There are differences, even though the term Latin@ is gaining acceptance as a term to refer to Hispanics in the U.S. and vice versa.
Hispanic vs Latino, which term is better to use? The truth is that the term Latin was created as an abbreviation of Latin America. In the U.S. the term "Latin@” is commonly used to describe Hispanics but many do not realize that Latino people speak a Romance language (not only Spanish) and are born in Latin America.
Other authors like Felipe and Betty Ann Korzenny say in their book: "Hispanic Marketing" that the term Latin@ "encompasses almost anyone from a culture with Latin roots. That could be Italians, Romanians, Portuguese, French and so on."
Hispanic people come from the countries that Spain colonized including those far away from America like the Philippines. We derive our name from the term “Hispania” which was the old name for Spain.
What about Spanish people? Spanish people are only from Spain. Speaking Spanish is not enough to say you are from a Spanish culture. But we hear almost everybody asking us: Are you Spanish? Yes, the majority of people equate Spanish with Hispanic or Latino. In the 1970’s the U.S. federal government under the Nixon administration, created the term Hispanic to lump together people who have a connection to Spanish language or a culture from Spanish-speaking countries. The key was the language not the country of origin.
The word "Hispanic" was incorporated gradually and appeared in some of the 1980 Census forms. By 1990 all the forms from the U.S. census had incorporated the word "Hispanic" as an ethnicity option.
What is interesting is that when you try to choose a term between Hispanic vs Latin@, you realize both fail to incorporate our indigenous roots. Our race is primarily a mix of Indian, European and black, therefore the terms only encompass some of those origins.
Q. How do Hispanics themselves feel about the labels “Hispanic” and “Latin@”?
A. The labels are not universally embraced by the community that has been labeled. A 2006 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 48% of Latino adults generally describe themselves by their country of origin first; 26% generally use the terms Latino or Hispanic first; and 24% generally call themselves American on first reference. As for a preference between “Hispanic” and “Latin@”, a 2008 Center survey found that 36% of respondents prefer the term “Hispanic,” 21% prefer the term “Latin@” and the rest have no preference.
Q. What about Puerto Ricans? Where do they fit in?
A. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth — whether they were born in New York (like Judge Sotomayor) or in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (like her parents). According to the Census, some 97% of all persons born in Puerto Rico and living in the mainland United States consider themselves Hispanics. Overall, Puerto Ricans are the second largest group of Hispanics in the 50 states and District of Columbia — they make up 9% of the mainland Hispanic population, well behind the Mexican-origin share of 64%, but ahead of the 3.5% share of Cubans. In 2007, the 4.1 million persons of Puerto Rican origin living in the mainland United States exceeded Puerto Rico’s population of 3.9 million.
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