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LATINOS AND THE CATEGORIES OF RACE


Apparently,Latinosaretakingover.1(http://alcoff.com/content/chap10latrace.html#footnote1) WithnewsthatLatinoshavebecomethelargestminoritygroupintheUnitedStates,the
publicairwavesarefilledwithconcernedvoicesabouttheimpactthatanonEnglishdominant,Catholic,nonwhite,largelypoorpopulationwillhaveonAmerican
identity.Asidefromthehysteria,Latinoidentityposessomeauthenticallynewquestionsforthestandardwayinwhichminorityidentitiesareconceptualized.Are
Latinosarace,anethnicity,orsomecombination?Whatdoesitmeantohavehybridityasthefoundationofanidentity,asisthecaseformestizosandmostLatinos?
ThetermLatinosignifiespeoplefromanentirecontinent,subcontinent,andseverallargeislands,withdiverseracial,national,ethnic,religious,andlinguistic
aspectstotheiridentity.Givenallthisinternaldiversity,isLatinoameaningfulidentityatall?
Latinoidentityis,withfewexceptions,avisibleidentity,forallitsvariability,andIwillarguethatunlesswepaycloseattentiontothewayinwhichLatinoidentity
operatesasavisibleidentityinpublic,socialspaces,ouranalysesofitssocialmeaningsandpoliticaleffectswillbecompromised.Inthefollowingthreechapters,Iwill
addressthreeissuesthatLatinoidentityraises,issuesthathavepoliticalramificationsbutthatalsorequireustothinkaboutthephilosophicalassumptionsatwork
behindcommonideasaboutraceandethnicity.First,whatistherelationshipbetweenLatinoidentityandracialcategories?Second,howdoLatinosfitinto,and
challenge,theblack/whitebinarythinkingaboutracethathaslongdominatedpublicdiscourseintheU.S.?Andthird,whatdoesitmeantohaveamixedidentity,for
Latinosorforothermixedracegroups?Throughout,wewillhavetopaycloseattentiontotheespeciallysignificantheterogeneityofthisparticularpopulation.Does
suchdiversitythreatenidentityordoesitrevealthatidentityhasneverpresumeduniformity?
OnlyrecentlyhastheconceptofpanLatino,orgenericHispanic,identityovertakentheolderidentitymonikersofCuban,Mexican,PuertoRican,etc.insignificant
nationaldiscoursesacrosstheUnitedStates.ForLatinosthemselves,JuanFloresarguesthatthedecisionwhethertousethebroadLatinoorthemorespecific
nationaltermsisnotaneither/orbutaboth/andthatcanbedeterminedbycontext.(Flores2000)ButwhatisittobeLatino?Morethanthenationalinterpellations
likeCubanorMexican,LatinoidentitygenerallysignifiesonessituatednessoutsideofLatinAmerica.Thisspatialreferentialitybringstheconcept,theidentity,andthe
experienceunderthedomainofnorthAmericansymbolicsystemsandconceptualschemastoagreaterextent,whichisonereasonsomegivetorejectthelabel
entirely.
Likemanyothers,Iamdoubtfulwecanholdourcollectivebreathandmakeitgoaway.ThediscourseintheU.S.(aswellaselsewhereintheglobalnorth)about
encroachingmajorityminoritiestendstowardaggregation,andthesometimeshystericalconcernabouttheSpanishlanguage,nationalloyalty,andnonAnglocultural
traditionsmakesthedifferencesamongMexican,PuertoRicans,Dominicans,andCubanslessimportantthanthesimilarities(seee.g.Huntington2004).Butthe
conceptofLatinoidentityisnotcomingsolelyfromAnglos.ItisnolongerthecasethatPuertoRicansdominateLatinNewYork,orCubanshavetotalhegemonyin
Miami,oreventhatMexicanstotallydominateLosAngeles:otherimmigrantsfromSouthAmerica,CentralAmerica,andtheSpanishspeakingCaribbeanarenow
sizableenoughtomaketheirculturesandtheiraccentswidelyapparent.Thus,asJuanFloressays,LatinosinNewYorknolongerrhymeswithPuertoRican,which
meansthatthemoreinclusivetermLatinohasmorerealrelevanceandarealorobjectivereferent(Flores1996,171).
DespitetheobjectivenatureofLatinoidentityasjustexplained,therecanbenodecontextualized,finaloressentialaccountofwhattheidentityis,giventhesocial
basisandthedynamic,historicalnatureofracializedandethnicidentities.Myquestionthencanbeformulatedasaprojectofsocialontologyinthefollowingway:
whatisthebest,ormostapt,accountofLatinoidentitysrelationshiptoracethatmakesthemostsenseofthecurrentpoliticalandsocialrealitieswithinwhichwe
mustnegotiateoursocialenvironment?
AlthoughIaminterestedhereinthepoliticsofidentity,thatis,thepoliticaleffectsofvariousaccountsofidentityinandonpopularconsciousness,bothamongLatinos
andamongAnglos,myprincipalconcernisatthelevelofexperience,ideology,andmeaningratherthantheattendantpoliticalrightsandimplicationsthatmaybe
associatedwithidentity.Aswillbeseen,muchofthedebatesoverLatinas/osandraceweavebothstrategicconsiderationsaconcernwithpoliticaleffectsand
metaphysicalconsiderationsaconcernwiththemostaptdescriptiontogether.Therearetworeasonsforthis.Oneisthatstrategicproposalsforthewaya
communityshouldrepresentitselforshouldberepresentedcannotworkifthereisnoconnectionwhatsoevertolivedexperienceortothecommonmeaningsthatare
prominentintherelevantdiscourses.Thus,thestrategicefficacyofpoliticalproposalsaredependentoncorrectassessmentsofsocialontologicalrealities.But,
secondly,thequestionofwhatisthemostaptdescriptionofthoseontologicalrealitiesisnotasclearcutassomephilosophersmightsuppose.Thisisbecausethe
conceptsofraceandLatinoadmitofdifferentmeaningsandareunderheavycontestation.Anygivendescriptiveaccountwillpresupposesomejudgementcalls
aboutwhichmeaningsaremostsalientandplausibleandthesejudgementcallswillbeunderdeterminedbyusage,history,science,orevenphenomenological
descriptionofexperience.Andinmakingthesejudgementcalls,wemustlooktothefutureandnotjustthepast.Inotherwords,giventhatweareparticipatinginthe
constructionofmeanings,wemustcarefullyconsidertheirlikelyrealworldeffects.
I.Threeoptions
ThequestionofLatinoidentitysrelationshiptotheconventionalcategoriesofracethathavebeenhistoricallydominantintheUnitedStatesisaparticularlyvexing
one.Toputitstraightforwardly,wesimplydontfit.RacializedidentitiesintheNorthhavelongconnotedhomogeneityandeasilyvisibleidentifyingfeatures,butthis
doesntapplytoLatinosintheUnitedStates,noreventoanyonenationalsubset,suchasCubanAmericansorPuertoRicans.Wehavenohomogeneousculture,we
comeineveryconceivablecolor,andidentitiessuchasmestizosignifytheveryabsenceofboundaries.
Moreover,thecorrespondingpracticesofracializationintheUnitedStatessuchasracialbordercontrol,legalsanctionsoncrossracialmarriage,andthemultitude
demandsforracialselfidentificationonnearlyeveryapplicationformfromdaycaretocollegeadmissionsarealsorelativelyunfamiliarsouthoftheborder.AngelR.
OquendorecountsthatbeforehecouldeventaketheSATinPuertoRicohewasaskedtoidentifyhimselfracially.Iwascaughtoffguard,hesays.Ihadnever
thoughtofmyselfintermsofrace.(Oquendo1998,61)Fortunately,theSATincludedPuertoRicanamongthechoicesofrace,andOquendowassparedwhathe
calledaprofoundexistentialdilemma.EvenwhilemanyLatinosconsidercolorarelevantfactorformarriage,andantiblackandantiindigenousracismpersistsin
LatinAmerica,theinstitutionalandideologicalformsthatracismhastakenintheLatinSoutharegenerallydisanalogoustothoseintheAngloNorth,focusingon
shadesofdifferenceratherthansharplydividedcategories.Thisiswhymanyofusfindouridentityaswellasoursocialstatuschangingaswestepofftheplaneor
crosstheriver:racesuddenlybecomesanallimportantaspectofouridentity,andsometimesourracialidentitydramaticallychangesinwaysoverwhichitfeelsasif
wehavenocontrol.
ThereareatleastthreegeneraloptionspossibleinthefaceofthistranscontinentalexperientialdissonanceasawayofcharacterizingtherelationshipbetweenLatino
identityandrace.ThefirstoptionistorefusearacializeddesignationandunderstandLatinotosignifyanethnicity(orperhapsarelatedgroupofethnicities).This
wouldavoidtheproblemofracialdiversitywithinLatinocommunitiesandyetrecognizethecultural,social,andpoliticallinksamongLatinosintheNorth.Theorists
suchasAngeloCorlettdefendthisoptiononthegroundsthattheconceptofethnicitybuildsonculturalpractices,customs,language,religion,andhistory,ratherthan
thespeciousbiologicalconnotationsofrace(Corlett2003,617).Asecondoptionwouldresisttheethnicparadigmonthegroundsthat,whateverthehistoricalbasisof
Latinoidentityis,livinginthecontextofNorthAmericawehavebecomearacializedpopulationandweneedaselfunderstandingthatwillaccuratelyassessour
portrayalhere.Athirdoption,adoptedbyneoconservativesandneoliberals,istoattempttoassimilatetotheindividualistideologyoftheUnitedStatesbothinbody
andinmind,andrejectthesalienceofgroupidentitiesapriori.

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Inmyview,noneoftheseresponsesisfullyadequate,thoughsomehavemoreproblemsthanothers.Inregardtothesecondoption,itishardtoseehowtheracial
diversityamongLatinoscouldbefairlyrepresentedinanyunifiedconceptofrace.Andinregardtothethirdoption,thevisiblefeaturesofmanyLatinosmakesit
doubtfulthattheycouldsucceedintranscendingracializationorgroupstereotypes.Onthefaceofit,thefirstoptionunderstandingLatinoidentityasanethnic
identityseemstomakethemostsenseforavarietyofreasonsthatIwillexploreinthispaper.Thisoptioncouldallowformoreinternalheterogeneityandresistthe
racializingthatbringsracismaswellasoftenmischaracterizingourownsenseofself.However,Iwillultimatelyarguethattheethnicoptionisnotfullyadequateto
thecontemporarysocialrealitiesweface,andmayinhibitthedevelopmentofusefulpoliticalstrategiesforourdiversecommunities.Primarilymyargumentinthis
chapterwilltaketheformofanegative:theethnicoptionisnotadequate.Developingafullyadequatealternativeisbeyondmyability,buttheveryfailureofthe
ethnicoptionwillestablishsomeofthenecessarycriteriaforsuchanalternative.
Beforeanyoftheseoptionscanbefairlyassessed,weneedtobeginbyunderstandingthespecificityofLatinoidentity.
II.Latinospecificity
Irish,Italian,Polish,Ukrainian,andothersocalledwhiteethniccommunitieshaveorganizedculturaleventsonthebasisoftheiridentitiesatleastsincethe1960's,
withthecooperationofpoliceandcitycouncilsacrossthecountry.CertainlyfortheIrishandtheItalians,thismovementofethnicassertionhasbeenprecisely
motivatedbytheirdiscriminationandvilificationthroughoutmuchofU.S.history,avilificationthathassometimestakenracializedforms.Thus,therearesomeclear
parallelsbetweenLatinosandwhiteethnics:manyhaveimmigrantfamilyhistories,andmanytodayshareaculturalprideanddesiretomaintainsomecultural
traditionsperhapsmotivatedbyanawarenessofhistoricalifnotongoingdiscrimination.Sowhydoesthegrowthofavisible,politicallyassertiveLatinopopulationso
oftenelicitsuchstrongnegativereactionsandaflurryofpoliticalanalysisaboutitslikelydegenerativeeffectsonthegeneralsociety?IfImaybepermittedagross
overgeneralization,manyEuropeanAmericansareafraidofstronglyfeltethnicidentities,butonlycertainones.Thereisadifferentattitudeamongwhitesingeneral
towardnonwhitepubliccelebrationsofethnicidentityandtowardthoseofwhiteethniccelebrations.Andthisis,Isuspect,becauseitisonethingtosaytothe
dominantculture:youhavebeenunfairlyprejudicedagainstmeassouthernEuropeanethnicitiesmightsayandquiteanothertosayyouhavestolenmylandsand
enslavedmypeopleandthroughthesemeanscreatedthewealthofyourcountryasAfricanAmericans,Latinos,andNativeAmericansmightsay.Thelattermessage
ishardertohear,itchallengesthebasiclegitimatingnarrativesoftheU.S.sformationandglobalstatus,anditunderstandablyelicitstheworry,whatwillbethefull
extentoftheirdemands?Ofcourse,alloftheculturalprogramsthatcelebrateAfrican,indigenous,orLatinoheritagedonotmaketheseexplicitclaims.Butina
sense,theclaimsdonotneedtobeexplicit:anyreferencetoslaveryorindigenouspeoplesorChicanoorPuertoRicanhistoryimplieschallengestothelegitimating
narrativeoftheUS,andanyexpressionofsolidarityamongsuchgroupsconsciouslyorunconsciouslyelicitsconcernaboutthepoliticalandeconomicdemandssuch
groupsmayeventuallymake,eveniftheyarenotmadenow.
ThisissurelypartofwhatisgoingonwhenEuropeanAmericansexpresspuzzlementabouttheimportanceattachedtoidentitybynonEuropeanAmericans,when
youngwhitescomplainaboutAfricanAmericanssittingtogetherintheircafeteriasorwantingtolivetogetherincollegedormitories,orwhenbothleftandliberal
politicaltheorists,suchasGitlin,Schlesingerandothers,jumptotheconclusionthatastrongsenseofgroupsolidarityanditsresultantidentitypoliticsamongpeople
ofcolorinthiscountrywillfracturethebodypoliticanddisableourdemocracy(seeGitlin1995,Schlesinger1992,Elshtain1997,Hochschild1996).
AsIdiscussedearlier,aprominentexplanationgivenfortheseattachmentstoidentity,attachmentsthatareconsideredotherwiseinexplicable,isthatthereis
opportunismatwork,amongleadersifnotamongtherankandfile,tosecuregovernmenthandoutsorclaimspecialrights.However,therearetwoproblemswith
thisassumption.Identitiesthemselvesrequireinterpretation,andthustheirpoliticalimplicationswillbesubjecttocontestation.Moreover,celebrationsofLatino
identitysuchasPuertoRicanDayparadesorCaribbeanfestivalsarevenuesforthepossibilityofculturalexpressionnodifferentthananysportseventorholiday
whichallowsforthepublicexpressionofEuropeanAmericanculturalidentity:theubiquitousplayingofWewillrockyou,orSinatrasingingNewYork,NewYork
whichisplayedaftereveryYankeesgame,orEasteregghuntsheldatpublicparks.Latinothemedeventsaremarkedassuchinawaythatwhiteculturaltraditions
arenotthelatterareseenassimplyAmericanorChristianratherthanwhiteAmericanorAngloChristianity.Whiteswhoenjoyasurfeitofopportunitiesfortheir
ownculturalexpressionoftendonotrealizethisprivilege,andthenfeelmystifiedandthreatenedbytheculturalexpressionsofothergroups.Giventhismystification
andfeelingofamorphousthreat,assumptionsofopportunismbecomeplausible.
Assumptionsabouttheopportunismbehindidentitypoliticsalsooperateonthebasisofthefollowingunderstandingoftherecenthistoricalpast:inthe1960's,some
groupsbegantoclamorfortherecognitionoftheiridentities,theybegantoresistandcritiquetheculturalassimilationismofliberalpolitics,andtheyarguedthatstate
institutionsshouldgivetheseidentitiespublicrecognition.Onthisscenario,firstwehadidentitypoliticsassertingthepoliticalimportanceoftheseidentities,andthen
wehad(coerced)staterecognitionofthem.ButdenigratedidentitydesignationshaveoriginatedwithandbeenenforcedbythestateinU.S.history,notviceversa.
Obviously,itistheU.S.stateandU.S.courtsthatinitiallyinsistedontheoverwhelmingsalienceofsomeracialandethnicidentities,totheexclusionofrightsto
suffrage,education,property,maritalandcustodyrights,immigration,andsoon.Denigratedgroupsaretryingtoreversethisprocesstheyarenottheinitiatorsofit.
Itseemstomethattheyhavetwoaims:(1)topublicallyvalorizeidentitiesthatarederidedbythedominantculture,and(2)tohavetheirownhandatrepresenting
theseidentitiesandinterpretingtheirpoliticalimplications.
TheU.S.panLatinoidentityisperhapsthenewestandmostimportantidentitythathasemergedintherecentperiod.TheconceptofapanLatinoidentityisnotnewin
LatinAmerica:SimonBolivarcalledforitnearlytwohundredyearsagoasastrategyofanticolonialismbutalsobecauseitprovidedanameforthenewpeoples
thathademergedfromtheconquest.AndinfluentialleaderslikeJoseMartandCheGuevarafollowedBolivarinpromotingabroadLatinAmericansolidarity.Itis
importanttonotethatpopulationsonthegroundhavenotoftenresonatedwiththesegrandvisions,andthatnationalpoliticalandeconomicleaderscontinueto
obstructregionalaccordsandtradeagreementsthatmightenhancesolidarity.ButthepointremainsthattheinvocationofapanLatinoidentitydoesnotactually
originateintheNorth.
OnlymuchmorerecentlyisitthecasethatsomeLatinopoliticalgroupsintheNorthhaveorganizedonapanLatinobasis,althoughmostLatinopoliticsherehasbeen
organizedalongnationallines,e.g.asPuertoRicansorChicanos,andtheseonlywithinspecificcommunitiesorsectors(suchasstudents).Butwhatisespeciallynew,
andwhatisbeinglargelyfoistedonusfromtheoutside,istherepresentationofapanLatinoidentityinthedominantNorthAmericanmedia,anditisthis
representationwhichwewanttohaveahandinshaping.Marketingagencieshavediscovered/createdamarketingnicheforthegenericLatino.AndLatinoowned
marketingagenciesandadvertisingagenciesareworkingontheconstructionofthisidentityasmuchasanyone,thoughofcourseinwaysdominatedbystrategic
interestsorwhatHabermascallspurposiverationality(seeDvila2001).TherearealsomoreandmoreculturalrepresentationsofLatinosinthedominantmediaand
ingovernmentproductionssuchasthecensus.Thus,thesolicitousconcernthatU.S.Latinoshavewithouridentityisnotspontaneousororiginatingentirelyoreven
mostlyfromwithinourcommunitiesneitheristheongoingrepresentationofouridentitysomethingwecaneasilyjustignore(seee.g.FloresandYudice1990).
III.Contexts,spatialandtemporal
Socialidentities,whetherracialorethnic,aredynamic.Intheirstudyofwhattheynameracialformations,MichaelOmiandHowardWinantarguethatRacial
categoriesandthemeaningsofracearegivenconcreteexpressionbythespecificsocialrelationsandhistoricalcontextinwhichtheyareembedded.(OmiandWinant
1986,60)Racialconceptsandidentitycategoriesareconstantlyfacingformsofresistanceandcontestationwhichtransformboththeirimpactandtheireffective
meaning.Clearly,thisisthecasewithethnicaswellasracialidentities,asthetransformationsofLatinoindicate.Associalconstructionsimposedonvariable
experientialfacts,theyexistwithnostablereferentoressentialcore.Thisisnottosaythattheydonotrefer,butthatwhattheyrefertoisdynamic.Thereis,
moreover,afeedbackloopbetweenreferentialdescriptions,personalexperience,andpoliticalresistance.Becauseracialandethnicidentitiesinparticulararealsothe
siteofconflictoverpoliticalpowerandeconomicresources,theyareespeciallyvolatile.AnyanalysisofLatinoidentity,then,mustcharthistoricaltrendsand
contextualinfluences.
SincetheImmigrationLawwaspassedin1965thatendedthequotasonimmigrationfromSouthandCentralAmericaandtheCaribbean,millionsofLatinoshave
enteredtheUnitedStatesfromvariouscountries,diversifyingpreviouslydominantChicano,PuertoRican,andCubancommunities.Astheimmigrantcommunities
settlein,youngergenerationsdevelopdifferentculturalpractices,musicaltastes,politicalorientations,andevenreligiousbeliefsfromtheirparents,adaptingtotheir
culturalsurroundings,insomecasesnolongerbeingSpanishdominantorpracticingCatholics.Soinonesensediversityhasincreasedasnewimmigrationscontinue
todiversifypresentcommunitiesandasnewgenerationsofyoungerLatinosdevelopnewformationsofculturalidentity.Butinanothersensediversityhasdecreased
asLatinoimmigrantsexperiencecommonformsofdiscriminationandchauvinismintheUnitedStatesandanincreasinglygenericculturalandracializedinterpellation.

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Inthe1960's,U.S.stateagenciesbegantodisseminatetheethniclabelHispanicasthepropertermforidentifyingallpeopleofLatinAmericanandevenSpanish
descent.(Oboler1995,xiii)Sotodaywehaveapopulationof30orsomillionHispanicsintheUnitedStates.Themassmedia,entertainment,andadvertising
industrieshaveincreasinglyaddressedthislargepopulationasifitwereacoherentcommunity(Mato1997,2).SuzanneObolersstudysuggeststhatthisgeneric
identitycategoryfeelsespeciallysociallyconstructedtomanyofthepeoplenamedbyit,giventhatitisnothowtheyselfidentifiedpreviously(Oboler,chapter1).
Obolerasks,somewhatrhetorically:
Aremarketersmerelytakingadvantageofanexistinggroupasapotentiallylucrativetargetpopulation?Oraretheiradvertisingstrategiesinfacthelpingtodesign
thegroup,inventitstraditions,andhencecreatethishomogeneousethnicgroup?(Oboler,13)
OnemightwellbeconcernedthatadaptingtoanysuchpanLatinoidentityasconstructedbydominantinstitutionswhethereconomicorpoliticalonesrepresentsa
capitulation,orissimplytheinevitableeffectofwhatFoucaultcalledgovernmentality.
However,muchofthedebateoverthisinterpellationamongthosenamedbyitdoesnotsomuchcritiquethefactofitssocialconstructionoreventhefactthatits
genesisliesingovernmentandmarketingagencies,butfocusesinsteadonitspoliticalimplicationsanditscoherencewithlivedexperience,forexample,thewayin
whichitdisallowsmultiplicityorthewayinwhichiterasesnationalallegiance.Inthisway,thedebateshiftstoamoreproductivesetofconcerns,itseemstome.I
witnessedaninterestingexchangeonsomeofthesepointsattheHispanics:CulturalLocationsconferenceheldattheUniversityofSanFranciscoin1997.Ofelia
Schutte,aleadingLatinaphilosopher,presentedapaperwhicharguedthatapanU.S.Latinoidentitymaybeameanstodisaffiliateusfromournationsofbirthor
ancestry,nationswhichareinvadedorotherwiseharmedbytheU.S.government.Thus,thinkingofourselvesprimarilyasU.S.Latinosratherthan,say,Panamanians
orSalvadorans,mayworktodislodgeorweakenfeelingsofloyaltytocountriesoutsidetheU.S.borders.Inthediscussionperiodafterherpaper,onememberofthe
audience,ProfessorofSpanishSusanSanchezCasal,arguedstronglythat,asahalfSpanish,halfPuertoRicanwomanwhogrewupamongChicanosinsouthern
California,shehadfoundtheemergenceofapanLatinoidentityawelcomerelief.AlthoughsherecognizedthedangersthatOfeliawasdescribing,identifyingherself
simplyasLatinaallowedhertoavoidhavingtomakecomplicatedchoicesbetweenthevariouscomponentsofheridentity,andithelpfullynamedherexperienceof
connectionwithamultiplicityofLatinocommunities.ImyselfresonatedwithOfeliasconcerns,havingmetLatinosintheU.S.Armywhoparticipatedinthe1989
invasionofPanama.ButgiventhatIhavelivedmostofmylifeintheUnitedStatesandgrewupinFloridaamongmostlyCubans,IcouldalsounderstandSusans
point:insomecases,Latinaisnotonlytheeasiestidentitytouse,italsofeelslikeanaptdescription.
AnotherimportantpoliticalconsiderationinregardtohomogenizingLatinoidentitiesisthatthiscanallowthosemembersofthegroupwhoarethemselvesless
disadvantagedtobenefitfromaffirmativeactionandotherformsofeconomicredressthathavebeencreatedmainlyfor(andoftenmainlyfoughtforby)Chicanosand
PuertoRicans,i.e.themoredisadvantagedconstituencies.ThishasbeenacleareffectofthegenericlabelHispanic,anditisthereasonthatmanyinstitutionswill
usemorespecificdesignations,suchasMexicanAmericanandPuertoRican,intheiraffirmativeactionpolicies.However,heretheproblemisthatonecannotassume
thatnoSouthAmericansorotherCentralAmericansintheU.S.havesufferedracialandethnicdiscrimination.Manyarenotabletopassaswhite,eveniftheywereto
try.SincetheMarielboatliftinthe1980's,evenMiamiCubansarenolongeralmostalllightskinnedandmiddleorupperclass.Giventheclass,ethnic,andracial
heterogeneityofeveryLatinAmericanandCaribbeancountry,onecannotexcludeentirecountriesfrommeasuresaimedatredressingdiscriminationwithout
excludingmanywhoaremarkedasinferiornorthoftheborder.Inmyexperience,someindividualswhohavenotexperiencedmuchdiscrimination(foronereasonor
another,e.g.looks,class,lackofaccent,etc.)willremovethemselvesfromconsiderationforscholarshipsorotherprogramsaimedatredressingantiLatino
injustices.Ithinkmoreofthisgoesonthansomeimagine,butitisverydifficulttotellhoweffectivesuchselfpolicingmeasurescanbeonthewhole.2
(http://alcoff.com/content/chap10latrace.html#footnote2)

AlthoughsomeprogramsdospecifynationalitiesinanefforttoavoidtheoverlyhomogenizingeffectsofapanLatinoidentity,bothgovernmentandmarketing
agenciesareincreasinglyrelyingonthelatter.And,asbothDvilaandMatohavearguedinseparatestudies,themarketingandadvertisingagenciesarenotsimply
forcingustouselabelsthathavenorealpurchaseonourlives,but,rather,participatinginanewsubjectconstructionthataffectshowLatinosthinkaboutand
experienceouridentityandourinterrelatednesstoothergroupsofLatinostowhomwemayhavefeltlittlekinshipwithbefore(Dvila2001,Mato1997).Matopoints
outthatthetelevisioncorporationUnivisin,whichisjointlyownedbyU.S.andLatinAmericancompanies,isexposingitsviewerstoawidearrayofprogramming
fromdiversecountriesandregions.Inthisway,Univisinisparticipatinginthesocialconstructionofanimaginedcommunity.(Mato1997,2)Tosaythatanidentity
issociallyconstructedisnottosaythatitdoesnotrefertoanythinginreality,butthatwhatitreferstoisacontingentproductofsocialpracticesratherthananatural
kind.Andevenbeyondtheexperienceofcommunityproducedbythemedia,theexchangeIdescribedaboveattheHispanicsconferenceindicatesthatbecauseof
migrationsbothintraandinternational,andbecauseofcrossnationalityparentingrelationships,thepanLatinoidentitycorrespondstoatleastsomecontemporary
Latinoslivedexperience.
LatinAmericaitselfisundoubtedlythemostdiversecontinentintheworld,whichinturncreatesextremeracialandethnicdiversitywithinLatinocommunities.ByU.S.
categories,thereareblack,brown,white,EastAsian,SouthAsian,Jewish,Arab,NativeAmericanLatinosandmore.(GeorgeLopezjokesthatthisshowsthatLatinos
willsleepwithanybody).TherearemanyLatinosfromthesouthernconewhosefamiliesareofrecentEuropeanorigin,alargenumberofLatinosfromthewestern
coastalareasofLatinAmericawhosefamiliescamefromAsia,andofcoursealargenumberofLatinoswhoselineageisentirelyindigenoustotheAmericasorentirely
African.ThemajorityofLatinosinNorthandSouthAmericaarenodoubttheproductofamixoftwoormoreofthesegroups.Andbeingmixedistrue,asJorge
Graciaremindsus,evenofthesocalledHispanicswhoaredirectdescendantsofSpainandPortugal,giventhosecountriesmultiethnicandmultiracialpastaspart
oftheOttomanempire.Anditistrueaswellofmanyormostofthepeopleidentifiedasblackormoreno,asisthecaseintheUnitedStates.
IV.LatinAmericancategories
LatinAmericansarethusgenerallycategorizedraciallyinthefollowingway:white(whichofteninvolvesadoubledeceit:aclaimtopureSpanishdescent,veryrare,
andaclaimthatpureSpanishdescentispurelywhiteorEuropean,alsoveryrare)black(meaningwhollyormostlyofAfricandescent,usuallysubSaharan)Indian
(meaninghavingsomeormostlyAmerindiandescent)andmixed(whichissometimesdividedintosubcategories,mestizo,mulatto,cholito,etc.)withthemixed
categoryalwaysenjoyingamajority.Asiansareoftenentirelyleftoffthelist,eventhoughtheirnumbersinseveralcountriesaresignificant.
Differentcountriesvarythesemainracialdesignations,however.DuringarecentweekendfestivalforLatinoHeritageMonthinSyracuse,NewYork,Latinosof
differentnationalitiesprovidedinformationabouttheircountriesforpassersby,whichincludedstatisticsculledfromgovernmentsourcesonwhatineverycasewas
calledthecountrysethnicmakeup.Racialcategoriesofidentityweregivenwithinthislargerrubricofethnicmakeup,suggestinganequationbetweenethnicity
andrace.Forexample,intheDominicanRepublictheethnicmakeupisreportedtoconsistof73%mixed,16%white,11%black.InEcuadorthecategoriesare
listedasmestizo,Indian,Spanish,andblack.InChilethereisasinglecategorycalledEuropeanandmestizowhichmakesup95%ofthepopulation.InCubaweget
categoriesofmulatto,whichis51%ofthepopulationandwealsogetcategoriesofwhite,black,andChinese.InBoliviathebreakdownisbetweenQuechua(25%),
Aymara(30%),mestizo(30%),andwhite(15%).
OneisremindedbythislistoftheencyclopediainventedbyBorgeswhichdividesdogsintosuchcategoriesas(a)belongingtotheEmperor...[b]tame...[c]drawn
withaveryfinecamelhairbrush...and[d]havingjustbrokenthewaterpitcher.(QuotedinFoucault1970,xv)Thereisnointernallyconsistentorcoherenttheoryof
ethnicorracialidentityunderlyingthediversityofcategorizations.Undertherubricofethnicityareincludedamixofcultural,nationalandracialgroups,fromSpanish,
toQuechua,towhite.Theonlypointthatseemstobeconsistentthroughoutisthatthecategoryblackistheonlycategorythatisinvariablyracialized,i.e.presented
asblackormulattoandneverpresentedasWestIndianorAfrican.Interestingly,thecategorywhiteisalsooftenracialized,thoughitissometimesreplacedwith
EuropeanorSpanish.Iwouldsuggestthatthereisastrongrelationshipbetweenthesetwofacts.Thatis,itbecomesimportanttousethecategorywhite,andto
selfidentifyaswhite,whenthecategoryblackispresent,inordertoestablishonescleardemarcation,andoutofconcernthatacategorylikemestizomightbe
allowedtoincludeblackpeople.ThecategorywhiteisalsousedtoseparateoutsocalledwhitesfromIndians,acategorythatbearsracializedmeaningsinLatin
AmericaandnegativeassociationssimilartotheassociationswithAfricanAmericansintheU.S..
BlacknessofcoursesignifiesdifferentlyinLatinAmericathusitisnotlikelythatatypicalwhiteAmericanlandinginSantoDomingoD.R.wouldlookaroundthemand
thinkonly11%ofthepopulationisblack.However,itseemsclearthatthestrikinguseofthetermblackforallpeopleofAfricandescent,andusedratherthan
culturalandnationalmarkerslikeSpanishandEuropeanthatareusedforothergroups,isanindicationofantiblackracism.Blackpeoplesodesignatedarereduced
toskincolorasifthisistheirprimarycharacteristicratherthansomeselfcreatedmarkerlikenationality,language,culture,or(ifslaveryremovedthesalienceof
thesefirstthree),atleastgeographicalgenealogy.Onemayhavebeenbornintoacultureandlanguagenotofonesownchoosing,butthesearestillmoreindicative
ofhumanagencythanisanyclassificationbyphenotype.Fromthis,onemightarguethatreplacingblackwithanotherethnicitycategory,suchasCaribbeanorWest
African,mighthelpequalizeanddignifytheidentities.
ThecategoryIndian,however,eventhoughitmightinitiallylooktobemoreofanethnicitythanarace(sinceitisnotmerelythenameofacolor),hasprimarilya

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racialmeaning,giventhatonecannottellanythingaboutlanguage,modeoflife,religion,orspecificoriginfromthetermIndian.Also,thetermoftencarriesas
negativeassociationsasdoesthetermblackinnonindigenouscommunitiesofdiscourse.Here,onemightarguethatdisaggregatingthecategoryIndianwouldbe
helpful.IftheprimarymeaningconnotedbythewordIndianisakindofracialmeaning,thentheuseofQuechuaandAymara,Mayan,etc.reducesthe
significanceoftheracializedconnotationsoftheidentity,subordinatingthosetothespecificityoflinguisticandculturalmarkers.
Despiteallthisvarietyandheterogeneity,whenLatinosentertheUnitedStates,weareoftenhomogenizedintooneoverarchingLatinoorHispanicidentity.Latinas
whodontlooklikeMariafromSesameStreetorwhodonteatspicyfoodoftenencounterAngloskepticismaboutouridentity(eventhoughmostofLatinAmerican
foodisrathermild).Thisexpectedgenerichispanicityisnot,asJorgeGraciaremindsme,actuallyhomogeneous.Thatis,inEuropeanAmericaneyes,Hispanic
identitydoesnotcarrythesameconnotationsineverypartoftheUnitedStates.Graciaexplains:
InMiamiitmeansCubaninNewYorkCityitmeansPuertoRicanandinthesouthwestitmeansMexican.SoinCaliforniaIamsupposedtohaveasmynativefood
tacos,inNewYorkCity,arrozcongandules,andinMiami,arrozconfrijolesnegros!3(http://alcoff.com/content/chap10latrace.html#footnote3)
Still,thereisonefeaturethatpersistsacrossthisvarietyofgenericLatinoorHispanicidentities,andthatisthatouridentityintheU.S.,whetherornotitis
homogenized,isquiteoftenpresentedasaracialidentity.AnthropologistGloriaA.Marshallreportedin1969thatappellationssuchasSpanish,Cuban,andPuerto
Rican,areusedinmanyU.S.contextsasiftheywereequivalenttotheracialdesignationscurrentlyinuse.(Marshall1993,119)ArecentreportintheChronicleof
HigherEducationillustrateshowsuchequivalencescontinuetooccur.DifferencesinaverageSATscoreswerereportedinthefollowingway:
Theaverageverbalscoresbyracewere:white,526black,434AsianAmerican,498AmericanIndian,480MexicanAmerican,453PuertoRican,452andother
Hispanicstudents,461.4(http://alcoff.com/content/chap10latrace.html#footnote4)
Soagain,likeAngelOquendo,wefindthatPuertoRicanisaracialidentity,andadifferentoneatthatfromtheraceofMexicanAmericans.Whereasinthe
categorizationsIjustanalyzedfromLatinAmerica,racialcategoriesaresubsumedwithinanoverallaccountofethnicmakeup,inthisexamplefromtheU.S.,ethnic
categoriesaresubsumedwithinanoverallaccountofracialdifference.Butinbothcases,raceandethnicityareallbutequated.
V.Theethnicityparadigm
LatinosintheU.S.haverespondedtoracializationinavarietyofways.Oneresponse,stillongoing,hasbeentoeitherclaimracialneutralityorclaimwhiteness,two
claimswhichendupwiththesameimplications.Thescandalisthat80%ofPuertoRicansinthe2000censusselfidentifiedaswhite,apparentlythinkingthat,ifthey
aregoingtohavetoberacialized,whitenessistheonetheywant.OtherLatinoshaveliterallycampaignedtobecalledwhite.AnitaAllenreportedin1994thatthe
largestpetitioninggroupthathadthusfarrequestedchangesforthe2000U.S.CensuswastheAssociationofWhiteHispanics,whowereagitatingforthatdesignation
tobeonthecensusform(Allen1994).Intheselfinterestedscrambleforsocialstatus,manyLatinosperceivecorrectlywheretheadvantageslay(forfurtheranalysis
ofthisphenomenonanditshistory,seeDarityetal2003SantiagoValles1996).Butatbest,suchastrategywouldhavetobespecifiedforaLatinosubgroup,asthe
AssociationofWhiteHispanicsunderstood,andwouldnotbeapplicabletothemajorityofLatinos.Claimingwhitenessforoneselfdoesnotworkunlessthereispublic
acceptanceofsuchadesignation.
AnotherresponsehasbeentousethediscourseofracializationasitexistsintheUnitedStatestoselfidentifyasbrownbutinpositiveratherthanderogatoryway.
Oquendo,afterhavingovercomehisexistentialdilemma,supportsthisstrategy.Hesays:
Attackingracialexploitationandmakingamendsforalonghistoryofracialoppressionrequirestakingtheexistingcategoriesandturningthemagainsttheiroriginal
purpose.Theconceptualstructurethatsingledoutpeopleinordertounderminethemmustnowbeusedtoempowerthem.(Oquendo67)
Asexamplesofthisapproach,ChicanosintheAugustTwentyNinthMovementandinthestudentgroupMECHA,aswellastheprimarilyPuertorriquenoYoungLordsin
ChicagoandNewYork,attimesadoptedandadaptedtheconceptofabrownracialidentitytosignifysolidarityandresistance,e.g.theBrownBerets.
ButneitherthemonikerwhitenorbrownworksacrosstheboardforapanLatinoidentity(orevenforthespecificnationalitiestheywanttorepresent).Manyargue
thatwhatbetterunitesLatinosbothacrossandevenwithinourspecificnationalculturesisnotraceorphenotypebutpreciselythosefeaturesassociatedwithculture:
language,religiousandfamilialtraditions,culturalvalues,musicalstyles,andcharacteristicsofcomportment.TheethnicityparadigmdeniesthatraceappliestoLatino
identitybecausetobeLatinoistobelongtoanethnicgroupthatencompassesdifferentnationalitiesandraceswithinit(seee.g.Corlett2003,KlordeAlva1996).The
UnitedStatescensussupportedthisparadigmwhenitlisteditsLatinocategoryasanethniccategory,withnoLatinooptionlistedunderrace.
WhetherLatinoswanttoworkwithorrejectracialcategoriesdependsnotjustontheirvisiblefeaturesbutalsoontheirpoliticalorientationandhistory.PuertoRicans
havealongexperientialhistoryofU.S.colonizationwhichimposedracializationevenbeforetheylefttheisland,whichmayaccountfortheircomparativelyquick
adaptationtotheracerulesintheU.S..Latinosfromcountrieswithoutthisexperienceofintensivecolonizationaremoresurprisedbybeingraciallydesignatedwhen
theycomehereandmaybemoreresistant(seee.g.GrosfoguelandGeoras1996).ThereiscertainlyapowerfulsentimentamongmanyLatinostowardresistingthe
impositionofU.S.racializationsandU.S.categoriesofidentity.LuisAngelTorothuscallsonustoabandontheoutdatedracialideologyembodiedin[theOfficeof
ManagementandBudgetsStatistical]Directiveno.15andreplaceitwithquestionsdesignedtodetermineanindividualsmembershipinasociallyconstructed,cultural
subgroup.(Toro,58)Itisnotasifthesystemofracialclassificationherehasbenefittedanyoneexceptthewhitemajority.AsJorgeKlordeAlvaprovocativelyputitto
CornelWestinaconversationinHarpers,Whatadvantagehasitbeen,Cornel,forblackstoidentifyasblacks?(KlordeAlva,56)AlthoughOquendosupportsa
politicalreformulationofracialcategories,herejectstheimpositionoftheU.S.sblack/whitebinaryonLatinosandarguesagainsttheuseofsuchracialtermsas
BlackHispanicsandWhiteHispanicsonthegroundsthatthesecategoriesprojectontotheLatino/acommunityadivisiveracialdualism[i.e.black/white]that,
muchasitmaypervadeU.S.society,isalientothatcommunity.(Oquendo60)
JustbecausewearelocatedwithintheU.S.doesnotmeanwemustacceptexistingcategories:wecanchallengeandchangethem.Moreover,ouridentityisabout
cultureandnationalityratherthanrace,accordingtomanyLatinos.ThemajorityofPuertoRicansmayhavechosenwhiteoverblackonaraciallistbuttheirfirstform
ofselfidentification,asClaraRodriguezhasshown,isasPuertoRican(Rodriguez1989).However,intheUnitedStates,cultural,national,ethnic,religiousandother
formsofidentificationareconstantlysubordinatedtorace.SoAfroCubans,EnglishspeakingWestIndians,andAfroBraziliansaregroupedasblack,inwaysthat
oftencounterpeoplesownfeltsenseofidentityorprimarygroupalliances.Racetrumpsculture,andcultureissometimesevenseenasasimpleoutgrowthofrace.
PartofthisisadescriptiveargumenttotheeffectthatidentitycategoriesintheNorthareinappropriatetoLatinoexperience.Butthereisalsoapoliticalclaimmade
here,thatweshouldopposeandstrivetodiminishtheridiculousbiologicalessentialismimpliedinraceandthereforetheuseofraceasanidentity.Itisnotjustthat
thecategoriesintheNorthareinappropriatetheyarealsospeciousontheirownterms.ThusCorlettargues:
Irejectprimitiveracetheoriesthatcategorizepeoplesintodifferentracesbasedsolelyoncertaingenetictraitspossessedbymembersofeachputativeracial
group....[E]thnicity...innowaysupposes,however,anydistinctionsbetweenethnicgroupsonthebasisofgeneticoranyotherkindofinnateorderingsothatone
groupisclassifiedassuperiortoanother.Ifanysuchdistinctionsofqualitydoexist,itisbecause,onaverage,onegrouporanotherhasoutperformedothersin
certainways,perhapsbecauseithashadgreatersocialadvantagesoropportunitiesthanothergroups,oritexistsinanenvironmentmorecongenialtoitsown
flourishingthanothergroupsinthesameordifferentenvironments.(Corlett2003,7)
ForjustthesesortsofreasonsmanyAfricanAmericanshavebeenoptingoutofracialcategoriesaswell,sinceJesseJacksonstartedpushingfortheuseoftheterm
AfricanAmericaninthelate1980's.ThiswasaselfconsciousstrategytoencourageanalogiesbetweenAfricanAmericanidentityandotherhyphenatedethnic
groups,to,inasense,normalizeAfricanAmericanidentitybynolongerhavingitsetapartfromeveryoneelse.Thestrategyofusingethnictermsratherthanracial
onesisbasedonthehopethatthiswillhavetheeffectofreducingracismorprejudicegenerally,because,asCorlettexplains,arepresentationbyethnictermsrather
thanracialconfersagencyonapeople,itinvokeshistoricalexperience,culturalandlinguisticpractices,allofwhichareassociationswithhumansubjectivity,not
objectivity.
Incontrast,raceisoftensaidtobesomethingonehasnocontrolover,thatisnotshapedbycollectivepractice.Thissurelyperpetuatestheassociationbetween
denigratedracialcategoriesandvictimhood,animaldrivennatures,inherentinferiorityorsuperiorityandsoon.Forwhites,racialessentialismconferssuperiority
whethertheyvedoneanythingtodeserveitornotsuperiorintelligenceisjustintheirgenes.Thesebeliefsmaybemoreunconsciousthanconscious,butgiventhe
historicallysedimentedandpersistentlayersoftheideologyofraceastheessentialdeterminant,nomatterwhatoneintendsbyuseofaword,itshistoricalmeanings
willbebroughtintoplaywhenitisinuse.ThusCorlettisfarfromaloneinhisviewthatanyuseofracialtermswillbeinevitablyembeddedwithbiologicalessentialism
andhistoricallypersistenthierarchiesofmoralandcognitivecompetence(besidesKlordeAlva,op.cit.,seee.g.Appiah1992,Zack1993).Thegoalhereofcourseis
notonlytochangewhitessassumptionsaboutracializedgroupsbutalsotohelpaltertheselfimageofpeopleinthosegroupsthemselvestowardamoreaffirming
identity,anidentityinwhichonecantakejustifiablepride.
SomepointtotherelativesuccessofJamaicanimmigrantsintheU.S.asanexamplehere.GrosfoguelandGeoraswritethatTheJamaicanscommunitysstrategy
wastoemphasizeethnicoverracialidentity.ThefactthatJamaicanswerenotsubsumedunderthecategorizationAfricanAmericanavoidedoffsettingthepositive
impactoftheirskilledbackground.ThusJamaicansweresuccessfullyincorporatedintothehostlabormarketinwellpaidpublicandprivateservicejobs...[and]are
currentlyportrayedbythewhiteestablishmentinNewYorkasamodelminority...(GrosfoguelandGeoras,p.197).Oneshouldnotehere,however,thecontrast
betweenthiskindofexceptionalismstrategy(toemphasizeonespositivedifferencesfromthedevaluedgroup)andthestrategyofresistingracializationasawayto

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joinwithotherswhoarevictimizedbyracism.Also,GrosfoguelandGeorasclaimsarequestionableiftheyaretakentoberepresentationsofselfconsciouschoices
madebythemajorityofJamaicans,manyofwhomhavebeenstrongsupporters,participantsandevenleadersoftheAfricanAmericancivilandpoliticalrights
struggle.Buttheirclaimishelpfulinitsrepresentationofacommonviewaboutthesuperiorityofanethnicorculturalasopposedtoracialformofselfidentification.
Tosummarizetheargumentsinfavoroftheethnicityparadigm,wecandividethemintothepoliticalargumentsandthemetaphysicalarguments.Thpolitical
argumentsarethat(a)theuseofethnicitywillreduceracismbecauseitreferstoselfcreatedfeaturesratherthanmerelyphysiologicalones,andthat(b)thiswillalso
resisttheimpositionofU.S.formsofidentifyingpeople,thusdisabusingNorthAmericansfromtheirtendencytonaturalizeanduniversalizethepredominantcategories
usedhereintheU.S.Themetaphysicalargumentsarethat(c)ethnicitymoreaccuratelyidentifieswhatreallyholdsgroupstogetherandhowtheyselfidentify,and
(d)ethnicityissimplyclosertothetruthofLatinoidentity,givenitsracialheterogeneity.Alloftheseargumentsare,inmyview,goodones.Butunfortunately,there
areotherconsiderationsthat,oncetheyareputonthetable,willcomplicatethepicture.
VI.Racialrealities
Letuslook,forexample,atthecaseofCubanAmericans.Byallmeasures,theyhavefaredverywellinthiscountryintermsofbotheconomicsuccessandpolitical
power.TheyhavelargelyrunbothpoliticsandthepressinMiamiforsometime,andPresidentialcandidatesneglecttheCubancommunityattheirperil.Ofcourse,
onecannotargueassomedointhecaseofJamaicansthattheCubansstrongethnicidentificationisthemainreasonfortheirsuccess:mostimportantistheirability
toplayanideological(andattimesmilitary)rolefortheU.S.intheColdWar.TheenormousgovernmentassistanceprovidedtotheCubanswhofledtheCuban
revolutionissimplyunprecedentedinU.S.immigrationhistory:theyreceivedlanguagetraining,botheducationalandbusinessloans,jobplacementassistance,
housingallocations,andtheirprofessionaldegreesfromCubaninstitutionswerelegallyrecognizedtoanextentotherThirdWorldimmigrantsstillenvy.In1965when
PresidentJohnsonbeganhisGreatSocietyprograms,theamountoftheirassistancefromthegovernmentwasactuallyincreased(GrosfoguelandGeoras,p.198).
ButonemaylegitimatelywonderwhethertheCubansstatusasrefugeesofCommunismwasallthatwasatworkhere,oreventheoverridingfactor.TheCubanswho
cameinthe1960'swereoverwhelminglywhiteorlightskinned.TheyweregenerallyfromthetopstrataofCubansociety.ItisaninterestingquestionwhetherHaitians
wouldeverhavebeentreatedthesameway.TheCubanswholeftCubapost1980,knownastheMarielitos,werefromalowerstrataofCubansocietyandalarge
numberwereAfroCubansandmulattos(GrosfoguelandGeoras,p.199).TheseCubansfoundadecidedlycolderwelcoming.Theywereleftpennedinrefugeecamps
formonthsonend,andthosewhowerenotsentbacktoCubawerereleasedintoU.S.societywithlittleornoassistance,joiningthelaborranksatthelevelofPuerto
RicansandDominicans.TherearenodoubtmanyfactorsatworkinthesedisparateexperiencesofCubanimmigration,havingtodoforexamplewiththegeopolitical
climate.Butsurelyoneoftheseimportantfactorsisrace,orracializedidentity.Perceivedracialidentityoftendoestrumpethnicorculturalidentity.
Clearly,racializationoperatesdifferentlyfordiverseLatinoidentities.AstheCubanexampleillustrates,classaswellasphysicalappearancewillmediateethnicand
culturallabelstodeterminemeanings.SomegroupsnotablyPuertoRicansandMexicanshaveenjoyedalonghistorywiththeU.S.inwhichtheiridentitieshave
beeninterpellatedthroughdominantU.S.schemas.IntermsofthepanLatinoidentity,thismeansthatwhenMexicansorPuertoRicansarecalledLatino,thelatter
termwillconnoteracialmeaningswhereasArgentinianswhoarecalledLatinointheNorthmayescapetheseconnotations.Identityterms,asOmiandWinantargue,
gaintheirmeaningfromtheircontext.JustasGraciasaidLatinomeanstacosinCaliforniaandarrozcongandulesinNewYork,itmaywellmeanraceinCalifornia,
Texas,NewYork,andFloridaandperhapsethnicityonlyinafewspecificlocationsandinregardonlytocertainsubsetsofthegroup.
Theevenbroaderproblemfortheattempttoescaperacializationisthatethnicityitselfsignifiesraceevenwithoutfurthermediations.Lookagainatthepassageabout
JamaicansquotedearlierfromGrosfoguelandGeoras:TheJamaicanscommunitysstrategywastoemphasizeethnicoverracialidentity.ThefactthatJamaicans
werenotsubsumedunderthecategorizationAfricanAmericanavoidedoffsettingthepositiveimpactoftheirskilledbackground.(Emphasesadded)Grosfogueland
GeorascontrasttheethnicJamaicanidentitywithwhattheyrevealinglytaketobearacialAfricanAmericanidentity,eventhoughthetermAfricanAmericanwas
Jacksonsattempttoreplaceracewithethnicity.ThisagainsuggeststhattheracializationofblackAmericanswilloverpoweranyethnicorculturalmarker,interpreting
thelattertomeanrace.ItmayalsobethecasethatthetermAfricanisoverlyinclusive,sinceunderitsumbrellahugeculturalandlinguisticdifferenceswouldbe
subsumed,andthusitisincapableofsignifyinganintelligibleethnicidentity.ButthatmaybeassumingmoreknowledgeaboutAfricaamongwhiteAmericansoreven
amongLatinosthanonereasonablyshould.MorelikelyisthefactthatAfricanAmericanisstillunderstoodprimarilyasaracialdesignation,inawaythattermslike
GermanAmericanorIrishAmericanareneverunderstood.Thus,itisquestionablewhetherthestrategyofusinganethnictermforacurrentlyracializedgroupwill
havetheeffectofreducingracismifitcontinuestosimplysignifyrace.
Andafterall,thefirstmeaninggivenforthewordethnicinWebstersUnabridgedDictionaryisheathen,pagan.Thehistoryoftheconceptofethnicityhascloseties
totheconceptofrace,emerginginthesameperiodofglobalhistory,Europeancolonialism.FormanypeopleintheU.S.,ethnicconnotesnotonlynonwhitebutalso
thetypicalnegativeassociationsofnonwhiteracialidentity.Meaningsgivenforthewordheatheninthesamedictionaryincluderude,illiterate,barbarous,and
irreligious.Inthislist,itisstrikingthatirreligiouscomeslast.
LikeAfricanAmerican,thefactisthatintheUnitedStatesthecategoryLatinogenerallyoperatesasaracializedcategory.GrosfoguelandGeorasthemselvesargue
thatnomatterhowblondeorblueeyedapersonmaybe,andnomatterhowsuccessfullyhecanpassaswhite,themomentapersonselfidentifiesasPuerto
Rican,heentersthelabyrinthofracialOtherness.(GrosfoguelandGeoras,p.195.)NinaGlickSchillermakesasimilarcaseinregardnotonlytoethnicitybutto
culturalidentityaswell,andnotjustintheU.S..SheexplainsthatcasestudiesfromCanadatoBrazilrevealthatpeoplemayspeakculturebutcontinuetothinkrace.
Whetherintheformofculturalpluralismorofthecurrentidiomofmulticulturalism,theconceptofcultureisusedinwaysthatnaturalizeandessentialize
difference.(Schiller1995,iii)Inthespecialissueon(Multi)CulturalismandtheBaggageofRaceofIdentities:GlobalStudiesinCultureandPower,fromwhich
Schillerscommentsaretaken,theeditorVirginiaR.Dominguezcallsintoquestionwhethertheemploymentofcultureisaneffectivemeanstofightracism.Study
afterstudyshowsthatculturalismoperatesverysimilarlyasracismtodifferentiategroupsonthebasisofessentialcharacteristicsthatcanbehierarchicallyorganized.
PhyllisPeaseChocksstudyoftheHarvardEncyclopediaofAmericanEthnicGroupsshowsthateventhisputativelyprogressivecompilationreifiedethnicgroupswith
simplifiedculturesanduniformhistories(Chock1995,316)Thus,thedifferencesbetweenrace,ethnicity,andculturepointedtobysuchantiracetheoristsasCorlett
begintorecedeoncewelookathowthetermsareactuallyused.
Thus,movingfromracetoethnicityisnotnecessarilymovingawayfromrace.
Anoptimistmightwanttointerjectherethatthepersistenceofracialconnotationsevokedbyethniccategoriesisnotinsurmountable.Afterall,theIrishdidtransform
inwidepopularconsciousnessfromaracetoanethnicity,andJewsaremakingthesametransition.Isittrulythecasethatonlylightskinnedpeoplecanenjoythis
transformation,andthatdarkerskinnedpeoplewillneverbeableto?Inordertoanswerthisquestion,weneedtoaskanotherone:Whataretheobstaclesto
deracializingpeopleofcoloringeneral?5(http://alcoff.com/content/chap10latrace.html#footnote5) Isitreallythemerefactofskintone?
Iwouldmaketwosuggestions.First,race,unlikeethnicity,hashistoricallyworkedthroughvisiblemarkersonthebodywhichtrumpdress,speech,andcultural
practices.Certainlyforantiblackracists,thedifferencesinethnicityandnationalitybetweenAfricans,Caribbeans,andAfricanAmericansarenotmorallysignificant.
Racedemarcatesgroupsvisually,whichiswhyracistinstitutionshavebeensoupsetaboutnonvisiblemembersofracesandwhytheyhavetakensuchtroublein
thesecasestoenforceracialidentifications.WhatIamsuggestingisthat,inpopularconsciousnessandintheimplicitperceptualpracticesweuseineverydaylifeto
discernhowtorelatetoeachother,ethnicitydoesnotreplacerace.Whenethnicidentitiesareusedinsteadofracialones,theperceptualpracticesofvisual
demarcationbywhichweslotpeopleintoracialcategoriescontinuetooperatebecauseethniccategoriesoffernosubstitutingperceptualpractice.Inotherwords,the
factthatraceandethnicitydonotmapontothesamekindsofidentifyingpracticeswillmakeracehardertodislodge.ThiswasnotthecasefortheIrishorformanyif
notmostJewishpeople,whocouldblendintotheEuropeanAmericanmeltingpotwithoutnoticeabledistinctiveness(thus,thosewhoarethemselvesIrishorJewishare
thebestatspottingpersonswithintheirgroup).Forthem,ethnicitycouldreplacerace,becausetheirracialidentityasIrishandJewishdidnotoperateexclusivelyor
primarilythroughvisiblemarkersonthebodysomuchasthroughcontextualfactorslikeneighborhoodandaccent.Sotheiridentitycouldshifttowhiteraceand
JewishorIrishethnicitywithouttroublingthedominantperceptualpracticesofracialidentification.However,forthosewhoarevisiblyidentifiedasnonwhitebythese
samedominantpractices,orwho,inotherwords,areraced,theshifttoaprimaryethnicidentitywouldrequirenolongerengagingintheseracialperceptual
practices.Itisunlikelythattheuseofnewtermsalonewillhavethateffect.Atbest,forpeopleofcolor,ethnicidentitieswilloperatealongsideracialonesineveryday
interactions,withoutinanywaydislodgingtheracialidentities.Atworst,ethnicidentities,likeperhapsAfricanAmerican,willoperatesimplyasaracialidentity.
Althoughthisisafactaboutthevisiblefeaturesofthebody,itisnotanimmutablefact:themeaningsofthevisibleareofcoursesubjecttochange.However,the
phenomenologyofperceptionissuchthatchangewillbeneitherquicknoreasilysusceptibletoconsciousmanipulation,andthatsubstitutingthetermsweusefor
identitieswillbenowherenearsufficienttomakethischange.Thetransformationofperceptualhabitswillrequireamoreactiveandamorepracticalintervention.

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Thesecondobstacletothederacializationof(atleastmost)peopleofcolorhasnothingtowithperceptionorbodilyfeatures.ThisobstaclerefersbacktoaclaimI
madeatthebeginning,thatassertionsofgroupsolidarityamongAfricanAmerican,NativeAmerican,andLatinosintheU.S.provokeresistanceamongmanywhites
becausetheyinvokethehistoryofcolonialism,annexationoflands,slavery,andgenocide.Thus,ouracceptanceasfullplayerswithinU.S.societycomesatmuch
greatercostthantheacceptanceofpreviouslyvilifiedgroupsliketheIrishandJews,groupsthatsufferedjustasmuchdiscriminationandviolence,withoutadoubt,
butgroupswhosegenealogyisnotathorninthesideofPilgrimsProgress,ManifestDestiny,LeaderoftheFreeWorld,andothersuchmythicnarrativesthat
legitimateU.S.worlddominanceandprovidewhiteAmericanswithastrongsenseofpride.TheIrishandJewswere(theIrisharguablystillare)colonizedpeoplesin
Europe,andtheretheyareremindersofcolonizationandgenocide.ButtheydonotplaythisroleinthelegitimationnarrativesoftheU.S.state.Thus,thelinebetween
Europeanethnicitiesandpeopleofcolorisnotmerelyorperhapsevenprimarilyaboutskintonebutabouthistoryandpowerandthenarrativesbywhichcurrently
existingpowerarrangementsarejustified.
Sowhatarewetodo?Ifthemovefromracetoethnicityisnotaseasyassomehavethought,howcanwebemorerealisticwithoutbecomingfatalisticabout
racialization?Howcanweavoidbothdefeatismandnaivety?Arewetoaccept,then,thatLatinoidentityisaracialidentity,despiteallthefactsIhavereviewedabout
ourheterogeneityanddifferentmethodsofselfidentification,andalltheperniciouseffectsofracializedidentity?
VII.Ethnorace
Althoughracialideologyandpracticesofracializationseemalwaystocarrywithinthemsomecommitmenttobiologicalessentialism,perhapsthemeaningofraceis
opentotransformation.Ifraceisgoingtobewithusforsometimetocomeasamodeofidentificationbasedonvisiblemarkersonthebody,itmightstillbethecase
thatraceitselfcanalterinmeaning,evenbeforewecaneradicatetheperceptualpracticesofracialization.Suchanalterationisexactlywhatmuchofthenewworkin
blackstudies,forexample,byPaulGilroy,RobertGoodingWilliams,bellhooks,LewisGordon,andPatriciaWilliamsisaimingfor.Intheseworksthereisan
intentionaluseofthetermblackratherthanAfricanAmerican,whichseemstobeawayofaddressingwithhonestyanddirectnessthesocialrealitywelivein,and
alsoasawaytosuggestalinkedfatebetweenallblackpeopleinthediasporaacrossnationalitiesandotherculturaldifferences.Butintheirworks,blacknesshas
beendecidedlydeessentializedandgivenameaningthatconsistsofhistoricalexperience,collectivememory,chosensocialpracticesandformsofcultural
expression.ForGilroy,thereisablacknessthattranscendsandsurvivesthedifferencesoftheU.K.,Caribbean,andU.S.nationalities,ablacknessthatcanbeseen
inculturalformandnarrativefocus.Blacknessisformedoutofsociallocation,sharedhistory,andasharedperceptionabouttheworld.ForGoodingWilliams,black
identityrequiresacertainselfconsciousnessaboutcreatingthemeaningofblackness.Itrequires,inotherwords,notonlythatoneistreatedasablackperson,or
thatoneisobjectivelyblack,butthatoneissubjectivelyblackaswellinthesenseofactivelyinterpretingtheimplicationsofthisimposedcategoryforonessense
ofselfandcommunitylife.Thusblackidentityrequiresagency,ratherthanimposingonlyobstaclestothedevelopmentofagency.
WhethersuchanapproachcanbeusedforLatinos,Iamnotsure.ThereisprobablyevengreaterdiversityamongLatinosinrelationtohistory,sociallocation,and
formsofculturalexpressionthanamongblackpeopleacrossthediaspora(because,forexample,anexperiencesuchasslaveryisnotsharedbyLatinos).Andthe
questionofwhereblackLatinosfitisstillunresolved,evenwhenwemakeracialidentityamatterofselfcreation.ThisisaseriousweaknessinGilroysbroad
conceptualizationofablackAtlantic:Brazil,aslargeacountryasitis,isnowheretobefoundonhisconceptualmap.Theoriesofblackidentitymustaddressthis
criticalAnglo/Latinodivide,andtheoristsintheU.S.mustrecognizethewayinwhichU.S.hemisphericimperialism,aswellasculturalandlinguisticdifferences,create
realresistanceagainstanassimilationtothepredominantlyAngloconstructedculturalarticulationofblackidentity.6(http://alcoff.com/content/chap10latrace.html#footnote6)
ButIbelievethatwecantakeanimportantlessonfromthisbodyofworkbecauseitsuggeststhat,evenwhilewemustrememberthepersistentpowerof
racialization,andtheinabilityofethnicityeasilytotakeitsplace,themeaningsofracearesubjecttosomemovement.Onlyasemanticessentialistcouldarguethat
racecanonlymeanbiologicalessentialisminreality,thisisnotthewaymeaningworks.Letmebeclearaboutmypositionhere:Idontbelieve,alasome
postmodernists,thatsignifiersareslipperyitemswhosemeaningsandassociationscanbeeasilytransformed.Justbecausewehaveseenthesuccessful
transformationofsomesuchderogatoryterms(e.g.black,Chicano)doesnotestablishthatanytermcanbe.Itistruethatmeaningworksthroughiterability:that
is,theinvocationofpriormeanings,butwhenthosepriormeaningsarecenturiesoldandgloballyinfluential,theywillbedifficulttodislodge.Ontheotherhand,words
donotsimplypickoutthingsthatexistpriortotheirbeingpickedout,andthusreferenceismutable.
SothefirstpointIammakingisthis.DespiteourhopesthattheinfluxofLatinosontheNorthAmericancontinent,inallofourbeautifuldiversity,wouldtransformand
annhilatethebinariesandpuristracialideologiesprevalentintheUnitedStates,thisisnotlikely,atleastnotlikelyverysoon.Theracializingpracticeslongdominant
intheU.S.willnotsimplyimplodebecauseofthepressureofLatinoselfrepresentationasnonracedorasraciallymixed.LatinosintheU.S.havewithoutadoubt
beenracialized.AndIwouldarguethatthehistoryandevencontemporarysocioeconomicsituationofLatinosintheU.S.simplycannotbeunderstoodusingethnicity
categoriesalonewehavebeenshutoutofthemeltingpotbecausewehavebeenseenasracialandnotmerelyculturalOthers.However,althoughwemaybe
stuckwithracialcategoriesforlongerthansomeofuswouldwish,itmaybeeasiertohelpraceslowlyevolvethantryingtodoawaywithitasafirststep.
OnemightstillargueatthispointthatvariousLatinoshavedifferentrelationshipstoracialcategories.Mexicans,PuertoRicans,andDominicanshavebeenracialized,
butnotallothers.Andlumpingusalltogethercandilutethepoliticaleffortstoredressdiscrimination,allowingwhiteorlightLatinostoreapbenefitswedonoteven
need.Sowhatarewetodointhefaceofthisdiversityofhistoricalexperienceandsociallocation?IsraceperhapsawaytounderstandsomeofLatinoidentitiesbut
notall?ForapanLatinomoniker,shouldntwerefertoethnicity?
GiventhepersistentracializationofmanyLatinos,andthewaysinwhichethnicandculturalcategoriescancarryracewithinthem,theadoptionoftheethnicparadigm
willleavemostLatinosbehind.Thatis,someofuswillnodoubtbeassimilatedtothenonracialparadigmofethnicitythathasbeenoperativeforEuropeanAmericans
inthiscentury,whileotherLatinoswillcontinuetoberacialized.ThiswillexacerbatethehierarchiesanddivisionsamongLatinos,andweakenthepoliticalpowerofthe
overallgroup.ItwillalsomeanthatLatinoswillbeunableoratleastunlikelytoaddresstheracialissuefromwithinLatinoidentity:ifLatinocomestomeanmerely
ethnicity,racewillcometobeviewedasanissuethatmayaffectmanyofusbutisproperlyoutsideofouridentityasLatinos.LightLatinoswilldowhattoomany
whiteestadounidenseshavedone:believethatracehasnothingtodowiththem.
Thisissurelybothapoliticalandametaphysicalmistake.Racedidentitiesaremediatedbyculturalcontext:theracializationofvariousLatinosdiffersaccordingtoour
specificnationalorculturalidentity.BlacknesssignifiesverydifferentlyintheCaribbeanthaninotherpartsofSouthAmerica,intermsespeciallyofitsmarginalization
visavistheculturalnorm,e.g.PuertoRicanversusColombian.Thus,racecannotbeunderstoodexceptinitscultural,orethnic,context.Racialessentialistswould
hopethatthiswasnottrue,butracialessentialismissimplyfalse:raceisasystemofmeaningsthatvariesbycontext,notaninherentqualitythatismanifest
everywherethesame.Moreover,allLatinosareinalmostallcasesraciallydifferentthanAnglos,certainlyinthecommonusageofracecategoriesintheUS.Thatis,
evenforSpaniardsasJorgeGraciaisarguing,wearenotpurelyEuropean,claimsofwhitehispanicitynotwithstanding.Bypursuingtheethnicparadigm,Latinosmay
appeartobelackinginsolidaritywithotherracializedpeopleofcolor,seekingtobetteroursocialstatusbydifferentiatingourselvesfromAfricanandAsianAmericans
whoremainpersistentlyracialized.ShouldntweratherunitewiththeeffortsofthoselikeGilroyandGoodingWilliamswhoseektogiveraceitselfaculturalmeaning?
Moreover,becauseLatinoidentityinitsimpurityandvariabilitychallengestheshibbolethsofU.S.raceideology,wehaveabetterchancetoaffectthatideology
byacknowledgingourracializationthanintryingtoescapeit.
Ofcourse,itdoesnotmakesensetosaysimplythatLatinosconstitutearace,eitherbythecommonsensemeaningorevenbymorenuancedreferencesto
historicalnarrativeandculturalproduction.IdobelievethatiftheconceptofmestizoentersintoU.S.cultureitcanhavesomegoodeffectsagainstthepresumptionof
purityashavinganintrinsicvalue.Theproblemscausedbythispresumptionarebothpersistentandsignificant,asmixedracechildrenarestillaskedtochooseand
integrityandautonomyarestillthoughttorequirehomogeny.7(http://alcoff.com/content/chap10latrace.html#footnote7) Still,theconceptofmestizowhenappliedtoLatinosingeneral,as
ifallLatinosortheessenceofbeingLatinoistobemestizoormixedSpanishandIndian,hastheeffectofsubordinatingallLatinosbothnorthandsouthwhose
descendantsareentirelyAfrican,IndianorAsian.Mestizosthenbecomethecornerstoneoftheculture,withotherspushedofftotheside.Thisisclearlyintolerable.
AconceptthatmightbehelpfulherehasbeencoinedbyDavidTheoGoldberg:ethnorace.Unlikethecategoryrace,ethnoracemighthavetheadvantageofbringing
intoplayboththeelementsofhumanagencyandsubjectivityinvolvedinethnicity,thatis,anidentitythatistheproductofselfcreation,atthesametimethatit
acknowledgestheuncontrolledracializingaspectsassociatedwiththevisiblebody.Andthetermwouldremindusthatthereareatleasttwoconcepts,ratherthanone,
thatarevitallynecessarytotheunderstandingofLatinoidentityintheUS:ethnicityandrace.UsingonlyethnicitybeliestherealityofmostLatinoseveryday
experiences,aswellasobscuresourownawarenessabouthowethnicidentificationsoftendotheworkofracewhileseemingtobetheoreticallycorrectandpolitically
advanced.Racedogsourstepsletusnotrunfromitelsewecauseittoincreaseitsdetermination.
Endnotes:

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1JorgeGracia,PabloDeGreiff,EduardoMendieta,PaulaMoya,SusanSanchezCasalandAngeloCorlettgavemesubstantivehelpwiththisargumentsofthischapter

forwhichIamextremelygrateful.
2ImyselfrefusedtoacceptafiveyearfullscholarshiptograduateschoolattheUniversityofMichigan,ascholarshipIhadnotappliedforbutthatthe(whiteAnglo)

GraduateDirectorinthephilosophydepartmentappliedforonmybehalfonhisownandthenurgedmetoaccept.Itsnotthatrefusingthismakesmeamoralhero,
butitsimplywasameanstoavoidbeingburdenedbymoralguilt.SoIdontbelievethatsuchrefusalsrequiresuperlativemoralqualities.
3JorgeGracia,personalcommunication.December1998.
4DisparitiesGrowinSATScoresofEthnicandRacialGroupsChronicleofHigherEducation,Sept.11,1998,p.A42.Emphasisadded.
5Iamveryawareoftheparadoxicalwaythisquestionisraised(sinceinaprojectofderacializationoneshouldntrefertopeoplebytheircolor),andofother

paradoxeswiththecategoriesIveusedattimesinthispaperat(e.g.theuseofblackwhenIhavearguedthatitisoppressive).Itisimpossibletoavoidallsuch
paradoxeswhilemaintainingclarityaboutwhichgroupsoneistryingtopickout.AllIcanhopetohavedoneistoproblematizeallsuchcategories,andincreaseour
selfreflectivenessaboutthem.
6AnditisnolesstruefortheoriesofLatinoidentitythatthedifferencesofracializingpracticesmustreceiveseriousattention.Onanotherpoint,Irealizethatitisodd

tolaunchanargumentaboutanAnglo/LatinodivideusingtheexampleofBrazil,butinthiscontext,thedivisionbetweenAnglophonedevelopedNorthAmericaand
nonAnglophonedevelopingLatinAmerica(thusincludingBrazilaswellasothers)isthekeyconflict.
7E.g.itissometimesassumedthatthepossibilityofselfdeterminationishopelesslycompromisedifagrouporpersonhasgenealogicalorothersuchtiestoan

outsidegroup,especiallytheoutsidegroupfromwhomonewantstobeautonomous.Itisthislogicthatsometimespolicesanyfeministorantiheterosexistsentiments
withinnationalistmovementsonthegroundsthatfeminismandgayliberationoriginatesoutsidethisculture.Ofcoursefeminismandgayliberationdonotoriginate
simplyin,forexample,theWest,butthepointisthatthisshouldntmatterinanycase.Solidarityacrossgenderorsexuallinesdoesnotthreatenamovementforself
determinationunlessonepresumesthenecessityofpoliticalpurityandcommunityhomogeneity.

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