Are Latinos Black?

While many Latinos are, indeed, black (most Cubans and Dominicans are black and at the same time undeniably Latino, for example), I don’t understand how one can be a Latino and speak no Spanish. It makes zero sense. Latino is not a genetic, racial, or ethnic category. Latinos can be of any race or ethnicity (Google Keiko Fujimori for an example of a Japanese Latina). The only thing they have in common is their Latin ancestry, manifested in the Spanish language they speak.

In the US, there’s this cute antiquated affectation of referring to descendants of immigrants as Italian-Americans or Russian-Americans. Older people do it but everybody knows it’s not serious. There’s zero difference between people whose great-grandparents came here from wherever. Gosh, forget great-grandparents. My kid isn’t going to be Ukrainian or Russian in any meaningful way. Everybody understands that and has no problem with it.

And yes, AOC is a total idiot but when she says “Latinos are black,” she’s absolutely right. Many Latinos are black. Associating the word Latino with a specific “look” is ignorant. AOC is a mumbly person, so she tends to express herself in a clumsy way. As a result, even when she says something factually true, it sounds moronic.

My point is that using “Latino” as a stand in for “not white but not black either” is about the tiresome racial hangups of Americans and nothing else whatsoever. And the world is very tired of the racial hangups of well-meaning Americans.

14 thoughts on “Are Latinos Black?”

  1. I have long found it interesting that AOC refers to herself as a woman of color to imply that her opponents are racist. As if her Latina experience is the equivalent of being black.

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    1. That’s one of the most annoying things about this scam. When people start equating the situation of immigrants or descendants of immigrants with that of the descendants of slaves,it’s truly distasteful. And it’s even worse when we are talking about descendants of Puerto Ricans who aren’t even immigrants.

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  2. “tiresome racial hangups of Americans…”

    Amen. No such thing as biological “races” – it’s a word that should always be placed in scare-quotes as it is scary. Since there are no “races,” the idea that colour is a proxy for something that doesn’t exist just piles on the stupid and unfunny.

    But in fairness, it’s not just an American disease.

    And, Happy 4th of July to all my American neighbours!

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  3. “Latinos are black” is incorrect, much like saying “Americans are black.” A subset of each group is, thus one must say “some Latinos and Americans are black” to be correct. I’ve taught in Mexico. There is quite the melting pot on down there. 50-70% mestizo, 20-30% pure indigenous, 10-20% European.. I had the great grand children of Alvaro Obregon in class. They’re about as mestizo as Liz Warren is. All of this is left a bit deliberately vague in explicit official discourse, however, probably to keep the peace. They’re wiser in this way than we..

    That’s the thing about Latin America that is invisible to most Anglos: mestizo means Amerindian overlaid with a European coat of varying degrees of thickness.. Mexico has an Aztec heart. The public iconography of the Mexican state is predominantly Aztec, which signifies who rules the roost in Mexican mestizo hierarchy. The north, particularly Chihuahua and Senora, is Navajo and Yaqui (etc.), the south is Maya. All of these groups are oppressed and exploited to greater or lesser degree by the (mostly European) elite, and are still in low boil revolt against the Federal center (eg, Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas were a big deal when I was down there). This matters in intense subterranean ways that you need to experience in order to begin to grasp. At my school the racism directed at the pure Indians (almost always merit based scholarship students from impoverished or lower middle class families) was often overt.

    All of which means that we Anglos throw a whole bunch of very different people into the same “Latino” basket. The country of origin, the local tribes that were subsumed there, the European or Middle Eastern or Asian ethnicities that have dominated the local economy (note for example how Shakira and Carlos Slim both descend from Lebanese Christian families) – there’s a lot of antagonism, even hatred between different nationalities, and between classes and ethnic tranches among them. Latinos here form another variegated tribe, set apart by their exposure to the gringos – los pochos del norte.

    1848 is still a date with significant resonance in Mexico, unlike here among Anglos Stateside. Almost every Mexican town of any size has an Avenida de los Niños Héroes for example..
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ni%C3%B1os_H%C3%A9roes
    The significance of which is lost on most American tourists..

    I’m sure that AOC could give us all an earful about 1898, as well. That equestrian statue of TDR at the Met in NY is coming down for reasons beyond the putative insensitivity of the unmounted American Indian and African walking subordinate beside his steed.

    Basically all this means we’re screwed. If we don’t emphasize integration and homogenization, we will end up with dissolution and tribal war. As Mexico fractures into a seething pit of hatred and blood, we will slide into the ravening maw of Mictlantecuhtli with them.

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    1. “If we don’t emphasize integration and homogenization, we will end up with dissolution and tribal war.”

      Not sure what you mean by this – I’m into colour-blindness and merit as functional prerequisites for modern liberal democratic rights for individual citizens.

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      1. I heard a lot of nationalistic anti-American blather when I was in Mexico. How “it’s pronounced Tejas not Texas,” etc. One of my students once told me point blank “Teacher, we’re going to beat you with babies, not bombs.” I thought this was spot on. Demographics are destiny, and the reason Texas successfully broke away had everything to do with the ethnic differential in settlement. We think we are immune to this type of dynamic and fracture, but I do not believe it. We can try to form one multi racial American “ethnos” based in common mythology and culture, or else I fear we will end up fracturing, or in some sort of fascist state. Seeing how many people are talking about the 2nd Amendment in warlike terms online recently (something I have never seen before this year) I’m afraid we may in fact be in deep trouble..

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        1. “I heard a lot of nationalistic anti-American blather when I was in Mexico.”

          Is this surprising to you?

          Among other things, Mexico lost half its territory to an expanding U.S. in 1848. This had far more to do with an extreme imbalance of military power and the absolute shambles of the Mexican social, political and economic order following its more than decade long independence war ending in 1821 rather than any “demographics is destiny.” The international order is above all else a realist one.

          American expansionists would have loved to have been able to annex the British colonies to their north in exactly the same fashion as Mexico but the War of 1812-1814 proved that British sea power was more than a match for American land power in North America (viz. the burning and sacking of Washington).

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          1. No. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I rather like them for it. I like being called a gringo, because I am one. Mexicans have panache, and pride. Everyone should. I love Mexico, and los pinches mexicanos, and if they were to take back what they lost in 1848, I would not care. I’m only afraid of the violence and fascism that may come, not the loss of a country that for me is many ways already dead.

            I don’t have time to dig for deeper data, but if you look here:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_racial_and_ethnic_demographics_of_the_United_States#Mexican_(1910%E2%80%931930)and_Hispanic/Latino(1940%E2%80%932010)_population_as_a_percentage_of_the_total_population_by_U.S._region_and_state

            You’ll see that the Hispanic population of the U.S. has gone from less than 1% in 1900 to over 16% in 2010. In Texas it was 7% in 1910, now it 37%.

            Democrats and plutocrats gaze upon those numbers with satisfaction. They like cheap labor and ethnic dissension, it serves their interests. Working class people who can’t afford private schools and gated communities, whose wages are being eviscerated by this influx, have a different point of view. Hence Trump. Hence more civil unrest, perhaps even fascism, if that percentage continues to rise..

            You hit 60-80% Latino in the Southwest, a point where people no longer feel the need to learn English, the integrity of the country may be in question. Just a dire hunch, that.

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            1. A friend moved to Texas recently. His military–brat daughter has never had trouble making friends in a new neighborhood (and she’s had a few!), but now, in his new digs… he’s been dismayed by how casually racist toward gringos the Latino population is. And they’re most of the kids in the neighborhood and school. Normally-gregarious younger kid has made 1 friend in 6 months, where she’d normally have five on the first day. Older kid struggled at first, but now has tons of friends, is fluent in the local Spanish dialect, and could pass for Latina if you didn’t know her.

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          2. ” Mexico lost half its territory to an expanding U.S. in 1848″

            Ironically enough this precipitated by American immigrants to Mexico who refused to assimilate….

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  4. Again, looking at this from Europe, I’m baffled. I used to have a number of Brazilian friends when I was living in London: all of them were of European descent (Italian, German and Ukraine). I doubt that any of them would consider themselves “Latino”, and hence “black”. My cousins in the Argentine are of purely Jewish Italian descent and I know for a fact that they do NOT consider themselves “Latino” or “black”. They don’t even consider themselves Italian (as is only reasonable, as they are not) but only Argentinian.

    “Latino” must be a label made in the USA that probably makes sense only there, in a country that is evidently so fissured and fragmented that it has no idea of itself, to the point that its own nationals prefer to to label themselves anything but American. Good luck with that.

    Here in Europe things are not much better, especially in countries like France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Sweden. I do not think there is much hope for nation states that are not homogeneous, culturally and genetically. The Roman, British and French empires – and my beloved Austria-Hungary – are testimony to that.

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    1. ““Latino” must be a label made in the USA that probably makes sense only there”

      Yeah, it’s essentially a US folk category. If I had to define (according to common usage) it means: Person from or descended from the Spanish speaking areas of the New World who is not entirely white or black (though of the two whites are more likely to claim Latino-hood).

      So Brazilians (Portuguese speaking) or black Cubans or Colombians (for example) wouldn’t normally be included.

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  5. “cute antiquated affectation of referring to… Italian-Americans or Russian-Americans”

    That was a practice restricted to parts of the Northern US (industrial areas that had attracted external and internal immigration). NYC has always tended toward soft ethnic segregation and since it was a media center some particular NYC things became known in different parts of the country.
    As people from those areas moved into the sun belt they took part of that with them.

    Where I grew up people might have funny names but there was no idea of “Italian American” or “Czech American” or even Latino (though some had Spanish names and might have known some Spanish). By the late 1970s though adult transplants from the north had begun a big Italian-American club (with it’s own building) and a neighboring town had a similarly large German American club.

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