The Difficulty That Is The Hispanic and Latino Labels

In my previous post, I blogged about my research into the Hispanic market and the conclusion that came about from the gathered information and interviews that I did. I received a comment that became a very interesting discussion from a colleague of mine named Mari D. González. She is the founder, intercultural communications and market research consultant of IXMATI Communications.

In my paper I expanded my research into Hispanic target marketing to include countries of Latin America. I continued labeling both Spanish speaking groups, both living in the United States and outside in Latin America, as Hispanics. I assume from my part that the Hispanic label is but one of many labels that identify Spanish speaking people and groups. Including Hispanic, there’s Latino and Latin American. Then you get down to the more specific labels such as Puerto Rican, Cuban-American, Chicano, Caribbean, etc. As one can see there is so much diversity in labeling because Latinos are so diverse in origin, history, and culture.

Mari pointed this out to me in a comment that she posted. She was bothered by the label “Hispanic” and she was right to be so. Mari cleared the difficulty by explaining that the label “Hispanic” was created by the US government for socio-political purposes while “Latino” is a more acceptable label becuase it defines more of the community and culture. Being from Mexico herself, Mari rejects being called Hispanic because it should not be a category used outside of the United States. Mari commented, “I’m bothered by the way the label ‘Hispanic’ was used to speak of people in Latin America. Hispanic as a term was coined by Nixon to categorize and ‘other-ing’ people in the U.S. who did not fit the box for black, white or Native American. ‘Hispanic’ as a label should not be used to name people inside the geography of Mexico, Central and South America.”

I can understand her viewpoint and I’m in full agreement, although some marketing and advertising agencies here in the United States maybe unaware of this information. Here’s another example: Brazil, a country that is of Portuguese descent rather than Spanish, definitely would not apply as Hispanic becuase they are not “Spanish speaking” but rather Latinos because of their origin from the Iberian region in Europe.

I would like to thank Mari in pointing this out to me. As a Puerto Rican, I also find it a challenge on how I should be identified. During a social conversation, I would get asked the question “Are you Hispanic?” Normally I would say yes because I’ve become accustomed to that title but then I would finish it off by saying “but I was born and raised in Puerto Rico.”

If you want more information on this, I recommend that you check out Mari’s blog post on this same issue. The information is more specific and you should have a deeper understanding of why we “Latinos” are given so many labels.

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I 'mFrankie De Sotoand I was born on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I graduated at the top of my class from the University of North Texas with a BA in Art and 2 minors in Marketing and Radio, Television, and Film. I have been doing graphic design for the past couple of years creating graphics for advertising, signs, brochures , and flyers but I decided to return to school to expand my knowledge into more new media applications such as web design, human /computer interaction, Flash animation and marketing communications. I graduated with an MFA in Arts & Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas. My current studies are focusing on social media and marketing communications which in part encouraged me to begin this blog as well as my love for Hispanic culture and online media practices.
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13 Responses to "The Difficulty That Is The Hispanic and Latino Labels"

  1. Jose Huitron says:

    Frankie, great post. The debate continues. Here is a post to an actual survey response from the PEW Hispanic Center

  2. Miguel A. Corona says:

    Your post is definitely on point. I have a “guest” blog coming up on this in a couple weeks via a college recruiting website. While Hispanics share a common language and cultural traits, we are not a monolithic group. Census forms are just an example of how challenging it is to categorize us into one ethnic group. Well done.

  3. Frankie De Soto says:

    Thanks for the link Jose. Great information, I’m surprised by the outcome but like you said the debate continues on these labels.

  4. Chela says:

    Great post! Just as an aside, what many don’t seem to know is that the term “Hispanic” was created by a Mexican-American woman to refer to only those of us within the US:

  5. Mari D. Gonzalez says:

    No, the term “Hispanic” was first coined by Nixon for census purposes. On the other hand, the term “Hisapano” was preferred by New Mexicans to separate themselves from the “Indian looking poor and brown Mexican.” Mora at my blog: Saludos, Mari D. Gonzalez

  6. Mari D. Gonzalez says:

    Correction *Hispano* (not, Hisapano).

  7. Mari D. Gonzalez says:

    Thank you Frankie for following up. There is power in assuming the role of self-identification as oppose to let others name us. “What we name, we attempt to de-power” Mari D. Gonzalez, Consultant and Researcher.

  8. Frankie De Soto says:

    Thanks Miguel. You are absolutely correct. Hispanics living in the United States are a diverse group and that’s what makes it difficult when it comes to doing bureaucracy, administration and even marketing.

  9. Frankie De Soto says:

    Wow Chela, thanks for the research. I appreciate the link. Identifying ourselves is complex and at times confusing when it comes to certain situations like the census and hispanic marketing.

  10. Frankie De Soto says:

    Thanks for this collaborative discussion Mari, it’s been very enlightening. You are right on the money about self-identification. Each Spanish speaking group should be proud in establishing their national identity and not let others dictate how they should be grouped in. It’s been great doing research in this particular field and it really helped me understand more about the diverse Hispanic/Latino community through their culture, history, music and even food. I think if advertising and marketing agencies take more time in doing in depth study on this, it will make their campaigns more successful.

  11. Felisa Amara says:

    Thanks, appreciate it.

  12. P bass says:

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