The line between race and ethnicity is one that has become very blurred for many Latino-Americans over the past several years. I’ve always been certain of my ethnic identity: I’m Puerto Rican; that much has always been clear to me. However, my racial identity has become a separate conundrum entirely. When faced with the question of my race on any standardized form, or any other such survey for that matter, I’m always left perplexed. “I don’t see Puerto Rican here… Or Hispanic… Or Latino… Or any other name for that which I consider myself to be. I guess I’ll just check ‘other’ and be done with this.” I know now that I am certainly not alone in my quiet little game of “what’s my race?”
According to new research presented at the annual Population Association of America meeting, more than 10 million Latino-Americans checked different boxes for Race and/or Ethnicity on the 2010 census forms than they did in the year 2000. Could this be a sign of racial exclusion and ambiguity in the minds of many a Latino-American when it comes to filling out the census forms, or is it simply a matter of “today I feel White” and “tomorrow I feel Black?” I’d argue the former. Simply put: I am Latino, plain and uncomplicated. I don’t know what those in charge consider my race to be in this new, politically correct day and age, but I know that much is undeniable. In my opinion, the variety of answers that one may find to the questions of race or ethnicity on the census forms is nothing more than a result of harmless guessing. Of course, this is not to exclude those Latino-Americans who feel very strongly identified by a specific race that is represented on the census form. But, I can confidently speak for myself and most Latinos that I associate with when I say that, if Hispanic or Latino isn’t listed under race, we’re checking “other.” How do you identify yourself? Agree or disagree with my views? Post your comments here and make your voice heard!