Are Spaniards Hispanic ?

Been getting into some devilish arguments (particularly over at the Federal building) as to whether one whose family/descendants come from Spain can be Hispanic acc. to the Census, Affirmative Action, etc… The general consensus I got was no ?! That it was reserved for descendants of migrant workers, Caribbean islands, etc…

Worse, it includes Brazilians, but not Portuguese (Azores, Madeira, etc…)

Any reasonable way through this ?

“Proverbs for Paranoids, 1: You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.”

  • T.Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow.

Have you tried bringing a dictionary?

All of mine are pretty clear that “Hispanic” does indeed include Spanish (and Portuguese).

Never regret what seemed like a good idea at the time.

The argument was a bit beyond dictionaries…

Dictionaries have, unfortunately, little to do with law, and much less with bureaucracy. I was thinking about a) court opinions, b) census instructions, and c) any experiences/empirical observations of SD acolytes. No specific wording in Title 7.

I recall, for example, one LA times article ca. 1995 about the issue, where Chicanos had objected to the inclusion of an LA fire chief as Hispanic when he was of mainland Spanish extraction, and his wounded-pride response (as I recall) was along the lines of “he was Hispanic whether or not his family had picked lettuce”. His words, not mine. Un-PC, to be sure, but he had a point: just what is the division ?

I thought that the very definition of Hispanic was “of Spanish descent”. Aren’t all new world Hispanics descended from the Spanish? And what about Filipinos? Many of them have Spanish surnames and probably Spanish blood.

It is simply a term used by sociologists and census takers to describe someone from Latin America with any Iberian lineage.

You are technically correct that Spanards are included and the Portugese are excluded if you take your difinition from a beakdown of the word (from the Latin for “of Spain”). However that is not how it is popularly used and if you did use it that way you would only be confusing people.

Like it or not, meaning is ultimately decided by a concensus of the people that use the word. Just ask an American “Indian”.

During one job application process, I was given an EEOC-type survey asking for my “race” or “heritage” or some illusory term like that.

The choices were “white or caucasian”, “black or African American”, “Asian or Pacific Islander”, and “Spanish surname”.

So I guess Mary Johnson who marries Mr. Lopez is more “ethnic” for EEOC purposes than David King who is a fifth generation Mexican.

My standard response, and the one I instruct my children to put on any such forms they fill out:

Nationality: American
Race: Human

Never had anyone comment on it.


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Good answer, Melin. But I still wonder what rationale the gov’t uses in EEOC and census(they aren’t really completely irrational) to split off Iberia and the associated islands (Madeira, Cape Verdes, Baleares, etc…), and also how Latino interest groups (some, anyway) rationalize away the division.

One real reason is presumably to limit [or preserve] slices of preferential pie…

“Proverbs for Paranoids, 1: You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.”

  • T.Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow.

“Human” is not a race, despite the popular term “human race.” “Human” is a species, specifically Homo sapiens. “Race” is properly used to describe homogenous genetic groups within the species. Answering “human” to a question of “race” is disingenuous.

In my opinion, however, I think that forms that do ask for race should have only the following choices (several alternative words are listed for the same classification in my example, but are not necessary):
[li]Caucasian/European/White[/li][li]Mongoloid/Asian[/li][li]Negroid/African/Black[/li][li]Native American/Amer-Indian and[/li][li]Pacific Islanders[/li][li]Mixed Race[/li][li]No Answer[/li][/ul]
“Pacific Islanders”: I wasn’t sure where to put this. They are not clearly Asian, although that is often where they are classified, so I made it separate as a tentative classification.

Some people may argue that having “No Answer” and “Mixed Race” as options makes the question useless, but I say “tough.” Mixed Race is a necessary categorization, and “No Answer” gives those who think “Human” is an appropriate response a better choice.

melin writes:

I do this too, and often pencil in:

Sex: Yes

Although you may want to instruct young children to write “Not yet”.
Papabear writes:

Agreed, but I think you’ll find that in this case, concensus lean towards ‘hispanic’ meaning “of Spanish origins”, as opposed to the govenrment’s skewed and rather misguided definition.

I always though that Hispanics were from Hispaniola. Although that makes about as much sense as thinking that Caucasians are from the Caucuses.

Powers: Just wondering, where would you put people from the Mideast, or North Africa?

I knew someone would call me on that.

I admit my definitions may not be complete. Limited to just those definitions, I would place those from the Mid-East in the Mixed category. This is rather disingenuous, I admit.

Truth be told, you could add a lot more categories to the list I made. Perhaps even Hispanics, if you break it down enough. For example, you could break AmerIndians down into Inuit, North American Temperate, Central and South American. You could break Europeans into Nordic, Anglic, Germanic, and Hispanic.

Then again, I’m not ethnologist. Ethnist? Ethnicologist? Whatever. =)

Basically, yeah, Middle Easterners probably have good reason to be considered a separate race on my hypothetcial form. Aboriginal Austrailians might too, for that matter. =)

And the people from the subcontinent of India are geographically “Asians” but most people consider them ethnically and/or racially distinct from the Chinese.

Powers & Keeves: I was under the impression that Middle Eastern and North African peoples (Berbers, Arabs, Bedouins, etc., and to some extent the Hindi peoples) fell under the White/Caucasian category, at least from a common-ancestor point of view.

And regarding Caucasians from the Caucasus, that reminds me of an oft-heard white supremacists’ claim that when the Israelites left the Diaspora, some headed up through Turkey and into the Caucasus region where they became Gentiles, and the rest of the tribes headed elsewhere and out of the grace of God. Thus, the Caucasians of today (meaning, white folk) are the “true Jews” and thus are God’s chosen people. How convenient!

powers said:

“‘Race’ is properly used to describe homogenous genetic groups within the species.”

Forgive me for asking a potentially ignorant question, but IS there any genetic marker, or significant difference between groups? If there is, this leaves the door open for “racial testing” as was used in South Africa to label people during Apartheid. Granted, a scientific test would be much more relevant than the good old “pencil in the hair” test, but I think there was a Time magazine article (not exactly the final arbiter on all matters scientific, I admit) which pointed out that almost every genetic marker that has been tested to discern different races has turned up to be inconclusive.

That having been said, I prefer “ethnicity” to “race”. Should my fiancee (who is Hispanic) and I (run of the mill Gringo) have children, I hope they mark “other” when asked. People shouldn’t have to choose one heritage over another.

(stepping off of my soapbox)

‘Asian’ meaning Chinese, Japanese etc is an Americanism. In Britain ‘Asian’ generally refers to a person of Indian or Pakistani origin.

We still call Chinese ‘Orientals’. I know you can’t do that here.

Shiner Block:

I’m sure that there is no specific gene, or even set of genes, that can be used to conclusively determine one’s race. However, it’s obvious from observation that racial characteristics are inherited. That’s what I meant by “genetic.” And I don’t think this is a nature vs. nurture issue. :wink:

“Ethnicity” has a slightly different connotation than “Race.” “Race” usually refers to specific physical traits, but “Ethnicity” can include cultural aspects as well. That’s why I tend not to categorize “Hispanic” as a race, but it is an ethnicity.

My Encarta says:

Maybe the term ‘Hispanic’ is short for ‘Hispanic Americans’, and there’s where the confusion comes?

As for Brazilians, they are ‘Latin Americans’, because portuguese is a Latin language. In their case, people might include them in the ‘Hispanic’ group as an extension. (i.e. ‘hispanic’ = ‘latino’)

I’ve always understood the term “race” as follows.
500 years ago the geographic barriers separating continents were greater than they are now to population movements. Consequently, there are marked physical differences correlated with populations that were once divided by geography and have not yet had time to fully mix.

  1. The divisions between populations were never perfect, and varied in effect from time to time. Nevertheless, the populations seem to have been mixing slower in the past than necessary to even out all physical characteristics. That will probably be less and less true in the future. I don’t expect the social barriers, which have stretched out the separation of geography, to last.
  2. The geographic barriers are down now, for the most part. Mixing is occuring, and this definition may be of limited usefulness in the future, if not now. Absolutely true, but we can still guess in general terms what geographic region a person’s ancestors are from, even in the relatively highly-mixed New World. Sometimes this carries social implications, which may or may not be useful, depending on the situation. Racial divisions have no more usefulness than this, that I can see.
  3. There is no single genetic marker that defines a person’s race or ancestry. Obviously. But there are distributions of characteristics that correlate differently with the racial subpopulations. To pick the most obvious example, black people do indeed, as a group have darker skin than whites. You can’t use this as THE defining trait of a race if you’re going to use the geographic definition, since races as defined above group people by continent and variations are great even within continents. There are very dark skinned Europeans, and very light skinned Africans. But you can make some sort of probability statement based on the fact that people of African descent usually have darker skin than people of European descent.
  4. There are obviously people who, no matter HOW we define it, will not fall neatly into any racial category. But again, race is a useful concept insofar as it conveys useful information; if it is USUALLY useful, people will still think in racial terms, even if there are exceptions.

There are disparities perpetuated on the basis of race, but trying to throw out the term in order to change that is unlikely to meet with success.

I would contend that the most sensible objections to “race” as the term is currently used stem from the social categorization process more than the biological (or geographic) idea. Historically, for instance, in America a mulatto was considered black. This is completely arbitrary, and there is a movement now by people of mixed races to avoid altogether the requirement that they fit themselves into such classification schemes. They have a good point. The concept of race is becoming of limited use generally and in their cases it is of almost zero use.

People should, in my view, be treated as individuals in every possible instance; this is a moral position of my own, I admit, and one which our society generally disagrees with. But even if you do agree with it, that does not mean that the concept of race has become meaningless.

Strange I found this thread as I was just dicussing this with a friend of mine who’s father is from Spain.

He considers himself a hispanic but the Puerto Ricans and Mexicans do not.

I personally do not know anyone who is from Brazil that considers themselves Hispanic or Latino. They call themselves Brazillians period.