Afro-Latinos: Fighting for a box in the 2020 census
The constant evolution of American cultures make it strange not to feel accepted in America’s new society, especially as it has become one of the most diverse nations. However, Afro-Latino Americans often find themselves excluded and feeling like the “others” when it comes to their two cultures.
Afro-Latino is a term defined as a “Latin American person of native Sub-Saharan African ancestry” and may also refer to “historical or cultural elements in Latin American thought to emanate from this community.”
Some Afro-Latinos feel they are viewed as outsiders because they are neither “black enough” nor “Hispanic enough,” and they are now seeking recognition, acceptance and an accurate count on the census. Petroleum engineering freshman and Afro-Latino Anthony Salcido said that this new generation of Hispanics possesses a lot of diversity.
“I feel like there is a lot diversity amongst the Hispanic culture. We are growing, gaining more respect and receiving recognition for our contribution to this nation,” Salcido said. “Of course, some people are still going to hold onto old traditions, but as the new generation, we are still going to continue to be diverse and move forward.”
Afro-Latinos are Americans just like everyone else, and they deserve to be represented on the census as much as any other race. Afro-Latinos must understand that there are many other combinations of ethnic groups not currently represented on the census.
Additionally, 6.2 percent of Americans defined themselves as “some other race” on the 2010 census. The majority were some type of Hispanic descent, but were not comfortable identifying as simply “Hispanic.”
According to LA Times, chief of the Bureau’s Racial Statistics Branch Nicholas Jones said that the 2020 census is considering a combined race and ethnicity option in which all race and Hispanic options would be in one place.
“The proposal to combine race and ethnicity under one Hispanic/Latino category is still controversial,” Jones said. “Some think it would make the census more accurate, while others think it’s a mistake to make “Hispanic” its own racial and ethnic category.”
On the 2010 census, there were six categories of race represented: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander and Some Other Race. Subcategories allowed people of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish descent to specify their origin. However, despite these extensive subcategories, some Hispanic people label themselves as “white” or “other” because they do not want to be labeled as Hispanic.
There are several different subcultures within the Hispanic race, and some would like to be identified as their subculture. Although, there are some who do prefer to be identified as Hispanic, such as Chinese studies and French language senior Ruthy Munoz, who is Dominican and does not identify herself as Afro-Latino but is sometimes mistaken as African-American.
“I just never have (considered myself Afro-Latino) … in the Latin American culture, there are a lot of people that are divided. They consider themselves white or black, I just consider myself Hispanic,” Munoz said. “I don’t consider myself either-or because that’s just the way I was brought up, so I have never considered myself White-Hispanic or Afro-Hispanic, or anything like that … just always Hispanic.”
Identification is important within the Hispanic culture. For many Hispanics, their identity is a huge source of pride — it represents who they are as people. That is why it is so important for them to be identified accurately on the census.
This pride is mirrored in various biracial groups who do not have a subcategory such as Asian-Black, White-Black, Asian-White, Afro-Latinos and so many more that go without being accounted for on the census.
“What we’re hearing from the Afro-Latino community is that they do not believe that those numbers accurately illustrate the Afro-Latino community presence in the United States, and that’s the dialogue that we’re having,” Jones said.
Lawmakers are considering this biracial group because of its quantity. NBC reported that 2.5 percent of the 54 million Hispanics for the U.S. Census in 2010 also identified as black. Broadcast journalism sophomore Jada Wilson expressed her view of the evolving Afro-Latino culture.
“I’m from San Antonio, so the Hispanic culture is pretty much intermixed with the black culture,” Wilson said. “The majority is minority there, so it’s kinda not a difference there. We are pretty together on everything, and I have a lot of Afro-Latino friends.”
Afro-Latinos have to consider that the issue is just skin color on a sheet of paper. Also, the census is slowly expanding to become more inclusive of races, and there are ways to work around the issue and be patient to the process of adding a new racial category to the census.
According to NBC, Latino advocates and educators are working with the Census Bureau to help make it easier for mixed-race Hispanics to report their background on the 2020 Census.
The Census Bureau is still making their decision on how it will present the question about race and ethnicity on the next census. They are considering “Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin” as a choice, and some support this idea because they think it will make the census more accurate.
Undeclared sophomore Kaydra Green, who is Afro-Latino, said she considers herself both races and would rather the racial options be more specific.
“I think it would be a good idea (to add Afro-Latinos to the census) because whenever I go take a test or fill out paperwork, I have to always choose “other” or two races, which isn’t very specific,” Green said.
America has come some so far as a nation and has grown to accept pretty much every one of every culture. The new generations of Americans no longer view race as that much of an issue. A census should no longer try to define who we are as people; if you are American, you are American.
Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].