Most U.S. residents with roots in Spanish-speaking countries do not consider the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” to be the ones that best define their identity, according to a report published Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.
In a survey of 1,220 Hispanics, 51 percent responded that they prefer to identify themselves with the name of their country of origin, while 21 percent call themselves “American.”
It was almost four decades ago that the U.S. government decided to use Hispanic/Latino to refer to people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries.
Despite the different nationalities of origin, 82 percent feel that the Spanish language is a characteristic that unites this community, a language that they use frequently, at the same time that they consider it to be a heritage that should be maintained.
Thirty-eight percent said that Spanish is their first language, 33 percent say they are bilingual and 24 percent prefer to use English.
Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed emphasized that among the more than 50 million Latinos living in the United States cultural diversity is more noteworthy than any homogeneity that identifies them as a single group.
In addition, the majority consider the standard racial categories used by the U.S. Census Bureau to be inadequate.
Because of this, 51 percent consider themselves to be in the category of “some other race,” while 36 percent identify themselves as white and 3 percent say they are black.
With regard to the term “American,” just a fifth of those surveyed use it to refer to themselves, although the percentage is higher among Latinos born in the United States.
In addition, the proportion of those who consider themselves to be American increases in proportion to their income level.
Despite the importance that Hispanics give to Spanish, 87 percent feel that learning English is indispensable to being successful in this country.
Regarding the opportunities offered by the United States, almost 90 percent say they feel it is easier to prosper in the world’s largest economy than in their countries of origin and they say that their lives in the United States are better than those of their relatives in Latin America.
Fifty-five percent said that they came to the United States for economic reasons and 79 percent said that they would return to the United States if they were expelled.