Tuesday, March 5, 2024

American Latinos Struggled with Identity in 2020 Census, Census Bureau Numbers Shows

Almost 60% of the 54.6 million Americans identified as Latino reported belonging to one racial group, such as white or Black. However, over a third (35.5%) of Latinos chose the “Some Other Race” category, which is not currently recognized as a race by the federal government. The Census Bureau said 43.6% of Latino Americans reported being of “Some Other Race” or did not respond to the race question (8.1%).

The findings come as the Biden Administration considers allowing Americans to check off “Hispanic or Latino” as their race and ethnicity as part of new proposed classifications for the next census.

The proposal is being explored because Latinos “have been telling the Census Bureau that the [current] question didn’t really work for a lot of people,” Jens Manuel Krogstad, a senior writer and editor at the Pew Research Center focused on the Hispanic demographic trends, told NBC News.

“A central issue is that the average Hispanic doesn’t necessarily see the difference between race and ethnicity,” he said. At the same time, a growing number of Latinos who are multiracial or have mixed backgrounds do “view their Hispanic identity as part of their racial identity,” Krogstad said.

In the 2020 census, 19.4 million Latinos identified as belonging to “Some Other Race,” followed by 9.6 million who identified as white, 1.4 million who identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, and 960,080 who identified as Black or African American. An additional 4.45 million Latinos did not answer the race question in the 2020 census.

These numbers support Census Bureau research showing that “a large proportion of the Hispanic population does not identify with any of the current Office of Management and Budget (OMB) race categories,” the bureau said.

Robert Santos, the first Latino to lead the Census Bureau, said he doesn’t use current racial categories. He checks the “Some Other Race” category and writes “mestizo” on his census forms to describe his Mexican American heritage.

Santos said improving the count of nonwhite populations, many of which have been historically undercounted, is among his priorities for the next census in 2030.

NBC News