What's "White"? What's "Latino"?

A commenter questions the firewall between the notions of “White” and “Latino”:

I find it interesting how when you look at pictures of Mexican American, you can’t help but notice how Caucasian their features are. Just look up “Mexican Mafia” or “Nuestra Familia” on Google images and you’ll see what I mean. A lot of those Mexicans in jail look so Caucasian that when they and Anglo white inmates (especially dark haired Anglo whites) wear sunglasses and comb their hair back (as they do in jail), they look indistinguishable from each other, even many in skin color they are indistinguishable.Sometimes I wonder how they didn’t assimilate, but people like Italians (who had comparable criminal histories and ethnic & cultural closeness/isolationism) did (and Italians do look like Mexican Americans, particularly the Sicilians).

I live in a mostly Latino city and I’ve become quite interested in this question. Everywhere, I mean everywhere, everywhere, I go in town, I see “Latinos” that have few to no Amerindian features whatsoever. If one were asked to place them into a race, one could only put them in Caucasian because they have few to no Amerindian features. They’re just White people. Granted, they look a bit different from a lot of what we think of as White people, but they don’t look like another race. All the time now, I am mistaking “Whites” for “Latinos.” The whole idea that there is a difference between “Whites” and “Latinos” is insane. Clearly, many Latinos are just some species of “White.” Those with observable Amerindian ancestry are typically not exactly White, but that’s not all of them by any means. I get my food at a Mexican joint where everyone speaks Spanish. They speak English poorly if at all. I order my food and pay for it in Spanish. 90 Indeed, I could be “Latino” myself. All I need is some Latin American ancestry and wa-la! I’m in like Flynn. It helps if you speak Spanish. I start speaking Spanish to the Latinos around here, and often they ask me if I’m from Mexico too. I could just lie and say I am, then I would be “Latino.” I meet Latin Americans online and start messaging them. We start typing away in Spanish. Usually they ask me if I was born in the US or if I’m an immigrant from Latin America, since my Spanish is good. They can’t believe I’m just some White dude from the US of A. This idea that “Latinos” and “Whites” are two different things is insane and needs to stop right now.

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16 thoughts on “What's "White"? What's "Latino"?”

  1. I think your average American would be surprised to learn that there are indeed white “Latinos” (which is a bogus, made-up French term to begin with), and that there are countries such as Argentina and Chile where the majority of people are white.
    The American sociological definition of race and “whiteness” is so maddening.
    To me, Latin American definitions of race and whiteness make a lot more sense. You look white, you act white, you’re white. End of story.
    The One Drop Rule and the notion that everyone south of the border is “Latino” (ie. another race) is absurd.

  2. What would be a better language for America: spanish or english? Maybe we should give up the english language and all start speaking spanish. And pass a law that says we are a spanish speaking nation. But which one would be better for us to speak, I guess I am asking which language is better period.

    1. We may as well speak English, but it’s a good idea at least in this neck of the woods to speak some Spanish.
      For one thing, the Latinos really love you when you do! Also, you can communicate with people a lot better around here. There are a *lot* people who have poor English skills around here. It’s not that they don’t speak English, it’s more that they don’t speak it well, and they prefer you talk to them in Spanish.
      And you can always kind of mix the two together in a sort of English lesson for them. If they are under 40, they often want to improve their English, and they are happy to have you for a tutor. Say things in Spanish, translate to English. Vice versa. Goes over really well with the Spanish dominant/partial bilinguals around here.

  3. Dear Robert
    My doctor and his two assistants are all Central Americans. Whenever I’m in their office, I speak only Spanish to them, which they understand perfectly, but they automatically reply in English to me. They must be categorizing by appearance rather than sound because I look too Nordic to them to be taken as a Hispanic. In a restaurant run by Central Americans, the same thing happens. I speak Spanish, they understand but they reply in English.
    Many people associate nationality with a certain appearance. Italians and Portuguese, for instance, can’t be very fair. Scandinavians can’t be swarthy. North Americans who believe that all Latin Americans are dark should start watching some Latin American movies and TV shows.
    Latino, by the way, is not a French word. It is simply the first part of the Spanish latinoamericano.
    Regards. James

  4. Why is someone “latino” just because they are from south of the United States? A Brazilian, a Quechua Bolivian and a black Honduran have absolutely nothing in common, but they are supposed to be “Latinos” just because they come from that part of the world. We’re talking about people who vary pretty widely in politics, language, racial mixture and culture. Yet they are under this “Latino” umbrella. And why aren’t Haitians thought of as Latinos? They speak a Latin language, right? Yet their neighbors the Dominicans are? Notice you never hear anyone referring to Haitians as Latinos.
    In America, since most of our Latinos are Mexican, people automatically associate the word with mestizos which most Mexicans are. Many people refer to black Latins as simply “black” not as “Latinos” as if the word defined a specific race rather than being from a certain part of the world.

    1. Yes, we have a number of blond haired and blue eyed Mexicans right here in this town. A lot of Mexicans here in CA will brag and say that they have ancestors or relatives back in Mexico who have either blond hair or blue eyes, because these super White features are highly valued among Mexicans.

      1. You’re spot on with that observation.
        Many Mexicans seem proud to boast of having fair-skinned lineage in their background. The Mexican culture is a dichotomy between the light and the dark, and as far as I know, research has shown that in general, humans do you display an inborn preference for lighter features.

  5. The thing is, Mexicans hate being called white. Have you ever told a Mexican theyre white? They get so upset! Its like an insult to them! Also, I forgot what HBD blogger wrote about this, STDV, Whiskey, or Mangan, Jessica Alba thinks shes a “latina” and not White. She was quoted saying something about wanting “to have a brown baby”. On her DNA test on George Lopez Tonight, it turns out shes like 87% White and 13% Native American. I mean c’mon, look at her, shes white, not “brown”. She plays white characters on TV. When the DNA results were announced, she was *extremely* dissapointed, and even tried to argue that Spain doesnt count as Europe! WTF! Spain sure as hell aint in Africa or Asia LOL. I think Latinos want to be “brown” even when theyre not. Nobody wants to be white in America, its a liability now! 100 years ago there was “passing as white”, now people want desperately to pass as NON-white. Whats so good about being white in america? nothing! everybody hates you, no affirmative action, no special interest groups, no white pride at all! Your all a bunch of racist, sexist, Islamophobic, antisemitic, colonizing, raping, oppressing, priveleged people with no authentic culture! I think the rise of brown privelege coincides with the slow decline of America. This whole thing is just the new racial pecking order in America. Think about it. Whens the last time (not on the internet) you heard someone say anything positive about Whites? Now, think about all the times you hear something positive about blacks, or Asians or any other non-white group. The American people have decided that white people suck! Get used to it!

      1. Mexicans don’t give two flying fucks about “Whites”. But the ones with deep roots in Mexico often don’t like a certain type of Whites – otherwise known as *gringos*!

  6. It’s funny.
    I heard a story from one of my friends about how he was traveling in Mexico. Essentially, he saw the Mexican version of Legolas.
    Long, blond hair. Super bright eyes. Very fair skin.
    This is why I think the term “Latino,” which has a racial connotation, is stupid.
    “Hispanic” makes more sense, because to me, Hispanic is more of a linguistic identifier, and can incorporate everyone from that region.

  7. AJ
    October 27, 2010 at 6:26 AM
    >When the DNA results were announced, she was *extremely* dissapointed,
    >and even tried to argue that Spain doesnt count as Europe!
    “Oops… I’m a little Racial bourgeoisiette, my job at the En-turd-ailment Industry as a Racial Working Class Heroine is at stake. I hope the jews don’t find out ! =p”
    Heh. One-drop rule, Culturally Marxist-style.
    That’s post-racial Amerikwa for you, I guess.
    Full circle.

  8. Hey Robert, do you think it would be a good idea to put an obligatory class that has and explains race, ethnicity, genes, “anthropometrics”, and social constructs on race? I think so. The youth in the US is very ignorant on race, which seems ridiculous because we are so diverse (it makes us look dumb in general to the world). Heck, I’ve been writing to people from 3rd world countries and they know more about race than your average American does! It’s ridiculous how even some of the smartest and most professional people think country has produced are ignorant on race. I say that said proposed class would be taken in high school during junior year and senior year (when the kids are more mature). Junior year would be an intro to race and all that, while senior year would be advanced, like what you do on articles like “Racial Makeup of Hispanics”, “Major and Minor Races of Mankind”, etc. This class would bridge understanding between peoples in the US and show how closely we really are. We should not listen to PC crap on race classes, we need to produce a new generation of informed Americans.
    Note: It would be nice if you turned my comment into an article, like what you did in this article with my comment on how Mexicans look Caucasian.

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