say that most often they use their family’s country of origin to describe their identity. That includes such terms as “Mexican” or “Cuban” or “Dominican,” for example. Just one-quarter (24%) say they use the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” to most often to describe their identity. And 21% say they use the term “American” most often.
  • “Hispanic” or “Latino”? Most don’t care—but among those who do, “Hispanic” is preferred. Half (51%) say they have no preference for either term. When a preference is expressed, “Hispanic” is preferred over “Latino” by more than a two-to-one margin—33% versus 14%.
  • Most Hispanics do not see a shared common culture among U.S. Hispanics. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say Hispanics in the U.S. have many different cultures, while 29% say Hispanics in the U.S. share a common culture.
  • Most Hispanics don’t see themselves fitting into the standard racial categories used by the U.S. Census Bureau. When it comes to race, according to the Pew Hispanic survey, half (51%) of Latinos identify their race as “some other race” or volunteer “Hispanic/Latino.” Meanwhile, 36% identify their race as white, and 3% say their race is black.
  • Latinos are split on whether they see themselves as a typical American. Nearly half (47%) say they are a typical American, while another 47% say they are very different from the typical American. Foreign-born Hispanics are less likely than native-born Hispanics to say they are a typical American—34% versus 66%.

And on language:

Language Use—English and Spanish

  • Most Hispanics use Spanish, but use of English rises through the generations. The survey finds that 38% of all respondents are Spanish dominant, 38% are bilingual and 24% are English dominant. Among U.S.-born Hispanics, more than half (51%) are English dominant.
  • Hispanics believe learning English is important. Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) Hispanics say adult Hispanic immigrants need to learn English to succeed in the U.S.
  • Hispanics also want future U.S. Hispanic generations to speak Spanish. Fully 95% of Hispanics believe it is very important (75%) or somewhat important (20%) for future generations of Hispanics in the U.S. to be able to speak Spanish.