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Do People prefer Hispanic or Latino?
Roberto R. Ramirez, head of the ethnicity and ancestry branch of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division, says, “They are considered interchangeable,” by the Census.
Sen. Juan Pichardo, 44, who was born in the Dominican Republic and came here as a teenager, says that for him, the two words have become interchangeable enough that people don’t think about them as much.
“Latino and Hispanic are pretty much the same. Early on, about 10 or 15 years ago, that used to be the question. ‘Are you Hispanic or Latino?’ As people did soul searching, we see that we are descendents of Spanish-speaking people. The conclusion is that they are interchangeable. You could identify with both. I think we put it to bed.”
For Juan Garcia, 59, of Providence, an organizer with Immigrants in Action who was born in Guatemala, Latino or Latin American is the preferred name. “Hispanic infers some kind of dependence on Spain,” Garcia says. “I prefer Latino, because I was born in Latin America. Latino most represents what I am.”
Heiny Maldonado, community organizer for the workers’ rights group Fuerza Laboral, in Central Falls, who was born in Colombia, said the word Hispanic classifies people by the language they speak, whereas Latino refers more to Latin America, the geographical location where they came from.